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Last month, WWE announced that they would be broadcasting live episodes of Raw on both New Year’s day and Christmas Day and pretty much all of us thought the same thing: that poor workforce…
Workforce Getting Cole For Christmas
Now, New Year’s Day might not be such a bad idea, in fact, I can kind of see it working. It’s not likely to be too gimmicky and they could make it a real special bank holiday show to kick off the wrestling year. Plus, with most people off work on New Year’s Day and even more people likely to be hungover from the previous night’s shenanigans, I can see a fair amount of people tuning in to it as well. People might want to ease themselves into the year with one of their favourite sources of entertainment.
Christmas Day though? This is where the complaining is being done…
It seems really harsh to make these guys wrestle on Christmas day. It’s a day for taking time off, eating your body weight in comfort food, and most importantly, spending time with your family: not being on the road putting your body on the line in a wrestling ring. This is now off the cards for them. It isn’t just the wrestlers that get affected either. Think of all of the people behind the scenes who’ll be losing their holiday; backstage staff, camera crew’s, announcers and even venue staff. Then, think of their families, their friends, their kids, these will all have wanted to see their loved ones on Christmas day and now can’t.
Is it as Preposterous as We’re Making it Out Be?
As some have been quick to point out, it isn’t too unusual for sports or other events to take place live on Christmas Day. In the USA, multiple NBA and NFL games are often played on Christmas Day in an effort to showcase the sport’s to a national audience, and in the UK, Boxing Day football is almost as big a yearly tradition as Christmas Trees. While this means they may not have to play a competitive match on Christmas Day itself, players often find themselves called into training on the day by their managers who daren’t risk slacking off before a big game, even if it is just for a day.
So what’s the difference between this and having live wrestling at Christmas? Well, the NFL, NBA and football are all seasonal. They have long off-seasons in which they can recuperate. Those at WWE don’t have that luxury. They’re in action most days of the week, most weeks of the year, Christmas was the only time of the year they ever had any meaningful time off, now they don’t even have that. Christmas isn’t exactly the most exciting time of the year for WWE anyway, so most of us could survive without live wrestling for just one week if it means the talent getting the rest they need and deserve.
Is Live Wrestling on Anyone’s Christmas List?
Who is going to pay to see Raw live on Christmas day? I know there are some pretty hardcore fans out there but this seems like one hell of a commitment. Obviously, with it being a bank holiday, everybody who wants to go will probably be able to go, and it would be one hell of Christmas present for a kid to open up and find out he was going to see Raw later on the same day. But attendances at the recordings have been significantly down this year anyway, and I could be wrong, but I’m not too sure there will be that many people up for travelling to see wrestling on Christmas Day. If I’m right on this, then it really won’t help those twisting management’s ears about attendance figures.
Moreover from that, who’s going to tune in to watch it? I know Christmas television is a big thing, but it’s more about movies, kids shows and documentaries of James May making ridiculously long Scalextric tracks. Not wrestling.
The bit that boggles me most is that even if there is a demand for Christmas Day wrestling, why does it have to be live? Why not just pre-record it? Surely that would make for a happier workforce (who could now have a day off with their families) and fans still get Christmas Day wrestling. It works for all parties so surely that’s just better all around?
The only reason I can think of is that WWE probably didn’t want spoilers being leaked across the internet before the show was broadcast. This would undoubtedly happen and it would likely impact viewing figures because if people read the spoilers, and decide it doesn’t sound like a very good show, they aren’t going to make the effort to tune in. However, when it comes to the tradeoff between workforce happiness and viewing figures, I don’t think it is such a big sacrifice to prerecord Raw as a one-off, especially considering that until last year, every episode of SmackDown was pre-recorded a day or two early.
The Show Itself: A Christmas Treat? Or a Ho-Ho-Horror Show?
On top of that, we’ve not really had any indication of what the show is going to be like. Based on the lack of news in this area, it could be assumed that it is going to be presented just like another episode of Raw, rather than as a special event. However, I think it’s pretty unlikely that this is how it’s going to pan out. As mentioned, WWE generally has a bit of a lull around this time of year, and they have a bad history of working public holidays into stories on the show with pretty terrible results. Last year when Raw landed on 4th July, regular stories were swapped out for a food fight and a massive 16-man elimination tag team match between “Team USA” and “The Multinational Alliance” in the main event. It was regarded by many as a Raw to forget, but it wasn’t the first event of it’s kind. They also did a Halloween special in 2014 when SmackDown landed on Halloween, which ended with Dean Ambrose hitting a Dirty Deeds on Cesaro with a pumpkin on his head. Predictably, there have been Christmas themed angles as well, including one where Batista got hit with a led pipe by Rene Dupree who was dressed up as Santa Claus. Based on this history, it’s not likely to be a show worth disrupting your usual Christmas routine for.
So when all is considered, this seems to be a pretty questionable decision. However, before we all start pointing our fingers at Vince McGrinch, this was actually commissioned by the USA network, so there wasn’t too much the WWE could do other than comply. There’s still more I’d love to know about this, but whatever happens with it, one thing is for sure; if it’s a success, everyone on SmackDown will be hoping for a draft to Raw before Christmas next year…