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How would you present Raw?


tiger_rick
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Not talking about specific booking ideas here really. What would you do about the direction of Raw and how would you fill the three hours?

The biggest problems I have with it currently are that it feels 10 hours long, characters don't develop enough, it's looked the same every week for decades and the heel heat is all too often on non-wrestlers. So I'd:

* Get rid of authority figures - All of them. Commissioners, GMs, Owners, fucking constables, etc. The announcers discuss at the start of the show what is going to happen. At the end, they can discuss what's happening next week. They can tell us what is coming on PPV. Wrestlers demanding shit in the ring is an absolute no-no. Very, very occassionally, I'd use that to really build up a big deal when someone has been majorly wronged by a heel or by a refereeing decision as part of telling a story and have a HHH or Vince turn up but it'd be once a year or so. The bastards on the show should be the heel wrestlers who are dirty fuckers who get their commupence when people are paying to see it. Simple. Simple. Simple.

* Get rid of the ramp to the left every single week. Book a larger or smaller venue every so often. Embrace the contours of an arena. Build a ramp some weeks. Have a long aisle others. Have the crowd right on top of the ring in smaller venues. It's a show that travels the country and the world and is presented live almost every week but looks exactly the same. Why would you do that? Why would you take it all the way to London and make it look exactly the same as the US?

* Develop people - it seems almost too obvious but every show should focus on adding a layer one or more characters. What are we going to do this week to make the people love or hate this person more? Are we going to their house to see how they live? Are we going to see where they grew up or went to college? Are we sitting down to ask them things fans want to know? Are we putting together a video that puts over their morals (or lack of) or their motivation? Hell, are we doing a promo in the middle of the ring where they say something that matters not just "At the end of the day, in this very ring, blah, blah"?

* Mix things up - There are far too many ten plus minute matches on the show every week. I'd break that up considerably. Have more shorter matches that just showcase someone. Have more interviews and sketches that add reason for the matches or layers to the characters as above.

Some basic ideas there. I have more thoughts but won't make a massive OP. What would you do?

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Stop anyone who is feuding from having endless matches on Raw especially when building to a PPV match. Its simple really. 

Week 1

wrestler A calls out wrestler B

week 2 

wrestler B attacks wrestler A after their match 

week 3 

wrestler A and partner vs wrestler B and partner

week 4

wrestler B commentates/jumps/promo on wrestler A (vice versa) 

PPV. 

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31 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

* Develop people - it seems almost too obvious but every show should focus on adding a layer one or more characters. What are we going to do this week to make the people love or hate this person more? Are we going to their house to see how they live? Are we going to see where they grew up or went to college? Are we sitting down to ask them things fans want to know? Are we putting together a video that puts over their morals (or lack of) or their motivation? Hell, are we doing a promo in the middle of the ring where they say something that matters not just "At the end of the day, in this very ring, blah, blah"?

Developing the characters is huge for me, something they don't enough of these days.

Can anyone remember the hokey shit they did back in the day? Like visiting Hillbilly Jim in his cabin out in the woods? Showing footage of him elbow dropping an old mattress and squeezing tractor tyres to develop strength and suchlike? I'm sure he also had a couple of hunting dogs running around as well. It was great.

Why can't they do a more modern, updated version of that kind of thing? More footage of guys heading into main events showing them training in their gyms, rope in some "crossover" boxing and/or MMA guys as talking heads on their training and suchlike? 

Someone in the Smackdown thread mentioned using more "staged" social media stuff, where a fan happens to capture a wrestler getting into a confrontation in a bar, or "grainy cellphone footage" of someone who's about to turn heel meeting in an undisclosed restaurant with a hated bad guy?

Anything is better than they do now.

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16 minutes ago, Joe Blog said:

Stop anyone who is feuding from having endless matches on Raw especially when building to a PPV match. Its simple really. 

Week 1

wrestler A calls out wrestler B

week 2 

wrestler B attacks wrestler A after their match 

week 3 

wrestler A and partner vs wrestler B and partner

week 4

wrestler B commentates/jumps/promo on wrestler A (vice versa) 

PPV. 

Hey, if it works in EWR, it'll work in real life.

