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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - 3 Hour RAW Discussion and RAW/Smackdown Show Thoughts
By Mr. Tito
Jan 5, 2017 - 1:13:41 AM
So let's review the first RAW and Smackdown shows of 2017 here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Normally, I HATE reviewing the television shows because I've reviewed many infomericals-for-Pay-Per-Views for years upon years. Particularly when we have a Brand Split and when the WWE decides to have brand specific Pay Per Views, the quality of the shows diminish greatly... Things are made worse when you have to watch 5 hours of pro wrestling for 2 straight nights and on Pay Per View weekends, 8 hours in 3 nights.
Which makes me want to address something that John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) said on the new WWE Network show, Bring It To the Table. In case you've missed this new show, it's attempting to be an ESPN like debate show which has a host plus 2 WWE professionals. This week, it was JBL and Paul Heyman and they covered a long list of topics. Let me say this, first... JBL and Paul Heyman are WWE employees, fully paid for. Especially when they appear on WWE programming, they are told what to say and when to say it. There is NO freedom of speech in front of WWE cameras. Period. To even remotely suggest that this "Bring it to the Table" show was unbiased or fully opinionated would show ignorance of how the WWE works. In fact, this show appeared to me as if it was scripted by Vince McMahon and he was using it as a vehicle to lash out against fans. Almost every topic was an open criticism of the WWE made by fans and JBL/Heyman seemed combative to defend the WWE at every cost. I've seen both JBL and Heyman offer their opinions and they don't sound like that...
There is ONE specific topic that JBL discussed and defended that I'd like to cover... The debate over RAW being 3 hours. Bradshaw is a smart guy, particularly with numbers... He plays the stock market, produced written materials on the equity market, and has been an analyst on multiple financial television shows. What he said about WWE's earnings from their television shows is actually true. In fact, I've made that point when anyone hammers me when I question WWE RAW's declining viewership or ratings. WWE remains dependent on their Comcast/USA Networks television contract and foreign television contracts (I estimated 35% of total revenues) despite all of the new technologies out there. Without television, how can the WWE advertise the WWE Network? Fact is that USA Networks is still available to almost 96 million homes.
I cannot deny JBL's quoted numbers... However, what the WWE Corporation would deny and not let someone with unscripted opinions discuss is the "Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility". I don't want to teach an Economics class, but this is a term used in Microeconomics courses and it refers to a reduction in added satisfaction when consuming increasing amounts of a good/service. Go get a bag of chocolate bars and attempt to eat them all.. Go to Golden Coral and don't stop eating... Eventually, you either get sick of eating the same food or actually get sick/ill because you cannot physically eat any more. If you watch a WWE Pay Per View for 3 hours on Sunday and watch RAW for 3 hours on Monday, how excited are you to watch 2 more hours on Tuesday for Smackdown? That's the "RAW fatigue" that myself and my pal Virtue have come up with as to why Smackdown struggles to succeed on Tuesdays. Watching 3 hours of RAW sees this Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility hitting wrestling fans as the 3rd hour consistently rates lower than the 1st and 2nd. In fact, the pattern appears to see a decline from the 1st hour to the 3rd.
Sure, the WWE is enjoying the existing Comcast/USA Networks television deal but the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility has set in for RAW. They have lost 1 million viewers since around Wrestlemania 31 time during 2015. Comcast/USA Networks pays the WWE a flat fee for their programming annually while USA Networks takes in the advertising dollars. HOWEVER, if WWE has lost 1 million viewers on RAW, what happens to advertising rates? Go from 4 million viewers on average to 3 million... WWE has lost fans in the past 2 years despite giving those same fans MORE product than ever before. What JBL cannot deny is the declining USA Networks viewership in the WWE product. Unless you can create compelling characters and storylines to keep those 3 hours interesting, you are shoving too much WWE product down your fans' throats and causing a reduction in fans.
What people should worry about with the 3 hours of RAW is not what the USA Networks contract is paying for during 2016 or 2017, but if it gets renewed in a few years... And if it gets renewed, how much will it be? Remember, the WWE took a financial hit in the Stock Market because the deal signed during 2014 wasn't as large as expected. WWE promised to triple their previous television deal, wanting to get the "NASCAR kind of deal", but fell very short of that. WWE Stock tanked! If RAW viewership keeps reducing, the promise of a higher Television Contract in a few years might be a challenge for the WWE. Until the WWE can prove that they can become independent of television, they need demand in their television to be STRONG. Pushing out excess amounts of television programming on USA Networks which are structured to promote Pay Per Views elsewhere is actually hurting the WWE long-term. Lost 1 million viewers (fact) which not only hurts advertising rates, but has lost 1 million WWE fans who could buy merchandise, attend live events, or even subscribe to the WWE Network.
