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Mat slam for Pax's
'Real Pro Wrestling'

No prancing dames. No goofy outfits. No wonder.

By Toni Fitzgerald

    Leave it to the people at Pax, the wholesome family network, to take the fun out of wrestling.
   With the continued popularity of the WWE on UPN and Spike and the increasing media interest in wrestling during the past two Olympic Summer Games, it seemed like a great time for the launch of "Real Pro Wrestling," a new wrestling league that promised half-nelsons in lieu of half-naked women. In other words, real wrestling of the sort we saw in high school, or Greco-Roman, versus the fake monkeyshines we see on television.
   But itís the half-naked women who draw most of the fans to pro wrestling. Without them, Paxís four-week-old "Real Pro Wrestling" on Sunday afternoons has flattened after a promising start.
   The much-hyped debut of the league on March 27 at 4 p.m. attracted an impressive 0.2 household rating, drawing an average of 320,000 total viewers. 
   But the next week that dipped to a 0.1 average and 140,000. The past two episodes have also hovered at a 0.1, averaging 171,000 total viewers on April 10 and a slightly better 204,000 April 17.
   Itís the massive tune-out after episode one, though, thatís more telling. The 0.1 average is exactly what the now-defunct WUSA, the womenís soccer league, pulled two years ago on Pax before its demise. By comparison, UPNís WWE averaged a 3.3 household rating last week, 0.1 off of its 3.4 season average. 
   In primetime, Pax averages a 0.4 rating and about 620,000 total viewers.
    "Real Pro Wrestling" pits teams with different weight classes of wrestlers against each other in Greco-Roman competition. But without more viewer interest, "Real Pro Wrestling" may fade away like similar secondary fringe sports leagues of the past, such as the XFL or team tennis.
   The leagueís promoters did the best they could. They recruited Olympic wrestling gold medalist Rulon Gardner  as a commentator, he being the poster boy for the 2000 Sydney Olympics after he upset heavily favored Russian Alexandre Kareline.
   The league smartly advertised its TV debut at high school state wrestling tournaments across the country, trying to build a following among the sportís most rabid purist fans.
   But ultimately viewers may be too fond of wrestling as entertainment rather than sport. Very few WWE fans could probably tell you what constitutes a takedown in Greco-Roman wrestling, beyond hitting your opponent on the back with a chair.
   If "Real Pro Wrestling," which also reruns regionally on FSN on weekdays, does survive for a second season, Pax should consider playing up the randier aspects of the league, such as the shirtless competitors. Then perhaps it could at least gain a following among women.
   In other sports ratings, the NBA finished out its regular season with a disappointing across-the-board decline in ratings.
  ABCís average for 18 games fell slightly versus last season to a 2.3 household average, but TNT and ESPN were both down 7 percent, to a 1.3 and 1.2 average respectively.
   That does not bode well for the Lakers-less NBA playoffs, which began over the weekend.

 

NETWORK SPORTS
Ranked on Households
Week Ending April 17

#

PROGRAMS

Net

Episode

Households

Persons 2+

US Rtg%

Shr

(000)

(000)

1

FOX NASCAR
NEXTEL CUP

FOX

SAMSUNG
RADIO
SHACK 500

5.7

15

6256

8676

2

WWE SMACKDOWN!

UPN

3.3

5

3652

5169

3

NBA ON ABC
SUN 2

ABC

IND AT MIAMI/
DALLS AT LA 

2.5

6

2781

3351

4

MCI HERITAGE - SUN(S)- 4/17

CBS

2.2

5

2373

2998

5

FOX NASCAR
BUSCH SERIES

FOX

O'REILLY 300

2.1

6

2268

2878

6

NBA ON ABC
SUN 1

ABC

CLEVE. AT
DETROIT

1.8

5

1955

2407

7

MCI HERITAGE - SAT(S)-04/16

CBS

1.8

5

2007

2474

8

MARSHALL'S 
US FIG SKTG
CH(S)-4/16

ABC

1.3

4

1382

1729

9

NBC SPORTS
SPECIAL 4/17(S)

NBC

PRO BULL
RIDING

1.2

3

1367

1642

10

NBC SPORTS
SPEC. 4/16(S)

NBC

SKATING
RAY CHARLES
TRIBUTE

0.9

3

1028

1193

11

NBC ARENA
FOOTBALL

NBC

CO AT CHI/
LAS VEGAS
 AT PHIL

0.6

2

697

690

12

CBS AUTO
RACING:AMR
LEMNS(S)-04/17

CBS

ATL GRAND
PRIX

0.5

2

585

688

13

REAL PRO
WRESTLING

PAX

0.1

0

151

204

Source: Nielsen Media Research


April 26, 2005 © 2005 Media Life


- Toni Fitzgerald is a staff writer for Media Life.
 


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