-- WWE announced during USA Network's upfront presentation that RAW will go to three hours in a permanent basis starting with its 1000th episode on July 23rd. The show will air from 8 PM – 11 PM every Monday and will have "interactive elements" during the first hour that will lead to matches and stipulations in the last two hours. Because of the change, WWE Superstars will be fully taped on Tuesdays before SmackDown. As of right now, it appears the first hour of RAW will be a pre-show/hype show before the normal two-hour RAW airs. It'll feature recaps and hype for that week's show. A live match or two may be featured from time to time but not on a weekly basis.
The company issued a press release (below) announcing the change and attributing the announcement to John Cena "via Twitter" during the upfront.
-- As noted earlier, TNA has announced that iMPACT! Wrestling will go live this summer. The show's first live episode will be May 31st, the same day that the show moves up an hour to 8:00 EST on Thursdays. Dixie Carter said in the press release that the show will be live from Universal Studios in Orlando starting May 31st and "continue through the summer." According to a source, this is being done during the summer as a "test run" to see if ratings increase by going live. If ratings increase, they'll stay live full-time. The show will still be taped in Orlando. More as we get it.
Both press releases are below:
WWE PRESS RELEASE:
WWE® MONDAY NIGHT RAW® EXPANDS TO THREE ELECTRIFYING HOURS LAUCHING WITH THE 1,000th EPISODE, JULY 23 ON USA NETWORK
@JohnCena Tweets Historic Announcement From USA Upfront Presentation
NEW YORK – May 17, 2012 – WWE Superstar John Cena® announced via Twitter today that WWE Monday Night Raw will expand to a three-hour event 52 weeks a year. The extended telecast will kick-off July 23 at 8/7C on USA Network and marks the 1000th episode of the WWE Raw franchise and a television record – no other series has ever reached this milestone.
The announcement was tweeted today by Cena (the No. 1 most influential male athlete on Twitter last month) during USA's upfront presentation in New York City. The move firmly put WWE's stake in the ground as one of the most powerful social brands in the world and an integral part of USA Network's social media initiative.
"The WWE Universe is one of the most socially active and passionate fan bases in all of television," said Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel, co-presidents USA Network. "The powerful three-hour block of live TV truly makes USA the year-round destination for young male viewers on Monday nights."
"WWE is proud to celebrate this historic milestone with our partners at USA Network," said WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. "Our new three-hour Raw represents the next generation in interactive television where our fans won't just watch the show, they will help create it."
The expanded WWE Monday Night Raw will transform television to an unprecedented level of viewer interaction. Fans will have new ways to get involved in the show through WWE.com and social media by deciding matches, stipulations and new character development. WWE will brand this unprecedented fan interaction as "#RAWactive."
TNA PRESS RELEASE:
TNA’S IMPACT WRESTLING CELEBRATES SUMMER 2012 BY GOING LIVE!
SPIKE TV TAKES HIGHLY RATED SHOW LIVE AND TO 8:00PM/ET BEGINNING THURSDAY, MAY 31st
NASHVILLE, TN - (May 17, 2012) -- TNA IMPACT WRESTLING President Dixie Carter and SPIKE TV President Kevin Kay announce today that the highly-rated “IMPACT WRESTLING” will be going Live! from Universal Studios beginning May 31st and continue through the summer. This announcement coincides with the recently announced new, one-hour earlier time slot change of 8:00-10:00pm/ET every Thursday night beginning May 31st.
“We are excited to take IMPACT WRESTLING Live! all summer long, and have our first Live! summer show launch our new 8:00pm/ET time slot,” says TNA President Dixie Carter. “Summer of 2012 is going to be remembered as the most momentous time in our company's history-to-date. Stay tuned."