Six days away from Extreme Rules, the Paul Heyman era rolls on with this week’s “go home” edition of Monday Night Raw.
Two short weeks into Heyman assuming control of the red brand’s director’s chair, it’s safe to say there are a few subtle changes already starting to become noticeable. While watching tonight, I couldn’t help but feel as if I were watching a late 90’s episode of Nitro instead of present day programming. WCW mastered the three hour format during the Monday Night Wars, and tonight saw WWE actually deliver something very similar to the type of show that beat them eighty three weeks in a row. There was heavy focus on in ring work, unique match stipulations, as well as decent build up to Sunday’s pay per view. But the question still remains… how invested were we? Ladies and gentlemen, it is my weekly task to analyze the most recent episode of Monday Night Raw, present the good/bad, and then boil it all down to an exact percentage of how invested we the fans truly were. With the introduction out of the way, let’s jump right into it!
Let me start off by saying how nice it is to see pro wrestling featured on a pro wrestling show! Monday Night Raw has started off with wrestling matches two weeks straight, which is frankly unheard of in the modern age of WWE programming. That small fact aside, tonight’s Raw seemingly devoted more overall screen time to in ring performances than the promos and vignettes we’re used to seeing normally pushed. There was even a mid entrance promo from the Uso’s which very much added to the waves of WCW nostalgia that washed over me throughout the evening.
Sticking with the heavy emphasis on in ring talent during tonight’s show, the other positive aspect worth noting has to be the plethora of pushes we’re being presented with as of late. It is beyond refreshing to see talent like Nikki Cross and Cesaro finally being given the attention we all know they deserve. WWE has never faired well at getting over talent that they didn’t have a hand in creating, but the recent treatment of Ricochet, Cross, and Cesaro seems to signify that times may be changing. Hopefully WWE understands that this is the mentality needed to make their company a desirable destination for up and coming independent talent.
Where the hell is Bray Wyatt?! Tonight’s episode marked the second week in a row that Raw was lacking a Firefly Funhouse segment. Sure, nearly deleting a program completely certainly keeps it from growing stale, but Bray’s newest gimmick was the main reason a lot of us had begun to be invested in the red brand at all. That being said, it is worth mentioning that Funhouse puppet “Huskus the Pig” could be seen behind Ricochet as he made his way through the backstage area. Will we see “The Fiend” debut at Extreme Rules, or are we doomed to more weeks of anticipation?
I can’t cover the negatives of tonight’s Raw without touching on the Mike and Maria storyline. What even is this?! Last week Maria proclaimed she was pregnant before suggesting the theory that another woman would be able to impregnate her, this week she’s got odd cravings and still seems to be questioning the functionality of her husband’s genitals solely based on his tapping out to a submission applied by a woman.
This whole thing stinks of Vince McMahon seeking to embarrass Mike Kanellis after the negative comments he made about the company. No matter how many changes we’ve seen from WWE throughout the years, Vince will always be Vince.
Wrapping up with a positive from last week turned negative this week, let’s talk about The Club for a moment. WWE toyed with my emotions last week when they closed the show with the spectacular image of Styles, Gallows, and Anderson holding up the “Too Sweet” triumphantly over a broken Ricochet. After a sight like that, my mind raced at the possibilities going into tonight’s Raw. Could there be more members? Will they cut an epic promo in black and white?
Will they even be called “The Club”?! So, what did we get? Gallows vs. Ricochet…which probably wouldn’t have been terrible if it weren’t for Ricochet declaring that he’d beat all three members of The Club right before he pinned Gallows and immediately followed that up with pinning Anderson. With the overall popularity of The Bullet Club waning with the American fanbase, it made total sense for WWE to stoke the fire and get as much as they could out of the embers that are still burning. Unfortunately, it would seem that the true plan is to have the trio serve as the heel stable that outnumbers Ricochet therefore making his inevitable victory at Extreme Rules seem all the more less likely.
Now, you may be slightly confused about how I talked this episode up in the introduction, only to focus mainly on the negatives. The thing is, comparing the nostalgic feeling of watching classic Monday Night Nitro to watching tonight’s Raw simply means that WWE may finally be getting the hang of the three hour format. When it’s all said and done, WCW is still a dead brand, and even though they dominated WWE in the ratings for some time, the three hour weekly live show undoubtedly had a hand in killing the company. Tonight’s show definitely delivered in the wrestling department, but it was lacking focus on the angles that are keeping people watching.
A rather lackluster showing for Heyman’s second week at the helm, but I’d say it’s still too early to tell if this recent regime change will hurt or help the current WWE product. We’ve got a big weekend of wrestling ahead of us with AEW’s Fight for the Fallen, and Evolve’s 10th Anniversary both airing Saturday, as well as Extreme Rules wrapping things up Sunday evening.
So, until next week, may all your kicks be super, and every frog splash five stars!
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