I may be just living a hopeless fantasy but I have to wonder if Vince McMahon knows that the wrestling on NXT is better but he can’t just “phase out” Raw. Or the dark-hearted cynic in me knows that Vince is waiting for his time to claim NXT as his own. Either way, I now know that nothing happens by accident or in a vacuum and the great success of NXT means changes are coming for Raw.
In all the time I was there, from 1996 to 2003, during the hotshotting “Attitude Era”, Vince never hit the “Reset” button. In the Ruthless Aggression Era, never. The Wellness Policy Era? Not so far. After the company takeover of the WTBS timeslot in 1984, and the disaster that ensued on the Superstation, the only time he almost hit the button was with Hogan at WrestleMania IX. That was a passive-aggressive reset because of Hogan.
Fans loved NXT and many called for an Invasion or worse, a Reset…Wipe out the big, slow, plodding, bloated Raw show and replace it with the nimble NXT show. Or at least, the roster. Promote all of them.
Promoting all of them is a terrible idea because the NXT roster isn’t ready. Some are but most aren’t and it’s ok… they’re not supposed to be ready. They’re learning and if they progress, they’ll be on Raw sooner or later, doing jobs, getting screwed over and then told they aren’t ready or they don’t “get it”.
But to the Cesaro’s of the world, help is on the way.
At least I hope. I’ve written about the time in 1997 when Vince McMahon summoned his brain trust and the Attitude Era was unleashed. This time, there is no competition from WCW. It’s competition from within. Is the fire in the belly still to “fix” Raw?
Or is this the long con on NBC Universal? Push the good stuff to the Network and let the marks watch Raw for free? But how can they grow the Network if Raw/PPV’s keep being less great than NXT?
My fix would be to roll the dice and air NXT on a special Holiday edition of Raw. Give Raw the 10pm spot with a special match, something like the Empty Arena match between The Rock and Mankind for the Super Bowl Halftime show or a Champions vs All-Stars match like we do in Ring of Honor.
If Vince wants to hang onto his plan for Raw and run as long as he wants, that’s fine as well. But know this… there are no saviors for Raw. No fixes. No new stars to pop ratings. No juice left. Vince didn’t look like he was ready to throw in the towel on Steve Austin’s podcast but the terry cloth is threadbare. He can tap out or pass out. Either way, Vince is done.
But Vince has allowed Triple H to create NXT. Now, Vince needs to figure out the right way to incorporate what works in NXT into Raw so the WWE Network becomes the destination for the future.
Can Raw be fixed? Is NXT the cure? Twitter gimmick @RealKevinKelly