The fact that SmackDown is an entire hour shorter has allowed it to become a more consumable TV product.
You see, pacing is everything in nearly anything. Too much of anything isn’t always a good thing. A bowl of ice cream in one sitting? Delicious! Heck, even two bowls might be given a reason to celebrate. Three bowls? Pass.
Ever since the WWE turned Monday Night Raw into a three-hour spectacle, it has felt like as much a chore or a burden to watch as it as something fun to consume. Since wrestling is meant to be entertaining, that’s not exactly ideal.
While it hasn’t been that bad as of late, since the brand extension has freshened things up, Raw is still very much a marathon. You turn on your picture-box at 8 o’clock (eastern), sit there, and unless you DVR the show and watch it later, three hours of your life will slowly go by with commercials, fill-in backstage segments, non-matches, and a slew of other non-actual storytelling hoopla that is put there to help pass and program a three-hour television show will devour your soul.
SmackDown has no such issue. If Raw is that marathon, SmackDown is a race.
We forget how quickly a two-hour wrestling program can go by. There’s less commercials, more action being packed into the show due to the lack of time in it, and everything moves about in such a nice pace that those two hours – especially compared to Raw’s three – actually feels like not enough.
Think about that for a second. Fans regularly complain about Raw being three hours, and now I’m making the argument that SmackDown only being two isn’t enough.
But that’s exactly what makes SmackDown so alluring. Everything comes off so smoothly, in such a timely fashion, that it doesn’t feel like a chore. It feels like watching a television product designed to keep my attention. All of this while Raw – for the most part and with exceptions – feels like a television program designed to try to fill three hours.
That is not to say SmackDown is currently better than Raw. It is just pointing out that SmackDown has a benefit Raw doesn’t – which is a supply and demand factor. There is less of it, so we will naturally want more. There’s too much Raw as is, so we will demand less.
As SmackDown continues to build its Superstars from within, and possibly adds titles as it goes, we are heading back to the golden age of wrestling on TV. Each show can be – at least theoretically – booked in a way which makes almost everything matter. No angles with Pokemon Go or throwaway segments designed to help kill time, which just ruins the viewer’s experience. Not because the WWE is genius, but because the two-hour window doesn’t allow them to overthink their booking to the point of absurdity.
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best route to go. There’s a reason KISS (keep it simple, stupid) is widely used in professions with complex tasks. For the WWE here, especially for the WWE really, that two-hour program on Tuesday night forces them to use that KISS motto.
Luckily, we the fans are going to be the ones to benefit from it.
Less is often more.