If 3 hours of RAW = great idea, then why has the viewership dropped 1 million in the past 2 years? Why does viewership decline DURING the show from the 1st hour to the 3rd hour?
WWE remains lucky that USA Network (a) struggles to have original content that catches on and (b) is being eaten alive by Netflix for its rerun market. That's the main reason for the 3 hours of RAW and moving Smackdown from the SyFy Channel to USA Networks and then to Tuesdays. However, these moves might be contributing to the WWE's demise, at least their Cable television products.
Speaking of RAW/Smackdown on the USA Networks...
RAW & SMACKDOWN THOUGHTS
I'm REALLY excited to see Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker coming back next week. I'm eating MOUTHFULS of Member Berries for this! I just wonder if them appearing together will be Shawn Michaels asking Undertaker, man-to-man, if it's OK to wrestle in the 2017 Royal Rumble match. After all, Michaels promised the Undertaker that he'd stay retired...
My FAVORITE part of Monday Night RAW was seeing Kevin Owens having enough of Bill Golberg's banter and getting in his face. That was great during the Kevin Owens Show segment to end RAW. Owens even trashed his own set and furniture to mock Goldberg. And he SHOULD do that... He's the World Champ.
After their confrontation, Roman Reigns and then Braun Strowman appeared... Cool moment when BOTH Reigns and Goldberg speared Strowman together. Of course, it defeats the point when it takes two multiple-time World Champions to take down a big thick piece of muscle. I've seen Goldberg lift heavier opponents (granted, he was 18 years younger!) and Roman Reigns, granted that it's the booking, has been a tough opponent for Brock Lesnar. So why would it take two to harm Strowman? Either guy should have their way with the big guy. Still, it was a cool moment and I can sense that this double-spear will be on the RAW highlight reels for years.
Miz & Maryse started Smackdown, cut a great promo... Guy is ON FIRE since his Talking Smack segment with Daniel Bryan. But here's a moment to consider between Ambrose and Miz... When Ambrose is in the ring with Maryse, anything should go... No, I'm NOT talking about domestic violence. I'm talking going Bugs Bunny on her and laying the biggest kiss on her possible. Yeah, I know that he's dating Renee Young... But opposing wrestlers HAVE to figure out away around this Maryse Wall during this PG-Era. If that was Steve Austin, he'd crush her with a Stone Cold Stunner. Obviously, Corporate WWE has moved on from that barbaric era, so get reactive... Give her the Owen Hart treatment and bring a can of Sardines to the ring... Open that thing up and smear it in her face (which is what Owen once did to Bret Hart at a WWE houseshow as a rib).
By the way, Maryse would later get her revenge on Renee Young... What did the 5 fingers say to the face? SLAP! I would pay anything to see Maryse and Renee Young go to the ground and fight like ECW valets. "Catfight! Catfight! Catfight", as Joey Styles use to say.
When you put all of your eggs in the Charlotte basket, you get silence for the Nia Jax vs. Bayley match. Good win for Bayley, though, as she hit a Bayley-to-Belly Suplex off the top rope on Nia Jax who was distracted by Sasha Banks. Maybe the crowd was silent because Bayley was verbally thrashed by Miss "Ratings Poison" herself, Stephanie McMahon? Calling Bayley "ordinary".
Now, most of you are going to tell me that "Stephanie McMahon will help Bayley get ready for Wrestlemania 33 to become champion"... Oh really? Because how many wrestlers has Stephanie HELPED in the past? How many wrestlers has she slapped only to see those wrestlers overcome adversity against her? Let's see here... "B+ Player" Daniel Bryan, nope... Brie Bella who was defending her man, nope... Yeah, how about that Nikki Bella turn that lasted a whole 2 months before the Bellas were together again. Last 4 years, we've had to suffer with her as top authority figure and nobody is getting over. So don't give me any BS how Stephanie will help Bayley. Stephanie has NO RECORD of helping anyone get over because they never get proper revenge on her character.
