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Changing Royal Rumble, HIAC Triple Threat, Ambrose A Star, Raw Is Too Long

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here.
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Seeing how WWE has done it once already, how likely is it there will be 40-men in next year's Royal Rumble match?

There have been rumblings about next year's Royal Rumble match featuring more than 30 participants, however, I am unable to confirm as of press time. When WWE did what they promoted as the biggest Royal Rumble of all time at Royal Rumble 2011, Pat Patterson, the man that created the match, took personal offense to it. According to sources, he felt it had worked so well for so long with 30 participants that adding to it was unneeded. He remains involved in helping lay out the match, teaching Triple H in recent years. Based on the rumors, it seems likely but until I can independently confirm, I'm not reporting a change. My personal opinion is that a 30-participant Royal Rumble has proved timeless so I think it's silly to add 10 more participants.

Do you think it's possible that WWE goes with a triple threat match at Hell in a Cell with Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena?

I read where one site commentator said that it was obvious that both Dean Ambrose and John Cena would go on to the main event Hell in a Cell match against Seth Rollins. It's certainly possible but the stipulation added to Ambrose vs. Cena makes it unlikely. Are they going to rip the contract in half? It wouldn't bother me if the match was made into a triple threat, as long as there is a path to continue to elevating Ambrose and Rollins. When I think of my expectations for Hell in a Cell, I think I will be satisfied as long as Cena doesn’t bury the two up and comers. WWE needs more talent in the top of the card and has a great opportunity in front of them.

How do you think WWE feels about Dean Ambrose's background in very violent matches during his time in CZW? How you do personally feel about his background?

WWE was clearly impressed by the independent work of Dean Ambrose, which is why they signed him. Some people believe WWE should acknowledge his past more but I believe they've incorporated elements of his past maniacal character into what he is today to create a star. Ambrose has the "unstableness" of Brian Pillman to go along with the anti-establishment attitude of Steve Austin (something Jesse Sherwood pointed out and something I'll always give him credit for). I think it's the perfect mix. Jon Moxley wasn't ruined when he became Dean Ambrose. In fact, Moxley was just a building block to what I believe could be a proverbial main event talent.

I know it's been brought up before but how about this - Raw back to two hours, Smackdown to Thursday nights. Does that help things at all?

WWE's current creative problems are deeper than the length of Raw or the fact Smackdown airs on Friday nights. I saw one commentator take issue with me pointing towards Brock Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion as a problem. I believe they thought I considered it "the problem" but it's one of many, just as is the length of Raw. Smackdown will always be WWE's B-show. While moving to Thursdays and going live might help ratings, it still wouldn't unseat Raw as the company's flagship show. In fact, I'm perfectly fine with the format of Smackdown. It's the B show but it's fine airing from tape on Friday nights. If they move it, so be it. I do believe WWE would be benefit creatively from condensing Raw down from three hours. I've criticized the move since it was made permanent in July 2012 and my position has not changed.

While WWE gets paid more money from the USA Network for the extra hour of Raw, it's at the sacrifice of the quality of their product. There is too much blatant filler content from week to week and that's due to a myriad of factors including but not limited to a thin talent roster, indecisiveness from the top and burnout (yes, I truly believe burnout is an issue and it's evident when things show little to no progression from week to week). There was a reason why there was an uproar from WWE writers when Raw went three hours, it was bound to be an impossible task. If we're being honest, I don't think there's any way we can say the show has gotten better since expanding to three hours.

WWE Raw used to have a special feel from week to week but product over-saturation has damaged that. I also believe it can be traced to why people aren't buying the WWE Network as expected. Raw is three hours, Smackdown is two; not considering anything else, that's five hours of programming a week. Even sports fans have a hard time committing five hours week in and week out. WWE has no offseason so I believe the added hour of Raw has been to its detriment.

To answer your question, I would welcome Raw back down to two hours, be it from 8-10 PM or back to its original timeslot of 9-11 PM. I believe this would create a better flow, eliminate some of the hideous filler content and keep the viewer hungrier for more.

From the Ask WNW vault…

February 2013: Do you think the IWC have ruined wrestling for themselves? I understand that everyone has their opinion and are entitled to it, however, it just seems to me that people always complain about something whether someone isn’t getting pushed, the new title belt, or creative directions yet they keep tuning in the next week. What do you think? - The Internet Wrestling Community, or IWC, is one of the most passionate fan bases on the face of the earth. People that eat, breath and sleep quality pro wrestling and appreciate the art of the business. The IWC does not care to speak out when things drift too far to the mainstream and are always looking to offer a critical eye. I consider myself a member of the IWC and am thankful for my fellow IWCers that bring their passion to this business and this website. However, there are members of the IWC that are impossible to please as there are sects within any group or fan base that are impossible to please. By large, people don’t like change and even fear the unknown or untested. This can explain some of the reactions to the new WWE title belt. The very people that called for the change are the people criticizing it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The solution from some of these people seems to be to return to the old “winged-Eagle” belt but again, I think this has more to do with the fact that people don’t like change.

Questions that are legible stand the best chance of getting answered. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Monday, October 13, 2014.

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