With the stunning announcement that WWE’s flagship show, Raw, is moving to Netflix in 2025, endless questions and possibilities immediately spring to mind.
Will Raw become commercial-free? [Editor’s note: According to reports, it will... if you pay for Netflix’s ad-free tier that is.] Will it remain a three-hour show? What does this move mean for WWE’s streaming deal with Peacock, which ends in 2026?
But the question I have right out of the gate is, how will Raw moving to Netflix affect WWE’s booking for the rest of 2024? Specifically, what does this mean for Roman Reigns, his run as the Undisputed Universal Champion, and possibly Cody Rhodes?
Regardless of how fans feel about Reigns as champion, his rule over WWE is unquestionably the biggest storyline in the company. How to end his run is as important as who should beat him, yet not as significant as when and where.
Now that WWE has locked up deals for Raw, SmackDown, and NXT moving forward, the sports entertainment giant has wisely spread its eggs in several different baskets. For traditional viewers who still fancy cable, they’ll get their WWE fix from SmackDown when it returns to the USA Network. For wrestling fans who cut the cord entirely and have not jumped aboard the streaming wagon, NXT on The CW Network will allow those to continue to enjoy pro wrestling on broadcast television.
However, Raw moving to a streaming-only platform is a considerable leap for WWE, though not as risky given the aforementioned deals. As Americans deal with the surging prices of housing, food, and other goods and services, there is only so much income left for luxuries like streaming. And with a gap in prices from one service to another, it’s not certain that those within WWE’s audience not already enjoying Netflix will want to add another subscription to their budget.
Still, WWE will want to prove it’s worth the alleged $5 billion it’s said to be receiving from the streaming giant. One of the ways to do that is to promote the biggest match possible for the debut of Raw on Netflix next January:
Roman Reigns versus Cody Rhodes for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
Last year, I posed the scenario of how and when WWE might book the demise of the Tribal Chief. While I won’t rule out the possibility of WWE saving such an occasion for a potential return to pay-per-view, it’s conceivable that WWE could reserve such a moment for its premiere on Netflix, which could lead to a surge in subscriptions for the over-the-top streaming service.
And if viewers like what they see from the new Raw, one that is free from traditional television restrictions, they might be encouraged to stick around, sticker price be damned.
While Rhodes may want no part of WWE’s 2K25 video game if he hasn’t finished his story by that game’s release, it may be in his best interest and that of the WWE Universe to tough it out. Considering the opportunity to host a massive housewarming event for millions at their new home for Raw, what better way for Rhodes to finish his story as WWE embarks on its next fruitful chapter starring Netflix?