Fans were spared from having to sit through the same John Cena promo that we have all seen a million times last week on Raw. Instead, he was shipped to the WWE Network exclusive program Main Event in an attempt to increase viewership and attract new subscribers.
Since becoming a Network exclusive, Main Event has received a lot more attention. Prior to re-launching online, the program typically featured two matches that were nothing more than garbage, throwaway contests. However, since becoming a Network program, there have been a few title matches and they have at least made an attempt to have top stars appear (Cena and Hogan immediately come to mind).
Although the immediate goal of placing more emphasis on Network-exclusive programs it to reach one million subscribers, I also believe there is a larger goal involved: the company is testing the waters to see if it can cut all ties with cable providers.
The idea of taking all WWE content to the WWE Network makes sense on one hand. It already appears this is going to happen in the near future with pay-per-views. Cable providers Dish and DirectTV declined to carry this month’s pay-per-view because they were undoubtedly upset that they were losing profits because the WWE chose to circumvent them by starting their own network. It is likely only a matter of time before the others tap out and wrestling fans are forced to subscribe if they hope to (legally) watch the pay-per-view each month.
Taking Raw to the Network would be a bit more challenging, however. Their contract with USA is expiring at the end of this year and a new deal has not yet been reached. If a new deal is not reached, one of the highest rated programs on television will be finding a new home come fall. They would definitely not attempt to move the program to the Network immediately, but if the next deal falls through, it seems hard to imagine that they would not at least consider doing so.
After all, there are already reports that they are going to advance storylines on both the Raw Pre-Show and Backstage Pass programs, essentially meaning that Raw has been extended to four hours, with one hour airing exclusively on the WWE Network.