Oh, Good. Raw Sucks Again.
It was a good run while it lasted. Or at least I think it was? There was a time, about 2 or 3 months ago, when Monday Night Raw was the best wrestling program on TV. There were hot feuds aplenty, banger matches were happening at the top of every hour and I was actually starting to look forward to it as my highlight of the week. But it has very quickly plummeted into the depths of mediocrity, like every time Mustafa Ali gets a push.
At the beginning of the year, I started rating every match and full show that I watched and Raw’s downfall is as clear as day. The last 3 episodes have gone from a 7.8 to a 5.6, all the way down to last night’s 4.4. So what happened? One might assert that this digression is in line with Vince McMahon’s controversial return to the company. And that theory kind of makes sense, as last night’s show was the most “Vince” show they’ve had since his departure.
But I feel like Vince’s presence is more of a placebo. We think the show is more Vince-y because he’s lurking in the shadows, but I remain confident that he’s not actually in control of creative. But then again, that presence might serve as a distraction in every facet of production and the quality suffers from that fact. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re so afraid of Vince taking the reigns on creative that they’re making the shows to his liking. They may be afraid that he’ll see more than one work-rate match and hold the show hostage.
This theory especially makes sense in the case of Bronson Reed (FKA Jonah (FKA Bronson Reed)). He was an NXT darling before he was unceremoniously released a year ago. He went on the have a great run with New Japan (including a classic G1 match with Okada that I highly recommend to anyone with a pulse) and while the coast was clear, Triple H sneakily hired him back to WWE. Instead of stuffing him in a closet, they gave him a squash match against Akira Tozawa last night. I mean no offense to Akira, but this was an example of classic racist Vince chest-thumping. Oh, he just spent the year in Japan? Let’s have him fight our Japanese jobber so the WWE Universe can see how weak the “strong style” wrestlers are and America is number one!!! I’m also ashamed to admit that it was the most enjoyable match of the night. That’s how bad last night’s show was.
They apparently took in their highest gate ever in Cincinnati, but watching on TV, you’d think they were back in the Performance Center. It’s never a good thing in WWE when you can hear the wrestlers talking during a match. I’ve heard more enthusiasm for a women’s match on Dark. I felt especially bad for Mustafa Ali, who kicked off the show against Solo Sikoa to a dead room. Ali tried his damndest to make it a good match, but he’ll surely be blamed for the lack of enthusiasm. Which isn’t fair to him at all, but they’re just never fair to him. The real problem was the lead-up to the match. You had The Usos trying to navigate through a promo with Judgement Day. It doesn’t take a genius to see that heels feuding with heels doesn’t make great television. Maybe if they had Sami Zayn there to represent the Bloodline, it would’ve went better. But instead, we got an overly-long crap promo and then an ignored run-in from Mustafa Ali to set up the match. It is in no way Ali’s fault that the crowd was asleep, but he’s the only one they’ll blame. Midway through the match, they sent out Kevin Owens to stun everyone for cheap pops. It barely helped get a rise out of the people.
The show got worse and worse as it went along. We got to see Omos come back from a hiatus…and he’s shittier than ever! To put the rotten cherry on top, he was fighting Elias. What are we even doing here? You’re bringing back a failed project that couldn’t get over with the fans and had absolutely no in-ring skill to feud with a failed project that can’t get over with the fans and has hardly any in-ring skill. Make it make sense!
In speaking of failed projects, they need to launch Dominik Mysterio into the sun. He’s been given so many pushes and even more opportunities. The kid. Can’t. Wrestle. Keep him as Judgement Day’s hype man, sure, he’s a total heat magnet. But he has no business being in the ring. Sitting on the apron, he couldn’t even pull down the top rope, so Chad Gable had to trip over a ghost. When he was gifted the 1-2-3 pin, he couldn’t even hold the pin. He simply couldn’t be bothered to just keep his arm on top of a guy for 3 seconds. At this point, it doesn’t matter who his Papi is. The apple fell from the tree and rolled down the hill, only to land in the back of a truck to be driven far, far away.
The show culminated in a chaotic and overly long 6 man eliminator that ultimately set up Bobby Lashley to win the US Title to feud with…Omos, Or, he’ll get screwed over next week and just have a regular feud. Either way, the groundhog saw his shadow and we’re doomed for 12 more weeks of Bobby Lashley vs Omos. Just like Vince would’ve wanted.
Join me next week, when I change my mind completely and talk about how great Raw was!