A few weeks ago, in the unforgiving 97 degree Chicago heat, I spent the afternoon at US Cellular field, watching the Chicago White Sox make an example out of the Cleveland Indians. I was with two of my long time best friends taking in the game. In conversation, one of the guys and I were having a conversation about our blogs. He has an amazing blog that he updates daily, sometimes twice a day regarding the Chicago White Sox. In conversation, he mentioned hearing that Raw was going to be hitting 1000 episodes. For him to know this, is a pretty big deal, since he doesn’t follow pro wrestling at all. But as he mentioned it, it reminded me of one burning topic that surrounds this crowning achievement. Around that time, we were presented with news that WWE Monday Night Raw will move to 3 hours on their 1000th episode premiering on July 23rd. And I’m sorry to say, but if you are looking forward to this, your patients must be a valor test of time.
WWE’s formula for Monday night raw usually goes as this:
8pm cst-8:17pmcst – In ring promo by either John Cena, Triple H, and maybe the WWE Champion (emphasis on WWE CHAMPION) CM Punk.
8:20pm -8:26pm- Opening match, usually involves Kofi Kingston somehow
8:26pm-8:27pm- Backstage promo to set up the midway point match.
8:31pm cst- The WWE “Rewind”, Commercial for the new WWE Magazine, Product placement, another backstage segment.
8:36pm- Divas match begins
8:39pm- Divas match ends.
8:40pm- Backstage segment
8:42pm – commercial
8:46pm- Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler speak about what happened either earlier in the night or what took place last week, queue the over produced video package.
8:51pm- The midway point match begins.
9:07pm – the midway point match ends with a couple of commercial breaks.
9:08pm- quick backstage segment
9:13pm – back from commercial break
9:14pm- Broadus Clay match
9:19pm- DVD that is either on sale right now, on sale tomorrow or on sale next Tuesday
9:23pm- The WWE Slam of the night.
9:24- WWE Tag match
9:36pm – Tag match ends
9:40pm- Special in ring promo cut by Jericho or someone.
9:46pm- Teaser for the Main event
9:52pm- Main event (or John Cena Promo and/or Contract Signing) beginning.
10:08 pm cst- Raw Ends
I know what you’re saying, “well that looks like a lot of content”. Yes, it does, on paper, but Raw has become nothing more but paint by numbers.
So, if this is what takes place in a 2 hours show, what in the hell is going to happen with the 3rd hour??? I know, you’re saying to yourself, “but they can showcase some of the younger, no name stars!” Yeah, I’d like that, I’d love that, but is WWE really going to give MNR air time to the likes of a Yoshi Tatsu, Tyler Reks or Darren Young? Ummmmm, no. Raw’s ideology is for at all seconds on the air, you must either have a big name superstar (is: Cena, Orton, or Triple H) a Diva (i.e.: Kelly Kelly, was The Bella Twins or Beth) or someone larger than life (i.e.: Kane, Big Show or Broadus Clay). So, they are not concerned with giving the younger guys any of the precious Raw airtime.
This is why they have WWE Superstars show, which only half the country gets on WGN America. That is designated for “them”. But when the announcement of Raw going 3 hours was made, the first thing that came to my mind was “WCW Monday Nitro”! Now when that show went 3 hours at first, I was happy and looking forward to it happening. More wrestling = More Good TV. Not in this case, it just meant more fluff. It meant tacking on another Lee Marshall 1800 Collect Road Report! The thing, I don’t need! So after thought, came when Raw has a gimmick night and need the extra hour; per USA Network’s deal, of WWE having to hold a certain number of Raw’s per year. So with that, WWE just makes up these gimmick filled shows. The Roulette, WWE All Stars Monday Night Raw, “Old School Night”. And while, the idea is good on paper (there goes the power of the p-a-p-e-r again), after the 2 hours 10 mark, the gimmick either wears thin or WWE forgets they’re doing it and it feels like as normal show. By this time, you’re looking at the clock saying “Wow, another 50 min of this?” At one time, the 3 hour raw only occurred once a year and it was for the WWE Draft and those shows were prime excellence, 2oo2 roster at the time was great as opposed to 10 years later.
So, with every complaint of mine, I have to provide some sort of a solution, and even though, I’m not on the booking committee, I can suggest this, give us an hour of WRESTLING. Do that for us on the first hour. Give us Yoshi Tatsu, Tyler Reks, Kurt Hawkins, Darren Young, Titus O’Neal, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, talent from FCW. No backstory, no pending drama, just two guys in the ring, and let the wrestling tell the story. Give that to us for an hour, even have Josh Matthews and Matt Stryker do the commentary. But make that 60 min mean something. To wrestling fans, and the next 2 hours can be paint by numbers.
And yes, true, that is very WCW Monday Nitro, but while the WWE, (sometimes) TNA and the wrestling world learned from WCW mistakes, it won’t hurt to learn from their triumphs either.
Maurice D. Proffit is a Writer for Rant Sports