Monday Night Raw is the longest running wrestling show on television, and it has no competition. However, the current three-hour format of the program is causing problems in the quality of the segments, and the declining ratings are showing it. The latest WWE rumors suggest that Monday Night Raw could go back to the previous two-hour format in 2019.
The WWE decided to add one more hour to Monday Night Raw after airing its 1000th episode on July 23, 2012. The main reason for the change is the desire of the USA Network, owned by NBC Universal, to have more WWE content. More wrestling content for the network means more money for the WWE since the USA Network is paying them a lot for that extra hour.
Many fans were initially excited about the three-hour Monday Night Raw, but viewer burnout is a problem in the show’s fifth year. The WWE and USA Network have a deal until 2019, so fans just have to wait for two more years before a potential change to Monday Night Raw. The annual $150 million from USA Network and NBC Universal is going to be hard to turn down, but the declining ratings and lower viewership is a problem, per the Los Angeles Times.
According to Alfred Konuwa of Forbes, the WWE may shift back to the two-hour format for Monday Night Raw if they cannot improve the show’s ratings. The WWE’s main flagship program is doing poorly despite the NFL offseason. It will only get worse if the NFL season begins in three months and the ratings continue to fall even lower. Konuwa added that going back to the two-hour Monday Night Raw will improve the ratings but also gives the WWE an advantage in future negotiations.
But more importantly, the WWE will have an easier time coming up with better stories for Monday Night Raw, rather than thinking about filling a three-hour show. The quality of the product has suffered in terms of storylines, with great matches once in a while. Brock Lesnar will help the ratings, but he is not going to appear every week or even every month.
One example of bad television is the recent “Bayley: This Is Your Life” segment involving Alexa Bliss and Bayley. The segment was so terrible that the WWE even removed it from their YouTube channel. Fans blasted the creative team of Monday Night Raw for coming up with such a bad segment. Alexa Bliss, one of the rising stars of the WWE, couldn’t save the segment from getting bad reviews.
“Bayley: This Is Your Life” is not the only bad segment Monday Night Raw has produced since 2012. Some of the other terrible segments include the “Old Day,” featuring Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, mocking The New Day last year, and the “Tater Tots” promo by Roman Reigns in 2015. Monday Night Raw is not always bad, but the three-hour format is giving its fans burnout, with a two-hour SmackDown Live the next night and NXT on Wednesday.
The WWE is doing all they can to fill out that third hour of Monday Night Raw. The Cruiserweight Division was introduced last year with 205 Live as the extra hour for SmackDown Live. However, the lack of stories and character development for the superstars is hurting the product. The company is even starting to use Sasha Banks and other female superstars to boost the Cruiserweight Division, but it’s not going to help.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer (h/t Forbes) noted on his latest podcast that WWE’s ratings are declining even for teenage males. The teenagers are the heart of the WWE universe, but all the demographics are showing a significant decrease. Meltzer believes that the reason for the decline is casual fans don’t want to watch a three-hour Monday Night Raw.
“I think that the big culprit is that the show is too long. Following WWE has gone from being a fun hobby to work. Your hardcore fans love the fact that there’s more product than ever before, but the casual person does not want to devote five hours a week or eight hours for pay-per-view weeks.”
However, it should be noted that these thoughts are just speculation since the WWE won’t change the format of Monday Night Raw as long as the USA Network is happy. But with the declining ratings, it’s not hard to think that the WWE will do even more just to boost ratings. Kurt Angle is rumored to be wrestling again, Brock Lesnar is finally returning to television, and Hulk Hogan is close to coming back as an ambassador.
[Featured Image by WWE]