'WWE Monday Night RAW's' 5 million weekly viewers is proof that viewers find it extremely fun. There must be something more than the non-fans see. I went undercover as a wrestling fanatic to a live 'WWE Monday Night RAW' event in Columbus, Ohio. Before long, I no longer needed to feign excitement and began truly enjoying himself.
This makes sense. WWE owns millions of hours of wrestling footage from the last six or so decades from the various properties it's acquired. They could have all kinds of wrestling shows on their network, including either 'Raw', 'Smackdown', WCW, ECW ... the list goes on. They could even have retro 80's shows for old fogies like myself. For reality television, they could show reruns of 'WWE Tough Enough', or have new seasons of the show. Eventually Channel Drift will kick in and they'll have shows like Doctor Phil but with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.
Whatever happens, I can rest in the comfort that my cable company will never have this network. It's too good for them.
TV viewers everywhere are hoping such sophistication returns to television with the news that World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon wants to create his own cable network.
McMahon wants to launch the WWE-dedicated channel for basic tier rates within the next two years. While a return to fine arts TV is unlikely, McMahon's wrestling product has been greatly softened in tone over recent months -- looking to attract a more family-based audience.
You'd hear something like, "Join me this Sunday on NBC for 'Bob Hope's All-Star Salute to Existence' with great stars like Loni Anderson, Pink Lady and Jeff, the UPI All-American Football Team, Billy Carter, Steve Reeves and Brooke Shields!"
It looks like World Wrestling Entertainment is shooting for something equally bizarre with its list of upcoming Monday Night Raw guest hosts. Vince McMahon and company plan to continue the guest general manager routine through the end of 2009 and possibly all the way to Wrestlemania 26 next March.
However, since the following hasn't been mentioned on any of World Wrestling Entertainment's television shows, it might be legit.
According to the WWE: "Linda McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is considering a run for the United States Senate representing the state of Connecticut. Should she decide to run, Linda would step down as CEO, and Vince McMahon would assume the duties of CEO in addition to his current position as WWE Chairman."
The storyline featuring Donald Trump "buying" Monday Night Raw from World Wrestling Entertainment's Vince McMahon lasted all of one week. On Monday's commercial-free Raw from Green Bay, Wisc., McMahon bought the show back from Trump for "double the original price." Trump took the deal and smacked McMahaon across the chops for his trouble.
The show capped a day-long publicity festival for the WWE in which local network news affiliates flocked to the Green Bay airport to shoot Trump arriving and to hear speeches from him and McMahon. It was the first time any media set foot in that airport without Brett Favre being involved.
All weekend long, USA promoted tonight's WWE Monday Night Raw event, on which Trump will appear. The "ruse" is that Trump bought the WWE, something John Scott Lewinski reported last week didn't sit well with the company's stockholders. On tonight's show, Randy Orton defends his title against Triple H, as "decreed" by Trump. And he gave a press conference today with the WWE Divas. What could be more fitting?
As we reported earlier this week, the WWE's Monday Night Raw is running an angle in which Donald Trump purchased the show from McMahon. It's all a big wrestling "work" -- a story element to drive the weekly show and entertain fans.
The trouble is that both WWE and Raw's parent network (USA) sent out official press releases announcing Trump's "purchase." And, WWE publicly held shares fell nearly 7% the next day.
Before a shock wave ripples through the sports entertainment and reality show worlds, it's safe to say this is "a work" -- as they say in grappling circles. Trump has his orange-topped mug back on TV as an on-screen performer with WWE. Behind the curtain, when the arena goes dark, McMahon is still in charge.
According to McMahon, Trump will take over running the show in person next Monday night when a special, commercial-free Raw originates from Green Bay, Wisc.
Monday, WWE Raw will be celebrating 15 years with a special three-hour episode. On the eve of this celebration, Reuters tells us that the wrestling program's contract has been extended another two years, guaranteeing more chair smashing, smack talking through 2010. The overall deal includes a continuation of the twice yearly NBC Saturday night specials, the A.M. Raw weekend USA show, as well as a Spanish-language edition for the growing Telemundo networks.
After fifteen years, Raw remains one of cable's strongest programs, currently averaging 5.1 million viewers weekly. And since it doesn't go into reruns, that's strong programming year-round, which at this time has to look pretty enticing to the network. If things continue with the strike, we might even see more WWE programming come to NBC proper.
Special thanks to Doug Stewart for tipping us off.
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