COMMENTARY | One of the biggest complaints I hear from a lot of professional wrestling fans is that there is not enough wrestling on today's WWE programming.
In particular, WWE Raw, which now airs for just over three hours each Monday night, receives the brunt of these complaints. On wrestling articles and in online forums, I have seen many WWE fans comment that there are 15 minutes of actual wrestling on the three hours of Raw. Of course, this claim about a three-hour wrestling show seems preposterous, so I decided to undertake a research study to test the validity of this myth.
I recorded the first three October episodes of WWE Raw to determine how much wrestling was on each show. Although this is a small sample, this is nonetheless a representative sample. Each of these episodes of Raw represents the three different types of programming the WWE offers each Monday night.
October 7 was the first Raw after a pay-per-view, which typically sets up the storylines and build up to the next pay-per-view. October 14 was the typical Raw, between pay-per-views. And October 21 was the last Raw before the next WWE pay-per-view, often referred to by wrestling fans as the "go home" episode.
In addition to calculating how much wrestling was on each show, I also determined the prevalence of other segments on the WWE's flagship program. This includes WWE video recaps and mic work. I also calculated how much time commercials take on Raw. And whatever didn't fall into these categories went into the "other" section.
The time you see below represents the average time each category appeared on the three episodes of Raw. The percent is how much, on average, of each show was devoted to that type of segment. The average airtime of Raw over those three weeks was three hours six minutes and 15 seconds. I used this figure to calculate the percentages.
Commercials: 49 minutes 35 seconds (26.6 percent)
If the WWE truly has only 15 minutes of wrestling in three hours of Raw, I can understand some fans being upset at this. But when fans complain there are too many commercials, I just shake my head. I don't know how they expect the WWE to pay its bills without ad revenue. 26.6 percent of Raw being commercials is perfectly in line with other prime time programming. The WWE consistently had 15 total breaks for commercials on each episode of Raw, usually lasting three or three-and-a-half minutes each.
Mic work: 25 minutes 18 seconds (13.6 percent)
The may be the first surprise for some wrestling fans. This category includes in-ring promos, backstage segments, and interviews. I did not include segments that focused on the Raw commentators' talking. One of the stereotypes about the WWE is that it focuses more on talking than wrestling. While it may lean more in that direction than it did on wrestling programming in the past, WWE Raw still has much less talking than wrestling.
However, there were significant variations in this average based on which episode of Raw I was studying. The October 7 Raw, which set up new WWE storylines, had just over 24 minutes of mic work. The October 14 episode had just under 21 minutes of mic work. And the "go home" Raw episode on October 21 had 31 minutes of mic work. This included the lengthy contract signing at the conclusion of the show.
Highlights, recaps, and replays: 9 minutes 27 seconds (5.1 percent)
I've made it clear in the past that this is the only thing that drives me crazy on Raw. As someone who doesn't miss an episode or a minute of Raw, I am at the point of madness when these video packages invade WWE programming. But much like the mic work findings, both the number and duration of these WWE highlights varied widely by episode.
For example, the October 7 and 21 editions of Raw aired 13 and 15 of these WWE video packages, respectively. These segments accounted for just over 10 and 12 minutes on each respective episode of Raw. However, the October 14 Raw surprised me with only seven recap videos for under six minutes of programming time.
Wrestling: 1 hour 2 minutes 11 seconds (33.4 percent)
Yes, you read that correctly. There is more wrestling on Raw than mic work. And there is more wrestling than there are commercials. I included all types of live physical action, including attacks after matches, during promos, and backstage. However, this did not skew the numbers because this extra type of physical action represented a very small portion of each WWE Raw. I did not include wrestling that aired on highlights, recaps, and replays.
Also, there was little variation on how much wrestling was on each episode of Raw. The October 14 Raw had the most wrestling with one hour and five minutes and the October 21 Raw had the least wrestling with just under an hour. If WWE fans honestly think there are only 15 minutes of wrestling on three hours of Raw, they must be watching the NFL by mistake. Research has shown there are only 11 minutes of football in a three-hour NFL game.
Other: 39 minutes 45 seconds (21.3 percent)
Finally, this category includes everything from ring entrances and Michael Cole explaining how to download the WWE App to videos of the WWE's charity efforts and wrestlers gloating after victories. I was very surprised at how much of Raw was devoted to WWE ring entrances. But WWE fans have become so conditioned to this aspect of wrestling, I can't imagine it going away.
Despite the aforementioned results, I understand what older wrestling fans really mean when they say there are 15 minutes of wrestling on Raw. However, the business has changed and don't think the WWE will be changing its product anytime soon. But if you watch WWE Raw closely, there is still a lot of great wrestling.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.