A recent article on bleacher report about "Is the WWE luring loyal fans away from Raw to Smackdown?" got me thinking alot about this topic, but instead of the case presented in the article i looked deeper into the suggestion of this.
Back in the Monday night wars when modern day wrestling was in its "attitude era" both WWE (the WWF) RAW and WcW Monday night nitro were broadcasting stella shows. WWE chose to make an edgier production with regular title changes outside of PPV's, Stone Cold doing what every single viewer wanted to do and sticking it to the man (Vince), creating icons that will always be remembered in the industry (Stone Cold, The Rock, Undertaker etc), putting the divas out there showing sex sells and basically making a show that can only be summed up by the term "rock and roll".
WcW Nitro on the other hand although very similar was still more family orientated, Nitro was more glitz and glamour then Raw. Nitro week in and week out would have a new celebrity involved in a storyline or just be there, an all-star roster of great's like Hogan, Nash and Hall, Randy Savage, Ric Flair etc, the nitro girls cheer leading for eye candy and trying to make everything bigger and better then the WWE to beat them in the ratings.
Watching WWE Raw now i see alot of what WcW Nitro used to try and beat Raw in the "Monday night wars". Sure WWE may not have a power stable like the NWO pulling all the strings as Vince Mcmahon is a smart guy but there are some great similarities.
WcW's main aim was to beat WWE in the ratings week in and week out, all Bischoff cared about was ratings. He saw one way of doing this by having celebrities be in the show, celebrities like Dennis Rodman, Jay Leno and the extreme case of David Arquette (May of been Russo's idea actually, pretty sure neither would ever own up to it) to bring the star power and get people watching WcW. Now the idea of a raw guest host weekly cannot just be a coincidence! The only difference is atleast WcW made the concept of having celebrities on the show exciting. WWE shove some D-List star who has a movie out, give him some lines and make up a couple of matches that have something to do with the host (Hot tub time machine legends lumberjack, Jerry Springer segment were Kelly Kelly looks like she is going to wet herself and Chris Masters wobbles his moobs).
WWE has also made the divas roster look very much like the Nitro girls. During the attitude era the divas were all about sex sells with Debra getting her "puppies" out every week, then the divas roster was more competitive and more then anything respectful with divas like Trish, Chyna and Lita all putting on slightly enjoyable matches. Today divas matches last for about 2 minutes, usually themed with pillows or evening gowns and about 2 genuine wrestling moves are used (Only three short of Cena). The divas seem to have become more "seen, but not heard" just like the nitro cheerleaders.
Another and the most extreme similarity in my eyes but mostly in my opinion is that the WWE does not seem to be able to make the next Stone Cold or The Rock. Many may argue "What about John Cena or Batista?", but the thing is with that argument is that there is as many negative critics of Cena and Batista as there is supporters, whereas Austin and The Rock there were nothing negative said about either as they both had the technical ability in ring and on mic to put on a good match. If John Cena could wrestle as good as he could cut a promo he would be up there with Flair and Hogan. After main eventers like Cena, Batista, Orton and Triple H on Raw there is a massive drop off where nothing is coming through and soon if Randy wins at extreme rules Raw is down another top talent (Link with the article i mention in the intro), all that is there is Sheamus and he doesn't put bums in seats at shows.
And now i finally link my article with that of the article that inspired me to write this. From what things look like Raw is becoming the "cash-cow" for the WWE drawing in ratings with its guest host gimmick and hornswoggle still being a mute who causes trouble. But Nitro was exactly the same as Raw is today and look what happened to the show that beat "RAW IS WAR" 84 consecutive weeks. It has become apparent that wrestling purist Vince McMahon begrudgingly has given into Raw being all about ratings and moving his top talent like Randy Orton, Edge, Chris Jericho, Undertaker, Jack Swagger, CM Punk, John Morrison etc to Smackdown and leaving Raw with his "premier" wrestlers. Heck Smackdown even has the better Divas roster with the likes of Beth Phoenix.
So i as a wrestling fan will be tuned in every Friday night to see entertaining matches from the best wrestlers WWE has to offer and pray that Raw ends the constant Guest host, Santino and hornswoggle gimicks.