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The Official UKFF RAW thread (part 2)...


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6 hours ago, Jesse said:

- I meant that it's likely due to covid that crowds are likely to be down due to a combination of reticence and people's income having taken a hit,

I doubt it. WWE's attendance was dropping pretty steadily before the pandemic and they've had a fair few high drawing shows since. I really just think people are stopping going to Raw because it's shite. Smackdown still draws well.

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I seem to remember reading when live events started to open up in general that AEW, and pretty much all other sports and live entertainment events, saw ticket sales recover at a faster rate than WWE live shows. So while the pandemic can shoulder some of the blame, it doesn't explain why people are slower to return to WWE than pretty much anything else.

I think it's fair to say the show is dogshit, quality-wise, irrelevant culturally, has little to no hype or momentum before it, but perhaps more importantly, they spent the bulk of the "no fans era" teaching the audience that they don't actually matter. Part of the appeal of going to a wrestling show is the illusion that your presence has purpose - the babyface rallying when the crowd get behind them, or heels being rattled by jeering fans - and when you've spent a year watching the wrestlers behave exactly the same way in front of empty buildings and nerds on Zoom calls, that illusion is killed dead. So where's the appeal?

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It could probably extend to a thread of it's own, but with RAW in the doldrums, how do WWE best go about fixing it? I know there's lots of things they should but won't do (take out the extra hour etc), but say Vince McMahon turns the keys over tomorrow to someone with the caveat that it's still 3 hours and they have the current roster to work with, what do they do?

For me, it's a visual overhaul to begin with. The LEDs aside, visually Raw looks the same as it has for over a decade barring a few tweaks. But more importantly, the way it is shot feels very stale. It needs to offer something different and unique aesthetically and in production terms, something they did a great job with in 1997 when they revamped the show. 

The storytelling needs to be more joined up and episodic too. WWE used to be great at cliffhangers and making segments feel varied and different, where now it often feels a bit homogenised and predictable. The in-ring stuff is great, but contextually it needs to have stakes and less reliance on the traditional tropes they have established for themselves (beat a champion to get a shot at the champion etc).

Not sure that fixes all the problems, but it certainly feels like a start. 

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36 minutes ago, mim731 said:

 

For me, it's a visual overhaul to begin with. The LEDs aside, visually Raw looks the same as it has for over a decade barring a few tweaks. But more importantly, the way it is shot feels very stale. It needs to offer something different and unique aesthetically and in production terms, something they did a great job with in 1997 when they revamped the show. 

I’m currently up to mid-98 on my rewatch of The Monday Night War and something as simple as having the hard camera on the opposite side (so they enter from the right) from time to time would do wonders to make the show feel different and not as if it’s emanating from the same place every week.

I can’t remember when they went to having it be ‘enter from the left’ on the hard cam, but it feels as it’s been like that forever

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44 minutes ago, The King of Old School said:

I think a huge problem with WWE is that whenever I'm watching I feel like I have seen everything 100 times before.

A visual overhaul would go some way to fixing that. A change of aesthetic works wonders.

If you look at the bulk of the Attitude Era, there wasn't a huge turnover in terms of talent, especially in the midcard - take Wrestlemania XV as a PPV at the height of "Attitude", and you've got Bob Holly, Al Snow, Billy Gunn, Bart Gunn, Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett, Road Dogg, Goldust, Kane, Triple H, X-Pac, Undertaker, Steve Austin; they're all wrestlers who had slummed it to some extent in the doldrums of '94-'96, plus Big Boss Man popping back up. The only real "new" talent on that card are The Rock, Big Show and Mankind. But that show felt light years removed from Wrestlemania X or XI.

Now, every show looks the same as it did ten years ago, they're structured the same, and wrestlers have put at the same spot on the card, doing the same schtick, for years - over a decade in some cases. Even when some stars do have breakout performances or title runs, more often than not they end up back in their old spot as if nothing happened. Nothing matters, and there's no reason to get invested.

Change the aesthetic, the production and the presentation, and everything else should fall into place to fit, gimmicks and characters tweaked to better suit the new style. But there's no reason to believe they'd try and do that, particularly when the last major change they introduced was the Thunderdome, which was just moving further into their worst excesses, rather than away from them.

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I think a major component is the booking by committee. Wrestling is better when it's following one man's visions and ideas (or at least a small team).

I could totally imagine their being a thousand writers, bookers, middle men and agents resulting in the whole being a vague mess.

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I'm not convinced they can solve their problems because the biggest issues I have with it as a promotion are all intentional. Raw being three hours is a killer but it's a big part of their business and they'd rather have the money. The stagnant aesthetics are very much their vision of what wrestling should look like. Otherwise they wouldn't have just given it an expensive overhaul and come out with what they did. And then the repetitive, short-term booking of characters poorly conceived and terribly projected is completely down to the way they work with a team of people appealing to one bloke's interpretation and constantly ripping it up week on week. We laugh but the fact that they cannot advertise a card a week out without changing it is a massive indicator of the problems.

If I was suddenly in charge, I'd definitely want to get rid of an hour of Raw and change up the way it looks and the fact every arena booked ends up looking the same, but fundamentally, they need to start planning properly and story-boarding months of the promotion. What is the point in having a writing team of legit TV writers if they aren't focussed on plotting stories, fleshing out characters and coming up with people that fans will boo or cheer when the booking dictates? I know everyone thinks Vince is batshit but he could write the average Raw on his own. He probably spends half his time wondering why he doesn't do just that. Instead of considering why 50 people, or whatever, end up with a show 1 bloke could write, they need to change the mentality completely. That just will not ever happen.

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