Happy Monday TJR faithful! Well not exactly a happy Monday. Coming off what I consider to be one of the worst weeks in WWE’s recent history, I’m not all that excited about tuning into Raw this week, or any of WWE’s TV shows for that matter. Why were the shows so bad last week? Simply put they spend more time shilling stupid products/movies and goofing around than actually developing their own show’s characters and storylines.
My major gripe from last week is that in the 6 hours of WWE TV there was no development in a story that I was very interested in. Not an interview, no match, not even a single shot showing a united Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E in six freaking hours! But we did have enough time for Adam Rose to talk about Oculus and to push Slater Gator. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
There are two possible explanations for this, either the WWE didn’t have time on an over three-hour show on Monday, or an hour show on Tuesday, or on their two hour show on Friday, to let Xavier Woods cut a promo and explain the group’s existence, which would stand to prove that WWE does not know how to manage time well, or worse, that they’ve dropped what was a promising angle for three talented and underutilized workers because they don’t know how to fit them onto their shows. Both explanations are piss poor and only lead to one conclusion: Raw and Smackdown are bad shows.
The WWE tries very hard not to be viewed as a sport. They don’t want to be in competition with other sport programming, unless they’ve beaten them in the rating or DVD sales, at which point they are more than willing to compare themselves to sports programs (which doesn’t happen all that often). They say they are primarily entertainment, a TV show that’s in the business of telling stories. If that is the case they are unequivocally a bad television show in almost every metric by which you would judge a TV show. Tell me a show that could get away with starting in a new direction for three of its characters, then not have them on the show for three weeks and then have them re-appear as though nothing happened? I hold MTV’s Teen Wolf to higher standards than that.
Their biggest crime however is how they miss-manage the abundance of TV time they have. Six hours a week is a lot of time, and they often fill it with the same old shit. Stuff that happens on Smackdown they do again on Raw, cool stuff on Raw airs again on Smackdown. The same matches, the same people, the same stories over and over and over. Two weeks ago they didn’t have time to fit Dean Ambrose on Raw despite him being in attendance (a move that I found particularly absurd), and last week with Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston. Not having time shouldn’t be an excuse given how much TV time they have, and use so much of repeating stuff. There is no reason whatsoever that Smackdown should be repeating anything Raw that happened on Raw, and vice versa.
Watching NXT makes me miss the brand extension. That’s right I said it! I miss the brand extension. NXT is easily the WWE’s most refreshing, digestible and fun hour of programming a week for several reasons, the least of which is not the fact that it exists separate from Raw and Smackdown. If those shows give you the same thing every week, NXT is a success by virtue of being different. They focus on different characters in different scenarios in different landscape, and the stories do not intermingle. Everyone on NXT feels like they are getting an appropriate time to develop their characters and stories and that is beautiful to watch, even when it isn’t a particularly eventful episode.
I wish that the brand extension would return. I wish Smackdown were it’s own show that didn’t feature anything that happened on Raw. The WWE roster is chalked full of guys right now that don’t get any time because of how the shows are run. Splitting the roster between the two shows gives guys lower on the card time to develop a storyline or a character on TV as opposed to the current model of starting things but not having the time to finish them.
Imagine if you will that the brand split was brought back, and there was a hard rule that Smackdown Superstars can’t be on Raw and Raw Superstars can’t be on Smackdown (what killed the brand split was creative playing fast and loose with what should have been a hard structural restriction). Only the champions can be on both shows. I know it can create some small booking issues, but for the most part it would be a positive development for the shows and the superstars. Smackdown, without being able to feature stuff from Raw would have to create a completely original show from week to week (crazy concept I know) and the same goes for Raw. It would open up the TV time they routinely use to repeat segments and matches, so that underutilized talent will get a shot to be on TV and maybe even develop as characters. Furthermore, most guys won’t have to work both sets of tapings, keeping them fresher and hopefully injury free. I feel split the roster between shows is mostly beneficial.
Funny thing is that they don’t need to have such a rigid structural rule to make sure they used their TV time optimally. The goal each week simply needs to be not to repeat yourself within the week. If you introduce a story, see that it moves forward week to week on one of the three shows you have. There is no reason why Xavier Woods couldn’t have cut a promo last week about his partnership with Kofi and Big E, and if they pulled the plug on the group, they’re doubly asinine for killing something before you saw what it was you had. My hope is that they are waiting till after Summerslam to really push forward with the stable, but I’m not holding my breath.
Time is a precious commodity in all walks of life, including Entertainment. For a story or a character to connect with an audience they will need to be given time. Time to show who they are and what they are about. Time to do iconic and interesting things. Time to show anything at all. With a roster jam packed with talent, the WWE seems intent on wasting their abundance of TV time, when they should be valuing each second as one they could be forming a connection with their audience. Instead of filling six hours with the inconsequential bullshit that makes the WWE a bad TV show (that gets a pass because it’s pro wrestling and the fans are loyal to a fault), the WWE ought to try not wasting our time and theirs. It’s time to produce a product that engages people again, rather than sleepwalking your way through 50% of your programming.
There you have it, but I want to know what you think! Does the WWE manage their time effectively? Would a second coming of the Brand Extension help them spread out their talent between shows better? Are you as mad as I am that we can’t get some development for the new faction of Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E? Are you even madder that they might have dropped the whole thing?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas suggesting that Dean Ambrose invest in better shoulder protection than tape. If it’s really chronically hurt as we’re led to believe by how long he’s been heavily taping it, might I suggest a brace? I’ll post an option below for you Dean. Have a great week everybody!