When people start talking about how to fix Monday Night Raw during its most abysmal creative times, there are three things that largely dominate the conversation. Firstly, there’s the notion that Raw should be shortened back to a two-hour show so as to preserve quality. Three hours is just too much to handle, especially when you consider the bevy of other shows and appearances the Superstars have. Secondly, there’s often a call for some sort of offseason. Raw hardly ever goes off the air, and to many, a dedicated offseason, even just for a month, would allow the product to reset storylines and provide a clearer structure from one “season” to the next. Lastly, there’s often a critique of how WWE builds its talent. Specifically, many point out how the creatively dull periods expose just how much WWE leans on a small handful of Superstars and part-timers to carry the company, which just isn’t a good long-term business or creative plan.
Those three critiques apply to tonight’s horrendous, boring episode of Raw. Now, first things first: this week’s Raw had the honor of being the night of the Slammy Awards, where WWE and the WWE Universe hand out awards in a number of categories, from Match of the Year to the cringeworthy OMG Moment of the Year. Typically, WWE always takes that night off creatively. But just because that’s the norm doesn’t mean it gets a free pass from criticism. In fact, tonight’s Slammy Awards Raw is actually enlightening in so many ways, and also indicative of where the company has gone wrong in the last few months.
Let’s start with that first point above that suggests Raw could be trimmed down to two hours. Tonight’s Raw is essentially a throwaway episode, and yet, it runs about 15 minutes over its allotted time. How does that happen? Padding out three hours is hard enough, but did we really need an extra 15 minutes tonight? Was R-Truth paying homage to Steve Harvey really worth it? (Okay, bad example, because that was totally worth it). It’s baffling that in the age of the WWE Network, the company decides to turn an episode of Raw into a Slammy Awards night. Why not have it as a Network exclusive? Making the Slammys a Network exclusive would avoid disasters like tonight, where the pacing is all wrong, the awards seem anti-climactic, and the wrestling storylines, which should be the focus of the show and build to the Royal Rumble, get lost in the mix and feel completely insignificant. That’s especially a shame considering how WWE built some serious momentum last week when it crowned Roman Reigns as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The second point above, that Raw could use some sort of offseason, is perhaps the most obvious and applicable criticism of this specific episode. Imagine a world where WWE can take a Monday night off, especially around the holidays, and not feel the need to produce three hours of content. Imagine them putting the title on Reigns and then sitting on that for a week or two, letting everyone enjoy the holidays and then coming back in full force. There’d be no Slammys because WWE read my review and decided to make it a Network exclusive, allowing Creative a bit of breathing room with the continuing story of Roman Reigns, WWE Champion. Instead, Raw is stuck being a weekly show for the entirety of the year, meaning that a Monday only days before Christmas is now home to meaningless awards and, worst of all, throwaway matches that kill the momentum of the feuds and storylines you just spent weeks trying to get over.
Finally, the third point, which is the fact that WWE has too narrow a focus when building its talent and is often stuck in the past. Tonight’s Raw really showed just how few legit stars WWE has built over the last few years. Sure, there are a ton of guys on the brink of something big, but nobody is really in that top spot, though Reigns is close as of last Monday. The running joke of the night, which is scarily indicative of WWE’s reliance on nostalgia and part-time talent, ends up being that nobody showed up to accept their Slammy—at least nobody important. For reference, tonight’s winners that got the biggest pops from the crowd include John Cena, Sting, The Rock, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar, all of whom failed to show up to mark the occassion. I am by no means saying they should be there, but it’s certainly interesting to point out how the guys WWE consistently tells its audience are important aren’t even there on a consistent basis. That’s not on the fans, who of course will be into “nostalgia” booking, but on WWE, who consistently rely on an old guard of talent rather than building up the next generation of Superstars.
There’s really not much else to say about a show that WWE and its creative team clearly treat with complete indifference. Well, maybe there’s one more thing to say: thank you, Seth Rollins, for gracing us with your presence. Get well soon. We need you.
- Results: The Wyatt Family defeated Kane and Team ECW; Kevin Owens defeated Dolph Ziggler; Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger; The Usos defeated New Day (Handicap Match); Rusev defeated Neville; Becky Lynch defeated Brie Bella; Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus (Cage Match).
- If you’re looking for me to post the Slammy Award winners, you came to the wrong place.
- I get it from a ratings standpoint, but I hate that WWE announced Cena’s return for next week.
- Stephanie McMahon is kind of the worst, eh?
- It’s hilarious that WWE thinks Triple H vs. Sting is a Match of the Year contender. Also: no way Taker vs. Lesnar in the cell was better than the Cena-Rollins-Lesnar Triple Threat.
- Neville, The Man That Creative Forgot, wins the Breakout Superstar of the Year Award, prompting Owens (and all of us) to disagree.
- Seeing Seth Rollins again was like seeing your partner in the airport after they’ve been on a business trip for a week. I just wanted to hug him.
- Amen, Nikki Bella. Amen.
- Usos apparently walked away with the Tag Team of the Year Award, despite one of them being injured for most of the year.
- At least the show ended on a high note with Ambrose hitting the elbow drop off the top of the cage, and Reigns coming out and destroying everyone.