Tonight is the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw. It’s a solid run, but congratulating WWE is not why we’re here.
We’re here because tonight also marks the night that Raw goes to three hours. Every week. forever. Well, at least until somebody important realizes how monumentally stupid an idea this is and puts it back to two hours or better yet, one.
Weekly three hour wrestling TV shows were a bad idea in 1998 when WCW tried it with Nitro, and that was a time when wrestling was the in thing to more than folks like me who have watched and will watch in some form forever no matter what. Back then there were millions more fans not to mention more mainstream wrestling options and everything did ok, so maybe you could make a case that there was a demand for it. Now, however, there’s anything but.
I don’t talk to nearly as many wrestling fans nowadays, because they simply don’t exist. ECW and WCW going under was the end for a lot of people, and WWE has done a fine job of driving off those who tried to stick around with its “Creative” output in the ensuing 11 plus years. But the ones I do talk to, from people who barely know what an internet is to the ones on websites and Twitter on a daily basis all think this is a bad idea. Even kids, who are the very market WWE is trying to target now, aren’t looking forward to it. A 12-year-old told me the other day that it was going to be awful. He said it would be a lot harder to fit in watching the shows now, plus two hours is too much for WWE to fill lots of the time. Smart kid, because that’s exactly what I’ve been saying to anybody who will listen since the announcement came down and I’ve been following this stuff for more than two of his lifetimes. And yesterday an uncle of mine who has been watching since I think the 70’s told me that this might be what gets him to stop watching for good.
Those are just two examples, and you know there are thousands more. And if all of those people don’t want more product for free, good luck getting them to pay for it. As it is selling pay-per-views isn’t an easy thing for WWE, and with every Raw almost being PPV length starting today plus Smackdown (two hours), Superstars and NXT (one hour each) for people who watch those, there’s far more than enough to go around before you drop $45 or more to watch a show full of commercials that often feels like a thrown together TV taping. For that matter, there’s more than enough to go around before you consider that there are some people out there who also like watching TNA or ROH, which adds at least another three hours to your week if you watch both.
I don’t know how long this experiment is going to go on, but it’s going to be a disaster while it does. I’m not worried about tonight’s show 1000 special. I’m sure it’s going to drag in spots, but they’ve loaded it up to the point where not every single thing will fail. What I’m worried about is episode 1001 and beyond and what it means to the future of the company. They’ll make money for a while because USA pays them for the broadcast rights, but when the rating tanks more than it already has and they’re not getting their investment back, what happens? The network won’t want to pay you what you’re getting now and nobody will be buying the PPV’s. And if USA doesn’t want to give you the deal you want, good luck getting anybody else to do it. If this goes on for too long, I see some very, very rough times ahead.
On a semi-related note, John Cena announced last week on Raw that he’s going to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and face CM Punk tonight. I’m calling it now. Cena is going to be the first person to ever cash in his shot and fail. It might sound like a stupid prediction considering this is Cena and they hardly ever go the interesting route with him, but I’m sticking with it. And hey, you’re talking to a guy who once won a $150 prize in a wrestling prediction contest, so I’m clearly not to be messed with. We won’t mention the contest I lost before that one and the one I’m currently in 8th place with four shows to go in, though.