Fans of the WWE seem to have the same collective complaints. So and so isn’t being used right. Raw is too long. Why hasn’t whoever been on TV more? You know, things of that nature.
Given that Raw is three hours long, all of them can be fixed, save for the “Raw is too long” aspect — as the three hours each Monday night should give the more talent more time to shine.
That’s the thing, as well. While Raw feels way too long right now as is, it is only because the show is booked strangely. A 20-minute promo to start nearly every show, usually with a guy who shouldn’t be talking, followed by backstage segments galore, many in-show advertisements, and little actual wrestling.
Fixing such issues are simple. Merely give more time for matches in the ring. Seriously, that is it.
Here is the thing: Not every wrestler we love can win matches each and every week. Try as hard as the WWE does to balance that, with their even-stevens booking, it has only compounded another program they have which is their failure to build younger stars. However, if there were matches on Raw each week, most of which got over 10 minutes of televised action, guys wouldn’t look as bad in a loss. Instead, we would be too busy applauding the terrific action we just witnessed to complain about whoever not going over.
The WWE has never been as deep with in-ring talent as it is now. Imagine putting on Raw on a Monday night to see six-to-eight quality matches each week. Those “this is awesome” chants usually reserved for one match per Raw could be happening throughout the entire show.
An obvious issue to this would be the toll it would take on the performers’ bodies. Between Raw, Smackdown, Network Specials and house shows, forcing the talent to regularly wrestle longer matches could force about injuries, fatigue and unhappiness. At the same time, though, I imagine the WWE could figure out a way to ease up their house show work to maximize their television appearances, product and athletes’ health heading into them.
There’s more to this, as well. The WWE only has a handful of wrestlers who are worthy of time on the microphone. Guys like Kevin Owens immediately jump to mind. Other performers who are good verbally, such as Damien Sandow or Bo Dallas, aren’t being used at all. Why not try to hide many of the other performers’ flaws — their inability to string together words with their mouth — with their talents inside the squared-circle.
It has actually worked for guys. Not only with Internet, wrestling die-hards, but with casual fans, too. Dolph Ziggler originally got over because of his talents in the ring. It had nothing to do with his ability as a wordsmith. He would trot out each week, perform at a high level, sell bumps as if he were the CEO of MakingGuysLookGreat(dot)com, and we loved him for it.
Now imagine doing that for all the talented guys. Some of them who are often in creative purgatory wouldn’t need so much an angle moving forward, but 10-15 minute matches on Raw regularly. Even in a loss, as long as they were afforded the opportunity to showcase their talents, they would get over. Heck, Roman Reigns got over because he went the route of being a man of violence. It wasn’t because his jokes about men’s testicles were getting a great reaction.
It would not only help create organic stars, but it would also eliminate WWE’s insatiable need to have one guy beat another one week, then reverse the results the following.
Three hours is a lot of show. That is a lot of creating of content the WWE has to do and it is probably why truly good Raws are few and far between. However, part of me feels like they are simply overthinking each episode too much. Simplifying it, by focusing more on the in-ring product, would only help play to the current roster’s strengths. It almost makes too much sense for them to ever implement such a plan.
The WWE even seemed at one point to slowly trend towards this direction. It began with giving John Cena’s U.S. Title Open matches 20 minutes each show, followed by another seemingly random match being added as another longer competition each Raw, and now they have begun to give them female performers ample time to start showing what they can do in the ring as well. All good things, although they never seem to have happened on the same Raw.
However, now that the Cena thing is scrapped, the WWE has reverted back to the heavy-promo, using the same group of people multiple times a show routine. Hopefully they see how often this tactic does not work as compared to how great wrestling-heavy segments do.
Given commercials, the need to enhance charcters and stories with promos, though, there is definitely still a need to have them on the show. While my preference is for a more wrestling-specific product, I understand that a balance needs to be had. I guess this is my — in the most roundabout way as humanly possible — way of saying that the balance is currently off, as there’s simply too much of the talky-talk and not enough of the kick-punch.