Back when lockdown started, which if I remember correctly was 30 years ago, Monday Night Raw was actually arguably the best of WWE’s two main roster weekly shows, with SmackDown putting on increasingly tiresome shows.
However, if you have watched Raw since WrestleMania, you will have noticed that the show has not only become worse than SmackDown, it is an actively unenjoyable viewing experience for many.
I will go into the wider picture shortly, but if you simply look at the last two weeks of Monday Night Raw, they have been genuinely two of the worst WWE shows I can ever remember watching, and I’ve watched every Saudi Arabia show.
While the lack of fans has been an issue for WWE, to blame that completely would be like me blaming my lack of friends on my personality. There’s so much more to it than that.
In this bitesize edition of What Went Wrong, I will specifically be looking at what has gone wrong with WWE’s flagship television show since lockdown started.
We’ll start with the champions: Drew McIntyre, Asuka, The Street Profits and Bobby Lashley.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these people being champion at all. Drew McIntyre is fantastic. Asuka is mesmerizing. The Street Profits are great (if a bit annoying), and Bobby Lashley is doing fantastic work with the Hurt Business.
However, Drew McIntyre has been feuding with Randy Orton for months. Asuka hasn’t had a genuinely fearsome opponent since she won the belt, and before you say Sasha Banks, she’s not even on Raw. The Street Profits have been feuding with Andrade and Angel Garza since 1953, and Bobby Lashley has been feuding with Apollo Crews since the age of the Dinosaurs.
GIVE US SOMETHING NEW.
I am aware that giving us something new would involve pushing new wrestlers, but if you want us to care about future generations of WWE, then that’s what you’re going to have to do. Randy Orton is not immortal, and therefore someone else will eventually have to take the role of top heel on Raw.
Even the non-title feuds, like the one between Seth Rollins and the Mysterio family, has been going on for nearly four months now. I am 100% not against long-term storytelling, but this isn’t storytelling. This is “here’s that match you’ve seen 20 times, but this time, one of them is wearing new gear”. It’s not interesting, no matter how good the wrestlers themselves are.
Other than her actually very good feud with Bayley and Sasha Banks, since claiming the Raw Women’s Championship the night after Money in the Bank, Asuka has faced Nia Jax, Natalya, Mickie James and Zelina Vega. None of those matches interest anyone, and no-one at any point thought for a moment that she was going to drop the belt. I know there’s no Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair or Ronda Rousey, but NXT is crammed full of stars who would be more than able to step up.
Have Asuka hold a weekly open challenge. Give someone else a chance to win the belt. Just don’t make us sit through another IDENTICAL Asuka vs. Zelina Vega match.
I actually really like Randy Orton, and I really like Drew McIntyre, but Drew has now decisively beaten Randy twice, and they’re still feuding for the WWE Championship. At what point does WWE think “maybe we should have someone else take on Drew now, seeing as Randy keeps losing”? Keith Lee would have been a perfect candidate for this role, but all he’s done since coming to the main roster is get back music, bad gear, and have all his matches end in a DQ. If Randy beats Drew at Hell in a Cell, who is actually going to care, given that Drew has proven on many occasions he is the better man.
The Street Profits have been feuding with Angel Garza & Andrade since March. That’s it really. You can make up the rest.
The show has become three hours of eye sandpaper, with very few moments of respite. Even things that started great, like the Mysterio vs. Rollins feud, has started to become tedious, with the same thing happening every week.
The worst thing for a wrestling promotion to hear from its fans is that they could have missed a show and genuinely not feel like they missed out on anything. The amount of people who email in to us to say they don’t watch Raw anymore and simply read or listen to a review is staggering.
Put Raw next to SmackDown, which has engaging storylines, great feuds and gripping storytelling, and you’d be shocked to hear that they’re even written by the same company.
I know that SmackDown has Roman Reigns and AJ Styles, but you can’t say Raw doesn’t have its own stars who could make the viewing experience so much better if the creative team actually cared. Perhaps if Vince stopped tearing up scripts, we might actually get something that resembles a cohesive and well-written story once in a while.
Variety is the spice of life, which means in terms of spice, Raw is an ice cube. Luke and Oli admitted this past week on the Raw podcast that they don’t enjoy watching the show anymore.
It’s bad television, and the longer it goes on, the more viewers are going to give up entirely. As one WWE Hall of Famer would say…SAD.
But don’t worry, because SmackDown is great, and that’s the one I get to review.
Oh, and you know what also went wrong? Raw Underground.
Oh, and you know what also went wrong? Retribution.