WWE Raw permanently moved to its current three hour format in July 2012. That means we’re approaching a full decade since the change was made. The extra hour has been a major drag on the Raw product for practically the entire time, as even Triple H himself has acknowledged, but WWE will keep churning it out because they get paid very well to do so.
This topic came up in in a recent Seth Rollins interview with Jimmy Traina on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. Rollins was asked if he prefers being on the Raw or SmackDown roster. Here is Seth explaining why SmackDown is the place to be:
“I think a three hour show is just obnoxiously long every week. It’s just everything gets stretched out, you know? You’ve got to fill three hours of television, there’s just nothing to be done. That’s just how it is. So I think two hours is a beautiful number for a pro wrestling show. And I think it’s easier to make everything mean a little bit more.
On SmackDown when I was there last year, I hardly ever wrestled on television, and so it was kind of a big deal. You look at Roman, he hardly ever wrestles on television...so when he has matches at these pay-per-views, they feel like big deals. And on Raw, I’ve wrestled in like 26 five star matches in the last two months. It’s just been wild the amount of actual wrestling that I have to do, and I’d love to avoid that.
But, it is what it is. I like the fact that I get a lot more screen time on Mondays because you have the extra hour, but it’s an apples to oranges type thing. I do think three hours is just a lot to ask every week of a viewer.”
Rollins is right on the money about three hours being too long for Raw. Overexposure is something that cannot be avoided on Monday nights with WWE’s current format. If Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman have major stroke backstage, they should do everything they can to make sure their act stays on SmackDown, where it’s much easier to get by without wrestling often. That’s the first thought that crossed my mind when WWE announced last year’s draft and speculation began about Roman moving over to Raw.
It’s possible (though not easy or ideal) to create a compelling three hour weekly television show if the roster is big enough and the booker is willing to give meaningful opportunities for wrestlers up and down the roster to get over. But that’s not the WWE way of doing things. Their roster size has certainly been large enough to sustain an entertaining weekly three hour show in the past, but Vince McMahon only trusts a small number of wrestlers to be featured in lengthy matches and promos. Instead of new stars getting more opportunities to thrive, what we usually get are those typical segments with the established stars getting stretched out even further in a three hour format. Given that WWE released 80+ wrestlers last year, their roster size could also be a problem in a way that it wasn’t in the past, as far as producing fresh three hour Raw episodes is concerned.
Can you believe we’re coming up on a decade of three hour Raw episodes, Cagesiders?