The TV viewing audience for WWE RAW has been consistently dropping since the Attitude Era. To put it in to perspective, today’s numbers are around the same as when Dean Douglas, Duke The Dumpster Droese and Mantaur were some of the big creative ideas. The meme is that 3 hours is just too long to keep the audience interested, but how many of you binge watch multiple hours of Breaking Bad or House of Cards on Netflix? 3 hours is a challenge, but if the programming is compelling people will watch. The drop in viewers is as much a creative issue as it is the length of the show.
The formula and overall presentation of RAW has been much the same for almost two decades. There’s a hook at the beginning (often an in-ring promo that’s is revisited at the end of the show), some backstage segments, and several matches of varying degrees of importance. However over the years the trash talking and heat between characters has been turned down, the variety of backstage segments have decreased to the point where it’s mostly just Renee Young interviewing people, and despite being live almost nothing spontaneous ever happens anymore.
The solution? TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
I’m not calling for them to make wrestlers hit each other in the head with chairs, or have old ladies giving birth to hands … just mix it up a little bit. There’s 3 hours to fill!
Unscripted Post Match Interviews
What happened to post match interviews? People often complain that the in-ring action is meaningless, so why not have Renee stationed at ringside to get the winner and loser’s thoughts? They don’t have to be tightly scripted promos, these are supposed to be fighters that have just gone to war. Let them huff and puff and get out some raw emotions like you see on UFC. You might just get a new Austin 3:16 moment in the process.
In fact why do I have to log on to the WWE Youtube page to see backstage fallout? Those are some of the most entertaining and character developing segments produced, and they’re not even on the show.
Put It On RAW
There’s a lot of online content that’s for more interesting than the current RAW formula. Take the 24 documentaries on the Network. People love hating on Roman’s one dimensional character, but I dare you to watch him on those Network specials and not get emotionally invested. Why can’t similar content be filmed for RAW and spliced throughout the show. They don’t have to break kayfabe and they can easily include the storylines in the footage. It’s not like Total Divas and Breaking Ground are a shoot. Pick a new wrestler every couple of weeks, and give us a window in to their current journey. Their motivations, their struggles, their personalties – and we might start caring about them.
We learn more about the Usos on Total Divas than on RAW? In fact everyone on Total Divas is more interesting than when they’re on RAW? Why can’t we have the same kind of backstage content on RAW!? Simply have the Authority or Vince declare that as part of a new direction for the show, as soon as you step in to the arena parking lot you will be filmed, making the backstage area a reality show. That’s kind of what it’s supposed to be anyway. You can pre-tape it, whatever is most convenient, but give us some of the same character depth we see in other programming.
Why are Michael Cole’s sit-down interviews only on Youtube? He could do one or two of those a week on RAW, which would progress storylines and break up the monotony.
Actually Be Creative
They could go the full 9 yards and set up a chat show studio at the side of the stage. Then they could put all those legend’s contracts and celebrity fans to good use, by chatting to them throughout the broadcast. Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar just had a crazy brawl, tell me Terry Funk what do you think about that? From time to time the heels can interrupt the segment to get heat. It would be a nice break from Michael Cole reminding us what happened 2 minutes ago, every 2 minutes.
When Shane McMahon returned and told us that RAW sucked, and the ratings were in the toilet, and he would bring change, it was the perfect opportunity to do something different. Triple H could have left to be the permanent face of NXT, Stephanie could have stopped playing her heel character so she could properly represent the company, and some of these ideas could have been implemented. Instead Shane lost at WrestleMania and we’re in a bizarre limbo stage, where nothing has really changed.
Is 3 hours a problem? Probably, but they could at least try something creative!