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Go 100% back to the drawing board. Rebuild the entire show from the ground up. 

I find WWE quite often a chore to sit through lately, and much of that is because the production/presentation feels incredibly stale, like it hasn't undergone any significant change in over a decade, arguably more like 20 years, and because the presentation lacks any sense of urgency - it's too brightly lit, too clean, too "safe", and things like cutting backstage seconds before two people start a conversation always looks awkward, and raises the question of why there's a camera crew on hand, and why we're cutting there just as something is about to happen. The show is full of stuff like that, that goes unquestioned because that's just how wrestling works.

These are all suggestions I'd have made for WOS or anything else, not just RAW specifically. It's how I think a wrestling TV show should look in 2018. Apologies, this is going to be a long one.

  • I'd rely less on the announcers outside of matches. Integrate something like the existing pre-show panel throughout the show, as "hosts" of the show, as analysts, the same way that, if you watch football, it's not the commentators talking about the game during half-time, it's a group of pundits. Let the announce team just call matches, and when you need to hype the pay-per-view, plug the sponsors, introduce hype packages and so on, that can be the job of the pundits/panel. As well as changing up the presentation, this takes pressure off the announcers and leaves them free to just call the matches, and hopefully do a better job of it.
     
  • The set for the panel can either sit where it currently does, or somewhere off to the side of the stage, akin to where they used to conduct interviews in the '90s (think "Austin 3:16"). Interviews can once again be conducted here, so they're happening in front of a live audience, and can more fluidly transition from one segment to the next - I'm thinking of classic Memphis, where a wrestler would win his match, then saunter over to the interview position, his interview would be interrupted by someone, that person would go on to have a match, and it would all just flow from one segment to the next without ever leaving the studio. It creates a sense of continuity, and of urgency, lacking in modern day WWE, while also refreshing the visual presentation of the show.
     
  • A complete moratorium on show opening promos to set up a main event. Every time I see a promo that leads to an authority figure booking that show's main event, I can't help but ask, "what would have main evented if this guy¬†hadn't¬†happened to cut a promo, and his rival¬†hadn't¬†interrupted him? Why did you not already have a main event booked for a show that's already underway?". Don't just stop doing these promos - actively subvert and undermine them; on an old episode of NXT, someone barged into William Regal's office demanding a match, and Regal told them that the show was already booked, as was next week's, but he'd give him a match the week after. I thought that was¬†brilliant¬†in contrast to what we tend to get on RAW.¬†
    If we must have authority figures, this protects their credibility. When part of the storyline is about the (kayfabe) inner workings of the company, make those inner workings more believable, and not just act as if the whole show is booked on the whim of whoever's been given a backstage office this week, with the occasional contract signing. Have an internal logic to the kayfabe running of the company and keep it consistent.
     
  • Backstage angles must have a reason why they're being filmed. No cutting backstage to an authority figure and a wrestler two seconds before they start their conversation. No cutting to a backstage brawl without explanation. If people are fighting backstage, it's less believable if it's happening as a clearly delineated segment of the show - have the announcers, confused at first, say that they're receiving word of something happening backstage, and cut away from the match or interview that's happening, or even from a promo video, to a camera crew¬†just¬†catching up to what's going on. Have an interview interrupted by someone calling for help, and us seeing the camera's eye view as the crew run to catch what's going on.¬†
    What I'm getting at is take advantage of television. Don't treat TV just as the lens through which we're watching this show, as if it were any other TV drama, use TV to constantly remind the audience that what they're watching is "real", unpredictable, and happening now. The camera should be an active participant, not a passive observer. To the same end, have wrestlers interact with the camera during matches and entrances.
    On another "take advantage of TV as a medium" front, there was an angle in Mid-South where they cut away from the match and just filmed the announcers, as they explained that it was "too graphic" for the TV station to agree to broadcast it. The match was still going on, you could hear it, maybe even catch the odd glimpse, and you could hear the announcers describing it, but just how bloody and violent it really was got left to your imagination. It's the sort of angle you could only pull off once, but, again, it's using television as a story-telling tool.
     
