WWE's Model for Booking, Creative Faults and Three Hour Raw Problems

Justin LaBarFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

Photo courtesy of ESPN
Photo courtesy of ESPN

Watching WWE, you would think they believe the audience has the memory span of a goldfish.

WWE insists on showing at least four recaps of the same thing during a three-hour show.

WWE also refuses to let an episode go by without having the same top four storylines addressed on television in the same manner as the week before.

WWE writes and produces to most casual fan. The more hardcore fan follows the product well enough to sometimes know the story better than those in the company. WWE is aiming to those who are playing hard ball with WWE for their time and money.

Everybody is getting upset at what we thought would happen, and is now happening. Raw has gone to three hours and the extra time is being used for recaps and social media.

I am willing to give it time before I deem it a failure.

Switching to the longer format does take some weeks and is a trial and error for WWE. They have to analyze after enough weeks how the timing of the show is going. After getting the matches, social media and recaps in―Are they running light on time? Are they running over? Can we fit another storyline consistently in to an episode?

Many regular weekly fans complain about wanting to see more talent featured on the show, more interesting stories from top to bottom on the card.

WWE's model is centered around giving maximum television time to the four big stories they will commit to promoting for the upcoming pay-per-view. They then have two to three secondary stories that get addressed four out of five weeks but WWE won't advertise them until last minute for a PPV.

This drives me nuts with WWE.

I wish WWE would realize you don't have to have every storyline addressed to the fullest every week. One week, let the story be heavily progressed via an in-ring match. The next week, try it being something pre-taped or produced. They have dark matches so if its someone who is a big enough draw that they want to be able to advertise locally, you put them in a dark match.

By doing this you allow your creative to feature more angles in a period of a month leading up to a pay-per-view.

This is something TNA has been doing a great job of. Aces & Eights are one of the big angles in TNA. Masked men attacking these big name wrestlers. One week we see the group live. Another week, a quick but affective pre-taped promo.

Storyline gets addressed but allows for more angles to be going on.

Wrestling fans love to hate Vince Russo. Russo is another figure in wrestling so many fans find pleasure in hating because they find it's the popular opinion to dislike him based on the faults he's had in the public eye. For example, some of the ridiculous content we saw when he was in charge of creative in the later days of WCW.

Fans see this, it becomes a popular thing to do and think they sound smart by analyzing how bad he is. The more appropriate analysis would be Russo is terrible at being the head creative guy. He is great at being a guy in the creative room.

When fans miss how in the attitude era there were such great stories and even the guys on the bottom of the card were relevant in WWE―that was because of Vince Russo.

He made sure every segment featuring a talent somehow furthered their character and story. Everybody has something to do. You would add layers of drama, having separate angles intersect with each other. He realized if you plan ahead well enough, your next four weeks of television can feature more content then you initially think.

In my opinion, so much of this goes back to the fact there are too many cooks in the kitchen. A creative staff of 16 in addition to other major backstage players who have input. That many people will never agree on anything so the ending result of so much is inconsistent, illogical and watered down.

You can start with a great idea. The idea should go through four or five people. Some should be added or taken away ultimately resulting in the best story possible.

WWE can start with an idea now, but by the time it goes through everyone, it results in a completely different idea.

It's not that the creative writers aren't creative, or at least that isn't the case for all of them. They could have a million dollar idea, but one person higher on the chain doesn't like it or a person involved, NEXT.

Being a creative writer for the amount of original content WWE produces a week isn't easy. However, it's harder to do it and have an excess of checks and balances to deal with. You never move forward, just spend all your time running in place.

Creative should be centered around a storyboard. You highlight the major points, key things that need to be said. Have a plan B or C potentially. Let the professionals do what they do. They should know their characters best and should be the only ones who could write a speech in that character's voice.

Something else the three-hour Raw has done is given us longer matches. This is a fact. I don't have specific numbers to give you but anybody who watches week to week can see the increase in multiple segment matches (matches that have commercial breaks during them) in the episodes of Raw.

There are still some short matches for television that are five minutes curtain to curtain, but overall, more in-ring action. I'd rather cut down some of the lengthy matches. Give me two matches in the time of one. Add another angle in the show. Save the longer matches for pay-per-views.

I'm not saying get rid of all longer matches, but be judicial with how much you give. Again, your hardcore audience will see the longer matches at the pay-per-views regardless. You're targeting short attention span, lesser informed, casual fans. Less is more. Leave them wanting to see more and make them pay for the PPV to see more. If they start yawning for a match to be over, it could be hard to get them back.

People watch the free television, weekly episodic shows for drama and story building. People buy PPVs for the epic encounter and resolve.

The beauty of pro-wrestling PPVs is people are paying and you can guarantee they get their money's worth, not buying a big match and getting a 90 second fight. They are going to get a full match filled with suspense.

The four weeks of Raw that will air between SummerSlam and Night Of Champions will be a true showing for WWE and the three-hour format.

They will have had a full month to see how the show flows with the extra hour mixed with their model of push the top four stories over and over and over.

If they feel they can budget more angles in the show while maintaining social media promotion as well as feel their top stories are getting enough exposure―we'll see the change take place as they build to the September show.

If we don't see a change, lower ratings and poor morale don't lie. But hey, we can always have 15 seconds to Tout our feelings.