As most wrestling fans know WWE has been suffering with quite the ratings problem as of late but this isn’t something new. Ratings for Raw and Smackdown have been dropping for years; it’s only recently that they’ve plummeted so drastically that’s got everyone talking about it. The reality of the situation is WWE isn’t as popular as it once was and viewers are turning away. But why?
Are the WWE doomed to go out of business or can this be turned around again? Well just like everyone else on the Internet I’ve got my own opinion of just how that can be done. So here’s my two cents with 8 Simple Ways To Improve Raw (and WWE in general).
Cut the third hour of Raw
Lets get the big one out of the way first. One of the major problems that WWE have at the moment is too much airtime to fill. With 3 hours of Raw, 2 for Smackdown and another 2 for Main Event and Superstars they are quite justifiably struggling to produce quality entertainment for all of that time. Right now its quantity over quality.
Raw is suffering from far too much filler and not enough killer product. Segments drag on too long just take up a few more minutes (20 minute opening promos every single week!). Endless replays. Replays of replays. Recaps, more replays. It’s ridiculous!
If you cut the third hour you turn the problem on its head. Instead of being desperate to fill time WWE should be struggling to get everything they need into the show. This will up the tempo of the whole show and wont leave time for any down time. At the end of Raw WWE should want their fans to be desperate to see what happens on the next show (be that the next Raw, Smackdown, Main Event or Superstars) not desperate for the show to end! Less is more!
It’s too predictable
The whole show has become predictable and incredibly repetitive. It’s basically had the same format for years. More often than not your average Raw will follow the same pattern:
- 20 Opening promo, started by a heel and interrupted by a face.
- Add break to end promo
- First match
- Add break half way through
- Finish first match
- Blah blah blah
- Backstage Authority segment
- Rematch from last Raw/PPV
- 50/50 booking whoever lost last time wins
- Yada yada etc etc
- Random 3V3 main event.
The problem with being that predictable is that fans feel they can miss an hour or the entire show and not miss anything. WWE needs to get the fans believing that ‘Anything can happen in World Wrestling Federation’ again.
They need to freshen things up from start to finish. I’m suggesting changes to:
- Theme music, a change in theme music will immediately bring a different feel to the show,
- New stage designs (different ones for Raw, Smackdown and PPVS to make each show feel special),
- Different camera angles,
- Fewer camera cuts during moves,
- Title changes, how often does a title match start and you already know how it’s going to end so that there is no title change? Keep fans guessing! (But don’t over do it, we don’t need a title change every week as it would quickly lose its novelty)
- Open with a match
Focus on the whole card
This one seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? But apparently it isn’t. Over the last decade the importance of the midcard titles has fallen drastically. If you look at WWE programming then you’d be forgiven for thinking on the World Title is the only thing that matters. It’s bred a fan mentality that unless their favourite superstar is in the main event they are being ‘buried’. As if there’s only two places on the card at all 1. World Champion or 2. Doesn’t matter.
It is such a shame that this is the way people feel but the only people to blame are WWE themselves. It’s the way they book the shows. Yes obviously the main event stars are very important and yes you should somewhat focus on them. But Raw basically implies that after the first 20-minute promo the next two hours don’t matter until the main event happens.
It seems relatively simple to fix though, treat everyone as if they matter. Give everyone interesting storylines and time on the show. Book the Intercontinental, US and Tag Team Titles as if they all mean something and that the people holding them matter. It won’t happen over night, but give it a few years and people will be happy to see Cesaro as Intercontinental Champion and will be enjoying the work he’d be doing. Instead of thinking “Well what does it matter, its not the World Title is it? He’s being buried!”
Also and this is a huge point, if you have genuine mid card stars who are already entertaining, putting on great matches/stories and over with the crowd. Then you can latter use them further up the card! Madness I know!
Trust or replace the announce team
There are several problems with the announce team however I have some solutions for the major problems. Firstly Vince McMahon needs to learn to trust whoever is sitting at the table more. He is reportedly constantly in the ears of Michael Cole and JBL. What’s he doing talking to them throughout raw? Feeding them lines to say mostly. This results in nothing feeling natural. None of their reactions feel in the moment or truly connected to what they are witnessing. It might be a good idea to take away the script Cole and company so they can commentate with a free mind instead of knowing the outcome of the matches?
If you watched the Beast In The East network special then you would have heard some fantastic commentary from Cole and Saxton. They talked about the matches, gave history lessons, called moves and generally helped improved the viewing experience. What resulted in that then? Vince McMahon wasn’t involved heavily in the production! No, it wasn’t perfect but it was a hell of a lot better than what you normally hear on Raw or PPV!
