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Is 'Monday Night Football' a threat to 'Raw'?

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 4:18 p.m.

@stunnin_steve82 How much of a factor will monday night football will hurt #raw with cena out? #TribWRESTLING

With John Cena or without him, “Monday Night Football” is a threat to WWE.

The popularity of football is so great. Professional wrestling has changed in terms of who it appeals to and how. The show doesn't contain content that's as appealing to the football audience like it use to when the show had a more adult rating and controversial content.

The invention of DVR also hasn't helped WWE. It's much harder to record a live sporting event like “Monday Night Football” and not have the results spoiled by one of the dozen stations running highlights or analysis.

DVR makes wrestling perfect to fast forward to the intriguing segments with recognizable names.

But hey, this is all what Vince McMahon wanted. He doesn't want to be in the wrestling business. He wants to be mainstream. He doesn't want another wrestling company as competition. He wants everything on television to be competition. Well, he's got it with the NFL.

@SnapRed1 Do you think the royal rumble will ever have to winners again like bret hart and lex luger #TribWRESTLING

1994 had two Royal Rumble winners in Bret Hart and Lex Luger because of the situation the company was in.

Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and so many other established names had departed and left for WCW. Luger and Hart were the top babyfaces carrying the company. It was the best business decision they could make to have both babyfaces getting title shots at WrestleMania in two separate matches.

This also allowed WWE to capitalize on Hart versus his younger brother Owen Hart. Simply put, WWE was relying on Hart and Luger for multiple storylines as they approached the big decade anniversary of WrestleMania.

The option is always possible again depending on WWE's roster dynamic. In this era, WWE usually doesn't have that many viable options for babyfaces who could win Rumble. Plus, having two guys win the Rumble should lead to both having a shot at WrestleMania. WWE now has the pay-per-view in February, something they didn't have in 1994, in between Rumble and WrestleMania. The event in February logically should decide who gets the title show.

@SwearingDavid Do you think there's a chance Batista or Jeff Hardy would return to WWE at some point within the years to come? #tribwrestling

I think it's inevitable both will be back in WWE eventually. I expect to see Batista in 2014 with WWE. I don't have a specific time or year for Jeff Hardy but I don't think Jeff and his brother Matt will ever be done with active wrestling until they get one final run or match in WWE.

Both Hardy's have done time in TNA Impact, Ring of Honor or both since leaving WWE. They know that while they might be getting paid or having fun ― to some fans they have left wrestling.

It's the same as Rob Van Dam. He had been in TNA for the last few years. He just came back to WWE this year. Fans were going up to him happy to see him “back” in wrestling.

He never left, but to so many mainstream fans, he did. WWE is what matters to a wrestlers legacy. Both Batista and Hardy know this.

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