I Watched a Full Episode of Raw For the First Time in Four Years…
I haven’t watched a full episode of Monday Night Raw in at least 4 years.
For Smackdown, it could be longer. Anyway, due to rare, and rather odd circumstances beyond my control, I will be watching an episode in full tonight. I have watched wrestling from around the world for over three decades now. I’ve seen a lot of wrestling in my lifetime. Quite frankly, around 2018, WWE just long fell out of interest for me. It had been for quite some time, but without competition, I had no long-term weekly promotion to latch onto (pre-AEW).
But with Mr. Levesque in charge now, why not give it an honest shot?
I am even typing this out in real-time. Admittedly, I am an AEW/New Japan fan. However, while I fear the worst, I plan to keep an open mind.
Here are my observations…
Opening Segment | Balor/Anderson
-Man, this opening promo feels so annoyingly scripted. I guess not much has changed, even in the Papa H era. I’m pretty sure the “guys in the truck” are still editing in crowd noises.
-Dominik Mysterio looks like a legit future star. There’s no denying that.
-Yes, Prince DeVitt (Finn Balor) did start the Bullet Club when he turned on his tag partner Ryusuke Taguchi. He was joined by Karl Anderson, and later on, The Young Bucks. Thanks for the history lesson, Corey!
–Balor vs. Anderson. I can dig it; but two commercials breaks in a match? I feel spoiled with the picture-in-picture element of AEW Dynamite for commercial breaks. This takes me out of the match entirely. This feels more like a string of ads with some wrestling thrown in.
-The match itself feels…slow? With so many interruptions its hard to find any footing on the psychology or story of the match. These two could do much better if given ample time, but this was underwhelming. Rhea helps Finn win with a forearm to Karl’s dick behind the ref. This sets up a match at the bi-annual Saudi Blood Money PLE.
-I have noticed so many kids screaming in the crowd. For someone who only usually watches AEW/Impact/New Japan I would love to see the demographics of all the brands for comparison.
Miz/Lumis/Gargano | Miz vs. R-Truth
Wow, there are so many commercials…It’s been 30 minutes, and I feel half of the show have been ads…
-So Dexter Lumis is stalking The Miz after kidnapping him and tormenting his family. Okay…and The Miz hasn’t contacted the police? I know it’s a part of Dexter’s character, and this at least is a little bit of long-term storytelling — but the believability has been thrown out the window for me here.
-Ah, yes. R-Truth. The best part of this entire segment.
-Oh boy. Another commercial. It’s been 45 minutes and there’s been maybe 5 minutes of on-screen wrestling. So far the Papa H era doesn’t feel all too different…
-Short match. Kooky finish. It’s fine. R-Truth wins via interference by Gargano.
-At least the storytelling is consistent? Just not believable.
Candice LaRae/Damage CTRL Interview
-Bayley is so awesome. Dakota Kai and Io Shirai with gold looks great.
-Short and sweet. Good segment! And we’re at another commercial break. We’ve had about maybe 10 minutes of wrestling in the span of an hour.
-Matt Riddle seems like he’s trying to play Steve-O as if Steve-O was trying to play a stoned version of Matt Riddle.
-Otis and Gable are fine together. Goofy as hell. It sort of works.
-The writing team had to steal the “eating pieces of **** for breakfast” line from Happy Gilmore? Weak.
Mustafa Ali vs. Austin Theory
-Ali is one of the better overall wrestlers in this entire company. If history is any indicator, he won’t get the W here.
-Good to see Seth Rollins is still over. A future Ali/Rollins match should be a banger.
-Booking question: How can Ali or Theory get over in this match with Rollins at ringside? The crowd was already chanting “We Want Seth”. It’s overshadowing the actual match so far.
-Slow match, and another commercial.
Seriously, how do ya’ll do this? At least with Dynamite you feel a little bit connected to the action with picture-in-picture ad breaks. A slow match with full ad breaks just takes me right out of it.
-Decent enough storytelling in the match, but you can tell the crowd’s focus is mostly on Rollins.
-Rollins causes Ali to lose the match. Predictable, but fine. I have no real issues with this, as nobody involved looked bad. But Ali still feels like a lesser opponent to Rollins, and that’s not his fault, but on the booking team for that one.
JBL and Baron Corbin
-I can’t take Baron Corbin seriously anymore. He’s a gifted natural heel, and they just wasted him with goofy gimmicks and storylines that were sent into a brick wall…
Logan Paul on Smackdown (commercial)
-Well it’s a good thing I don’t watch Smackdown. The ad featured a celebrity YouTuber as a threat to Roman Reigns, and an ex-MMA fighter cosplaying as a women’s wrestling champion. I’ve heard Sami Zayn has been doing great work with this current Bloodline story, but again, I can’t take this seriously with Logan Paul there.
I’m noticing a trend here…let’s see if it plays out…anyway, more ads!
Nearly halfway through the show — maybe 20 minutes of on-screen wrestling?