Honestly, Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman was decent as a "Last Man Standing" match. Obviously, Strowman got the win and dominated Zayn at the end, but this match was better than I expected. Goes to show you the talent fo Zayn, but also that Strowman isn't that bad... I just wish that they'd fix his look a big with the hair, beard, and attire. I think that if they just made him look a tad more professional...
Dolph Ziggler just knocked out Kalisto, who chased off Baron Corbin... I don't know... Ziggler has had so many character shifts and pushes that I can't keep track any longer. I am, however, VERY CURIOUS to see him feud with Apollo Crews. That could be a good in-ring lesson for Crews... Corbin has had a few good weeks of wrestling, meanwhile...
Actually cool to see Aliyah on Smackdown Live, as she was on the WWE Network's Breaking Ground and appeared then to need some work. She has since improved and was needed for a random match with Carmella. Somehow, James Ellsworth and Carmella are an item now and he got involved with the match... I must be getting old because I'm not seeing the hilarity of this guy particularly as he wasted months of AJ Styles's WWE Title reign.
The Titus/New Day stuff was weird... I just worry that the ship has sailed with Titus, not just because of his 60 day suspension, but for the many character changes while not being allowed to win consistently. That, and he's not getting any younger. I still say that when Titus and Darren Young first split and Titus became heel, that ruined him. He's never been the same since.
I'm happy for American Alpha, but I wish their 1st WWE Tag Title win was more special than a random Smackdown match. Feels too early that they are champions BUT the Tag Division isn't much on Smackdown. That being said, now that they are champions, DO NOT LET THEM LOSE FOR A LONG TIME... Let them dominate as a team and build them up while the rest of the division tries to grow.
Geesh, Nikki Bella and Natalya got personal... Interesting how Smackdown is incorporating "shoot" like promos that utilize aspects of the wrestlers' lives. Shooting on Cena as a boyfriend has been particularly rough and Natalya tore Nikki a new one.
I honestly feel as though I've seen any combination of Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins wrestle multiple times now. The only unique match remaining out of that group appears to be Jericho vs. Owens which will be the blowoff of their eventual break-up.
I enjoy the Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss feud... Getting weird with the Luchadora stuff, but it's an old trick that always works. Just seems that both Lynch and Bliss have an open canvas to do whatever in their feud. What I like is how both wrestlers are selling strongly how important that the Smackdown Women's Title is to them.
INTERESTING how the WWE is acknowledging how Smackdown BEAT RAW in the ratings last week. Stephanie McMahon was PISSED at Mick Foley on RAW and yet Daniel Bryan used it as a reason to justify why John Cena vs. AJ Styles at Royal Rumble is happening.
Ohhhhh, AJ Styles was cutting DEEP on John Cena... He was shredding him on his criticisms of part-time Rock. It was beautiful... Cena, of course, retaliates with an emotional response which is good as usual. "THAT'S PASSION!". GREAT SEGMENT, although Baron Corbin would later interrupt to announce that he's the first Smackdown Royal Rumble Match entrant and that he'll beat Cena/Styles for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania. This infuriates Cena and he wants to fight Corbin immediately. The distraction allows AJ to cheapshot Cena... That ended well. Corbin is getting some good looks for the past few weeks.
LOOK AT SMACKDOWN... It can HEADLINE a show with the INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE on the line... Hello RAW, are you watching this? An actual Midcard Champion and not a Main Eventer holding a title (Reigns as US Champ) headlines a television show. Gee, a strongly pushed midcard title division just might work... imagine that. Miz vs. Dean Ambrose headlined Smackdown and it was DAMN GOOD. Crisp match with lots of drama, Maryse interference that later got her booted from the match, and a nice Skull Crusher reversal into the Dirty Deeds DDT for Ambrose to win. My only issue is that the Intercontinental Title is (a) trading hands too much during the second half of 2016 and (b) Dean Ambrose was just WWE Champ recently... Midcard champion?
LAST WORD: Smackdown CRUSHED RAW this week... What Smackdown has is STAR POWER that I want to tune in and see while RAW remains the Rollins, Reigns, and Strowman show. Smackdown gives me Cena vs. Styles, which is HUGE... But then you have Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, an improving Miz, and a growing Baron Corbin that you can cycle into a Main Event match at any time... Rest of the card was better than RAW as well. Like I said - Rollins, Reigns, and Strowman... Wanna watch that?
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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