The worst thing a wrestling show can do is force you to turn off your suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief is the fabric with which professional wrestling hinges on. The moment a person starts questioning what they’re watching—or why they’re watching it—is the moment things begin to unravel. Getting out of that metaphor and into the literal, that is the problem with this edition of Monday Night RAW and a lot of WWE recently. What’s being displayed on live, national television just doesn’t add up, and the more it continues, the less it adds up. The only thing it can possibly translate to is not being very good.
A heavily-watched, nationally televised wrestling show with some of the best wrestlers in the entire world should not naturally translate to “not being very good.”
After a week of RAW where don’t matter because simply it’s all pre-recorded, we get a week where things don’t matter… because it’s not Sunday? Because Sunday’s pay-per-view isn’t a big one? Because it’s not on the WWE Network? Because Vince McMahon is going to make money despite himself?
Honestly, this live RAW makes last week’s UK-centric, tea and crumpets RAW feel like a big deal. Things happened there, and this week’s RAW actually makes sure to constantly remind the audience of that. As far as go homes shows go, this week’s RAW is even weaker than the go home show for WrestleMania (which is a separate problem entirely), but at the same time, who cares about Extreme Rules? Who has ever cared about Extreme Rules? The pay-per-view and all of its communist Russia graphics appear to have snuck up on people, and now the only thing WWE really has to show for it is a build where Randy Orton makes lower card roster members (which includes Miz and tag teams, of course) look even more like a joke, Fandango/Curtis Axel/Adam Rose/Insert Wrestler Here are all living out Groundhog’s Day, Divas’ chance (they have to share one) is most likely gone (although totally “athletic”), John Cena is sucked into Kane’s orbit, WWE is sucked into Kane’s orbit—we are all sucked into Kane’s orbit.
To reiterate, in case you missed it: Kane is the most important member on the roster right now (and the Authority, which will most likely implode soon, because everyone just realized Seth Rollins is Joffrey), which is the most difficult thing to wrap one’s head around. Especially in the year 2015.
The sadder part is how there’s nothing on this week’s RAW to even be excited about. Whatever hype there is left surrounding a Ziggler/Rollins match has had diminishing returns since Survivor Series, with the outcome—or the belief in the outcome—rarely being that Ziggler will possibly win. It’s all punctuated with a terrible interference from Sheamus (screaming “kiss me arse,” because the sentient being known as WWE may have officially gone senile) and the Seth Rollins’ new, concussion-proof, Byron Saxton finisher.
To call the vibe around this episode of RAW one of “malaise” would be an understatement, but it wouldn’t be wrong.
There is no Daniel Bryan, which calls attention to the fact that there is no Daniel Bryan, which also calls attention to the “fact” that the Intercontinental Championship is cursed. Instead, when WWE isn’t checking in on Kane’s feelings and new “gatekeeper” status (which is definitely not a profession), they’re reminding the WWE Universe of what supposedly is the equivalent of Daniel Bryan: footage of the Big Show demolishing Roman Reigns on last week’s RAW.
Big Show is also not on the show, and surprisingly, Kane’s emotional journey doesn’t have him questioning where his partner in narcolepsy is.
The highlight of this RAW (besides Sheamus and everything about his gimmick—although his match not ending in ref stoppage makes zero sense) is the biggest surprise of the night though, as it is Roman Reigns doing a Bo Dallas impression. (Less surprising is that Roman doesn’t wrestle, because WWE appears to believe doing such is the worst way to prove that someone is better at wrestling.)
In that brief moment of time—after he sucker punches and spears Bo Dallas for calling out the fact didn’t “almost beat” Brock, he lost to Seth—when he says to “bo-lieve” that, there’s a genuine reason to enjoy the man and his work. Roman Reigns had a palpable charisma for quite a while before WWE decided he needed to be “the” cookie cutter babyface, and when that creeps out, it’s refreshing.
But that’s not the only thing. For a short segment, it’s fascinating to realize that, in their developmental days in FCW and NXT, Bo Dallas was mostly pushed as the next great babyface on WWE, while Roman was “leaky” (or “Leakee,” which is the same thing). Now to look at where they are, Roman Reigns may have just main evented WrestleMania, but he’s not exactly in a great spot, as he’s set to have a Last Man Standing Match (which might as well be a Stairs Match, given how much lumbering around there will be) with Big Show at Extreme Rules. It’s also fascinating to realize that Roman Reigns’ “I Can. I Will” t-shirt must have been a complete flop, especially since he couldn’t, he didn’t, and he’s back to the shield vest (not to be confused with The Shield vest).
Yes, these are things that are better to dwell on than the actual episode of RAW.
The Miz/Mizdow match for the rights to the Miz brand… is a mess. That’s not just in terms of the very concept of it being impossible to take someone’s brand when that “brand” is literally a person, but the match itself is bad. The idea that Damien Sandow does Miz’s moves better than the Miz has always been somewhat of a stretch (they’re just two different wrestlers, and Sandow has always just been mimicking), but this match particularly shows that him doing these moves also doesn’t take into account the timing. In fact, for as short of a match as it is, Sandow doing Miz’s moves feels very much like a kid playing a video game of him, hitting Miz’s moves. The “condolence” to all of this mess is Summer doing the predictable thing and turning on Mizdow, but seeing as there is no emotional pay-off to that—they just hooked up, and only because he forced himself on her in that roguish babyface way—it means nothing.
Taking away the meaning of anything is what WWE excels in at this point. Speaking of, Naomi is finally wrestling like a wrestler and not “‘Athletic’ Diva #2,” but with AJ gone and Paige off filming the latest WWE “film,” the chance of her being given a real chance is as laughable as the Bellas on commentary.
This was a three hour show, supposedly hyping a pay-per-view.