In a move that is as shocking as it is confusing, WWE has announced that Monday Night RAW will be moving to 3 hours permanently. The decision becomes effective July 23rd on RAW’s 1,000th episode as part of a move to a 8pm EST timeslot. There is no indication yet if this extra hour will be used for more matches or other segments, but the biggest change is the introduction of more interactive elements as fans have more power to decide who wrestles and in what kinds of matches.
Perhaps the most confusing aspect of this is the fact that Creative struggles to put together a quality show in 2 hours. There’s so much filler lately that it boggles the mind that they think having 3 hours shows every week will be an improvement. So are we going to get more of uber heel Cole, Orton staring off into the distance during an interview, Cena spiels or Twitter plugs? Unless WWE decides to rededicate itself to more actual wrestling, something of which I am extremely doubtful, then the show quality will continue to go down the drain.
As to another confusing part, the ‘interactive’ element just means every RAW will be like the Viewer’s Choice ones we’ve seen in the past. While those had some appeal because they were treated as a special occasion, the novelty will wear off very quickly, just like the decision to have Smackdown stars appear on RAW. The 3 hour change, like the Supershow concept is WWE’s latest ploy to try and inject freshness and excitement into the product. What the interactive element also tells us is that Creative just can’t do its job. If they were able to create engaging and compelling storylines, then Vince McMahon wouldn’t have made the decision to move to permanent 3 hour RAWs.
So what’s the real motivation behind this confounding announcement? The same thing that drives every business decision; money. With an extra hour added on, the company can bring in more ad revenue and possibly charge more for those slots. But what remains to be seen is the effect this will have on the other products. With so much invested in RAW, will Smackdown suffer? What will happen to PPV buyrates? We can only hope that WWE knows what it is doing with this change to permanent 3 hour RAWs and enjoy the last few 2 hour editions before we get inundated with even more video packages and filler segments.