This past Monday marked the third permanent three-hour episode of Monday Night Raw. Perhaps it's too early to judge, but so far the WWE has failed to properly utilize the extra hour.
Not counting the blockbuster 1000th episode with legends helping to make for a memorable three hours, the following two episodes have been of poor quality.
Even amongst the Brock Lesnar and Triple H rivalry, CM Punk’s heel turn, and a dream feud between Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler, the WWE has found a way to mess things up. Three ways in fact.
More commercials, more social media and more recaps.
Since RAW 1000 commercial breaks have become ridiculously overbearing. Although they apparently only take over 40 minutes of the show, their timing is the real issue.
Commercials need more than short backstage promos or recap videos, especially when it's likely that you’ll be seeing that very same recap video several times before the night is out.
During Raw 1001, Lesnar and Triple H’s confrontation from the previous week was relived several times. Even the fire-catching mishap was recapped so often that it took up more time than some matches.
At one stage, WWE did a Raw recap pre-show, but now with a three-hour broadcast we’re getting all of that in one sloppy package.
If you weren’t paying full attention to what was live and what was a recap at Raw 1002, then Sheamus stole Alberto Del Rio’s Ferrari at least three times, which we had to hear about through Tout for the rest of the night.
Raw’s social media overload has never been a good thing, but now with an extra hour and WWE’s investment in Tout, it is worse than ever before. Promoting Tout and playing some of its poor quality videos eat up far too much time.
What really makes Tout annoying is WWE pretending that it’s worthy to be placed alongside Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Outside of the WWE, Tout is virtually unknown.
At this rate, its sole purpose is for fans to get their own Raw moment by appearing on TV, albeit unglamorously from their webcam or smartphone camera.
Instead of being given three hours of action, Raw very literally feels as if it is being stretched out far too thin over the three hours. It’s the same two hour-show padded with commercials, Touts and recaps.
WWE is begging its viewers to only half-watch, because few people will have the temperance to religiously sit through the full broadcast. Rating figures will never reveal how many people are actually watching Raw and how many people merely have it on.
The extra hour should seemingly have added to the program, but so far it has done nothing but detract from it. My suggestion is a return to the basics. NXT is quickly becoming WWE’s most quality hour of television because it focuses on wrestling.
Raw needs to return to its roots. Like at Raw 1001, give deserving talent like Tyson Kidd more airtime. Like Raw 1002’s Divas match that wasn’t over in less than a minute, find time in that extra hour to rebuild the women’s division.
Why not also reinvigorate the tag team and non-existent cruiserweight divisions?
Putting on a wrestling show should not be a difficult thing to do, but somehow WWE is managing to do wrestling wrong. Raw must remove all of the padding and go back to its roots.
A complete restructuring of Raw’s three hours is absolutely necessary for the program to remain strong into the future.
Actually, at this stage a restructuring is absolutely necessary for Raw to remain bearable.