When it was announced WWE would add an additional hour to its flagship show Monday Night Raw, cynics were very critical of the decision. Many of them had nightmares of when Nitro was three hours; and, three years into the three-hour experiment, a number of the same problems Nitro had plagues Raw, like overexposure, too much downtime and just being plain too long. That is not to say booking a consistently compelling three-hour wrestling TV program is unmanageable, though the extra hour a week can make a writing team’s deficiencies out more transparent and that is what has happened and still is happening in WWE. Nevertheless, all is lost for three-hour Raw; however, in order to save the show’s entertainment merit, WWE needs to shakeup a lot about the show.
On a weekly basis, WWE should be able to answer two questions definitively. Those questions are….why should viewers watch Monday Night Raw and why should viewers keep watching Raw through its entire course? There are very few instances where WWE could answer those two questions. More often than not, Raws overlap each other with nothing making them distinguishable from the former.
Frankly, next week’s Draft episode has been well built, as a few interesting questions will be answered on that show. That gives viewers a reason to tune into the show. They want to see who will be drafted where; they want to see who will be the GMs of both shows, and they want to see what will happen in Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins’ WWE title match. This is something that should happen every week. There needs to be interesting questions that could be answered next week, or at the very least, something interesting promised to happen next week. Raw needs hooks, and the best way to hook people is by telling stories that keep progressing week after week.
But because of time filling reasons, lack of undercard stories and repetitive ideas – WWE struggles to keep storylines interesting and/or progressive. For example, AJ Styles’ feud with John Cena a month ago was very interesting, but it is already running out of steam.
WWE is obsessed with using their top stars on every Raw – sometimes multiple times on the show, and an obsession with doing something with a feud every week. Instead of doing something simple like a video package or quick backstage promos by each other – they have to stick them both in a segment and/or match every show. By the time they wrestle in some type of match several of times and talk in some type of segment with one other, the feud has become diluted by result of overexposure.
If WWE had an array of interesting stories up and down the card, some stories would have time to digest. They would not have to shoehorn feuds in some type of segment to fill space. They could instead go back to the feud when the time was right; but seeing as WWE thinking their fans have traumatic memory lost and thinking only the main event stories matter, thus everything in the undercard is trivial, WWE books themselves into corners wherein they have no choice.
Moreover, WWE is unreasonably content with using the same old hat ideas to either start or progress a feud. They have beaten every idea they have into the ground to start or move a feud. We have seen too many one-on-one promo segments resulting in 20 minutes of talking, too many contract signings, too many run-ins and/or entrance distractions, and too many tag matches involving people feuding.
A fresh dubious idea is better than a clichéd idea. At least a fresh dubious idea creates some interest to see where it goes, create some discussion about it and perhaps controversy too. People can actually, you know, discuss the idea – and make their case why they believe it was good or bad. With WWE, their ideas are so banal that there is no discussion to be had about it. Look at Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy’s Final Deletion match. To me, the match was campy, hokey, unrealistic and over the top. However, it was so different and so out there that I was interested while watching it. And many others felt this way as well. That is why it created one of Impact’s highest ratings and a lot of discussion about it. It was something different. TNA at least tried to go outside the box.
I mean, it is exciting when a company is trying to create different types of ways to create or progress a feud, develop a character, have a match, and so forth. It is better than WWE, which just sticks to its formula. And it goes beyond just the storylines with WWE, too. It is everything. The way babyfaces ought to act. The way heels ought to act. The way wrestlers all wrestle the same style. Everything is so cut and dry, no variety whatsoever. The worst part is that they know their television shows are terrible. That is why they have been promoting hoopla like “the dawning of a new era, “a new age”, etc. They try to do something differently, but then they becomes so nervous out of their confront zone, they jump right back into their conservative shell.
The word predictable is thrown around too much these days, and it is often used as an insult. Predictability is not always bad. Most good vs. evil stories use the same guidelines and end the same way, with the bad guy getting the comeuppance he deserves curiosity of the good guy. Raw is much worse than predictable. It is formulaic.
The show’s structure never changes. It is so micromanaged for everything to fit in its nice pieces. It has reached a point where everything seems separate from one another, yet at the same time so alike. Everyone is interchangeable and can be put into their formulas. Everything is geared on the show for the top of the hour segments; those are the segments they feel are important, so you know when everything they feel important will happen, and the rest of everything else is mostly filler.
One of wrestling fans’ often complaints about Raw is the amount of talking. They want instead more wrestling. Perhaps that was true a while ago, but it is not anymore. Raw is filled with matches; to make matters worse, a lot of them are boring. Extended squash matches go on far too long, rendering the moot. Characters that are not over and do not draw a decent response evaporate the air out of the building. The matches are so homogenized, telling the same exact story on every show, which are two wrestlers on such even keel that they can keep exchanging move after move with the other. And more often than not have no consequence or ramifications.