The reaction to WWE Monday Night Raw's planned move to three hours has been almost universally panned by their fans who fear the worst. Inside WWE the response has not been much different. Though no-one will express their concerns publicly for fear of upsetting Vince McMahon, almost everyone within his company is exceedingly negative on the change, either dreading it or feeling it is a disaster waiting to happen or that it's a step in the wrong direction, according to Dave Meltzer on his latest subscriber only radio show. Indeed, it's a nightmare for almost everybody.
The writing team are already stretched thin without an extra hour of television to write. It wouldn't be so bad if Vince didn't change his mind on a whim the day of the show, forcing last minute rewrites of their scripts. Indeed, on a recent episode of Raw, it wasn't until the end of the first hour that the exact words were finalised for the closing segment.
It also doesn't help that the current mindset is that storylines don't have to make sense anymore, because after all it's just wacky pro wrestling! So, no wonder there are so many logic gaps in their current plots, most notably John Laurinaitis saying he had hired Big Show back before his match with John Cena at Over The Limit on last night's Raw when according to the stipulations no wrestlers on the WWE roster could interfere. Which is why Michael Cole had to clarify that the contract wasn't signed until Monday morning and only a verbal agreement had been in place beforehand, after fans had pointed out the error on Twitter. I guess this isn't the type of increased interactivity Stephanie McMahon has in mind for Raw going forward:
This is going to be the most interactive show in television history. Our audience is going to have the chance to effect something in the show every week.
For the wrestlers themselves not knowing what they are doing or saying until late in the day makes it hard for them to plan their performances out in advance, though some of them will benefit from the extra television time that needs to be filled up. Of course, if ratings and the company's popularity declines that is to no-ones advantage.
As Bryan Alvarez mentioned on Friday, it's also a logistical hassle when taping on the West Coast, so with production, writers and wrestlers all united against the new Raw format, if it is not a success then they'll be tons of pressure on WWE management to revert back to the current status quo:
While WWE is claiming the three-hour Raw switch is "permanent", there are people within the company who believe things will be back to normal by the end of the year, whether that be because the first hour is dropped or it moves to the proposed WWE Network or it becomes simply a recap pre-show to build to the 9 PM hour. All of this, obviously, is subject to constant change. But one important thing to note is that a permanent 5 PM start time would dramatically affect any west coast tapings, as Los Angeles shows, for example, would have to start at 4:30 PM on a work day, which would be a complete nightmare. Pretty much every single person we talked to in WWE over the last day or so has expressed complete dread at this move.
All this negativity doesn't bode well for the future and it will be quite the challenge for WWE to pull this off and make it work. What do you think Cagesiders, is everyone within WWE outside of the inner circle right to be so worried?