Monday Night Raw’s upcoming change to a three-hour format will result in one of two things: A worse show or a better one.
There’s no wiggle room, nothing in between, no compromise. The extra hour is either going to help Raw or hurt it.
Of course, every wrestling fan out there is hoping for the former.
Ideally, Raw’s expansion to three hours would result in, among other things, an improved tag team division, longer matches, more feuds and rivalries, more matches and a better overall show.
The optimistic side of me thinks that Raw will do just that—that the quality of the show will improve drastically with an extra hour to space things out.
The realistic side of me knows better.
They say that you can learn from history. If the WWE’s history has taught us anything, it’s that three-hour Raw shows aren’t any better or more entertaining—they’re a jumbled mess.
You would think that a drastic change to the format of a show like an additional 60 minutes would allow the WWE to fix all the bugs, cut out all the crap and extend all the good stuff.
Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. The WWE’s change to a three-hour Raw isn’t going to bring out much of a change at all.
Just look back at any of the recent three-hour Raw “specials,” and think about how those shows went down.
Did they feature longer and better matches?
Were they used to develop solid mid-card rivalries?
How many of them actually had fewer pointless backstage segments?
You get the point.
Raw, in its three-hour format, is essentially the same exact show as when it has a two-hour format. It’s just an hour longer.
And that’s where the problem lies.
The typical episode of Raw may feature one or two matches that gets 10 or more minutes of TV time, but in between those two bright spots are countless backstage skits that accomplish absolutely nothing and 15-minute show-opening or show-closing promos that have become the norm.
As a result, a two-hour Raw often feels like it lasts 17 hours. Segments drag on, matches end too quickly and talking takes top priority over wrestling.
This could change when Raw switches to a three-hour show, but a lot of things that could happen in the WWE never do.
Zack Ryder could get on Raw every week, but he doesn’t.
Dolph Ziggler could be a consistent main eventer, but he isn’t.
The Divas could matter, but they don’t.
That’s just the way the WWE works. There are so many changes that could benefit the company in a major way, but the ball is almost always dropped.
Why should we really think this is going to be any different?
Raw is changing to a three-hour format, but it’s nothing more than a mirage.
We’ll see longer matches and more feuds in the distance, but as we approach them, they’ll disappear.