26th Jun2019

Opinionated: The RAW and SmackDown Slump

by Chris Cummings

Vince-www-opinion

It’s indisputable that WWE put out an incredibly vast amount of content. Just in a week, and not mentioning their social media content or original WWE Network programming, we see RAW, SmackDown, NXT, NXT UK, 205 Live and more. We get at least one, sometimes more than one, PPV or Special each month too. That’s A LOT of content. That’s a lot of wrestling.

Now, I love some of what WWE put out. I am a big fan of NXT and NXT UK. I love watching 205 Live. I tune in to every show and hope to see something special, something exciting, something entertaining. It doesn’t always happen, and in fact… recently, when it comes to the main shows of RAW and SmackDown, it feels a bit on the stale side, a touch too same-old, and lacking the spark that we, as fans, know WWE are capable of creating.

There are always going to be hot and cold times for any form of entertainment. When you write and produce a weekly program, it can be hard to keep people invested and excited. When you write and produce THIS many weekly programs and monthly PPV’s, it’s even harder to keep people interested, especially considering the fanbase is diverse and wants very different things.

We have fans who want wrestling. Old school, two guys in the ring, no flash, no silliness, just wrestling. We have some fans who want more of the entertainment, the characters, the weird and crazy pro-wrestling circus stuff. We have fans who want a bit of both. We have fans who want the return of the Attitude Era and ECW and what they represented in the 90s. We have fans who want the old territory system style of wrestling back, with less high-spots and more aggression and slow-paced in-ring work. Hell, there are fans who want so many different things, so it is pretty difficult, I would imagine, if you’re WWE and you want to put out a show for each of those demographics.

Now, WWE is to blame too. It can’t be argued that some of the programming has become tedious. Some of the feuds have been done so often with the same people that nobody wants to see them happen anymore. There are incredible wrestlers who aren’t given the opportunities, or even a chance to earn their opportunities, and yet there are those who are perhaps less-talented, and less over with the fans, that do get those chances. This isn’t anything new, but it does seem to be highlighted and much more prevalent right now. It’s a shame, too. The WWE’s talent roster is massive. The sheer depth of workers under contract is larger than ever before, and the abilities, skills and athleticism of these men and women is off the charts, better than it’s ever been before. Why, then, are we not getting the best show every single week?

I think NXT is doing things right. Sure, we can’t expect the main programming to merely echo the exact format of NXT programming, but I think much of it could be taken and formatted into a new, fresh and more contemporary style for the main shows. We have feuds that matter, a lack of 50/50 booking, characters that the fans want to boo and want to cheer for because they’re interesting. We have matches that bring the crowd to their feet time and time again. It’s a lovely mix of everything I love about wrestling, and I think many would agree. I think WWE need to change how they do things on RAW and SmackDown. The look, feel and style of these shows has been the same for a long time, and it’s starting to age badly. With a change in philosophy, a new look, and a different way of treating both fans and talent under contract, things would look much different in WWE right now.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not someone who hated WWE. I’m a fan. A big fan. I find things I like on their main shows regularly, I just feel, and many would echo my sentiments, that things could be much better. The talent is there. Wrestlers, producers, agents, writers and the chairman and promoter himself. There’s just a rut that they’re stuck in, and they need to get out of it, and they need to get out of it soon. They make plenty of money, sure… so they don’t NEED to change how they produce RAW and SmackDown, but for the fans to be happy, and for the talent to feel fulfilled with their work, I think it’s not just a good idea, I think it’s a vital move they need to make.

Come on, WWE. You gave us some of the most magical moments in pro-wrestling history, and you can still do it, we’ve seen it. Just make some changes and give more chances and it isn’t just the ratings that improve, but the general response from your audience.

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