"This is the battle; Sunday is the war!" Michael Cole screeched as RAW faded out on Monday. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns just finished the best non-PPV match we could ever ask for and we could officially count down to Extreme Rules. Despite the show closing with relative momentum, something felt incongruent.
Perched in my lime green inflatable chair, I reflected for a long moment. And reached the big question.
No, I wouldn't be.
What exactly is to be so novel that I would, as this hypothetical casual fan, would experience enough FOMO anxiety to call my local cable provider, er, sign up for the Network? I mean I've seen about 7 variations of the main event already. The Fatal 5 Way seems more like a Flesh Wound 5 Way now that we've seen its competitors clash in the ring for a month straight. What's worse is that even though Balor, Reigns, Rollins, Joe and Wyatt keep intersecting, nothing changes. Please tell me, what new components of story have been introduced? Paul Heyman propagandizing Balor does not count, either.
Up Next: Nia Jax Criticizes RAW on Twitter
No stakes have been raised. No new motivations have surfaced. No alliances formed. No advantages/disadvantages have been introduced. Although the prize at hand, the number one contedership, is a shiny one, it's the only element of story at play. The irony, though, is that WWE is aware of how thin this script is and they have a plan. Instead of folding in plot as this story develops, they'll add new arcs during the actual match. Someone (likely Wyatt) will cost Roman's his victory and boom, a new program is born. But like any pregnancy, it's better when the parents know each other, rather than falling into one night of passion.
At WWE's main event level it seems like the company assumes that because its the top of the card fan's intrigue will be automatic. They're not wrong, but they're not right, either. This is a missed opportunity. If all WWE needs is a good video package, then they'll get that. But they'll be forgoing the chance to connect with the crowd on a visceral, thus monetary, level.
Promos have been interchangeable, along with motives for combat. Vince McMahon famously said WWE "makes movies." Well, Vince, I ask thee, what movie are we watching? A movie void of plot and rich characters is not one to see. If the Fatal 5 Way had to be one movie, it would be The Expendables. "Here look at all of these big names! All in the same place! Loud Noises!"
What's odd, is that the further you slide down WWE's card the more story you will find. All of the poor bastards whose career is in jeopardy have been assigned life-resuscitating storylines. Titus O'Neil is Apollo Crew's dirty uncle. Goldust is weird again. R-Truth is Shaft. Someone is touching Enzo Amore. Yet if we take one step up to the Intercontinental scene or the Tag Belts, storyline begins to dissolve. Does WWE believe that the titles are story enough? Raw ratings saw different.
RAW has turned into a wrestling exhibition. To an extent this is understandable, but for the show to be egregiously arbitrary week after week is not an indicator of a healthy product. I've skipped consecutive RAW 's and feel as though I have missed little, possibly nothing. I'm aware of the age old principal of saving your best content for PPV, but this wrestling commandment has morphed into a fallacy. Instead of PPV's being a concluding point to a story, they now serve as the inception for what's next. And right now, for us to find out what happens next, we don't have to watch until the following PPV. In short, RAW is filler. It's as if WWE has taken their affinity for sports too far. Although imitating the NFL supplies a nice presentation, there are elements that should not be duplicated. RAW has found a way to perpetually mimic the last few weeks of the NBA season. The playoff seeds are settled and now we're just waiting for the playoffs. In the meantime, here's the Orlando Magic playing Cleveland Cavaliers, but LeBron is sitting out to rest for a bigger game.
To be fair, this indictment comes during WWE's slowest patch; it takes the company a month or two to reboot for a new season. However, this pattern of RAW spinning its wheels is due to a deeper flaw than just post-Mania lethargy. What's worse is that this methodology is showing up in SmackDown. And if you don't believe me, watch the series of tag matches involving all of the Money in the Bank competitors that will ensue.
Does WWE suck? Not at all. They've just fallen into a questionable behavior; like the time I really got into Beanie Babies. I eventually figured out that wasn't the best look for me, and WWE will too. In the meantime, let's enjoy Extreme Rules.