Monday Night Raw has officially entered into the Paul Heyman Era, and the result seems to be a noticeable variation from what we’ve come to expect from WWE programming in recent years. As Raw takes the first steps towards what will hopefully be an improved format, we here at TWM have also decided to change our formula. Most readers are sure to be familiar with our “Five Things We Learned” style of weekly Raw and Smackdown reviews. Although this has been our review blueprint for quite some time, all things eventually change and there’s always the possibility of improving the tried and true method. Starting with this article, we will now be featuring an in depth look at how invested we as fans were in every week’s editions of Raw and Smackdown. We’ll cover the good and the bad of both shows, wrapping up each article with a percentage of how invested we were. So, without further explanation and introduction, let’s jump right into it!
It’s safe to say that this week’s Monday Night Raw included more positive than negative moments as a whole. Starting the night off with a ECW-esque Falls Count Anywhere match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley definitely amped up anticipation for the rest of the show better than any fifteen minute in-ring opening promo ever has. This is where having Paul Heyman at the helm is most evident. Paul E. understands that people tune in to a wrestling show for wrestling! The over the top conclusion of the match drives this fact home even more. Sure, it was just a more violent utilization of the old school no one wins “Dusty Finish” booking technique, but it worked! Spots like this put eyes on the product. Just look at how much publicity a chair shot got at AEW’s Fyter Fest this past weekend.
Moving right along, let’s touch on how refreshing it was to see the New Day featured as a unit for the first time in what feels like months. Tonight saw a fairly standard tag match featuring Xavier Woods and Big E facing off against The Viking Raiders evolve into a 6-Man Tag Match after both Samoa Joe and Kofi Kingston became involved. Once again, this is a classic wrestling trope being used perfectly. After Joe’s assault of Kofi’s stablemates resulted in Kingston joining the fray, it just makes sense that you’d restart the match as a 6-Man. Not only does this build hype for Joe and Kofi’s upcoming WWE Championship match, but it also gives fans a better sense of closure than just ending the segment with a disqualification.
Wrapping up the positives from this week’s show, let’s talk about the reformation of The Club and AJ Styles’ heel turn. I know I’m not the only one who was absolutely delighted to see Gallows, Anderson, and Styles triumphantly throwing up the infamous “Too Sweet” hand sign over a decimated Ricochet tonight. Now, this isn’t the first time WWE has tried to profit off of the worldwide success of The Bullet Club, but the popularity of the New Japan faction has undeniably died down since the departure of the members that have gone on to create AEW, which means that it’s the perfect time for WWE to restart their own version. Making the group heel this time around makes all the sense in the world. Not only does this touch on the original nature of The Bullet Club in Japan, but you also have to remember that adored factions such as D-Generation X and the New World Order were intended to be heel stables. In my opinion, closing the show with this segment created fan investment in the product better than anything else has recently.
It wouldn’t be a current WWE show if there wasn’t a few moments where you considered changing the channel. The first of these lackluster segments came during a backstage interview featuring Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch. As Lynch and Rollins discussed their Winners Take All Mixed Tag match at Extreme Rules, Seth quickly began coming across as the stereotypical “I’m smarter cause I’m a man.” character we’ve seen used by talent like Marc Mero and Jeff Jarrett in the past. A look of disdain from Lynch seemed to snap Seth back into reality as he instantly told her to forget what he was saying, making a point of putting his arm around her after the fact. It would seem that WWE have become very aware that fans don’t like the idea of Becky and Seth’s relationship being featured in kayfabe storylines. But does the course correction have to be Seth belittling his real life girlfriend?
Staying with the debacle that was Lynch and Rollins interview, things only got more cringeworthy as Mike and Maria Kanellis became involved. It’s easy enough to understand why Mike and Maria would take exception to the focus being put on Seth and Becky’s couple status, but any argument they had went right out the window when Maria referred to Mike as her “bitch”. If that wasn’t offputting enough, the mixed tag match between the two couples that followed only made things even more awkward. After being tagged, Maria would claim to be pregnant, question whether her husband was man enough to even get her pregnant, and then go on to infer that she should ask Lynch to impregnate her after Mike tapped out to the DisARMher. I have to assume the point of this segment was to establish Maria as the dominant partner in her and Mike’s relationship, but the only point that seemed to come across was that Maria doesn’t understand basic human anatomy.
The final negative of this article falls on the Shane McMahon segment. I’m not going to say there was any one point in this promo that caused it to be viewed as a negative in my eyes. In my opinion, the whole “Best in the World” storyline has been dead pretty much since it started coming together. No one is tuning in every week to see what Shane is up to. In fact, if it weren’t for the Undertaker’s recent involvement, I seriously doubt anyone would actually be paying attention anytime Shane appeared on screen. It’s obvious that this is an attempt at making Shane the new version of his father’s heel character. Anyone out there will tell you that there will never be another heel the level of Vince – even his son comes across as a pale comparison.
The Investment Rate
We’ve covered some good and some bad, so now it’s time to determine how invested we fans actually were with this week’s Raw. Although this was Paul Heyman’s directorial debut and certainly featured a few decent moments throughout the evening, I have to say that this was still more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from WWE. A slim number of shining matches and promos were not enough to fully keep my attention.
And there we have it folks, a brand new era has begun for both WWE and TWM. I truly hope you all have enjoyed our new review format and continue reading our articles. In closing, as always… may all your kicks be super, and every frog splash five stars! See you all next week!
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading