PWTORCH LIVECAST TUESDAY
HOSTS: WADE KELLER & JASON POWELL
AIRED LIVE: SEPT. 29, 2015
By Nick Gould, PWPodcasts Reporter
TOP SUBJECTS COVERED
– Kane’s segments on Monday Raw.
– Raw Ratings slip to 2.33. What does WWE need to do to stop the slide? Do they even realize that they need to do something?
– Seth Rollins. Do poor ratings mean Seth is a poor champion?
– Who could WWE bring in to improve ratings? How could they change their approach to broaden their appeal?
– Does WWE TV have too much of a focus on the WWE being a corporate entity?
SUMMARY OF SHOW
– (0:00) Intro Theme
– (0:28) Wade welcomes listeners to the show. Introduces the format of the show.
– (1:19) Wade introduces Jason Powell of Prowrestling.net. They discuss Kane’s ‘transformation’ in the ambulance segment of Raw last night. Jason describes it as being “Cartoonish, campy and embarrassing.” Jason describes feeling frustrated with the yearly use of Kane as a main event storyline and fears that this year the Seth vs Kane program might not be a ‘one-and-done.’ Both agree that Glenn Jacobs’s performance as Kane is valued by WWE Creative and that he consistently delivers what he has apparently been asked to deliver, but both question whether what he is being asked to deliver is relevant to, or necessary within, the narrative structure of the show and product.
– (4:51) Wade describes feeling that WWE Creative sometimes seem to be booking purely what they will enjoy. Although he accepts that this might also be enjoyed by some fans, he questions whether segments like the one described above help WWE reach a broader audience, or whether the enjoyment of Creative and a small proportion of the potential audience is ‘best for business’ for WWE in the bigger picture. Jason agrees, and expresses his view that the company and the product desperately need to be shaken up, as their current formula isn’t working, although he’s frustrated that there seems to be no sense of urgency within WWE to do so.
– (6:39) Wade broadens the focus of the discussion to Raw as a whole. He feels that WWE achieved what was needed overall this week, whilst also promoting their upcoming MSG show, but feels the Paul Heyman/Big Show segment was mixed.
– (10:59) Wade goes to the phones. Eric from Grand Rapids asks whether a potential Seth Rollins vs. Triple H program has been put on the back-burner, and asks if Wade and Jason have an update on Sting’s injury. Jason notes that the last news on Sting was that he was awaiting test results, although no further updates have been put out. Wade suspects that Seth vs Triple H is likely for WrestleMania, although Jason notes that Triple H and The Rock have both been open about facing off at WrestleMania.
– (13:14) Breaking News – Raw Ratings. Wade reports this week’s Raw scored a 2.33 and puts this in context as being one of the worst ratings since the very early days of Raw in the ’90s. Jason feels the rating accurately reflects the stagnant nature of the product. Jason also notes that the ratings for last night’s show steadily decreased hourly. Wade notes that this year’s drop in ratings is twice as sharp as the average of the past few years.
– (16:44) Wade talks about the broader implications of this week’s ratings. He feels that those within WWE need to speak up in order to find a way of dragging Vince McMahon from his comfort-zones, citing the storyline framing of the Diva’s Revolution, the continued use of older performers such as Kane and Big Show in main event programs, and the over-exposure of Seth Rollins as examples. Jason notes that there are no established, big-name talents to bring back to help ratings. He asks whether Wade feels widespread change is needed. Wade does, although he’s doubtful this will happen without a period of several weeks of sub-2.4 ratings.
– (22.50) Wade notes that the hourly break down of Raw’s ratings is an indictment on Roman Reigns, as despite heavily promoting his match with Bray Wyatt throughout the show, viewership dropped worryingly close to fewer than three million viewers. Jason notes that the match was fine and the post-match brawl was good, although he notes that this was nothing we hadn’t seen, and points out the wider problem of WWE giving away too much on a weekly basis.
– (27:28) Back to the phones. Aaron from Vermont. Aaron describes Raw as a nightmare, and reports that Raw was not shown on the big screen for the live audience in the arena, possibly a reason why the crowd was dead. Aaron, Wade and Jason discuss the U.S. Title open challenge from this week’s show, and Wade uses this as an example of how WWE has to stretch out segments due to a lack of content, which impacts on the quality of the segments and the show as a whole. Aaron is going to Raw in Boston next week, and wonders what he’s gotten himself into as no matches have so far been announced.
– (30:57) D.J. from Miami. He asks whether Wade and Jason have heard anything regarding a possible DDP-Randy Orton match. Neither host has. Wade and Jason discuss the idea that wrestlers 50+ should not be taking physical risks in the ring. D.J. asks if we haven’t already seen the Wade Barrett-Neville program teased this week.
– (40:40) Tim from Poughkeepsie asks what effect the WWE Network has on Raw’s TV ratings, noting that he hasn’t watched an episode of Raw for nine months but has watched all the Pay-Per-Views in that time. Neither Jason nor Wade feel that Network subscribers account for much of the drop in ratings.
– (44:51) Anthony from Boston recalls that Kevin Nash being World Champion was blamed for a period of low ratings in the ’90s and asks whether Seth Rollins’s reign will be viewed similarly. Jason doesn’t believe that WWE feels the ratings are Seth’s fault. Wade notes that WWE would find it hard to criticize Seth’s on-screen performance, again noting that WWE’s issue currently is what they are asking people to perform and how they position this, not the quality of the performance.
– (47:43) Brian from Alabama jokingly asks whether we might see a performance evaluation as a Pay-Per-View main event in future. Wade discusses the corporate nature of WWE as an organization and the recent tendency for this to ‘bleed-in’ to on-screen programming. Wade doesn’t feel that this is something that the general audience welcomes. Jason notes that he is all for the removal of owners/GMs from wrestling shows generally.
