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Who here remembers the debut of Y2J. For those who remember Chris Jericho’s first WWE appearance way back in 1999, you may recall this phrase:
“You people have been led to believe that mediocrity is excellence.”
Actually, most of his promo from the summer of 1999 can be applied to modern-day WWE. However, I wish to highlight the above sentence as I see people gush and rave over the latest episode of Monday Night RAW.
Last night’s episode of WWE Monday Night RAW was a notable improvement on the previous, I don’t know, six months’ worth of episodes churned out by WWE. Maybe I am being generous, but it feels like a long time since I sat down and was entertained by the majority of what WWE provided on a Monday night. Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, a well-respected wrestling journalist, called the show “a really good RAW”, and he wasn’t alone, as many people seemed to really appreciate the November 1st offering of WWE’s flagship show. I respect Sean, he knows his sh*t. But has the bar for what is a really good show been lowered to the point we accept a sub-standard viewing experience?
For my sins, I watched RAW live, well half of it and caught up on the remainder later today and I can say, yes it was the best Monday Night RAW in ages, but that says pretty much nothing as WWE RAW has been mediocre at best and at worst, it is downright unwatchable since live crowds returned.
Last night had a lot of positives.
Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair had a fine TV match for the Women’s title, Kevin Owens cut a passionate promo full of gusto and Finn Balor battled Chad Gable in an interesting bout. But let me be honest, it was nothing mind-blowing, it was hardly the most memorable show and it only appeared better by comparison to the tripe WWE have been serving up since live shows came back. Let me be frank, Becky and Belair didn’t bring the house down, Kevin Owens did not drop anything really noteworthy in his promo and Gable vs. Balor was bang average. Nothing sucked, but very little grabbed me either. For me, while the show was a higher standard than what previous RAW episodes have achieved this year, it was a passable show at best and the show is still hindered by the massive negatives that will overwhelm the viewer into submission.
Is this what constitutes a really good RAW in 2021?
Have we all accepted mediocrity as excellence?
The show is steeped in dull, sanitized, over-produced aesthetics. From a visual point of view, the show feels more like a circus act than a modern-day wrestling experience. The cheap-looking CGI entrance graphics, the light-up ring posts and apron, the unnecessary 50 camera cuts per minute. It’s just far too much for my eyes to take. Then comes the attack on the ears. Everything from WWE sounds forced, from the buzzword-shilling commentary, to the painfully unnatural scripted dialogue, to the low rent entrance themes that begs the question of why did they ever cut ties with Jim Johnston?
No matter how talented the roster is and no matter how hard they work, the audio and visual production of WWE will always weigh it down. And for a company with plenty of money to burn, they simply do not make the right decisions to create a watchable product.
Even if the powers that be at WWE revamp the show to improve these aspects of the show, the poor booking will still be present. For a “really good RAW”, we still got the same old repetitive booking we have grown to expect from the lazy WWE creative team. Below is the issues I found still present while tuning in to RAW yesterday:
- Women’s tag team champions pinned in non-title match by newly formed team thrown together at a moment’s notice.
- Women’s championship match ends in a roll-up finish.
- Singles match ends in DQ finish
- Tag team bout ends in a distraction finish
- World title match ends with an inference finish.
It’s the same old story.
We have very few clean finishes in WWE and no one ever gets over. WWE in a nutshell. When you win one, you are destined to lose the next one. As a result, no one looks weak, no one looks strong, everyone just exists in the limbo that is the WWE machine. It’s bland, formulaic and downright predictable, and it’s been going on in WWE for what seems like an eternity. As shown above, the poor booking decisions were present last night and while WWE RAW was better than previous weeks, it was still sandbagged by a creatively bankrupt booking team who can’t seem to figure out how to make stars anymore.
Also, the show is still a massive slog at three hours per show. Further proof that this will never change will come from an interview with Nick Khan, WWE board member, who more or less confirms that WWE is a content machine rather than an entertainment show.
“From my point of view, RAW would benefit from being four hours, so we would get paid more money and SmackDown would be eight hours. But I understand our creative folks, as amazing as they are, there is only so much great content they can do on a weekly basis. So, I’m good with the ‘three and two (hour) system’.”
No, I’d like to think that his comments here are a little tongue in cheek, but the most recent Super Smackdown provides evidence that there may be more truth to these comments. It’s clear to see that their creative folks can’t manage with three-hour shows. Less is more and I think SmackDown, while suffering from the same problems, is more digestible because the two-hour format. God helps us if the show’s runtime is extended.
One other thing I disliked about RAW is that it’s three weeks away from Survivor Series and while feuds have been building, it’s not clear if they are building to that show. I don’t recall any chatter about the next big PPV and that’s a worry in itself.
Make no mistake last night’s RAW was an improvement, but for me, the show is still saddled with massive problems that show no signs of going anywhere.
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