When WWE announced two weeks ago on RAW that there would be a three-hour "All-Star" special, my first reaction was to wonder what that meant exactly. It was explained that the show would feature the "All-Stars" of WWE: the best talents from RAW, Smackdown, and as it turned out, the past. Now while I enjoyed RAW, this was a very weak theme for a 'special' show.
In fact, at times it was barely discernible from the "Old Skool" RAW of a few months ago—Michael Cole even noting that many of the references were from decades ago. With this in mind, there are many negative characteristics of the three-hour RAW's that I want to write about.
The first on relates to them usually not being as "special" as they should be at all. I love the Draft and King of the Ring shows—they help shift the pack, can be a great showcase for all of WWE's talent, and if they were the only two three-hour RAW's, they would seem like much more of an occasion.
Instead, WWE just seems to want to find excuses to have three-hour RAW's: Old Skool, Commercial free, Viewers Choice. There are many throughout the year, and it doesn't seem like much of an occasion any more when they occur.
You would think, at least, that an extra hour of RAW would provide an extra showcase for WWE talent. This is not the case. Three-hour specials always feature members of either roster and so the RAW roster has to share a show with the Smackdown roster, and for each brand, only the top-mid talents (Cena, Orton, Mysterio, Christian, The Miz, etc.) are booked. So despite their being an extra hour of RAW this week, talents like Drew McIntyre and Zack Ryder, couldn't get any TV time, while other RAW talents featured, but weren't given as much time.
Another consequence of jamming two rosters in to one show was the time and quality of the matches. The only match of any decent length was the main event; apart from that, matches struggled to go past three minutes, regardless of how many superstars/divas featured.
All this goes to show something very important: that the brand extension idea, though imperfect, is crucial; to not only WWE but possibly the business as a whole. Take an example of a three-hour RAW, and you will see what live would be like without the brand extension.
In order to keep all the top guys on TV, people like McIntyre, Ryder, JTG, Primo, Brodus Clay, Chavo Guerrero, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, The Uso's, Jinder Mahal, Johnny Curtis, Mark Henry, Trent Barreta, Tyson Kidd and Yoshi Tatsu (using this week's RAW and an example) wouldn't stand a chance at ever making TV. They would be surplus to requirement and in all likelihood, fired.
There are two or three companies in the world where a wrestler can expect to make a wage that will sustain them for their lives, and WWE is by far the biggest. Frankly, ending the brand extension would come close to halving that opportunity simply because there would be less of a demand for wrestlers at that level.
Finally, seen as there will be another three-hour RAW next week, entitled, "Power to the People," I thought I'd talk about the worst kind of RAW specials: the "viewers choice" specials, which "Power to the People" has been repackages as.
Last year there was a viewers choice RAW that will go down in history because of the wonderful, earth-shattering debut of the Nexus (oh how times have changed!), but other than those final ten minutes, we were subjected to two hours and 50 minutes of the worst RAW I have ever watched, and it's because the fans were given a say.
Not labouring the point that WWE, after not booking Zack Ryder for a RAW in Long Island, are happy to ignore fan influence anyway, there is a reason why fans don't usually get to book wrestling—it's incredibly difficult.
Good storyline build and important metaphorical stipulations and match-ups go out of the window for an overly face-friendly episode which fore-go wrestling for gimmicks and are bad at progressing storylines.
I see no reason why next week will be any different. I can only hope that this years edition offers a similar shocker to the last year's.
So my opinion, if it means anything, is that three-hour specials should be really cut down on. Restrict them to the Draft and the King of the Ring, split apart by about six months, and make them real special occasions once again, and not simply a waste of good TV time for stories and lower-mid-card RAW superstars and Divas.