WWE Monday Night RAW this Monday was great. Sure, nothing really Earth-shattering happened, unless you count Ryback getting the WWE Championship shot at Hell in a Cell to be a huge surprise, but the show was loaded in other ways. There were a ton of really good matches, some key post-match happenings (namely, Kane coming out to protect his fallen partner Daniel Bryan from a KO Punch) and the best Miz TV segment in the “show’s” short history. At least on this end, the show felt a lot shorter than three hours.
[adinserter block=”2″]The fear was that adding the extra hour to RAW would make it drag. During the beginning of the run, that was certainly the case. The wrestling was short, the recaps were plentiful and we got a heavy dose in-ring bullshit segments including authority figures. I would like to pin the recent turnaround solely on the big writing shakeup that happened, but RAW has actually trended towards being laden with so much stuff happening for a few weeks now.
When the show was two hours, it was still frustrating to see recaps and the same people getting spotlighted segment time, but at least the show was only two hours. Tacking an extra sixty minutes on, whether by their choice or by USA Network’s, meant that they had to do more than the “John Cena and CM Punk Authority Figure Fun Time Happy Showcase” they’ve been doing all year long or else they’d risk the show dragging. Over the last month or so, they’ve figured out that the best way to fill that three hour block is to emphasize the second W in their acronym.
Seriously, the amount of diverse and prolonged wrestling matches has been a welcome change from the recaps-n-boss angst storytelling they had been employing. In the last six weeks or so, we’ve seen prolonged matches featuring Bryan, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto del Rio and the Prime Time Players. We’ve also seen shorter but still fun matches establishing a rich midcard that includes both tag teams (tournament, baby!) and up-and-comers like Antonio Cesaro.
They’ve been trying better with their in-ring interview segments as well. While they haven’t worked as well as the matches have, if this shakeup in the writing team changes everything, they definitely will in the future. Case in point, the aforementioned Miz TV segment hit every note. It featured Miz spouting off some real talk to Kofi Kingston and Kingston having to show an emotion other than whatever it is he’s feeling when he’s going “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” It’s a lot harder to do a good non-wrestling segment than it is to have a good match, but if they keep hitting on notes like they did Monday, they’ll have as many good ones as bad.
If this past week’s show is any indication of a sea change in WWE’s philosophy, then they’ve truly gotten the three hour formula down. What was thought to be a fearful occurrence (although really, why would it be fearful… if you’re a fan, you can turn the TV off, and if you’re a journalist, you’re getting paid to watch an extra hour of TV, so suck it up) has become one of the most pleasant surprises of the wrestling year.
[adinserter block=”1″]Then again, it’s not like WWE should have struggled to pull it off. They have one of the deepest and best rosters in its history. There’s no way that they shouldn’t be able to pull off three hours of quality wrestling television every Monday night. Still, just as quickly as we are to criticize them for their misuse, it’s nice to recognize when they’re doing it right. Because hey, when WWE does it right, everyone wins.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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