If you witnessed the birth of WWE’s Raw when the first episode aired on January 11th, 1993, and are still a fan today, you deserve some recognition. For over two decades, Raw has been the face of Monday night entertainment for many fans. It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows for the company. The WWE has gone through several phases over the years, including the New Generation, Attitude, and Aggression eras. When WCW’s owner, Ted Turner, decided to acquire the talents from WWE’s roster during the Monday Night Wars saga, Raw was on the brink of being destroyed. Even though the show was being hit hard by their rival because of reality-based stories, fresh characters, and aggressive business moves, they still managed to survive.
After overcoming their challenges and wiping out the competition, Raw has become the longest running, weekly episodic television program in the history of United States television. So what does the future hold for WWE’s Raw? How can they keep their fan base while reaching out to new viewers every week? We wish we could hop into Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine sports car and tell you but we can’t. Don’t worry though, we came up with a list to satisfy your curiosity. Enjoy.
15 Two Hour Shows
In 2012, WWE decided to have Raw run for three hours instead of two. Since then, critics have been clamoring for a change. On paper, it seems like a great idea to have a three-hour episode. There will be more screen time for the wrestlers, storylines can blossom over the course of the show, and it gives WWE a lot of leeway with time, a crucial component of live television. So what’s the humbug? Some can debate Raw has turned into a commercial fest with watered down material.
Sure, there are several entertaining segments during the show, however, all too often the fans have been left watching stories with no substance. A three-hour show can also strain the attention span of a viewer, making a switch of the channel a popular move. It’s not a coincidence that more people have had positive views of SmackDown, a two-hour program, since it started to go live this summer.
14 New Division
It’s safe to say WWE’s experimental Cruiserweight Challenge has become a success for the company. In one fell swoop, Mr. McMahon has not only pleased the indie fans, but also provided great content for their WWE Network. We know a new cruiserweight division will debut on Raw next week, but they shouldn’t stop there. With a three hour show, let’s see one or two more titles become a member of the Raw family. An inter-gender tag team title, a super heavyweight title, or a Raw television title could suffice.
Titles are very important for the image of a Superstar and more titles only benefit them as well as give the fans something to look forward to. All too often have we've seen the character development and storylines of a wrestler stagnate, so this might fix the problem.
13 Cinematic Content
In 2002, WWE stepped into the Hollywood arena, establishing a cinematic studio. Some thought it was a brass move, others thought it would be a flop, however, 14 years later, the studio is still churning out movies. So why hasn’t WWE tried to use the resources from the studio to help with their own segments?
If you were watching New Day feud with The Wyatt Family you may have seen a glimpse into the future. The conclusion of the feud ended with a cinematic feature, similar to TNA’s Final Deletion and Lucha Underground’s television segments. We don’t have to have a major movie production run a feud, but using WWE Studios as a way to tell a story can be a game changer.
12 Fan Involvement
When The Rock came out for an episode of Raw recently, he noticed several fans dressed up as past Superstars. The fans were dressed as Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Savage, and The Undertaker. Instead of ignoring them, which WWE often does with fans who enjoy acting like their heroes, The Rock went to them and started a beautiful impromptu conversation.
The fans and WWE need to collaborate more often. Another successful segment was the time Daniel Bryan brought out a fleet of fans to chant Yes! Yes ! Yes! WWE reminds us time and again that the fans are what makes this business prosper. Let’s have some epic fan involvement during the show, as it not only looks good for the company but it’s also fun for the fan to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
11 More Title Matches
Who didn’t love watching the Universal Title play out on Raw? Triple H came back and helped Owens win the title and WWE needs more matches like that. It doesn’t have to be the main title every week but an increase in these matches can bring in more ratings and excitement to the show. Remember, during the Monday Night Wars, WCW announced Mick Foley would be winning a major title, hoping to spoil the show. It backfired and many people tuned in.
You know why? It’s because everyone loves a title match on Raw. Another example of Raw having more success with their program because of title matches was John Cena’s U.S. Title Challenge. Even though most knew Cena would win, it was still fun and exciting to watch a new wrestler challenge him every week.
10 Balor Club
A new era deserves a new dominant stable. Sadly, Finn Balor hurt himself during his match with Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam and is out for at least six months. When he comes back, WWE should put his club on full throttle. We would like to see a push similar to that of D-Generation X or Evolution.
Not only should the fans get to see Balor’s Club pushed to the moon, but they should bring an end to the comedic shenanigans they have Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson doing. A dominant stable that can transcend into pop culture, which Balor, Gallows, and Anderson did before coming to the WWE, is what’s best for business. Hopefully, WWE makes the push when Balor comes back.
9 Mobile Apps
When the iPhone debuted in 2007, it started the smartphone boom. Before the product hit the market, we doubt anyone could have predicted how insanely awesome our phones would become. Having a smartphone is like having your own hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. As the smartphone thrived, the market for applications on for your phone skyrocketed as well.
