With WWE focusing largely on Raw and Smackdown, Main Event is considered by most to be the company's "C" show. Based on the overall quality of programming, however, Main Event is actually WWE's best produced and executed weekly show.
The one thing that Main Event doesn't have going for it is a long-standing tradition. Every WWE fan knows that Raw is the longest-running, weekly episodic show in television history because the WWE makes a point of telling us every Monday. Also, Smackdown is No. 2 on that list, so the company certainly has the market cornered in that regard.
Main Event debuted a couple months ago, so it obviously has a long way to go before it reaches the same level as Raw or Smackdown in terms of notoriety, but the show itself is already better than its more highly-touted predecessors. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest reason is the simple idea that less is more.
Which is WWE's best weekly television show?
Raw is a three-hour show that the WWE often tries to rush. The fact of the matter is that there is plenty of time to include quality content, but instead of a few great matches and a few great promos per week, we often get several random squash matches, throwaway segments, recaps and advertising for things such as Twitter, Tout and WWE merchandise.
That isn't to say that Raw is an inherently bad show, as I do believe that it takes more flak than it should, but the WWE just doesn't utilize its allotted time to the fullest. The same can be said for Smackdown. The blue brand's show is a more standard two hours in length and has a bit more rhythm than Raw generally does, but large chunks of it are used to recap things that happened on Raw. Considering the fact that most people watching Smackdown already saw Raw, it's counterproductive.
While Raw and Smackdown fail in certain areas, Main Event is the best of all worlds. It's only a one-hour show, but it is very well constructed when compared to the other WWE shows. There never seems to be any chaos or confusion, and that is a big part of what makes it great. The format is regimented, and the fans always know what to expect in that regard.
Almost every episode has begun with Michael Cole and The Miz addressing the audience, followed by video packages of the superstars who are set to compete in the night's feature bout. I'm normally against excessive usage of video packages, but these ones are different because they're presented in a pay-per-view style and they allow a more casual audience to get acclimated with the wrestlers.
After that, there is a fairly lengthy match, which is normally followed by an interview or two. To close out the show, there is a lesser contest, but the events of that match often set up the following week's episode. Everything is tightened up and streamlined when compared to Raw and Smackdown, and that makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience.
With that said, Main Event obviously isn't perfect. The fact that it's a taped show puts it at a clear disadvantage against a show like Raw. The absence of live television is more of an issue for Smackdown, though. Since Smackdown is considered WWE's No. 2 show and it's taped three days before it actually airs, essentially everyone knows what is going to happen beforehand.
Main Event is taped on Tuesdays and airs Wednesdays on ION Television, however, and I don't get the impression that people are desperately seeking out spoilers for the show. I almost always head into Main Event cold without knowing precisely what is going to happen, and I'm willing to bet that is the case for most of the viewers.
When Main Event debuted, most figured it would get the Superstars treatment, meaning it would feature low-card superstars and offer no storyline advancement. The opposite has been true, though, with upper-mid-card and even main-event-caliber guys competing on a weekly basis. Also, many of the matches are made based on things that happen on Raw and Smackdown.
Due to the fact that Main Event is on a station that many people don't get in ION, as well as the preconceived notions that people had ahead of its debut, it may never receive the credit it so richly deserves. As somebody who watches WWE's top three shows religiously, though, I can say with confidence that Main Event is the best among them.