MJF’s instantly classic pipebomb promo—a “where were you when…” moment for hardcore wrestling fans—may have pipe-bombed in the ratings.
MJF’s promo was flawless in execution, though questionable in content. The 2022 pipebomb was like a Twitter piñata filled with internet wrestling easter eggs. The promo spoke directly to the hardcore audience, which has lapped up AEW’s recent behind-the-scenes drama. Last week, MJF legitimately no-showed an AEW Double or Nothing fan fest. MJF also skipped the AEW Double or Nothing media scrum, which means he no-showed two fan fests this weekend.
AEW did not directly reference MJF’s no-show on Dynamite, which almost 15,000 fans attended at the Inglewood Forum—the biggest TV wrestling crowd of 2022. As a member of that crowd, I can attest that the live reaction to MJF’s promo was among the loudest I’ve ever heard. But the tastes of even a large arena did not reflect that of AEW’s much larger television audience. MJF peppered his promo with AEW’s signature inside-baseball references, waxing poetic about backstage politics, the Warner-Discovery merger, ex-WWE guys and his expiring contract in 2024.
MJF Pipebomb Promo Ratings: Viewership Falls by 16%
The good news is AEW Dynamite viewership was up 4% for its debut at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, Calif. With 969,000 viewers, AEW Dynamite had its highest viewership since April 13, and its highest 18-49 viewership since March 23. March 23 was also the last time AEW Dynamite garnered over one million viewers amid a 10-week drought.
The bad news? The biggest drop of the show came during the final three minutes of MJF’s pipebomb promo, which read like a hardcore wrestling manifesto he had posted on a subreddit. Per Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, AEW’s viewership received a 2% quarter-to-quarter (QTQ) bump during the first six minutes of MJF’s promo, which began in QH21. QTQ viewership ballooned to 12% in the 18-49 demo as the show peaked during the beginning of MJF’s segment, which scored 1,069,000. The segment also featured the finish of CMFTR vs. Max Caster and the Ass Boys; and CMFTR’s post-match promo.
AEW Dynamite then saw its biggest decline of the night in a steep 16% drop in total viewership from QH2 to QH3, a whopping 169,000 viewers. The freefall was steeper in the 18-49 demo, which sank by 19% (116,000 viewers). Following the end of MJF’s promo, QH3 included an ad break; Miro’s return promo and his return match against Johnny Elite.
“Quarter-hour analysis is impaired by a number of external factors,” wrote Thurston in his analysis.
“Among them: ad breaks, the strength or weakness of preceding segments (or the lead-in, in the case of QH1), the strength and timing of other competition across television, the nature of quarter-hours consisting of arbitrary 15-minute periods that include multiple segments, and the tendency of certain quarter-hours to perform better (e.g., QH1 and QH5) or worse (e.g., QH7) than others, seemingly regardless of content.”
It’s worth noting there was an ad break during QH3, which could have impacted viewership.
MJF Pipebomb Promo Ratings Analysis, Twitter Reaction
Though variables are endless in quarter-hour data, MJF is a consistent needle-mover when it comes to quarter-hour viewership, particularly minute-to-minute. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted that MJF was “absolutely” the biggest minute-by-minute draw, suggesting fans may have tuned out immediately after his promo. MJF said as much during his promo Wednesday night, where he furiously touted being the “second minute-to-minute draw in the company,” with No. 1 presumably being CM Punk. Punk limped after MJF, alongside the Young Bucks, in an off-camera confrontation.
In his most recent tweet, MJF cited Thurston’s quarter-hour data to tout the 1,126,000 viewers in QH1 of last week’s AEW Dynamite. The go-home show for Double or Nothing opened with Wardlow vs. Shawn Spears in a Steel Cage Match, and MJF was the special guest referee.
After MJF’s legit no-show raised concern about his future with the company, AEW has gone all-in on the 26-year-old star. Imprisoned by his contract, AEW is booking its top heel as a disgruntled talent taking on the machine—an archetype that’s the babyface in just about any situation, let alone pro wrestling. AEW has committed to the apparent angle by omitting MJF photos from its media gallery, removing MJF from its roster page and AEWShop.com, deleting his merchandise and issuing copyright strikes to those looking to upload MJF’s pipebomb promo online.
As of Friday morning, MJF’s promo has not been uploaded to AEW’s YouTube channel.
Pro wrestling Twitter is as tribal as ever during the WWE vs. AEW wrestling war, and fans from both sides weighed in with theories about AEW’s ratings collapse:
“This doesn’t mean people bailed for the last 3 min of MJFs promo,” argued Jim Philpot.
“The numbers are an average for that 15m window. 12m (80%) of the window were Miro v [Johnny Elite], it’s probable that viewers changed the channel after MJF finished & the show went to break.”
“Not a good sign when barely 900k viewers stuck around by the end of supposedly the best Dynamite ever. Yikes!!” said @JobberNationTV.
So I’m hearing that MJF’s promo ‘bombed’. That’s clearly not the case. Can these people not read??? The ratings went up during the bulk of his segment and when down in the quarter mostly occupied by Johnny Surname,” wrote Thomas Anderson.
“Online buzz,” joked Justin Watry.
“Whoa, that’s a bad drop-off in the ratings,” remarked Daniel Carpio.
“This can be taken two ways: Either 169,000 fans changed the channel immediately after MJF’s promo as they [saw] nothing else on the card worth sticking around for…Or 169,000 fans tuned out during MJF’s promo after realizing it’s a work.”
As AEW continues to grow its company, it also remains steadfast in serving its hardcore audience. With events like The Forbidden Door, and storylines born out of rumor mills mostly read by males, AEW risks alienating large portions of its audience. As the MJF situation grows more layered and complex by the day, viewership for his heavily anticipated promo seemed like the only constant. But quarterly viewership suggests that in AEW’s latest at-bat in inside baseball, they struck out.