I took the opportunity to pen some thoughts in regards to my weekly viewing of Raw. Lets be clear though, with the show promoting Raw as the longest running episodic show, it didn’t start well for me, if we are talking worldwide, the UK’s Coronation Street beats Raw by a long way, starting its episodic show in 1960 and still running today.
Raw started with a recap of last week. You remember that angle don’t you? The one where the Smackdown heels and faces banded together in order to “invade” Raw and in doing so reminded us how good the original DX invasion was, diametrically opposed to the watery, paper thin product we have today.
The problem with the WWE for me is at its core in the storytelling and character development. This was highlighted perfectly at the beginning when they “gave away” the whole story with nothing to keep the viewer watching for the rest of the show in the first few minutes (in reference to the “invasion”). Instead of giving us multiple parts and maybe having Stephanie come out to ringside and calling Kurt to the back for a conclusion later, they had Stephanie cut a promo on Kurt, give him an ultimatum and then leave by a limo.
We then had another teaser/hook when Miz was told he would face an unnamed opponent for his title – but this was then played out in a match with Matt Hardy before the halfway point. No reason to keep the viewers watching. The result of the match was expected, just like the Nia Jax and Samoa Joe match results were expected.
The hook of a Bliss v James main event was a good one – for the existing fans who know the backstory and these two wrestlers, but I would not be surprised if many people had already switched off before this was announced. I think the WWE and the existing fans forget that the purpose of Raw and Smackdown is to bring new fans into the products – such as the Network.
I’ve said many times that the WWE is writing their shows for the existing fans and that’s a good start (when they come up with good ideas), the trouble is, I see little in the way of trying to hook in new fans and the material they are producing for the existing fans, more often than not seems to disappoint.
The idea for a good Raw/Smackdown show is surely to keep existing fans happy whilst having material to appeal to and bring in, a wider audience. Do you think the average TV viewer or channel surfer is going to get excited about Finn Balor and a match he may be having? I’d say no and I also say that the majority of non-wrestling fans will not even know who he is.
We had three returns of stars which the WWE squandered early on and has me asking – Do the WWE actually write shows or merely patch them together by means of writing all the segments on pieces of paper and drawing them out of a hat to piece together the show?
Did anyone expect Nia Jax to lose? Or Samoa Joe? Or how about Asuka? – If you are removing the element of suspense or surprise and the matches have nothing at stake, why are you having them on TV?
I will say that both Stephanie and Joe came back to cut very good promo’s. Joe’s was a little cliched in relation to the “you never cared about me” statement, but it was delivered with passion and convincingly – that is to the credit of Joe though, not the writers and just shows that you can give a true professional anything and no matter how badly written it is, they can make it work.
Then we look at the Halloween Street Fight…..really? Who was this to entertain? Mind you, it came as a welcome relief instead of yet another recap, either of what you’ve just watched or watched in the previous week.
There are gems within the product, unfortunately they are scattered throughout the product in an almost haphazard fashion, so the only people who will see them are the ones sticking with the show to the bitter end. A good example here is Enzo, charismatic and entertaining, yet he seems almost placed at random in the show when he would be ideal to be appealing to a wider audience and being part of the main storyline – at the beginning of the show.
RAW needs to be far stronger in the first 15 minutes and provide teasers to keep people watching if they are seriously going to expect people to stick around for a 3 hour show. It needs to sequence its shows better so that there is a logical beginning, middle and end.
The end of the show was good with Braun but for me there wasn’t enough build up during the show in respect of this particular storyline to compel people to stay around to the end to see the payoff – especially when shortly after the show you will be able to see clips/pictures online. The best angle of the night probably didn’t get as large viewing due to there being no real reference to it early on with people being led to believe the “invasion” angle was the main storyline. That was how I saw the show.
The issues of Raw go beyond the show layout right down to the length of the show. It’s too long. I would expect there is little the WWE can do about this as I would think its length is part of the TV deal they have signed, but for the future and going forward if the WWE have filler material in their show to the extent they do, they need to consider the length of the show as an integral facet of its future issues.
This show for me rated above previous shows slightly, but then that’s as an established viewer and at this moment in time the expectations I have of WWE programming are pretty low. If you are going to expect people to watch a 3 hour show, you ought to make it must see viewing from beginning to end. Is Raw really must see viewing?