I recently spoke with former WWE creative writer Court Bauer. During the interview, which will be published in its entirety next week, we spoke about this Monday's historic 1,000th episode of RAW and if the move to three hours was a good idea.
"[I] can't wait [for the 1,000th episode]," Bauer admitted.
He then revealed that the new three hour format is double what Vince McMahon would ideally want for the show.
"I once had a conversation with Vince McMahon and he told me that the ideal show would be 90 minutes in length, once a week. I whole-heartedly agreed with that. [Laughs.] 90 minutes is just right. When I was doing MLW and producing, 60 was too short and 2 hours is too long. That sweet spot, it really is 90 minutes to me, in a perfect world. But, the problem is: what network is going to want a 90 minute show and then you have to fill that 30 minute gap? Vince doesn't want the 'Best Of Raw' in that 30 minute gap. He wants new, original programming because it gets confusing if you tune in hypothetically at 10:45 and you see Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat. It's like, 'What's this?' You don't want brand confusion.
"It's just not natural in network or cable television programming to do 90 minute programming with a 30 minute slot to just pop something in there. It's very, very hard. That never worked. But, three hours, I think, goes in the complete other direction. It's a quantity over quality thing and I don't think they're going to see great returns with that in terms of quality programming. I think they were struggling with two hours with the brands being separate, so they kind of caved in on that. But, still, I think they're going to have a very hard time because they don't have talent rich with experience or depth with the roster to be able to fill that.
"They don't have a guy like Fit Finley who can take a green kid and get a two segment match out of him, going 15-19 minutes with him. They don't have those kind of guys because, really in a perfect world, you want to keep your main event talent from doing those matches because we're burning through so many of those matches, instead of buying pay-per-views to see them wrestle.
"So, it's going to be very hard. If we look at lessons learned in the past from doing three hours of television every week, it hasn't been very good. So, it's going to be a very hard task. I think they have to really consider this an investment in their future with that extra hour, in terms of TV licensing rights money from USA. They need to take that money and put it back into the company instead of just taking it out. Put it towards acquiring talent that you're familiar with, expanding their developmental to get talent from MMA and collegiate wrestling. They should also bring back talent that are familiar enough but aren't huge stars that you can beat. Stars that have an entrance that you can remember or a gimmick that you remember, so you react to them. But, you have no problem seeing them get beat. There are tons and tons and tons of those guys.
"Those aren't the guys that you want beating Cody Rhodes every week because you just need the babyface getting a win going into the pay-per-view. You can't just say, 'USA is just going to give us dollar X and weren't not going to put that money back into the company. We're just going to take that money and we're going to put that money into our cash reserves.' It doesn't work that way."
Despite his reservations about RAW moving to three hours, Bauer stated that he doesn't think the move will have an impact on pay-per-view numbers.
"I don't think it will affect pay-per-view," he said. "I think pay-per-view's going in a direction that it's going in. They still run too many pay-per-views, there's nothing really special about the pay-per-views. Most of the shows have lost any of the cache they once had. It speaks to the lack of depth because they can't keep matches off TV and they don't have enough talent to get over. Other talent just isn't as over as it should be because of the overall booking and creative decisions being made.
"So, they have so many different structural issues with this thing and three hours is just going to add another burden to this. It's already a burden-plagued operation. They have to do a lot of house cleaning and I don't think they really see that. And if they do, it only takes one man and only one man to see that and do something about that. It does not seem like he sees the need to.
He just doesn't seem to feel the need to change anything or address any of these issues. He just seems to generate new revenue streams, be it a network or another hour of Raw or whatever it is. Making WrestleMania $64.99 in HD. You should, you should look for ways to broaden your revenue streams. But you can't just take the money out, you've got to put the money back into the product. I would say to you that he has not demonstrated that -- other than with Brock Lesnar, which is -- you buy a Ferrari and then you crash it the first night. It doesn't do you any good. [Laughs.]"
Make sure to check back next week for our full interview with Court Bauer here on WrestlingINC.com.