  • As everyone else is saying - video packages, character work. Vignettes teaching us who a character is, training montages, sit-down interviews, picture-in-picture interviews with a wrestler during their rival's match. As well as the old school examples other people have mentioned, I'm thinking of the post-Royal Rumble RAW that was cancelled, and they just broadcast replays of matches interspersed with sit-down interviews. Those interviews were some of the best, most compelling work they've done in years, and we should see the likes of that every week. If people are appearing in video packages and character pieces, they don't also need to be wrestling that week - we don't need to see everyone wrestling every week.
     
  • (Sparing) integration of social media and other platforms. Telling us that your favourite hashtag is trending worldwide is one thing, but it doesn't really¬†do¬†anything, it doesn't elicit an emotional response, doesn't reward the audience for following the company on social media, or make them feel like them doing so has influenced the show. Maybe, if we're going with the pre-show panel idea, incorporate the "Social Media Lounge" thing they do on PPV pre-shows into some interview segments - have the interviewer say, "and I've got a few questions from the WWE Universe", and read out some Tweets. Let the fans get a little buzz from having their Tweet read out, and having a promo cut on it.

    Have angles play out (in part) on social media. A show's ended with two guys who hate each other getting separated by security, prevented from trying to tear each other limb from limb, and we're expected to believe that - even though they're touring together, working house shows together, and so on - they'll just gladly wait until the next TV show before they try and fight them again? Show us "fan footage" from house shows of them coming to blows at a house show, or a public appearance, or one guy jumping the other in the car park prior to the show. That can get posted to Twitter, Facebook, WWE's YouTube channel, reach the collective millions of followers they have across all of those platforms, and have people talking about what happened in the days between TV shows, rather than waiting for the next show to come along. The WWE Network could have a weekly news show that covers all this stuff, and it could be summarised by the panel on RAW to get everyone caught up to speed - but, for the fans actively following the story across all platforms, they feel more involved, more rewarded for the effort they're putting in, and like they're privy to exclusive insider information, like the first kid in the playground to realise that RAW was taped on Mondays but airing Fridays, so they could find the results and tell everyone else what was going to happen.
    Along similar lines - though this getting beyond the remit of just one TV show - they could start some feuds slowly on social media, keep it bubbling under, before it ever starts to kick off on TV. Again, to the fans who know, it adds a little extra to the feud when it starts "properly", and it also generates an air of mystery around what is and isn't real. 
     
  • All that, and I haven't even started on the wrestling! The wrestling is almost secondary to the presentation.¬†
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3 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

I'd rely less on the announcers outside of matches. Integrate something like the existing pre-show panel throughout the show, as "hosts" of the show, as analysts, the same way that, if you watch football, it's not the commentators talking about the game during half-time, it's a group of pundits. Let the announce team just call matches, and when you need to hype the pay-per-view, plug the sponsors, introduce hype packages and so on, that can be the job of the pundits/panel. As well as changing up the presentation, this takes pressure off the announcers and leaves them free to just call the matches, and hopefully do a better job of it.

The set for the panel can either sit where it currently does, or somewhere off to the side of the stage, akin to where they used to conduct interviews in the '90s (think "Austin 3:16"). Interviews can once again be conducted here, so they're happening in front of a live audience, and can more fluidly transition from one segment to the next - I'm thinking of classic Memphis, where a wrestler would win his match, then saunter over to the interview position, his interview would be interrupted by someone, that person would go on to have a match, and it would all just flow from one segment to the next without ever leaving the studio. It creates a sense of continuity, and of urgency, lacking in modern day WWE, while also refreshing the visual presentation of the show.

I really like this. It's better than my idea. That Smackdown after-show thing they did with Renee Young and Daniel Bryan would be perfect for this. Like a modern spin on Prime-Time wrestling but all taking place in the same place. For whatever reason also, the interviews and responses on that show were so much better than the shit they do on the main shows. Possibly because it was improvised? Cutting beetwen that and the arena or building that in the arena like the presenters of a football match would be very cool.

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58 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

Why would you take it all the way to London and make it look exactly the same as the US?ÔĽŅ

We've given you a telephone box, you ungrateful limeys! 

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15 minutes ago, chokeout said:

Don't have every wrestler and every angle on every week.

