WWE superstar John Cena is always telling opponents “You can’t see me.” Starting July 23, viewers will be seeing a lot more of him.
USA has announced Monday Night Raw will expand to three hours starting July 23, which is Raw’s 1000th episode. The wrestling or “sports entertainment” show has been a mainstay of the cable network for years. It began airing in 1993. Raw did leave USA in 2000 for a five-year stint on TNN, the network now known as SpikeTV, before returning to USA in 2005.
Raw does several three-hour specials throughout the year, and it appears USA likes the numbers it’s been getting from them. The first hour of this new Raw will include “interactive elements” that shape the next two hours of the show. This is a concept WWE has experimented with before. Its Cyber Sunday pay-per-view allowed fans to vote on matches, stipulations and guest referees.
The three-hour announcement continues a WWE tradition of big storylines for the “summer sweeps” period. Previous plots include CM Punk “leaving the company” while holding the championship in 2011, and guest star Donald Trump purchasing Monday Night Raw.
Perhaps the most infamous WWE summer storyline was a murder attempt on owner Vince McMahon in 2006. The show had to end that angle abruptly when a real life tragedy occurred. WWE wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and child before killing himself, and the company decided continuing a murder mystery story would be in poor taste.
We’ll know soon enough what Raw’s extra hour will include. It probably won’t contain much actual wrestling. As storylines have grown more elaborate, most two-hour broadcasts contain less than 40 minutes of actual wrestling.
Read [TV By the Numbers]