Next week will mark a celebration for WWE’s flagship program.
On January 22 (January 23 Manila time), WWE Raw will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special three-hour presentation. The episode will feature special appearances from WWE legends as well as matches that will serve as a final tuneup for the Royal Rumble.
Unfortunately for Filipino wrestling fans, Raw has not been available on television for nearly a year after previous rightsholder FOX Philippines declined to renew its rights with the WWE. Instead, commercial-free 90-minute full episodes of Raw are currently uploaded on its YouTube page for the benefit of the fans.
There is also the WWE Network subscription service where every WWE programming is available on-demand, including live pay-per-views such as the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. However, new episodes of Raw are only available weeks after its original broadcast.
As for TV5, even though it signed a contract with the WWE, it has so far opted to air only a one-hour condensed edition of SmackDown. It’s a shame since previous rightsholders made good use of a full complement of WWE programs including pay-per-views, and due to TV5’s delicate financial situation, they were unable to complement SmackDown with other programs such as Raw.
Regarding Raw 25 next week, snubbing such a show on Philippine television is an insult to wrestling fans in the country. After all, this is the longest-running and flagship program in the WWE, with so many great moments and legendary personalities to boot.
While WWE Network and an uploaded YouTube episode of Raw may be enough appeasement for fans, airing it on television may still be the better option given its wider availability and uninterrupted access. Even in the U.S., Raw is still aired on television because of reasons stated earlier.
In the end, fans can only hope that one day Raw will return to Philippine television in the near future. This is an important wrestling program that cannot be missed and fans deserve to see more of WWE’s top superstars (more than just the ones shown on SmackDown).