The WWE has used their apps and other social media websites to interact with the fans, but we would like to see more of this. How about a special app that’s suited for the interaction between fans and wrestlers during Raw. One example could be fans seeing “snapchats” of the wrestlers warming up for their match. The experience between the fan and wrestler would be more personal than your average tweet.
8 GoPro View
Some people love the first person perspective, others not so much, but WWE should still experiment with it. With technology getting more sophisticated as well as smaller, it won’t be long before wrestlers can put a GoPro device on their own attire. Some promotions and sports companies use GoPros on their officials, so this could also happen in the WWE.
Having a GoPro hooked up to a wrestler or referee can make for some interesting and unique shots that can be used in promos and other visual content. It can also be used with the cinematic experience we discussed earlier. One example you can find is director Ilya Naishuller’s film, Hardcore Henry. It’s all about new angles and options for the fans to see their favorite wrestlers in action. The only downfall to this experiment might be the dizziness one feels after watching a GoPro for too long.
7 Better Storylines
We don’t need a sophisticated storyline that tries to match a Vince Gilligan screenplay, but we would like to see a bit more substance into what’s going on. Maybe having more hip, relevant, and reality driven stories can do the job. WWE seems to get it right sometimes, such as letting New Day do their own thing during their promos, but other times the stories are far too often bland and repetitive.
We want defined roles, character devolvement, and emotional connections with these Superstars like we saw in the CWC tournament. If you have watched shoot videos of former wrestlers who worked in the WWE, you would hear stories of how the wrestler and writer wouldn’t see eye to eye. It seems the relationship between creative and the athlete are stretched further than the Great Wall of China, which should be fixed.
6 Add More Gimmick Matches
One of the biggest turn-offs for Raw is the predictability of what the main event will be. Usually, the WWE would have someone come out at the beginning of the show and would bloviate until the commercials start. Fans want to be surprised and announcing a gimmick match such as Hell in the Cell, Elimination Chamber, or Money in Bank Match, when the show starts, would make anyone stick around for the end.
The idea is to make matches on Raw fresh, as well as keep the fans on their toes. As we pointed out earlier, title matches on Raw can impact the perception of the program. Think about a title match with an Elimination Chamber added to the mix every so often. That type of booking will make any fan want more.
5 On-Demand Screen of Your Choosing
Ever watch the show and they change the camera shot to something you absolutely hate? Prefer the old school way to watch a wrestling match and that’s one camera with a wide angle? Having the ability to pick and choose which angle you want to watch Raw on can be a game changer. We know that WWE may never allow it because a lot of the illusions to enhance kayfabe techniques involve camera angles.
Nevertheless, if it’s what the fans want, they should receive it. This type of entertainment is already being used in other sports programs such as the NFL. If the USA Network and WWE can team up to bring us this type of experience, no one will change the channel, just the camera angle.
4 Legendary Heel or Face Turns
Anyone that was alive and could speak sentences during the Monday Night Wars, remembers where they were the night when Hulk Hogan turned heel during WCW’s Bash at the Beach in 1996. The same can be said for when Vince McMahon no longer was the announcer and all of a sudden was Stone Cold's number one enemy.
Legendary heel or face turns like this can keep Raw going for years. All it takes is for Cena to come in and destroy Sami Zayn or Roman Reigns. Not only should active wrestlers partake in changing their characters, but also part timers that helped the industry grow and have come back for one night.
3 Encourage Second Screen Experience
We covered mobile apps but what do you know about the second screen experience for fans? Have you ever visited HBOGO.com and seen added content information on the side while watching a show? How polls that pop up during a newscast that you can participate in? In a nutshell, that’s what a second screen experience is. It’s using a device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone, and being engaged with the program.
It also helps bring extra information to the fans. What’s the point? It’s to get more people talking and participating with what is happening on Raw during the show. If the USA Network could ever figure out how to use this technique for Raw, it will be awesome for the fans.
2 Augmented Reality
Now this idea is far out there, but we are talking about the future. Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, but instead of a simulated experience, you are in real-time and can interact with an environment and digitally manipulate it. You may be familiar with primitive devices that have augmented reality elements, such as Google Glasses or the Oculus Rift, but let’s think bigger.
Futurists are salivating at the thought of an entire room being used as a personal augmented reality theater. Now imagine being able to go into that room and turn on Raw. You can watch the show from any viewpoint and can interact using second screen experience elements. It’s as if you showed up to the event in the flesh, but still have the comforts of being in your own home.
1 Leave Television
One day, cable television will be obsolete unless the world collapses. Many people don’t have a means to the internet, but that will change as devices become cheaper and life becomes more like the matrix. A big money maker for the WWE is the deal they have with the USA Network and all the advertisement revenue that comes with it. Once you start seeing these advertisements on the WWE Network, you know changes are coming.
If the WWE leaves television and put all their content on their own network, it could rock the foundation of Raw. There are so many possibilities to what they can do if that happens. Maybe they could become commercial free for a larger fee? This will also help the other ideas on the list, such as second screen experience, augmented reality, and social applications.