This. It's so bloody simple. The SmackDown I watched the other night built up next weeks show with "A.J. Styles returns to SmackDown Live" and immediately I thought "Oh, that's right, the champ hasn't been on. Might have to watch the next one." I'm far from the stupidest fan they're trying to catch - hands up anyone? D@mm? - but look how easily they programmed me to think something as simple as A.J. Styles turning up is something special, a man who I've watched wrestle hundreds of times over the last 16 years. Even when it's someone nowhere near as how profile as the World Champion, if someone gets a match after two weeks not on the show, it's a pleasant surprise.

The difference between the two shows at the moment seems to be that Raw has every person doing something and most of those somethings are meaningless whereas SmackDown features a small number of talents and most of those talents are in the middle of a story. I've watched three episodes of SmackDown and I'm enjoying the slow burn Rusev/Lana/English stuff for Christ's sake. It's night and day.

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There's all the big obvious stuff that other people have said or will say, but there's just a few minor things that drive me absolutely crazy that I'd change in the short term just to make Raw more bearable:

- New theme. Desperately needs a new theme.

- The backstage segment lighting. Why do all the corridors have a weird red or blue hue? Where's this light coming from? Why is it there? It looks like phoney shit.

- The cutting to backstage segments. It's this weird soft fade which makes everything feel slow and unimportant. Back in the Attitude days you'd get a hard cut from the ring to something going on backstage. It gave everything a sense of urgency and felt fast paced.

- Don't show fans watching promos on the titantron. I genuinely don't understand this at all.

- End the wrestlers standing at the unrealistic sideways angle watching TV shit.

- When doing a backstage promo, the camera starts close on the interviewer who then announces the wrestler who steps in to the shot when they are announced. Why are they standing off camera like a fucking lemming waiting for their name to be called and then stepping in. It should be a wide shot of the interviewer and wrestler from the start. Or a close up of the interviewer and zooming out to reveal the wrestler who is already standing next to them. But only do this for the big stars. It's what they used to do with The Rock and Undertaker in the Attitude era.

- Making backstage segments look like they take place in some kind of genuine reality. If a wrestler is off camera they aren't invisible. How many times has someone been attacked during an interview by surprise despite the attacker coming at them front or side on? They're in a fucking massive hallway, how would you not see them? And if you say something is an office...actually set it inside an office rather than having someone standing in the middle of the shot with a set wall behind them...mindlessly tapping on their phone waiting for a wrestler to all of a sudden appear on either their left or right...in something that is clearly not an office and actually a corridor.

- Have people talk over each other rather than waiting around to say whatever fucking weird line they've had scripted for them. Actually have them talk like real humans. And do human things.

- Shoot Michael Cole into the sun.

- Cold opens. The Raw after it was finally revealed that Undertaker and Kane were in cahoots in 98 the show opened with a 6 second shot before the intro kicked in. It was a dark hallway, the door opened and Kane & Undertaker walk through it together and walk off. It looked fucking great, told the story in the simplest way possible and built anticipation for the show to come. It doesn't even have to be serious. Give the wrestlers a camera and say to them "put something together that's no longer than 60 seconds" and put it at the start of the show. Good characters don't need much time in wrestling to do something entertaining or character building.

- Never have Stephanie McMahon on the show at any point.

Edited by LaGoosh
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15 minutes ago, Michael_3165 said:

The problem is they have kinda shot themselves by booking it as three hours. Everyone is on every week because they have too much time to fill. Had they stayed at 2 hours they could work injury and other types of spots into feuds but instead they have to be having matches week in and week out. 

3 hours shouldn't be a problem if they used the time efficiently. Video packages, highlight reels, mini-docs, training footage, tour recaps, PPV hype, previews etc can all be interspersed between your traditional matches, interviews and angles to create a full-bodied, fact paced show.

Edited by Accident Prone
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1 hour ago, BomberPat said:

WhenÔĽŅ part of the storyline is about the (kayfabe) innerÔĽŅ ÔĽŅworkings of the company, make those inner ÔĽŅÔĽŅworkings more believable, and not just act as ifÔĽŅ the whole show is booked¬†on the whim of whoever'sÔĽŅ been given a backstage office this week

But WWE is "a slice of Americana."

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