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WWE is nearing the four-year anniversary of Raw shifting to three hours on Monday nights. Lost in the shuffle of Smackdown going live on Tuesdays and the return of the brand split is Raw actually hitting the four-year anniversary the week of The Draft.
Separating the rosters is one way to address issues with the three-hour Raw format that Vince McMahon seems to understand, but the result of the move was putting the Creative Team behind the eight ball from the outset.
In last July’s Torch Newsletter cover story “Inside WWE,” PWTorch reported on Vince McMahon’s directive in 2012: “I want three hours of Raw,” turning down ideas for alternative uses of the additional hour.
In an exclusive interview, former WWE Creative Team writer Kevin Eck shed more light on McMahon’s message to the writing team after WWE and USA Network decided on the move.
“We had heard rumblings and we sort of knew it was coming. Look, Vince doesn’t make excuses, Vince doesn’t want excuses, and Vince demands excellence from everyone, including himself. He knew all the reasons why it was a bad idea,” Eck exclusively told PWTorch editor Wade Keller on the June 30 PWTorch Livecast.
“If given the choice, from a Creative standpoint, he wouldn’t have gone to three hours. He understands the challenges and how tough it is to do a three-hour show. From a workrate standpoint, from a Creative Team standpoint, from everything else. He gets it.
“But, it was what it was. It was something that made sense to do with USA from a financial standpoint. So, it was something that was happening. He just demanded and expected that you were going to make it work.
“Clearly, we all knew that it was going to hurt the quality of the show and it was going to be much more of a challenge week-in, week-out trying to keep things fresh. Three hours is a long time to watch anything – whether a sporting event or movie. We knew – everyone knew. But, there’s no time for gloom & doom. We can vent to each other in the writer’s room, but at the end of the day, we were assigned a task and we had to try to make the best of it and do the best we could.
“Certainly, we all knew it wasn’t a great idea for us. And it wasn’t a great idea necessarily for the quality of the show. But, it was something that was going to happen and something we had to live with it.
“We thought, ‘Well, maybe it will just be a short-term thing.’ But, Vince pretty much made it clear to expect for it to be three hours going forward for the long-term. So, that was the reality of it.”