I’ve spent the last few days watching The Best of Nitro DVD. By way of an endorsement, I must say DDP is the perfect the narrator. The inclusion of such gems as Billy Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera’s for the Cruiseweight Title shows WWE has a tremendous amount of respect for WCW’s history and wrestling in general. The aforementioned match ran a good 13 minutes. Compared to today’s programming, that’s an eternity for a free-TV mid-card match. WCW had the ability to do this with several mid-card matches due to their 3 hour time slot. Raw expanded to 3 hours for back-to-back weeks this month and it got me thinking…What If WWE ended the brand extension and made Raw a 3 hour show…
Why It’s a Good Idea
For a company with 2 shows and 4 hours of original programming, it’s silly that only 2 WWE titles carry any value. John Cena has the WWE Title and Randy Orton has the World Heavyweight Championship. Beyond that, I think Ziggler or Kingston is the US Champ and maybe Ekeziel Jackson is the Intercontinental champ now? Someone from Nexus or the now defunct Corre has the tag straps I believe. The belts hold such little importance, it doesn’t really matter. A look at the lineage of the US and IC titles shows how they used to serve as jumping off points for future superstars. Now they’re just an excuse to have a match.
WWE really has an embarrassment of riches on their hands. From veterens like Cena and Big Show to up and coming talent like Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes, there is just not enough time in the week to give all these guys their due. With a 3 hour Raw each week, WWE could cut some the dead weight from their roster and adapt a similar format to WCW. WCW would open with the big boys and main eventers then they’d get to long, solid matches. Some had a story behind them, others were just for pure entertainment. Regardless, it gave all the guys in the company an ability to show their stuff. There were multiple tag matches, several cruiserweight bouts, at least one title defense and there was still plenty of time for in-ring promos. It was really an enjoyable show each and every Monday. If WWE had that amount of time, their product could develop talent in an organic fashion rather than whip guys from obscurity to the world title scene and then lose them in the shuffle after Cena or Orton beats them.
It’d also force WWE to go back to one world title! Then they could make the IC belt meaningful, build a tag division and re-introduce the TV or European title. I could see someone like Daniel Bryan being TV champ. People like John Morrison and Del Rio could go after the IC title as they wait for their World Title shot. Tag teams like Slater and Gabriel could get regular TV time along with emerging superstars. After all, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin both honed their skills while in tag teams early in their career. With one 3 hour show, the creative team could focus on a few story lines.
Why It’s a Bad Idea
Overall, the WWE would lose an hour of programming each week. They’d also lose an arena’s worth of revenue by not having a Smackdown event. It’s hard to estimate just how much they’d lose, but that could be offset by shrinking the roster and having less travel accommodations to deal with. In terms of writing, the booking could go from bad to worse as far as utilizing talent goes. Beyond that, since I conceived the idea, I have to say I see little downside.
Well, financially it might not be a wise choice. But over the past few years, Smackdown has changed TV networks a few times. The ratings are OK but if they slip too far, Vince might consider consolidating. There are plans to do this and it’s purely hypothetical but I’d love to see a tighter program week in and week out! What do you think?