Is WWE programming too reliant on it's flagship show, Monday Night RAW?

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It's a strange and confusing time to be a WWE fan right now. On one hand, look at how much we have to be thankful for. Women's wrestling is better than it's ever been, and is raising the bar with every match. The pool of talent within WWE is surely the best we've ever seen. NXT has gone from purely developmental to regularly stealing the show from the main roster, while still feeding into it.

With new signings and appearances on an almost weekly basis, and the huge potential arising from the upcoming Global Cruiserweight series, the volume of truly talented pro-wrestlers is going to continue to increase.

But there are also problems. Theres an ever increasing injury list with Bray Wyatt the latest name to be added  to the ever growing list. There's also stale storylines and repetitive feuds.

A growing sense of boredom with the Authority gimmick. A woeful underuse of some really talented performers (head on over to Main Event for all the people you'd forgotten had jobs). And let's not even start on the crowbar plot moves or blatant ignoring of their own storylines whenever it suits them.

And speaking of Shane O'Mac…

The use Shane McMahon on RAW this week highlighted a lot of the good and the bad. Good in that we got some of the best matches we've seen on a Monday night in a while. Zayn versus Styles, Owens versus Cesaro and Charlotte versus Natalya could all have been main event matches. And we got a tag team tournament announcement, and a Bullet club appearance.

But, the fresh approach served to show up how tired the Authority angle has become. The storyline elements were still there, and done well, but last week felt like it was more about the wrestling - a brilliant and novel concept for a wrestling show.

Every WWE fan on the planet has their own idea for how to fix what ails the company. One idea, which keeps coming up, is splitting the brand again into separate rosters for RAW and SmackDown. I can see the merits; spreading the workload of the superstars and potentially reducing injuries and raising the relative importance of SmackDown are both things which need to happen.

Maybe a preferable solution is one where fans get more value from the product, as well as the company and superstars benefitting. Instead of splitting the brand, how about just making a more even spread of talent and prestige amongst the shows.

RAW is too long. I know it's the flagship show, but by the end of the 3 hours crowd energy has dropped and fans are getting tired (especially UK fans for whom it is 4am at that point). SmackDown has the feel of a lesser cousin, and Main Event is largely wasted.

NXT is also too short, and pre-taped. Meanwhile, there is apparently fantastic things happening at the live shows between TV. Unfortunately this is also where the majority of the injuries are occurring.

One solution could be to stop pushing RAW quite so hard as the ultimate of what WWE has to offer making everything else automatically second class. Shorten in to two and a half hours and give the other half hour to SmackDown, which also needs to be made a live show to give it back some significance (this would also give us more Mauro Ranallo which is enough to sell the idea in itself).

Main event could be used, not only to showcase some of the main roster stars not currently featuring on RAW and SmackDown, but to give fans a look at some of the matches from house shows to give the show something unique and cut the number of filler recap segments. By separating it from SmackDown, Main Event could also be extended to an hour and a half and even replace one of the house shows.

NXT needs to go to at least an hour and a half, there's so much talent there now an hour isn't long enough to showcase them. There's an argument for making NXT a live show instead of pre-taping. In principle it's a great idea but the issues are complex (and mostly beyond my level of expertise).

It's just one opinion amongst thousands, but there's more than enough talent within WWE to make all three shows feel important to superstars and fans alike, if they're booked well enough.

With a format of three great shows, instead of RAW and the rest, and less pre-taping, storyline continuity could be maintained across the brand and fans could get what they really want - more great wrestling and less repetitive irrelevance.

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Vince McMahon
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