If you click on a story about the break-up/make-up of John Cena and Nikki Bella on a wrestling website like Cageside Seats, you’ll find a lot of writers and commenters virtually rolling their eyes about the whole affair. Presumably most of those expressing their disinterest are men, because that’s the majority of writers and commenters on wrestling websites.
Many of them are probably legitimately not interested in romance between two of WWE’s biggest stars. But there’s data to suggest some of them doth protest too much.
After a lackluster first couple weeks in the ratings for the third season of Total Bellas, which largely focuses on will-they-or-won’t-they drama between the couple who got engaged at WrestleMania 33 in 2017, viewership is trending up for the E! reality show. The June 10 episode, the fourth of the season, saw increased viewership for the second week in a row. The 734,000 who watched on Sunday night represented the second largest audience in the show’s history.
What’s really interesting is what segment the increases are coming from. According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required but recommended):
“The growth in the last two weeks looks to be from wrestling fans since it’s a lot of Males 35-49, which is not an audience that usually watches the show. That tells me it’s the plugs on Raw of the split. It’s still predominately a women’s audience, but it’s also attracting more older women then the prior teenage and young adult women’s audience that carries all the Bellas shows.”
That’s just Dave Meltzer’s interpretation, of course, but it’s difficult to come up with another explanation. The NBA (and to a lesser extent NHL) Playoffs ending might also play a role, but even so, it’s hard to imagine those are non-wrestling fan guys suddenly finding the show.
Regardless of where the uptick is coming from, it seems to be some indication there is a market for Bella/Cena drama... regardless of how it looks in our little bubble.