Less than two weeks away from Saudi Arabia’s Super ShowDown, and in the wake of AEW’s Double or Nothing, tonight’s Monday Night Raw certainly had fans wondering what WWE may have in store for us now that a legitimate alternative has officially made it’s presence known.
However, other than some subtle tweaks to the routine, and a mumbled reference or two to the new competition, tonight’s Raw seemed to just be more of what we’ve come to expect from the WWE in recent years. It’s safe to assume that AEW’s debut show is ranked high on the current topic list backstage, but the McMahons definitely aren’t sweating yet.
Tonight’s Raw was business as usual, and my usual business is to give you fine readers five things we learned from Monday Night Raw. So, with that terrible segway poorly executed, let’s jump right into it!
1. Brock Lesnar’s Boom Box Briefcase
Months ago, the McMahon family promised to listen to the fans and start giving us “what we want”. Now, it’s understandable that realistically WWE couldn’t possibly give us everything we want, but who exactly is in charge of what makes the cut? Seconds into Lesnar’s entrance it became painfully obvious that WWE creative heard a few fans chuckling over Brock’s briefcase pantomime last week and said, “Oh! They like that! Run with it!”.
As usual, this prompted creative to beat us over the head with something they perceive us enjoying. Last week, Brock’s antics came across as pure arrogance. The sudden addition of faux speakers, a hood, and…*shudder* dancing Lesnar this week didn’t add to that arrogance. WWE needs to realize you can’t expect us to fear a monster heel as he dances badly to the ring.
2. Wild Cards And 24/7
Lately I haven’t been able to do one of these articles without having to address the two most recent additions to WWE’s main roster programming. Both the Wild Card Rule and the 24/7 Championship were implemented in the hopes of improving ratings as well as increasing cross promotion between brands. In my opinion, neither has succeeded.
This may come as a huge shocker to the higher ups at WWE, but fans don’t want mid-card backstage scrambles or a rule that negates having two brands in the first place! Tonight’s opening segment transitioned from a promo centered around the question of which title Brock will cash in on into a different promo involving Ziggler and Kofi’s feud for Smackdown’s WWE Championship. Ignoring the fact that this only creates confusion amongst the casual viewers, the company doesn’t score any better with the die hard fans who are tuning in for the one thing tonight’s opening lacked… wrestling!
3. Cesaro and Ricochet deliver… again.
Speaking of wrestling, it is somewhat refreshing to see WWE realizing that fans DO want to see quality in-ring work from time to time on their shows. Sure, they don’t start off said shows with it, but it’s the eventual thought that counts, right? Snarkiness aside, tonight’s rehash of last week’s match between Cesaro and Ricochet showed us that WWE isn’t completely ignorant about what some of their talent are capable of in the squared circle.
It’s hard to think that this match happening again wasn’t inspired by the undeniable work we saw put in by nearly everyone involved with AEW’s Saturday night event, but one decent match per week isn’t going to hold a candle to what the newest competition is bringing to the party. If WWE expects to continue being the biggest name in the wrestling world then we need to start seeing more of this, and less of backstage shots of Brock Lesnar looking complacent.
4. The Electric Chair
Holy crap, this was one God awful segment. If the recent rumors about Sami Zayn’s current gimmick being what Vince wishes he could say are to be believed, then apparently Vince thinks we’re all morons and he’s dying to talk about AEW. Now, I’m sure we all already knew Vince considers us morons, but Sami’s sudden mention of All Elite made it seem like this whole promo was intended to address the fledgling company.
It’s ridiculous to think that WWE didn’t field the questions the fans had for Sami, but his generic derogatory responses certainly made it feel like he might have been prepared to fire off if given the opportunity of a fan mentioning AEW. Instead, Sami made the mention himself, citing fan stupidity for the subject not coming up sooner. I, for one, am curious to see if WWE will continue dropping references to their competition in the coming weeks, or return to their usual “head in the sand” mentality when it comes to alternative promotions.
5. His Name Is ‘The Fiend’
The Firefly Funhouse is back, and Bray’s alter ego has a name! WWE’s most captivating current storyline returned tonight with Bray referring to his demonic clown persona as “The Fiend”, a personality apparently created with the intent of protecting Bray and his “children”. As the weeks have rolled on, Wyatt’s latest gimmick has continued to deepen and keep the attention of fans better than anything WWE has produced in recent months.
Tonight’s Funhouse was no different, with comments between Bray and Abby the Witch implying that this whole gimmick could very well be a power struggle between personalities within Wyatt’s own mind. In spite of all of the praise I just threw at the Funhouse, I do have to say that we’re getting dangerously close to these segments becoming stale. If the Firefly Funhouse Fiend doesn’t make his in-ring debut soon then all this amazing build up is going to be for absolutely nothing.
And there we have it, folks! The first Monday Night Raw of what many are calling a new era in professional wrestling. Could we see WWE light a proverbial fire under themselves in the coming weeks? Only time will tell.
So, until we meet again next week, may all your kicks be super, and every frog splash five stars.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading!