In recent weeks Raw has recorded some of its lowest viewership figures in a long time. In today’s Sunday Sermon the team discuss what can be done to freshen up the show and halt the falling ratings.
Craig: For me, one of the big problems is how formulaic Raw is. I know, if I watched the 3 hours live rather than fast forwarding, that if I missed the first forty mins all I’d miss was an Authority promo and far too much air time for Kane.
A simple thing like Raw starting and us going straight to a match rather than a promo would be a start. Raw and Nitro used to pride itself on “anything can happen” but now we know Raw every week will feature a lengthy promo at the start.
Also, what’s the deal with returning from every commercial break to the guys in the ring being in the middle of a rest hold. Freshen that up to and even show us on a split screen what we missed during the break. They don’t do that just now because all we’ve missed is the bulk of a reverse chinlock!
Jamie: Let’s face it, most matches on Raw are long and pointless. There is an obvious difference in quality between matches on Raw and matches on PPV, despite the shows and matches lasting a similar period of time. My solution to this is make the matches on Raw shorter and give them a purpose. How would I do this? Bring back jobbers!
It’s clear that more effort is made for PPV matches, so why even bother on Raw? The same guys face each other on a cycle – I give it 3 months before Ziggler and Barrett are feuding for the IC Title again – but if jobbers were introduced name talent could be kept apart for longer, and would also be allowed to look good.
Obviously I’m not suggesting a Raw consisting purely squash matches, but surely guys like Ziggler, Neville, Barrett etc. would benefit from occasionally wiping the floor with a jobber, rather than jobbing to each other… or John Cena.
Craig: I’m totally not against the idea of bringing back jobbers for that purpose. On the subject of jobbing, I’d stop having champions lose matches on TV as well but I think that’s a gripe against wrestling generally rather than Raw per say.
I think one of the biggest factors working against Raw at 3 hours being a success is the lack of star power. I know Brock is back but even then there’s nothing like enough going to fill 3 hours.
I don’t think any of us will disagree that at 3 hours Raw is just too long. But my main gripe is that everything seems to drag. The opening promo could be done in ten mins but is dragged out longer same goes for backstage skits and, to a certain extent, the matches. It’s like they’ve taken a 2 hour show and instead of adding new stuff to make it 3 hours they’ve just stretched everything out.
Why not have a spat of number one contender matches – for any of the titles or anything a bit different rather than the same feuds week in, week out.
Brian: I readily admit…I no longer watch Raw live…I DVR it. The reason being, it just isn’t must see TV right now. Sure, 3 hours is a long time for a wrestling show to be on the air….but if the WWE went back to 2 hours…it would (at least to me) that something is wrong and they are admitting it. While that might not seem like a big deal to us the viewers…that may be a big deal on a business stand point.
They have to utilize wrestlers better. For instance, 3 hour show and you still had no time to give Damian Mizdow and Curtis Axel a match? Or the Lucha Dragons? or Jack Swagger? Not every segment has to be an infomercial for the next pay per view. One thing I really liked with WCW’s Nitro…is they had great matches on TV…just to have a great match on TV without trying to sell something.
Jamie: YES! Wrestling for wrestling’s sake, that is what is missing. Everything that happens on Raw happens for a reason, it’s patronising. Instead of two hours of TV stretched over three, why not just write two hours worth of stuff and fill the rest of the time with matches that are not directly related to the next event? Take the pressure off the writing team and leave the booking team and the wrestlers to simply have a good match.
When was the last time Roman Reigns just had a match, for the sake of having a match? He seems to have been wrestling Kane, Orton or Rollins on TV for a year solid, yet has never wrestled someone like Kofi Kingston. It’s like every match on Raw should be a big match, but that’s not how the sports side of ‘sports entertainment’ works. In fact, the best football matches are often the ones you don’t expect and have very little riding on them.
Brian: I also cringe when I see the WWE advertise a “guest host” for the following week’s show. They are truly pointless and a good way for viewers to turn off the TV or switch channels. That is of course, if they get involved physically like Machine Gun Kelly got involved a couple of weeks ago.
Craig: Yeah, the guest host stuff is absolute garbage but it’s of curse not pitched at us – it’s pitched at non wrestling fans who have an interest in said celebrity. Seems odd though, if they wanted to watch wrestling they probably would anyway…
I’d definitely do away with the guest host though. We’ve covered some good ground: make Raw less formulaic, bring back some jobbers, ditch guest hosts and have a mix of different talent on the show rather than solely matches for storyline purposes. That’s not a bad stab at solving some of the issues.
I’d also be minded to bin Booker T as a commentator. He’s absolutely hopeless and his only success as making Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler sound like a modern day Gordon Solie.
Brian: Even though I love Booker T…sadly, I agree. Jerry Lawler certainly isn’t the answer either as he his shtick was getting long in the tooth as well. Maybe the spot could go to Corey Graves? This might give me some flack….but I think the Miz is a good color commentator. I think having him as a heel announcer could do wonders for the broadcast.
Jamie: The commentary team does need freshened up. Three middle-aged men does not really fit with the young image WWE tries so hard to portray. I’m surprised neither of you mentioned the worst of the lot; Michael Cole. I think he is, and – save for his brief run as a heel – always has been, terrible. I guess he’s not helped in that he’s the play-by-play announcer but seems not to be permitted to call the actual moves. It may just be me, but I’m certainly not a fan.
I like the Corey Graves and Miz suggestions. Graves is way more interesting than Byron Saxton – who is actually okay, for the most part – and Miz would be a far more entertaining heel announcer than JBL. Sometimes JBL has a good night, but he’s usually really overbearing, and not in a being an effective heel type of way. Has nobody mentioned Renee Young yet? She was pretty good when she did commentary for NXT. Her doing play-by-play with Graves and Miz on either side? That is a much more interesting combination than the current crop. It’s also a better looking, better sounding and a more relatable set of announcers, given WWE’s core demographics. If nothing else, removing JBL and King from the announce desk would at least allow women’s matches an opportunity to be taken seriously. If another lady is also commentating on said match, then so much the better.
Craig: I think we’ve managed to have a cracking discussion about how to freshen Raw up with just some subtle changes. It’s just a show that’s grown very stale indeed.
Raw doesn’t need much change in the grand scheme of things. A change in the writing team, or a change in how they approach writing the show, would be a start. A bit of a change of direction would be great to see and make Raw a better product.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.