WWE RAW Review
December 8, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Before I begin and really get into my review of Monday Night RAW, I’d like to say it’s nice to be back writing one of these again for Wrestleview. My life has been crazy these last two months with student teaching and finishing my degree up, but now I’m all done and I finally have enough time to sit down and write. Thanks to those that wrote e-mails asking (or sometimes demanding) that I get back to reviewing the show.
That being said, my opinions and views of this show haven’t changed in the last two months. In some cases, they’ve gotten even worse. I thought that time away from reviewing would make me appreciate the show because I wouldn’t be watching so critically, but that hasn’t happened. WWE is an unmitigated mess right now and isn’t showing any signs that it’s getting better. There are some that will spout out the tired line about how there’s a litany of injuries plaguing the roster. While that’s true, the injuries have only hampered them for the last month or two. The awful booking has been going on for much longer than that. Some could also say, “Well, it’s hard to write a three-hour live show every week.” I’m sure that also true, but it will always come down to one thing: booking.
Every single booking sin they’ve committed for the last few years obliviously thinking it would never hurt them has come back to hurt them in a big way. Ratings are way down, as are crowds and overall excitement about the product. You can argue that football is eating their lunch and this is what always happens at this time of the year, but this has been a trend that’s been going on for the last two years. Now we’re routinely seeing this show doing record low ratings – ratings that haven’t been seen since WCW was trouncing them way back in early-1997. Somewhere in these last few years, WWE has forgotten how to properly book a wrestling show (because that’s what it still is at the end of the day) and, most importantly, how to build stars.
Obviously, building stars should the crux of what WWE does to insure its present and future. You need stars; otherwise what’s the point of watching? I’m not one of those Attitude Era hawks who wish for the company to go back to the days of excessive chair shots, blood, sleazy promos, and reckless violence, but you cannot argue the fact that the roster back then was rich with talent and unique characters. That is something that is desperately missing from today’s product. The booking of Roman Reigns is just absolutely abysmal. I just don’t understand how they put him out every week in awful talking segments with material that just isn’t right for him whatsoever. That promo that he cut last night with the terrible line about “smuggling tater tots” could have been written for John Cena and not seemed out of place. Instead of trying to find the next face of the company, they’re just trying to recreate Cena. Well here’s a newsflash. John Cena was an accident. Cena was never in WWE’s plans. They were going to cut him early in his career. Even when he got hot, it was clear they wanted to go with Dave Batista to be the guy. Batista just didn’t slip into that role naturally, so Cena got that very top spot and has been there ever since… even when he’s not on the show.
You can’t build another Cena. There will never be another Cena, just like there was never another Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, or The Rock. Those guys were special and unique individuals. They were that way because they were in an environment that allowed them room to be creative on their own and develop their characters naturally. This hideously micromanaged presentation that guys like Ric Flair and Steve Austin carefully tiptoe around outright complaining about on their podcasts just doesn’t work. They could justify having 25-30 writers for the show if it led to a huge boom period for wrestling, but the facts are the facts, and the facts are that since they’ve started micromanaging and scripting promos and not letting guys have creative freedom, the show has gone downhill, as have the ratings and overall popularity. Change for the sake of change isn’t good.
The other problem is the booking. They’ve 50/50ed the roster to death to the point where no one is over. Dolph Ziggler’s character is dead. He used to get a great pop coming out, but now the fans are conditioned to know that he’s gone as far as he’ll ever go, so they sit on their hands when his music hits now. Kevin Owens could have been something special, but they had him decisively lose to Cena three times after beating him once, and he’s run away from more matches than he’s won. Also, they’ve pegged him as the fat guy. Hell, Tyler Breeze was just recently called up, and he lost his first match on RAW. They don’t know how to book guys anymore. No one ever gets over. One guy wins one night, then the next night his opponent has to get the win back. How can anyone ever get over in an environment like that? The fact is they cannot. It’s clear as day when you watch the show that no one is over. They protect only one guy: Roman Reigns… but they only protect him when it comes to winning matches. On the microphone, they overexpose him.
There’s a whole litany of things that are wrong with this company. I’m only just scratching the surface. I could probably write a weekly series on each issue that could go for a month on the topic. I’ll do it if anyone really wants me to. Bottom line is the sad fact is that this crap isn’t going away. It’s the new normal. These awful segments talking about “tater tots” and matches that involve heavyweights doing corkscrew planchas that don’t get sold – killing the move in turn – aren’t going away. I don’t think the product will ever get any better and at some point I’m going to have to decide for myself whether or not I even want to watch it anymore. It’s that bad.
The show opened up with another long and boring promo. That aspect hasn’t changed since I last wrote a review. It’s been well over a year since RAW has opened up with a match with nothing else before it. Embarrassing.
The sixteen-man fatal 4-way tag team elimination match was decent. It built well to the end, but the crowd didn’t care. I think creative was really hoping for a huge reception when it was just the League of Nations and The Wyatt Family in the ring, but The Wyatt Family hasn’t meant anything in so long no one cared about them facing off with guys who were mid-card jobbers a few weeks back. Rhyno’s “return” was a total waste of time. Rhyno hasn’t been around in years on the main roster. I guess they think the entire audience is supposed to remember him and his Gore because they sure seemed to hope the crowd would pop huge when he was in the ring against Reigns. Gore vs. Spear… no one knew. In the end, Reigns pinned Sheamus, which doesn’t bode well for his title opportunity on Sunday.
Of course because the roster is so thin and not over they had to bring out nearly all of the guys from the sixteen-man match to have matches later in the show. Dean Ambrose and The Usos all did something else, Alberto Del Rio made another appearance, Rusev had a bad match against Ryback, Tommy Dreamer fought Braun Strowman in a “match,” and Sheamus and Reigns were out in the aforementioned awful final segment. Their segment was so bad people were leaving in droves during it. There were a ton of visibly empty seats in the arena during that long, long, long segment.
Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler had a decent match that went a little too long. They did some good stuff, but no one in the arena cared. These two guys have been marginalized so much that it just doesn’t matter what they do. The crowd is conditioned to see Ziggler as a loveable loser, and Owens is the fat guy.
Sasha Banks and Naomi beat Alicia Fox and Brie Bella in a lame tag match. WWE must be very happy they’ve squashed the “We want Sasha” chants from a few months back. It’s strange to see an entertainment company fight so hard against the opinions of their audience.
Continuing on with the women, can anyone tell me what the hell is going on with the Paige and Charlotte feud? Charlotte’s a heel now, I think. How is it possible that Charlotte is a heel and Paige is a face just three weeks after she made fun of Reid Flair? They have Charlotte acting like a heel on Miz TV, then Paige comes out to a face pop, and gets beat up by Charlotte after Paige attacked her father. Who is the heel and who is the face? Is it too much to ask for some defined roles here? Awful.
Honestly, there was nothing good about this show. I hate to put it that way, but this product flat out sucks at the moment. Very little is worth talking about positively. The New Day shines, but they’re dangerously close to being overexposed. Then they’ll have no acts to look forward to seeing. The worst part is that none of the decision makers seem to care and it will continue on this way. I’ve heard for the last few weeks that major changes are coming, but all I’m seeing is more of the same, if not worse. Things are looking really bleak heading into this year’s WrestleMania. It’s going to be another one of those shows where they’ll have to rely on legends who are another year older to sell it. Then they’ll go through another year doing exactly what they’ve been doing now and wonder why no one is over. Can’t wait!
Bump of the Night: The big tower of doom spot
Match of the Night: The 16-man tag team elimination match ** 1/2
Final Rating: * 1/4
Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.
Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.