Over the last few months, we’ve seen a vast improvement under Paul Heyman’s guidance, but there are still more than a few bumps in the road. It’s a process, and when one is trying to work with a creative team and owner that’s used to a certain way, it may get worse before it gets better.
With that positive outlook, how about we delve into Raw’s lowlights?
- Continuing to praise the draft. Seriously, the draft was a failure. It sucked and was panned by fans and critics. Can we please forget it happened and move on instead of constantly ripping the scab off the festering wound?
- Squash matches. One is bad enough, but two? Yes, it’s a way for new talent to build their character and establish their dominance over the weaker ranks. That’s great and all, but as awesome as Aleister Black is, he’s already faced established stars like Cesaro, so him facinf Jason Reynolds and taking some abuse feels more like an insult or reason to get him television time. And then there’s the Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) against former Raw tag team champions (The Viking Raiders also beat them early on in a non-title match. Guess we were supposed to forget that?) Zach Ryder and Curt Hawkins. As with Aleister Black’s match, Erik took some punishment before the Viking Raiders abruptly ended the match with their Viking Experience. I know I’ve mentioned this before (among many other repeats), but maybe having a Saturday afternoon wrestling show like Superstars would be better served for this? Remember the days of Rusty Wallace being destroyed by everyone from Earthquake to Don Muraco? Great times.
- Rusev, Bobby Lashley, and Lana. Okay, while it’s nice that Paul Heyman’s trying to bring in some old ideas to inject life into the show, this isn’t a good one. In fact, this is outright bad. And seriously, “There’s only so much a man can take,” is a phrase we don’t need to hear the commentators say every week. We know, we get it. Thank you for playing.
- Rey Mysterio slight heel turn. While Rey Mysterio isn’t turning heel, he’s showing some of the qualities of doing so (like Seth Rollins). Following a good, heartfelt promo, Shelton Benjamin came out and pointed out the absurdity of the ease of getting title shots lately. Sure, he got a little rough, and touching on Shelton Benjamin’s past relationship with Brock Lesnar was pretty cool. However, when Cain Velasquez came out in a typical set up for his dominance going into Crown Jewel, the crowd was silent and those around the ring the various angles showed looked bored. Seriously bored. While this was done to perfection, the crowd’s indifference was daunting. They seemed to be unsure of who to cheer for as Rey Mysterio talked a boatload of smack to Shelton Benjamin after Velasquez dominated him. Kinda out of character for Rey Mysterio, but storyline wise it makes sense.
- Seth Rollins. While Humberto Carrillo shined in their match, the fans showed their boredom with Rollins by remaining silent during his prematch interview, his ring entrance, and throughout the match. The few vocal ones were, in fact, the few. This was a microcosm of how his character hasn’t grown at all since WrestleMania and he couldn’t be colder while the Fiend’s red hot. At least Seth Rollins got to show his heel side a little bit. Too bad that, like everything else he’s done, fell flat.
- Kevin Owens and AJ Styles feud. Again. While Kevin Owens coming out at the end was a cool touch, it brought back memories of their last feud. Some superstars just don’t work well together, and these two fit into the category. It’s a shame, given their talent, but maybe Kevin Owens and AJ Styles will be different this time. I’m sure both would love to improve on their too-many-to-count matches from 2017. But sadly, that may not be in the cards as they looked awkward in their brief encounter when Kevin Owens hit with a stunner.
Predictability was once again running rampant in a WWE program, but Paul Heyman managed to keep it limited, or at least broken up. What really hurt was the indifference many of the fans showed toward the product, especially after such a great start with Drew McIntyre and Ricochet. Seriously, it takes some talent to cause a show to drop so much so quickly. The promise of a couple of matches were ruined by previous bookings, but this is supposed to be the beginning of a new era. The buildup for superstars like Sin Cara can start fresh and be done right this time. Crossing my fingers Paul Heyman can keep the stale creative direction away from the show going forward.