WWE television is dropping its PG rating in an attempt to try and bring back a teenage audience.
In 2002, the company decided to ditch edgier content and adopt a more conservative approach to television with the transition to an exclusively ‘TV PG’ rating.
However, some riskier scenes appeared to make a return this week as Monday’s episode of Raw saw Braun Strowman tackle Bobby Lashley through the stage’s LED board during their Falls Count Anywhere Match.
— WWE (@WWE) July 2, 2019
The incident resulted in a series of explosions coming from the big screen as both wrestlers crashed through to the floor below, causing commentator Corey Graves to yell ‘holy sh*t!’
Both men were treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to hospital.
WWE later released a statement, saying:
Braun Strowman has reportedly been admitted to a local medical facility with a possible separated pelvis.
Bobby Lashley has reportedly been released from immediate care.
BREAKING NEWS FROM DALLAS, TX: @BraunStrowman has reportedly been admitted to a local medical facility with a possible separated pelvis. @fightbobby has reportedly been released from immediate care. #Raw pic.twitter.com/8cQSugfqyb
— WWE (@WWE) July 2, 2019
The following day, on SmackDown, viewers saw Kofi Kingston give opponent Samoa Joe the finger during their in-ring confrontation.
One WWE fan took to Twitter to ask Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, if the not-so-family-friendly interaction between Kingston and Joe meant WWE was ‘pushing towards leaving the PG Era behind’.
Kofi Kingston flipped the bird at Samoa Joe.
— WWE Critics (@WWECritics) July 3, 2019
A lot more cursing and edginess is happening now.
Meltzer got straight to the point and simply responded ‘yes’:
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Meltzer explained to listeners WWE will be using more material like this going forward.
The move is largely due to the company’s awareness it has been losing its teenage audience and with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) entering the race with weekly TV from October 2019 WWE wants to keep hold of as many younger viewers as possible.
According to Meltzer, as per ComicBook, the appearance of NXT Tag Team Champions Street Profits on Raw this week was due in part to the belief they could appeal to the teenage demographic.
The editor said:
They brought the Street Profits [to RAW]. That was an interesting one because there’s a lot of politics that were involved in the Street Profits [being on RAW].
They are still technically NXT wrestlers. It was not a call-up but they are gonna be on RAW TV. That was a Heyman move to have new faces on the show. When someone starts, you always want new faces, you always want young talent. You always want to create new wild stories.
It will be interesting to see how WWE continue to push the boundaries and bring back their edge in the future.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.