Recently, a statement from WWE revealed that Raw will be permanently extended to a three-hour time slot beginning on July 23. WWE has promised that they will evolve Raw as well as include an unprecedented amount of viewer interaction, offering fans the chance to use social media to do things such as "deciding matches, stipulations, Superstar development and more."
For the love of God, please tell me they are joking.
Let's start with the time extension first: Three hours for a wrestling show is just simply too long. WWE has a hard enough time right now putting on a show that's watchable for two hours. Last week's Raw was one of the worst in years, and watching that felt like an eternity. Can you imagine WWE stretching a show like that out another hour? It's enough to make you wish Jack Kevorkian was still alive.
So Raw is going to be three hours, Smackdown is two hours, Superstars is an hour, NXT is one hour and they have a three-hour pay-per-view every month. How is a fan supposed to make that kind of commitment to a product? Especially when that product has delivered television which is consistently below average. The average fan simply does not have that kind of time to invest in a wrestling company.
Let's go back to last week's Raw for a second. Lengthy video packages replaced wrestling, interview segments were long and boring, which killed the live crowd and there was nothing presented that would make you want to spend $50 on Over the Limit this Sunday. If that show was three hours long, I would have had to have driven to Stamford, Conn. and screamed obscenities at Titan Tower until hauled away by police.
Over the Limit might draw the worst buy rate of any show in the modern era, and WWE only has themselves to blame due to subpar television.
In all fairness, WWE is not extending the time of Raw to "entertain the fans" or anything like that. They are simply expanding in order to claim another hour of highly-rated television and, therefore, charge more for advertising. Like all businesses, WWE simply wants to maximize profit at all times and if that means putting on another brutally boring hour of wrestling, then they are willing to make that sacrifice.
But you know what? I could live with the three-hour Raws, I really could. There is no chance in hell that I'm going to accept more "fan interaction," though.
Think of all the annoying Twitter plugs which exist on the show right now. Alright, now imagine that occurring in every single segment of the show. It's enough to make you want to jump off a bridge.
So essentially, WWE is turning Raw into the television version of Taboo Tuesday (or Cyber Sunday, whatever that awful pay-per-view was called when they finally killed it). Even if the polls aren't rigged (which, of course, they will be), WWE isn't going to cave to what the fans want.
The fans made it perfectly clear that they loved Zack Ryder and wanted to see him higher on the card, so what did WWE do? They had Kane systematically destroy Ryder every single week to the point where he's doing jobs on dark matches.
How about Dolph Ziggler? An awesome worker with a good look and style, Dolph was catching on as a heel and looked poised for a run at the top once fans started booing him. So what happened? WWE immediately halted his push and has him taking stupid headbutt dumps for Brodus Clay.
Oh yeah, Brodus Clay. The guy had some major momentum going for him, more than enough to justify an upper-midcard push and a secondary title. Nope, instead, WWE did nothing with him and he's back to squashing jobbers at every show until people get sick of him.
See what I mean? It doesn't matter what the fans want. You see, WWE already knows what you want.
You want John Cena fighting another heel authority figure. You want Randy Orton staring off into space like he's doing long division in his head and giving RKOs. You want Big Show on his knees crying for his job because seven-foot giants need sympathy heat.
You want Kane pretending it's still 2001 and that people actually care about him. You want the tag titles rendered worthless by having makeshift teams win them every couple of weeks. You want Santino Marella parading around with a sock puppet on his hand while holding the US title.
This is wrestling—it doesn't matter if it's two hours, three hours or 24 hours per day. Wrestling as an art form is dead and in its place is 2012 Sports Entertainment, full of cookie-cutter matches and characters no one wants to pay money to see.
How's that WWE Network going, by the way?