– (50:53) Jake from Aurora raises the NXT panel shown on the Network after this week’s Raw. Jake points out Triple H’s comments on the Divas’ Revolution as interesting, but criticizes Byron Saxton’s role as host. Jake notes that Seth Rollins came across well as a likeable persona, and asked better questions than Saxton. Wade uses the presentation of it’s heel champion as a likeable persona on it’s own programming as an example of WWE’s conflicted creative approach.
– (56:21) Jonathan from New York discusses the WWE’s stop-start, flip-flop use of Cesaro and discusses the WWE’s poor recent history of effectively introducing new talent. Wade and Jason follow on to discuss the Kevin Owens-Rusev match last night, which develops into a discussion on the out-of-touch nature of the focus on Owens’s weight and ‘lack of fitness’ in his feud with Ryback, when recent on-screen matches with Cena show Owens to be in great condition.
– (1:02:21) Steve from Fresno asks whether this week’s ratings will make WWE bring back Daniel Bryan, and also wonders whether Carlito will return and beat John Cena for the U.S. Title. Jason hopes that the WWE bring Bryan back when healthy, rather than to pop ratings. Jason doubts that the WWE does not have enough trust in Carlito at this point for him to win the U.S. Title immediately. Wade discusses the background of Carlito’s reputation behind-the-scenes in his previous run. Wade also expresses doubts that the use of Carlito in any way would impact significantly on the quality of the product or Raw’s overall ratings. Wade agrees with Jason that Daniel Bryan should only be brought back when he’s healthy.
– (1:06:01) Mike B. from California notes that his wife hates Kevin Owens. Wade jokingly asks whether she would feel as strongly were the WWE to present a video package of Owens doing charity work in the same show. Wade discusses the importance of having characters on TV who are believable in themselves and whose characters are not then contradicted by corporate video packages. Mike notes that he liked the hype video for the Lesnar-Big Show match, although he criticizes the booking of Charlotte this week. Mike asks whether there are any ways to bring more elements of pop-culture into Raw to make the program more relevant to the 18-35 demographic. Wade feels an immediate impact would come from having Corey Graves replace JBL on commentary. Wade doesn’t feel that actively plugging-in to pop-culture would be in his Top 10 list of things to immediately improve the product, although he does feel Graves on commentary would provide more cutting-edge, relevant and modern pop-culture references than JBL currently does. Jason feels that the WWE’s tendency to hold back new stars who fit more closely with modern pop-culture is a significant problem, and feels that a ‘youth movement’ approach would be effective in modernizing the feel of WWE programming.
– (1:19:11) Demetrius from Mobile asks Wade and Jason for three guys they would love to see in the WWE. Demetrius names Roderick Strong, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Moose as his picks. Jason likes Nakamura and Okada, and would like to see A.J. Styles get a run, although he feels Jeff Hardy would be the most profitable addition. Wade feels Magnus, James Storm, and A.J. Styles would all add something fresh to the current product.
– (1:22:10) D’rell from Georgia wants to know why Seth Rollins isn’t protected by WWE in the same way that Roman Reigns is, and also asks why WWE is so vague regarding it’s concussion protocols. Wade doesn’t know, but acknowledges that no one is able to force WWE to be clearer. Wade agrees that they should be, and feels that they are not more clear because they do not want to publicly acknowledge the severity of possible injuries sustained on their programming. Wade feels that Roman is protected more than Seth due to WWE having identified Roman as being their next top star, and due to their belief that Seth can talk his way back effectively from most situations.
– (1:26:43) Mike from Brooklyn feels that Raw was insulting to human intelligence and made no sense. Mike asks whether a feud with Kevin Owens would help Roman Reigns develop, and asks where WWE goes with Seth Rollins up to the Royal Rumble. Wade notes that there are no clear challengers for Rollins title after Kane. Jason feels that a feud with Owens could hurt Reigns more than help him, given that the fans that don’t like Reigns are likely to be fans of wrestlers like Owens. Wade feels the only option is to turn Reigns.
– (1:30:16) Eric from San Antonio asks whether there is a return date for Sami Zayn, and points out that only one wrestler on the NXT panel was a full-time NXT wrestler. Wade reports a return date of December/January for Zayn.
– (1:32:07) Wade closes the show.
– (1:34:01) Outro.
SCORE & REVIEW
9 out of 10: With hosts as knowledgeable and experienced as Wade Keller and Jason Powell, the Tuesday Livecast is always an interesting and thought-provoking review of each week’s Raw. Given that much of the focus of the podcast is devoted to analyzing a TV show, and that the callers set much of the agenda of the podcast (sometimes relating their questions to Raw, sometimes not), the Tuesday Livecast can be a difficult show to grade. Sometimes each caller will raise a completely different topic, meaning that Wade and Jason’s responses, whilst still engaging and informative, need to be brief and concise in order to keep the flow of the show going.
However, the problems with this week’s Raw seemed to be universally agreed on by hosts and callers alike. This allows for a tightly focused podcast. This week’s offering is and hour and a half long but, trust me, it flies by! Wade and Jason spend much of the podcast identifying the problems with Raw, and do a great job of explaining these in the broader context of WWE’s stuttering and conflicted creative and corporate approach. Having identified the need for something to change, Wade and Jason discuss a range of ideas as to how to make Raw more relevant, modern, and engaging, both on a segment by segment basis, and over the course of the three-hour show.
Other opinions are available, of course, and Wade and Jason may not have all the best ideas. The important thing, though, is that few podcasts will be able to get close to the clarity and detail of this week’s Tuesday Livecast, and so it is a must listen for anyone who wants to hear a detailed and engaging summary of why Raw is broken and what needs to be done to fix it.