WWE brags about about Monday Night Raw being the longest reigning episodic show on television, although Raw proves that quantity does not mean quality. Raw comes and goes, and almost every week, leaves its audience exceptionally unfilled and unsatisfied. From top to bottom, Monday Night Raw desperately needs an overhaul very much, as does WWE, as a whole.
The most suitable word to describe the common Monday Night Raw episode is "apathetic". Raw is a sluggishly paced show, which crawls on all fours dragging and forcing itself over the finish line. Nothing on the show is normally offensively bad, just so insufferably mediocre and uninspiring. It has minimal energy, passion, emotion, or anything that come across as a genuine emotion. Rather, it has lots of cookie-cutter booking and half-hearted performances.
Stone Cold Steve Austin talked about what made the Attitude Era so successful and that was that the roster was hungry, and although they were competing against each other, they were additionally working as a unit to help get the brand over too. He then proceeded to say that the WWE roster lacks that passion his generation had.
Austin made a number of sound points in his statement, although he was wrong about the passion part. The difference between the Attitude Era and today’s era is hard work paid off back then. If a wrestler gave superb overall effort and got over, the company rewarded them. Conversely, these days the wrestlers are too busy brown-nosing and attempting to impress the higher-ups opposed to the people who truly pay their salary: the fans.
Also, any attempt to breakout, or reach the proverbial brass-ring, has a larger chance of leading to punishment rather than reward. This has made the wrestlers approach everything conservatively, as they are afraid to go the extra mile, due to possible punishment. The conservative efforts in the mid-carders has made more than half of WWE's product mundane and irrelevant.
WWE’s belief is that viewers watch for the main-event stories, so they put all their efforts into the main programs. That could not be farther from the truth, though. The notion that the top-guy is the make-or-break part of a wrestling company is absurd. Do not be mistaken: the figurehead is ultra-important piece of a company. However, there is so much more than the figurehead. Every single person on the payroll is important.
Individuals are so unique and indifferent from one each other. We all have different taste in what we like the most. Some people like the production values of wrestling. Some people like promos. Some people like the announcing. Some people like the tongue-in-cheek. Some people like the wrestling – and some people prefer different styles of wrestling too. The list just goes on and on of what people may enjoy the most.
So, why deprive a possible someone from what they like, or hell, why even take the chance of depriving someone from something they like? Surely, no show will every please everybody, but its quality will strongly improve when it makes a conscious effort to do so.
A company whose most successful time were from Royal Rumble 2000 to WrestleMania 17 – a time where there was virtually something for everyone – should comprehend this. Yet, in spite of having a talented roster, there are less than a handful of wrestlers who are actually over with the crowd. And no, it is not the wrestlers' fault in the least.
WWE has one of the most stacked rosters in their lifetime. Multifaceted, creative and distinctive wrestlers (as a handful of them have virtuosity due to honing their niche, craft and talents on the independent scene). But, WWE (a) simply does not allow them to display their aptitudes, (b) pushes them and then suddenly stops so much that the fans eventually lose interest, (c) does not strike when the iron is hot, (d) wants to push them but also wants to protect their already top-tier stars, or something else.
WWE makes their mid-carders as interchangeable and generic as possible, making sure no one can become more over than the wrestlers WWE wants on top. They want to control whose on top and who the fans like too. And, the usual response to why they do this is "because they can" People seem to believe that WWE has no competition and therefore can do anything they want, and it seems like WWE believes this too. It could not be father from the truth.
This quote sums it up best: "Well, guess, what? There is a world out there where people fight every single day to become relevant, and you act like it does not exist. Things are happening in a place you ignore – a place that, by the way, has already forgotten about you. I mean, who the fuck are you? " – Emma Stone in Birdman.
WWE does not have true competition in the wrestling world, but they are still competing with everything on television, and they are frankly losing the battle -- both from a quality and quantity standpoint. WWE were trailblazers. Celebrities wanted to be on Raw and now WWE pays them to be on Raw, hoping it creates some mainstream attention. WWE used to host the cool party and now they do everything to try to be invited to the cool party – even though they bring nothing to it.
Seriously, WWE’s storylines are littered with excessively recycled ideas, littered with plot-holes, and littered with paint-by-numbers booking. The company furthermore miscasts talent, putting them in angles that expose their weakness and not bringing out their strengths, making them a heel or babyface when they are very natural as the opposite one, breaking up stables/teams/etc. that are working, shoehorning people together that have no chemistry, and so on.
To make matters worse, WWE formats and structures their number one programming show the same way every week.
Because of Vince McMahon wanting to control every single part of the show, he micromanages it to a point where suspense of disbelief becomes impossible. The show is so overly scripted that it accidentally triggers itself by instinct to dive straight into autopilot mode.
WWE places all the important content directly in the top hour segments, which kills the vibe of suspense and unpredictability and triggers a viewer to become apathetic towards anything that does not happen during those segments.
WWE has a show on Monday Nights from 8pm to 11pm. Period, end of story. There is nothing to really talk or rave about. It is a show you either watch or skip. It is not must-see or cannot-miss TV. It does not even promote its upcoming show or give anyone a reason to watch next week. There are not any week-to-week cliffhangers, unsolved answers, mystery, suspense, drama, real progression, nada.
The show is stagnant and mostly feels the same every week. Seriously, the show opens with a 20 minute Authority (which defines the meaning of stagnant) promo, it has a mid-card match, it has a diva match, some contrived backstage segments in between, it has a John Cena segment or match, it has more matches between non-over wrestlers, some top-tier star has something happen in the 10’oclock hour, more filler occurs, then a tag-match in the main event and some type of angle after the match. There is your average Raw in a nutshell.
Not only does WWE book Raw formulaically – it books its seasons formulaically too. They only care about two times of the season: the Road to WrestleMania and Summer Slam. Sometimes, depending on what is going on, WWE Creative will gather some interesting ideas to create some anticipation for those shows. Sometimes, they do not. However, hardly anything ever happens in the other times of the season; it is as conservative, cautiousness and rudimentary as wrestling can be.
Enough is enough: both from a formatting and mindset standpoint, WWE needs a dramatic change in the worst way. Despite of having a tremendous roster, who can overcome their shortcomings, the fan’s tolerance is wearing thin with the product as a whole. When the announcers cannot even pretend as if they are enthused oftentimes, there is a gigantic problem.
They need to push the most talented wrestlers, they need to give them more leeway in every possible way, they need to make their shows looser and freelance, they need to stop trying to control everything – especially who the fans like and dislike, they need to start coming up with fresher ideas and concepts and stop shoehorning things people do not like down their throats.
And they need to stop catering to just one demographic. WWE only caring about pleasing so-called unintelligent fans is absurd. There is a certain demographic that will watch WWE whether it is beyond terrible or beyond awesome – because they do not really know the difference. Thus, there is no true point of catering to the loyalist. Instead, it is time to try to cater to everyone – by giving something of everything to everyone.
Or, else, it might come a time where that is too late.