One aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic that has not garnered a lot of attention has been whether the pro wrestling world has taken advantage of being the lone sport available on TV for the entire stretch since things were shut down in March.

Sure, there have been several boxing cards on ESPN and the UFC has started running shows again, but WWE and AEW have been at it nonstop since each were deemed “essential” by Florida government officials.

There has been no MLB, no NBA, no NHL, no NFL offseason workouts, no college sports.

Has pro wrestling picked up fans being the “only game in town?”

Let’s take a look at the three WWE promotions and AEW. We will use March 13 as the start date of our data as it was the first time any of the brands ran a show from their “pandemic venues.”

On March 13, Smackdown drew 2,588,000 overnight viewers while it drew 1,893,000 last Friday for its second lowest total since moving to Fox.

Raw had 2,335,000 overnight viewers on March 16 and had 1,628,000 this past Monday which was its second worst total since Raw went to three hours in 2012.

The only lower amount was last week’s viewership of 1,561,000.

How about the Wednesday night battle?

On March 18, AEW drew 932,000 overnight viewers but on Wednesday, it was down to 845,000.

On the other hand, NXT drew 542,000 on March 18 and had 615,000 overnight viewers this past episode.

NXT is the only of the four brands to gain viewers as it was up 73,000.

Smackdown dropped 695,000 viewers, Raw tumbled 707,000 and AEW slipped 87,000.

For the last four months, pro wrestling had its chance to pick up fans with no sports to compete with, yet it dropped significantly.

From the March 13 episode of Smackdown through this July 22 editions of AEW Dynamite and NXT, there were a combined 1,416,000 fewer overnight pro wrestling viewers than when the pandemic truly took hold of our country.

So, has pro wrestling taken advantage of having no sports “competition?”

Not only is the answer a resounding no, but the answer is decisive and troubling.

Ford next WWE star?

Could Montez Ford could be WWE’s next breakout star?

One-half of the Street Profits tag team, Ford is great on the mic, can go in the ring and has a finisher that is going to make people talk.

While Ford’s tag partner Angelo Dawkins is also on a trajectory to be a star, and while the duo is enjoying a run as the Raw tag champions, once they do go the single’s route, both could be huge for WWE for a long time.

Did you see Ford’s frog splash last Monday night?

I have never seen a wrestler get so much elevation on a frog splash, and how many times has McMahon gotten behind a wrestler because of a move?

Did you miss it? Find it online!

Sometimes wrestlers make the move from midcard status to stars and then break the glass ceiling to become a megastar because of a popular finisher.

If Vince decides to get behind Ford and showcases both his athletic ability and amazing frog splash, WWE could have its next star on its hands.

Sane done with WWE

Despite picking up a win on Raw the previous Monday against Smackdown champion Bayley, Kairi Sane finished up with WWE at the show.

Now, WWE filmed multiple weeks of Raw so she could appear again Monday or even next week, but she is headed back to Japan where she and her husband hope to start a family.

Kingston shines in AEW debut

On the July 22 episode of AEW Dynamite, Cody defended his TNT title against Eddie Kingston in an “Open Challenge.”

Kingston crushed his show-opening promo and looked really good during the match.

He has also had runs with TNA, NWA and Chikara.

A handful of people emailed asking if this was the same Eddie Kingston who wrestled on several Championship Wrestling Federation matches in Monessen in the 2000s.

Yep, that is him! A humble and hard-working talent, Eddie has worked his way up the ladder and I am beyond happy for him.

On This Day, July 26 …

July 26 was a busy day in pro wrestling history.

Bruno Sammartino went 4-0-1 on this date with wins in 1963, 1967, 1968 and 1975 and had a draw in 1969.

The 1969 card drew my attention as the top two matches saw Bruno wrestle George “The Animal” Steele to a draw and Killer Kowalski defeat Dominic DeNucci.

Bruno was always open to sharing his knowledge to those of us in the Pittsburgh wrestling scene, I trained briefly with Kowalski at his school right outside of Boston in Malden, Massachusetts, I wrestled Steele, and DeNucci is one of my favorite people I have met in the wrestling business.

In 1980, Greg Valentine defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA United States heavyweight title in Charlotte.

Also in 1980, Andre the Giant defeated Hulk Hogan by DQ on a WWF show in Philadelphia.

In 1986, Dusty Rhodes defeated Ric Flair in a steel cage to start his third, and final, NWA world title reign.

In 1991, WCW and WWF both ran shows in the Bay Area.

WCW ran the Oakland Coliseum while WWF ran the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

For those unfamiliar with the Bay Area, the two venues are less than 22 miles apart from one other.

Also in 1991, WWF ran a show in Las Vegas with The Ultimate Warrior defeating The Undertaker by DQ.

In 1998, WWF presented Fully Loaded on PPV and in the main event, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker defeated Mankind and Kane to win the tag titles. Also, Intercontinental champion The Rock battled Triple H to a 30-minute draw in a two-out-of-three fall match.

In 2004, Chris Benoit retained the World championship by defeating Triple H in a 60-minute Iron Man match, four falls to three, in Pittsburgh.

At WWE’s Night of Champions in 2009, Christian defeated Tommy Dreamer to win the ECW title and Jeff Hardy defeated CM Punk to win the WWE championship.

This week’s question

I saw where WWE backstage announcer Charly Caruso has been appearing on ESPN under the name Charly Arnolt. Did she get married? Shelly, California.

Charly’s last name is Arnolt and WWE gave her the name “Caruso.”

She has been doing a solid job for a while on ESPN and hopefully she earns a full-time gig with the company.

Charly is not married.

Email questions/comments to powerhousehughes@gmail.com or tweet them to @BillHughes_III.

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