Since the end of the "Attitude Era" and for the past twenty years, WWE's ratings and popularity have been on a seemingly irreversible downward slide. A lack of competition following the death of WCW led to complacency and conservative booking that turned what was once programming that fans couldn't miss because something exciting could happen at any moment into programming that fans watch out of habit and struggle to get through because nothing is likely to happen but the same thing over and over again. To make matters worse, between three hours of Raw, two hours of Smackdown, two hours of NXT, and the occasional PPV, there's 7-10 hours of WWE programming each week where nothing is likely to happen. Even the most hardcore fan would have trouble maintaining interest in that, but here's the thing: they probably aren't meant to. If you've been watching Raw, Smackdown, NXT, or some combination of the three, you've been watching WWE the wrong way.
We've all heard WWE's philosophy that they aren't creating stories, they're creating moments. Months or even years of booking is geared toward creating a moment, like Roman Reigns winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania or Edge returning at the Royal Rumble (and how played out Royal Rumble returns are is a column for another day). It's taken me a while to figure this out, but shows like Raw, Smackdown, and NXT are not the intended final product meant to be consumed for viewer enjoyment. They exist solely to generate moments which can be used in the production of other products: video compilations, WWE Network documentaries, PPV promo packages, and most importantly, WWE moments in their purest form: social media posts.
While only around 2 million people at max currently watch WWE programming on television in the United States, the company boasts of over 1 billion followers on various social media platforms. Why don't these huge social media numbers translate into TV ratings? Because they aren't meant to. Social media is not meant to drive people to the real product. WWE moments as posted on social media are the product. On YouTube every morning, if you don't need to know what happened right away (and trust us, you don't, because it was nothing all that exciting), you can watch everything that happened on the previous night's WWE programming in a fraction of the time you would spend actually watching it. Two hours of June 5th's edition of Smackdown is distilled down to just over 30 minutes on YouTube, spread across a series of 12 video clips averaging about 2 and a half minutes long. If even that is too much for you, you can even follow along live on Twitter where every single match and promo that airs on WWE programming is posted as a series of photos, videos, and animated gifs. The animated gif may well be the WWE moment in its purest form.
If even that is too long for you, WWE on Fox publishes a weekly video literally titled Watch WWE Smackdown in 3 Minutes. How much more clearly do they need to spell it out for you? Seriously, given the choice of watching Smackdown in 3 minutes or 2 hours, which of those sounds better to you? You could even skip keeping up with WWE's weekly television shows completely and just catch the previous month's worth of programming in the video packages before matches at a PPV.
So if you've found WWE's programming to be boring and unwatchable lately, consider that, perhaps, you're simply consuming it the wrong way. Maybe the correct way to watch WWE's television shows is actually not to watch them at all, and instead catch up on the clips you're interested on social media, watching them just once, instead of over and over again as WWE plays "what happened earlier on Raw" clips throughout the same Raw they happened on. Avoid a formulaic WWE style match that plays out the same way every time no matter who's in the ring by just watching the ending of it on YouTube. Let WWE's video editing work its magic on heavily-scripted promos. Try watching WWE the way it seems to be intended to be watched, as moments, rather than hours, and you might find it far more enjoyable than you have in decades.