“We Didn’t Have Anybody Ready”- Jim Ross Reveals Why WWE Viewership Fell After The Rock’s Departure

Published 05/25/2021, 10:15 AM EDT


WWE from 1999-2002 was one of the most entertaining and watched shows in the USA, hitting the notch in everything fans wanted to see. The heights of the Attitude Era mixed everything from hardcore matches to explicit content, which really took off with viewers of the time. 

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Unfortunately, WWE was and is still in a massive drop in viewership since then, losing a lot of its regular audience after Vince McMahon’s decision to make his product PG. While this was a major factor in the downfall, Jim Ross believes other major factors had a bigger role in the loss of viewership. 

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“The company was built so much around Rock and Austin. The Rock was gone doing movies and pursuing that dream which was a smart decision for Dwayne. And then Austin making that turn, so you lose two babyfaces of, it might sound overdramatic, immortal proportions Conrad. They’re no longer available on that babyface side. And as we’ve discussed here we didn’t have anybody ready for Steve [Austin] as a babyface or a heel,” JR explained, speaking on Grilling JR.

Jim Ross explained how there was no babyface for Stone Cold’s heel turn

The infamous Austin heel turn had no one on the other side, as WWE found itself for the first time in 4 years, with no Rock to Stone Cold. It was an equivalent of a yin without a yang, and this is what really brought the creative team in a rush for an opposition., 

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“We had to hit the reset button and we had to get somebody hot on the other side of the aisle with all those babyfaces we had. You know, the thinking of ‘Oh we’ll just put the old rocket ship up their a**’ and it’s all automatic, come on man, it’s not automatic and everybody ain’t got it,” he said. ( h/t Inside The Ropes)

“We didn’t have any more Austin or Rock babyfaces on the roster. They weren’t existing at that point and I dare to say that maybe since then no one has approached their status as a babyface for WWE,” stated JR, rather boldly. 

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The Rock and Stone Cold both left very suddenly after 2003, and Triple H’s huge leg injury left WWE stranded for table-topping talent. Although they did find John Cena to take up the reigns and hold WWE high for the next 13 years or so, JR may just be right when he says that no one reached the magnitude of The Rock and Stone Cold as a rivalry. 

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Luke Dias

1338 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

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