As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I didn’t think very much of last night’s episode of WWE Monday Night RAW. In fact, I’m not even going to bother spending much time on the episode itself. I’m running out of ways to describe why I feel the show continues to disappoint me.
The three hours of a lackluster RAW starkly contrasted to the hour-plus interview on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast with Vince McMahon. The affair wasn’t just entertaining, but eye-opening, especially in terms of some of the problems that I see weekly on RAW. I expected about 30-45 minutes of Austin and Vince talking about the good ‘ol days and nothing more; however, Austin peppered Vince with some tough questions and did some things that I certainly didn’t expect him to do.
Austin acknowledged the existence of TNA wrestling multiple times, a first on any WWE programming. He put over Colt Cobana’s podcast. He brought up questions about CM Punk, Jim Ross, and the Macho Man. Sure, there were some questions left unasked, namely Punk’s accusations of WWE’s medical negligence and further prodding on just why Vince has a beef with Macho Man, but I can understand that Vince likely drew a line on what he would talk about well before he agreed to this. However, much like he has through his career, Austin toed the line and even crossed it a bit until he saw that Vince shut down.
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Still, Austin managed to get a lot out of Vince and Vince was the most candid that I’ve ever heard him. In fact, Vince felt the entire thing was going so well, that he extended the show another fifteen minutes once Austin informed him the WWE Network producers told him their time was running out.
What stood out to me was Vince’s attitude towards his entire roster. He claimed the locker room was full of “millennials” that were too scared to take chances, which seemed ridiculously absurd to me. I don’t feel like I’m watching the same programming that he is. Cody Rhodes practically stepped out of his skin to revive his career as Stardust. Dean Ambrose has gone white-hot at times in being one of the few members of the roster that can seemingly channel the Attitude era and fit it into the PG era in both violence and comedy. Dolph Ziggler practically destroys himself in the ring and grabs the crowd by being the best seller they have on the roster (Seth Rollins being a close second). Damien Sandow took a crappy cosplay gimmick and turned it into something truly special as Mizdow and the Miz caught on to the it as well, getting the most heel heat he’s had since his WWE Championship run.
Despite all that, Vince didn’t back down from the claim either. He repeated it more than once. It felt like he buried his own roster. Austin didn’t seem to totally disagree either, deciding to go as far as vocally challenging the entire roster outside of John Cena to step up.
Or perhaps Austin worked Vince over. Right after that exchange, Austin brought up Cesaro by name and asked Vince directly why he couldn’t get over. I found this incredibly interesting considering the WWE had just run him out there earlier in the night as Tyson Kidd’s tag team partner because they have zero idea what the hell to do with him. Vince’s response more or less reflected that sentitment. He said he had no other other than that he didn’t feel like Cesaro had “it”, which I’m sure Cesaro really appreciates considering that he was on a one-way ticket to being pushed to the moon after his Wrestlemania victory until he was saddled with Paul Heyman who just did not even care about putting him over in comparison to HIS CLIENT, BROOOOOOOOOCK LESNAR.
Austin brought up some other common complaints about RAW. Particularly that in-ring action seemed lacking and the opening segments seem to drag on forever. In fact, it seemed clear that he and Vince had a disconnect as to what makes a good pro wrestling show as Austin certainly took jabs at Vince’s definition of “sports entertainment” and pressed the opinion that, at the heart of it all, the WWE should come down to what goes down inside the ring.
But perhaps the oddest comment from Vince was that he feels as if he’s in touch with the fans as he always listens to the audience. In light of how talents like Cesaro and Zigler have struggled, despite positive crowd reaction, this doesn’t seem to mesh. Further, consider incredibly over talents like Sting and Brock Lesnar whom the crowd craves like a drug, but Vince feels that repeated appearances would make them far less special.
So there’s the Vince logic as of now. No one’s taking risks to get over, but he’s listening to the crowd, and if you manage to get ridiculously over, it might be wise to keep you off TV. No wonder the WWE seems to be completely lost right now.
Top Five Takeaways from the Night
I guess I should actually talk about RAW, huh?
1) The Tag Team Division may actually have a storyline for a change.
The Miz coming up to Jimmy Uso’s wife, Naomi, and creepily giving her a card for a “talent agent” because of her twerking ability (seriously, that’s what he said) led to Jimmy confronting Miz and just smacking the hell out of him. Initially, I was worried about the continued creep of Total Divas into WWE storylines, but I quickly changed my tune.
I saw that some had issue with Jimmy’s actions as non-babyface, but I disagree. I never felt that Miz was portraying someone genuinely trying to help Naomi with her career. It had the complete feel of Miz being a creep trying to use his “fame” to sucker a woman into a terrible situation. Jimmy isn’t just being a jealous husband in that context, he’s protecting his wife from a creep.
Of course, if they back off that angle, something they’ve done in the past, I might once again change my mind.
2) A.J. Lee and Nikki Bella are putting together a fun, simple divas program.
I don’t even care who the babyface/heel is here. These two women are putting up a simple personal hatred program and that totally works for me. I don’t mind picking sides in a gray-area program as long as it is intriguing. If these two keep trading barbs like they have been and want to beat the hell out of each other, that works for me!
3) Was there even a point to the anonymous GM?
As I mentioned last week, Hornswoggle was already revealed as the man behind the laptop two years ago. The WWE tried to pretend this never happened, even though fans clearly remembered, including a fan with a sign in the crowd that said as much.
Even with John Cena trying to force the crowd to erase their memories, was there even a point to to this? The anonymous GM really didn’t do anything outside of the opening segment. The whole thing just all seemed to incredibly pointless and one gigantic waste of time to fill up an already too-long opening promo segment.
4) The Erick Rowan reboot is amazing.
Making the man a genius that makes his own wine? I’m so in. I don’t care that isn’t completely out of left field. Sometimes the random reboots work so well that I have no issue running with it. I can, however, do without the nickname “Big Red” as there is already a “Big Red Machine” on the roster and I don’t want to be reminded of a soda every time we are referring to a genius THAT MAKES HIS OWN WINE.
5) As long as the New Day allows Big E to speak and be awesome, I’m all for it.
The one great crime of Big E’s initial main roster run was that he never got any mic time. The guy is incredibly hilarious. I mean, wiping his brow in the middle of a match? Stroke of comic genius.
Let Big E’s personality shine and I don’t care how hokey or stereotypical this entire gimmick is.