On this past Monday Night Raw, 3 hours of legends trying to relive their glory days was a nice trip down nostalgia. However, none of these legends are obviously in for the long haul. It masks a recurring long-term problem.
Lately, Monday Night Raw and Smackdown have not been must see TV. PPVs are no longer worth buying. Survivor Series had so much potential yet failed to deliver. Same with other PPVs.
The lingering question is, how do you make Raw and Smackdown must see TV? How can you increase the PPV buy rates?
It's actually a fairly easy question. Try to be the best in the world at what you do!!! Settle for NOTHING less. Make an electrifying show every night out.
Before I divulge into specific problems and solutions, I will take a look at some things that need improvement.
Commentary: As the announce team goes, it's not bad. But if Jim Ross comes back, he should not have to deal with Michael Cole, who should move to Smackdown full-time to pair with Striker and Josh Matthews. Make Todd Grisham the top interviewer on both shows.
During the PPV's, have Jim Ross (if healthy), Jerry Lawler, and either Matt Striker or Michael Cole call the matches. Have Cole or Striker conduct interviews as well.
Don't forget CM Punk as a commentator. He's an excellent speaker with a good heel presence. Put him on Raw with JR and King, two face commentators, to balance things out.
Use of young guys and jobbers: Make all the younger jobbers (Primo, Yoshi Tatsu, Chris Masters, etc.) with some potential go to the tag team division. This can properly build up future stars (Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, etc). Make all the veteran jobbers put younger wrestlers over. Use all your talent. If they can't hack it, send them to FCW or future endeavor them, it's that easy.
Championships: remember when being the WWE Champion was a HUGE deal? Now, with the talent level depleted, unifying the WWE and the WHC makes perfect sense. Unify it at either Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania 27. I recommend it would be Triple H or John Cena vs. Undertaker to make it a HUGE match.
This will make the belt an honor to carry again and will improve the quality of wrestling. It's a basic tenet of Vince McMahon capitalism: more competition will force wrestlers to up their games. It will also increase PPV buys if the feuds for it are properly built (more on that later). Not to mention this improves the US and IC competition, as younger guys don't need to be rushed to the main event.
Divas: All I can say is NEVER have Vickie Guerrero wrestle. That alone will not resurrect a dead division. Here's a basic solution, put all the great in ring workers (Gail Kim, Natalya, Beth Phoenix, etc) on the wrestling show, Smackdown. Put all the hot but not great wrestlers (Kaitlyn, Maryse, Kelly Kelly, etc) on Raw. Tell Laycool to know their roles and shut their mouths.
This can be a really good show at times. The only things holding back the show are that stupid beep (more on that later), the lack of actual wrestling, and the absence of intense, epic promos as in the Attitude Era.
Here's how you can rectify these problems.
Reveal the Raw GM already! That beep kills the momentum of any promo or match. "And I quote" is a liability to the show. Just decide on somebody and let that person run the show (Triple H or Kevin Nash would be fine with me, just anybody but Vickie Guerrero).
Raw is the "E" part of the WWE and Smackdown is the "W" part. Therefore, make it as entertaining as possible. Quit making these stupid segments. Tell your wrestlers to utilize the WWE library to study the promos of the Rock, Stone Cold, and many other great mic workers.
For example, the Miz can be that "awesome" guy who makes fun of people, face or heel. CM Punk and Wade Barrett can also cut outstanding promos. Use the great speakers to your advantage.
Focus on making epic promos, a strength of the Attitude Era. If you truly want Raw to be a promo-based show, then have your best mic workers. Of course, if you can give Dwayne Johnson and Steve Austin a blank check to return, by all means do that. But don't bank on it.
Is WWE must see TV?
Focus on building up guys who can cut amazing promos and make people want to come see them. People wanted to watch Rock and Austin during the Attitude Era. People should want to come see John Cena make fun of Wade Barrett's Dumbo-sized ears, not call Sheamus a human jar of mayo.
People couldn't wait to tune in to see what Stone Cold would do against Vince McMahon or who would come out on top between the Rock and Triple H.
Make Raw the show of epic feuds based off intense and personal promos. Make it like a PG version of the Attitude Era. Also, to balance the show out with wrestling and promos, put the entire tag division on Raw, or what's left of it.
As the Rock's show, it was often regarded as the People Champ's opportunity to dispense pure greatness to the people.
However, the best period of Smackdown was when Paul Heyman ran the Ruthless Aggression Era. WWE was wise enough to adjust to their personnel. Wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Undertaker, and Batista fit in perfectly in the Ruthless Aggression mindset. Many other guys today would fit in nicely as well.
Let this be your wrestling-based show, as they do today. Focus on putting five star matches week in and week out. Put all your top in-ring wrestlers on the show. Lay the Smackdown on the viewers every week. And the Rock means every week.
In order to do this, I highly recommend they revive the Cruiserweight Title. Smaller guys can showcase their talents without being overmatched size-wise.
By reviving the Cruiserweight Division, WWE can use all their undersized wrestlers to compete for something. This ensures no wrestler can be buried due to size.
Focus this show on just wrestling, no promos or video packages. As WWE did back in the day, use this show to introduce new stars. Make matches that people care to see.
To summarize everything for the TV shows, I recommend that WWE puts all the entertainers on Raw and the wrestlers on Smackdown. Heavily push guys who can do both well. Guys who can both wrestle and entertain should compete for the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Raw is the "E" part of the WWE and Smackdown is the "W" part.
I had the privilege to watch Survivor Series last night. It was very disappointing to me and my family. The ending was pathetic. Not to mention they ended it twenty minutes too early. UNACCEPTABLE!!!
Do people really think Cena's going to be fired?
Not to be arrogant, but these two fantasy-like PPV predictions should be the norm every single PPV. Make it as AWESOME as possible.
Well, I issued the challenge. Just be the best in the world at what you do.
To force WWE to respond to it, TNA needs to make headway in the Pro Wrestling monopoly that is WWE. Competition will wake up WWE's dormant brilliance of creative writing.
Improving the product will make them more money than ever. And it won't cost them anything because it's all about changing the script and the mindset.
My article was a fairly long analysis. The real question is, is WWE must see TV? We will be hard pressed to say yes.
Adios from Jeff Awesome. Be thankful for the opportunity to write on this site. Enjoy!