A WOMEN’S MATCH IN THE MAIN EVENT? That scores many points with me. Take note, Tony!
OMOS Squash Match
-It serves its purpose. Not entertaining, though. But I bet a super fun night for those local young talents!
-I guess Strowman couldn’t stick with his MAGA-inspired wrestling promotion and went where the money was. Can’t say I blame him. Kross as well.
-Man, the crowd is DEAD.
-Elias is WALKING. Again…
(Admittedly, I’m getting VERY bored with this show at this point. Too many commercials, not enough wrestling; what wrestling I DO get is very short. Over 90 minutes and I’d confidently say 20 minutes of wrestling? If you’re a wrestling fan, but don’t watch for the actual wrestling, are you a wrestling fan? To each their own, but legitimate question. Hard to see why anyone enjoys this. But perhaps it gets better…)
Elias vs. Chad Gable
-Turning Gable into a goofier version of Kurt Angle makes sense. I can dig this.
-The crowd is DEAD.
-Decent match. Solid finish. Elias with the win.
-Riddle with the save from the post-match beatdown is predictable, but warranted given the angle set-up.
-I don’t know why they won’t let Matt Riddle stand for himself, as they keep pairing him with someone else. Just let Riddle be Riddle.
-Is anyone really taking this seriously? Why would Logan Paul, a YouTube star, get to jump over a hundred other WWE superstars for a shot at Reigns?
Don’t justify it as a mark, justify it to me in kayfabe.
Gargano vs. Corbin
-A JBL promo calling out Millennials. Dude, a lot of millennials are in their late 30s by now. I literally just purchased a new vehicle and have a 401k, and a mortgage. We aren’t the drones you’re looking for…Anyway, he still cuts a good promo, even if disconnected from reality.
-Unfortunately, nobody seems to think Corbin can get over without help, or a stupid gimmick. I simply cannot care about this guy anymore. He’s a lifetime mid-card heel at best, and he had potential.
-As the match starts to heat up a little, we go to a commercial break. There goes the momentum…
-So far the best match of the night. These two match up well, and I’d like to see what they can do if given a full 20+ minutes of PLE time.
-Based dancing Cowboy Gargano. More of that, please!
-Corbin wins via interference by JBL. Unfortunately, Corbin having yet another identity crisis just doesn’t interest me, and here’s yet another match that finished with interference…
-Well done vignette. This could have been saved for YouTube, or pre-PLE match instead of on television, but what are you going to do?
Bayley vs. Bianca Belair
-Again, a women’s match MAIN EVENTING A WRESTLING SHOW. Take note, TK!
-Of course we keep getting commercial after commercial. Perhaps this means more time for wrestling in the 30 minutes that’s left.
-So far so good. A clear story is being told in the ring (the way it should be), and they are slowly building this main event…
-Bayley is doing outstanding heel work to slow down Belair. Classic face comebacks and high spots by Belair into Bayley’s dastardly momentum stops. Great stuff.
-Belair loses to Bayley via interference from Nikki Cross! Good to see Nikki Cross in a hot faction. However yet another match ending due to interference. In this case, I can let it fly due to a surprise run-in by Cross, but still…
-This is what I WISH to see on Dynamite. If Belair and Bayley can main event Raw, I’m certain Storm vs. Hayter could do the same and tear the house down.
And that wraps it up!
This show looks nearly identical to me as it did 4+ years ago. WAY too many matches ending via interference.
If you’re a WWE fan, and you enjoy this product, that’s great! Don’t let a jerk like me tell you what to enjoy. However, I can’t help the overarching feeling I had with this show:
Everything felt slow; scripted, and just uninspiring to me. I just feel like I can’t really take anything too seriously with this brand. So much of the show felt cartoonish. There’s a time and place for silly segments and gimmicks in wrestling — but all the time? I just got the sense that I was watching something that was meant for a 12-14 year old kid.
It wasn’t just a SLOG to get through 3 hours, but 3 hours filled with minimal wrestling at best (maybe 1 hour worth of wrestling in a 3 hour show?)
It makes me value the PIP on Dynamites because at least I don’t have to leave the action entirely. And while the wrestlers providing said action aren’t bad — many are really generally good talents — they’re booked either in unbelievable storylines, or ones that drew little to no immediate investment from me.
The crowd didn’t help, either. They were DEAD for most matches. I guess I’m used to matches on Dynamite where the crowd tends to stay hot throughout.
What stood out was Bayley vs. Bianca Belair. Papa H is doing everything right there, and this match and angle was the clear bright spot of the show. Seeing R-Truth and Seth Rollins was a joy, and I see clear potential in someone like Dominik Mysterio.
But the rest was such a boring drag. When short matches that never get to breathe are then interrupted by constant ad breaks, it takes out the investment for me. Mind you, I do watch wrestling for the wrestling.
In conclusion, it seems that Raw isn’t necessarily bad, or necessarily good; but just unnecessarily boring.