WWE seems to have hit a roadblock in the weeks leading up to the first of its controversial bi-annual events in Saudi Arabia. Hmmm, Roadblock? That would be an incredible name for a pay-per-view. Anyway, let’s shelve that for another day.
What I mean is that the company has found itself caught between two stools. With Super ShowDown simultaneously billed as an exhibition for its middle-eastern fanbase, a progression of WWE’s major storylines and – somehow – an attempt at bridging disparate cultures with a view to ushering in progressive reforms (good luck with that last one!), WWE has found itself torn on the path forward.
And it’s this multiple intent that lies at the root of the malaise. A look at the card for next Friday’s event reveals WWE’s core problem: trying to entertaining casuals as well as satisfy a hardcore following. It’s the void between these two aspirations that the company and its fans have found themselves in recent weeks, with the company unable to fully commit to either.
So instead we’re left with this pseudo out-of-continuity mess, where nothing means anything going in and none of the results will matter coming out. A menagerie of matches that have received no build whatsoever (Undertaker vs Goldberg), goofy exhibitions with no stakes (50-man Battle Royal) and throwaway title matches (Rollins vs Corbin and Kofi vs Ziggler).
Monday’s Raw shone a spotlight on these issues, as for much of the show’s three-hour runtime, nothing happened. There were times when I could almost feel the wheels spinning aimlessly beneath us, driven by WWE’s determination to maintain the status quo. We’re in a holding pattern, just grimly trying to get through the next few weeks without any major PR scares. The truth though is that while this creative paralysis allows WWE to avoid any major mishaps, an unfortunate byproduct is that it leaves little room for anything good to happen either.
So with Raw in the proverbial dire straits, hope once again shifts to SmackDown Live to provide some inspiration. Surely the blue brand – with its health-conscious tag team champions, wholesome WWE champion and neurotic 24/7 Champion – presents a more alluring product. Or at least one where more wrestling happens. Let’s find out together, shall we? On with the review!