8. John Bradshaw Layfield - PPV And Ratings Decline
With Guerrero floundering as Champion, WWE had to do something drastic. The decision they made was to repackage the veteran midcarder Bradshaw into a new gimmick : JBL a multi millionaire heel bully. While Bradshaw was a laugh on the mic, and in my mind not actually that bad in the ring as a powerful big man, he failed miserably as Champion. Smackdown ratings continued to slump. JBL's proving ground would be No Mercy 2004. This Smackdown only ppv was his big chance to prove he could draw buys. His opponent was The Undertaker, so that should have helped him considerably. It wasn't to be however. No Mercy 2004 pulled a paltry 183,000 buys. That was down from the previous month of 239,000 buys. A year earlier the No Mercy show had spiked 275,000. Despite this dismal performance, the WWE persevered with Bradshaw in the championship role. They didn't really have much choice. Kurt Angle was a fitness liability and John Cena was still some way from being ready for a bigger role. JBL would eventually be used to put Cena over at Wrestlemania 21, but to be honest, that lost all meaning in the face of HHH putting Batista over. JBL's entire reign and usefulness was therefore hard to draw many positives from. Smackdown was never the same again, a year later it was bumped to the less valuable Friday Night slot. It then went through a period across different networks before today ending up on Syfy. That says it all. Smackdown is now on the same network that the third tier ECW operated on, to many fans it is simply awaiting its eventual cancellation. The death of Smackdown and tumble towards irrelevancy arguably all began with three little letters - JBL.