Thoughts on McMahon being KO'ed, 3-hour Raw, TNA and more

In this Dec. 11, 2011 photo released by

In this Dec. 11, 2011 photo released by the WWE, Big Show thanks the troops for their service during WWE�s 9th annual "Tribute To The Troops� holiday special at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C. The show will air as a two-hour special on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 9 p.m. EST on USA Network. (AP Photo/WWE, Jim R. Bounds) (Credit: AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)

. First, I want to mention that I’ll be a guest on the Pro Wrestling Torch Livecast Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. with Pat McNeill. The Livecast is consistently one of the most listened-to podcast in all of sports, and Pat is an extremely knowledgeable and funny guy. I’m really looking forward to it.

. If last night was any indication of what we’re in for, I’m really dreading Raw going to three hours. Expanding a weekly wrestling show to three hours is a bad idea even when a product is hot. Just look at when WCW did it with Nitro back in 1998. But WWE could not have picked a worse time to make this move. Because of injuries, suspensions and WWE’s general reluctance to elevate talent in recent years, the talent roster is as shallow as it has been in years. What’s worse, WWE’s creative effort is as bad as at anytime that I can recall. WWE’s storylines have always been hit or miss, but at the very least, there was always some quality control. In recent weeks, WWE’s main storylines have featured one gigantic hole in logic after another. WWE’s creative team appears to be making stuff up as they go along more than during any other time, and not paying the slightest bit attention to consistency. It’s all resulted in some of the worst ratings in years. And this is the product they think fans want more of?

. In the latest panic move, WWE brought back the Vince McMahon character last night. And, not surprisingly, the latest version of the seemingly annual Vince McMahon Gets Killed hotshot, managed to give ratings a one-week bump. But, now what? By not following through with such major storyline developments so many times in the past, WWE has trained fans to believe that none of it matters. And it doesn’t. We know better than to think that Mr. McMahon getting knocked out by the Big Show will have any significant impact on the future of WWE—any more than him getting blown up in a limo, or removed from power by the board of directors. None of it matters, because none of it addresses the real problems plaguing WWE: an inability/reluctance to create new stars and telling compelling storylines with a real payoff.

. Ironically, the most significant development on Raw last night might have been one that was reluctantly forced upon WWE: the elevation of Dolph Ziggler into a pay per view world title match. Sadly, it took Randy Orton and Chris Jericho getting suspended and Alberto Del Rio getting a concussion for WWE to look to Ziggler, whose praises have been sung by WWE wrestlers and fans alike for years. I still don’t believe this will lead to anything more than a short run with Sheamus before he returns to the midcard. But even if it does, it’s a shame that it’s taken this long. Ziggler has already been with the company for seven years and is now entering his mid-30s—hardly a young, up-and-comer by traditional standards.

. I’ll tell you one person who must be thrilled with WWE’s recent direction: TNA President Dixie Carter. WWE’s string of bad decisions/bad fortune comes at the same time that TNA is putting forth the best product it has in years. It’s likely that the expansion of Raw into a third hour will drive away a portion of wrestling fans. Those fans are more likely than ever to sample TNA, now that it’s live every Thursday night and is creating some real buzz. I don’t think TNA can ever realistically compete with WWE, but if it can even win over a small percentage of its fans, it can make a big difference in TNA’s television ratings and pay per view buy rates.

. A final note: Fellow Steel Cage blogger Josh Matthews is scheduled to interview Long Island native Curt Hawkins tomorrow for a story that should be up later this week promoting WWE Raw Supershow coming to Nassau Coliseum on Monday. Watch for it.

Tags: WWE , Raw , Vince McMahon , Big Show , John Cena , No Way Out , TNA

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