Personally I think it’s time for another shake up on the announce desk. When JBL first joined he was a breath of fresh air and every so often can still be entertaining. So I’d give him a chance to see what he can do with some freedom. I can’t say the same for King who has been phoning it in for years. Thankfully he’s been moved to Smackdown but his presence on PPVs is still very much a downside.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, after all there is some excellent talent waiting in the wings for their moment. Anyone who has watched NXT will know that I’m talking about Corey Graves who is excellent. He has a character, he calls matches, he puts talent over and he actually adds to the show. It’s great to listen to his commentary. Hell, he even makes the atrocity of a PPV pre-show worth watching sometimes! Byron Saxton is also entertaining on NXT proving that he can do it when he doesn’t seem terrified to talk like he does on Raw. But lets not forget Renee Young, why oh why haven’t WWE at least tried to move her onto an announce desk on one of their shows. She got a fantastic response for her work on NXT and seems wasted as a backstage interviewer and host of the pre-show!
Blood is good!
This one will shake WWE more than it should do. Yes I’m saying bring back blood. Which is a sight that Vince McMahon has become terrified of in recent years. Think of the children after all!
Bring back blood sparingly however, we don’t need to see blood every match. Think back to the Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, they both bleed and it made the match look brutal. As Hell in a Cell matches should! It added to the spectacle and made it look so much more intense and personal. We don’t need Dolph Ziggler for example becoming the new Ric Flair and bleeding after a light gust of wind. That actually takes away from the moment.
However if Triple H was trying to assert his dominance over Daniel Bryan, hits him in the head with a sledgehammer and then continues to beat down a now bloody Daniel Bryan it would make him look like even more of a monster. It adds to the story that they are trying to tell. Again I don’t want to see it every Raw, hell I don’t want to see it on every PPV, but every so often when the situation, storyline or match is right. Blood is good!
50/50 Booking is a no no!
50/50 is probably the worst thing to happen recently to the WWE. Not only is it used in repetitive matches that we’ve seen far too many times. It’s also incredibly boring to watch. Ziggler lost to Breeze on PPV? Well guess what, he’s winning the rematch on Raw!
The problem with 50/50 is that it doesn’t help anyone. In fact it does the opposite, it halts momentum. Consider this:
Tyler Breeze debuts and quickly starts a feud with Dolph Ziggler. After a lot of trash talking hey have a match on PPV. Breeze wins clean and convincingly. This is followed up by even more trash talking, Breeze is really getting under Zigglers skin. This leads to another rematch, on the NEXT PPV. Dolph Ziggler gets his win back right? Ties up the series so they need to have a rubber match to settle the feud? NOPE! Tyler Breeze wins again and moves onto a new feud the next night on Raw.
What an introduction to the WWE Universe that would be. Immediately Tyler Breeze has been brought up a level. Sure Dolph lost twice in a row, but he’ll recover later on and more importantly he’s helped put over a new talent. Which is a great thing! It’s a really simple idea; someone has to lose a feud. That much is obvious. But things don’t have to be even the whole way through. Once in a while it would be really fresh to see someone just win.
Wrestler have never traditionally been the greatest actors some can barely string a sentence together without falling over themselves *COUGH SCOTT STIENER COUGH* so I can understand why WWE felt the need to start scripting promos done by their superstars so heavily. Again some talent can’t talk very well on a microphone. Take Ryback for example, rubbish on the mic good at shouting “Feed me more!” and slapping himself in the head. It works for him. Others such as The Rock or Stone Cold had a way with words. They would adjust on the fly and improvise as they went along and bounce off one another. There was always an intensity as they tried to out do each other all the while keeping the storyline on track and building to the next level. If you want a more recent example then I’m a big fan of Kevin Owens.
Absolutely help those who need it but for those who don’t, it actually holds them back. Scripting every reaction takes away the feeling that what we are watching is real and genuine. It lacks spontaneity and takes you out of the moment. What you want in a promo is for it too be believable as if it was straight from the heart of the person saying it. So why have the words coming from someone else? It doesn’t make sense!
If you’ve ever seen the exclusive interviews that they post on WWE.com then you already have proof that more often than not the non scripted work they do on the fly is often a lot more entertaining than what they just did on TV.
So there are some of my ideas to help improve Raw, do you disagree with any of my points or do you have any ideas of your own?