WWE.com made an announcement on Thursday that their hit television series, WWE Raw, will expand to three hours beginning on July 23rd. Currently, the company produces a two hour program every Monday night on the USA Network. In the past, World Wrestling Entertainment has developed numerous three hour specials, all which were deemed triumphant. But these specials were spaced evenly throughout the year. This will be the first time the WWE has attempted to produce a three hour TV series consecutively. Will this move be the downfall of World Wrestling Entertainment?
In the late 90s, the now defunct World Championship Wrestling produced a weekly cable series called WCW Monday Nitro. The initial two hour program was so successful, it was eventually given a three hour run. At the time, the move was considered an exciting part of wrestlings overall evolution. People thought that WCW would be able to present higher quality pay per view style matches and marquee name clashes. And that is what devotees received. But the glitter wore off quickly, and soon the fans got bored with witnessing the same old wrestlers three or four times a show. Ratings dwindled and WCW Nitro eventually returned to two hours. But the damage had already been completed. After WCW went out of business, many critics mentioned the addition of a third hour of WCW Nitro was detrimental to the company. It was just too much original programming for a niche market.
In addition, the expansion to a third hour is contradictory to the WWE mindset that the new generation of enthusiasts have a short attention span. WWE has always explained away their rushed storylines as "what the fans expect" because the current internet generation have shorter attention spans. If this is the WWE philosophy, you would think they would be looking to decrease WWE Raw, not lengthen the program. I am one of those people who have short attention spans, and even at two hours, I find myself switching to other channels during WWE Raw.
The only positive that may come out of this is the possibility that WWE will generate more wrestling matches on live television. The current trend on WWE Raw now is to inundate viewers with backstage segments, in-ring promos, and short matches. But with one more hour to fill, maybe the men and women of the WWE will be given the time needed to show off their in-ring talent. And as much as I hope this to be true, I would not put my money on it. We are more likely to see an increase in promos, video packages and backstage comedy skits. Let's hope football season gets here soon.
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