WWE Raw Guest Stars aren't going away any time soon

WWE.com

It may not have set the internet wrestling community on fire, but Aaron Paul's appearance on Raw generated some mainstream buzz. And as long as Creative is working guest appearances into the narrative of the show, that's not a bad thing for hardcore fans either.

This post was almost just a fanshot linking to this...

Aaron Paul hosts 'WWE Monday Night Raw,' and it is as glorious as you'd expect

That's the headline on Entertainment Weekly's pop culture blog accompanying two videos of the Breaking Bad and Need for Speed star's appearance on the March 3 edition of Raw.

In addition to Time Warner's big show biz publication, Paul's appearance also generated headlines in newspapers like Miami Herald, and on Perez Hilton's site and other celebrity-following outlets.

Appearances by Betty White and the actor behind Jesse Pinkman may not pop huge ratings, but they still provide some of that mainstream rub that Vince McMahon and company crave. Plus, if one lapsed fan decides to check out that wrestling show they used to watch on Monday nights because of an article in a magazine their wife left lying around, all the more better.

It seems like Creative has figured out the formula for using these celebs within the context of Raw. Gone are the dark days of some NASCAR guy cutting a bad opening promo, or Jeremy Piven hyping "SummerFest" as he preps to work the main event.

As juvenile as the Betty White/New Age Outlaw poop joke was, it accomplished plugging what Ms. White was there to plug (her "senior citizens pull pranks, too!" show), fit in with the Degeneration X boys' characters and actually allowed them to do something heel-ish (a trait that was lacking in what was supposed to be a heel title run).

Same with Paul driving Dolph Ziggler to the ring in a Shelby Mustang this week. The prop promoted Need for Speed, and associating with The Show Off made sense. That it gave added a little something to a segment that may have died the way Sheamus vs. Christian had in the previous hour was just icing on the cake.

Not every guest star is going to come across as a legitimate fan the way AP did on commentary, or be a national treasure like White. But by limiting their time on Raw and actually thinking strategically about how to use them, celebrities can help fill out the sometimes never-ending seeming three hours on Monday nights, provide some App and Network footage and generate a little buzz in outlets that often wouldn't cover WWE no matter how many times they insist they're just another entertainment company.

In fact, the bigger threat to the Guest Star model isn't that it results in bad pro wrestling segments. It's that the partners who are sending the Aaron Pauls and Betty Whites out on publicity-seeking appearances will find that an appearance on WWE television doesn't net them much of a bump.

If Need for Speed crashes and burns with the demographic the video game adaptation shares with WWE, the blame wouldn't land squarely on Stamford's doorstep. And it would likely take several duds to get Hollywood to stop calling for air time. But if conventional show biz wisdom came to be that WWE couldn't help you with 18-35 year old males, the stars might stop coming, and Vince's ego would likely be bruised as a result.

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