World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) announced this morning that, “due to overwhelming demand for longer programming,” its flagship weekly program, Monday Night Raw, will air live for five hours.
“Quite frankly, it’s what’s best for business, quite frankly,” said company chairman Vince McMahon during a press conference at the company’s Connecticut headquarters. Added McMahon: “Quite frankly.”
When Monday Night Raw debuted in January 1993, it was a half-hour program that typically featured only three matches and two interviews, or one Undertaker entrance.
It was expanded to one hour the following year to accommodate more advertisements for ICO PRO, and then was lengthened to two hours in order to compete with WCW Monday Nitro, which was two hours in duration but typically felt like nine.
A third hour was added to Raw in 2012, allowing the company to deliver what fans really want: longwinded backstage skits, guest host monologues, and at least 44 recaps per hour of things that happened earlier in the program.
According to a press release, expanding to five hours will allow a number of new features to be added to the show, including:
- Every Superstar® will receive on-air counselling from Dr. Shelby
- Weekly musical performances by Flo Rida
- Every episode will feature at least one backstage food fight — more on national holidays
- Roman Reigns will finally get some airtime
According to backstage sources, plans are afoot to expand WrestleMania from nine hours to 17.