World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship show Monday Night Raw has been entertaining wrestling fans every week since it debuted on January 11, 1993. The best period of the show occurred during the beloved Attitude Era from 1998 to 2001 when ratings reached all time highs thanks to the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H and others.
These days, the viewership numbers of Raw are disappointing because instead of averaging six million viewers for an episode of Raw like they did in the Attitude Era, they are barely over three million viewers. Those numbers are still good compared to an average television show, but when you compare it to WWE’s history, it’s really disappointing.
It’s an interesting situation because WWE is still one of the most watched shows on cable television, but in the months from September to December their viewership numbers tumble due to the NFL’s Monday Night Football. After 22 years, WWE is used to the competition from the NFL and it’s not something that rattles them, but they also can’t be happy with the numbers they are at right now.
What can they do to make Raw a better show that brings in more viewer? Here are ten believable ideas that would help.
10. More Fan Interaction During Episodes Of Raw
It’s bizarre that WWE doesn’t have more weekly polls or voting segments during Raw considering how much they mention social media on their shows. They want fans to talk about a match using a hashtag that they plugged, but what about voting?
When WWE used to do those Taboo Tuesday and Cyber Sunday shows, they were unique broadcasts that allowed the fans to vote on matches and stipulations they wanted to see. These days, when even more people are using social media, they don’t have fans vote on anything.
Raw seems to be a show that is dictated by the people that run it without the fans really having a voice. It should be one of the most social media friendly shows that there is. They are hurting themselves by not interacting with the audience more.
9. Add Renee Young To The Commentary Team
WWE loves talking about the growth of women in their company and how this “divas revolution” is in part because of the success of women in other sports. They’re pushing the divas division better these days, but they could do more.
They should make a bold move by adding Renee Young to the Raw commentary team while removing Byron Saxton. With all due respect to Byron, he really doesn’t add much. Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield should stay where they are.
Renee’s background was in sports broadcasting, but she also studied comedy in Toronto. She’s a very funny person that has a history with JBL from when they did a Youtube show together.
Hearing Renee’s voice on Raw would be a welcome change because fans would get a woman’s perspective on things whether it’s an issue between the guys or the divas matches. She has done well when she has been in that position before. Give her a chance to make a difference.
8. Feature NXT Talent
There’s too much filler on Raw. These are matches that have no place on the show and make people want to hit fast forward. They need to fresh things up, so in order to correct that, WWE should put some of the best NXT stars in matches on Raw.
To make things even more interesting, they could have matches where NXT performers face off with main roster regulars. Then they can have the NXT people win those matches to try to earn a spot on the main roster.
Imagine Samoa Joe vs. Kevin Owens on Raw next Monday. How about Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt? Bayley vs. Nikki Bella? These would be fresh and also promote NXT in a way that would make the average WWE viewer interested in watching that show.
7. Bring Back Familiar Names
The return of The Dudley Boyz has shown that the WWE Universe likes nostalgia once in a while, so seeing familiar faces back on WWE shows is something management should consider again.
There are plenty of former WWE stars that are either available now or could be very soon that WWE should consider: Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Rey Mysterio, Mickie James, Carlito, Shelton Benjamin and many more.
A reason to do it is because seeing those stars from the past mixing it up with the current stars would feel fresh. It’s not like fans are clamoring for more of Kane or Big Show. Since Raw feels like such a stale show right now, incorporating former stars is a great way to shake things up a bit.
6. Remove The Authority From Power
The Authority’s Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are very good on-screen performers that have been on television a lot over the last 20 years – especially Triple H. In the last two years, they have been the on screen power couple running WWE.
Normally, Triple H and Stephanie are booked like evil heels that are there to make things difficult on others. At other times, they come off as neutral bosses that are also a bit incompetent because heels should make things easier on a guy like Seth Rollins.
What’s clear about The Authority right now is they are stale and they represent a boring show. Fans want change. Bring back Eric Bischoff or even Shane McMahon. Mick Foley would be great in the role. Even Sting could be great at it. There are a lot of other people that can do that job and make things fresh.
5. More WWE Title Matches On Raw
For the most part, WWE does a really good job of putting over the importance of the WWE Title. While it would be nice if current WWE Champion Seth was presented like a bigger star that could actually win non-title matches, he rarely defends the gold on Raw.
It’s understandable why WWE doesn’t have a lot of WWE Title matches on Raw. They want to sell the PPV events that are on WWE Network. However, they also have to consider how important Raw is and how it’s also struggling right now. Why not change it up?
What WWE should do is announce something like the WWE Champion must defend the WWE Title on Raw at least once per month. That way the viewer knows they’re going to see the most coveted prize in wrestling defended on television. It will make people care more.
4. Eliminate The Show Opening Promo
Raw has turned into a formulaic show with a 15 minute promo to start it off. It usually involves some members of The Authority whether it’s Triple H, Stephanie McMahon or Seth Rollins and often times it sets up a match for later in the night.
The problem with this formula is that fans watching at home know it’s coming, so they are likely to tune out because it feels so repetitive. If you missed that opening promo, it’s okay because they’re going to show a replay of it and remind you of whatever match was made.
It would be refreshing to see Raw begin with a match. Say “welcome to the show” then bring out both wrestlers and let the match begin. They can use another segment to mention other things coming up if they want, but the show opening promo should go.
3. Put Brock Lesnar In A Match
Brock Lesnar’s been back in WWE for three years. In that time, Lesnar has wrestled in no matches on Raw. The idea is that Lesnar is a special attraction that only has matches at pay-per-view events as well as other WWE Network specials that are essentially televised live events.
Why not Raw? If Lesnar wrestled on Raw it would be treated as a big deal because it hasn’t happened in well over a decade. They’ve teased it happening, but then they did angles to make sure that it didn’t.
It’s important that Raw presents matchups that are fresh, new and exciting. Putting Lesnar in a match on Raw – no matter the opponent – would be exactly the kind of thing that they need.
2. Turn John Cena Heel
This is the biggest storyline they could do in order to spark business. Make John Cena into the biggest villain in WWE and watch as fans tune in to see what he might do next.
Look at what happened in WCW in 1996 when Hulk Hogan turned heel after spending over a decade as the biggest good guy in the wrestling business. They went on a tremendous run that led to them surpassing WWE while Hogan was invigorated as a top heel.
There may be reluctance on WWE’s part because of all of Cena’s charity work as well as his spot as the top merchandise seller in WWE. If he turns, who fills the void? WWE wants it to be Roman Reigns, but he may never be that guy for them.
Cena going heel would definitely lead to Raw becoming a more interesting show because it would be a change from what’s been normal for the last decade.
1. Make Raw A Two Hour Show Again
The biggest problem with Raw is that it’s too long. Asking fans to sit there for three hours to watch a show that often times is below average is just too much. Raw is three hours because USA Network wants it to be and WWE is happy to do it because they are getting paid for it. They made the change in July of 2012.
Over the last three years, Raw’s viewership numbers have gone down. They normally don’t get 4 million live viewers in the US anymore even though they used to get it regularly. People can say all they want about ratings not being as important as they used to be, but they matter for advertisers and for WWE as a business.
If Raw was two hours again, more fans would likely be interested in tuning in to see what is happening because it’s hard to commit to a three hour show every week. Other than a few live sporting events, most shows are under two hours long.
WWE may be reluctant to go back to two hours because it would be as if they are admitting that three hours failed. They should realize that it’s okay to be wrong as long as it benefits the company long term.