Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Raw Has Issues After Another Terrible Effort

Once is an accident, twice is a trend and four times is one of the worst builds to a special event/pay-per-view I can recall. This was a pretty embarrassing effort going into Night of Champions. It is hard to imagine that a card once thought of as vital to the success of the WWE Network has become such an after thought. It really is amazing how little this show means coming up on Sunday. It is pretty much a one-match show with the re-match of Lesnar and Cena as the only match drawing any real interest and even that could have been done better.

I am not sure where to begin with all of this. I guess the start would be the WWE admitting that people would rather watch Monday Night Football than Raw. The constant referencing of halftime in which they timed out to have the pay off to the John Cena and Paul Heyman opening segment to halftime of the football game. This is not like when the WWE made up a one-match show between The Rock and Mankind to go on during the halftime of the Super Bowl. This is week two of the NFL not the Super Bowl and this is clearly nothing close to the "Attitude Era."

After Heyman, pulling out a great promo from John Cena last week it was too much to expect him to do it two weeks in a row. It was back to campy unrealistic John Cena whom Paul Heyman talked circles around tonight.  I wonder how I would feel about this whole angle if I did not believe and know that John Cena is never going to turn. The idea of John Cena as a “Paul Heyman Guy” would be unbelievable television. Vince McMahon is never going to allow that to happen though.

Think of all the money spent of the building of Cena in having him face guys like The Rock and Brock Lesnar. It is rumored that with this re-working of Lesnar’s contract is going to cost up to 5 million dollars. This is a time keep in mind when the company is losing money and no longer attempting to be a pay-per-view company. This was why Lesnar was brought in initially to help draw some pay-per-view buys. If the WWE drops the ball with getting over someone else with this Brock title run, the company is flushing 5 million down the toilet.

The first match on this show was Jericho vs. Kane that was never a great feud back in 2000 or 2001. Why I am seeing it on possibly the last Raw with Jericho in this run is to say the least disappointing. In fact, this entire run for Chris Jericho has been fairly underwhelming. It wraps up with a match on Sunday with Randy Orton that has no real story attached too it. Orton beat up Jericho for the hell of it because it was the “Season Premiere” of Raw.

Bray Wyatt meanwhile seems lost in the woods and seems to be heading to a program of some sort with the Big Show. The Jericho feud really did not rehabilitate Wyatt after a feud with John Cena that did not really end in a way that helped keep Wyatt as a top tier talent. After this feud with Jericho, Wyatt seems to be taking a few back steps as a result.  The one thing he still has his entrance that is over while his promos have lost a lot of steam.

Total Divas is back and it is invading Monday Night Raw at the same time Raw has been horrible is not just coincidence. Cameron on Total Divas talked about going back to NXT and last night on Raw validated why she should after trying to pin Naomi while she was laid out on her stomach. Seriously, how is this girl employed and taking up time on you major show in a week of wrestling programming? She is clueless and terrible and I do not have any sympathy for people like her and Eva Marie who clearly have no talent at all in terms of wrestling. Trish Stratus was a beautiful woman and still is, she learned the craft of wrestling something that clearly seems beyond a number of the cast members of Total Divas. Keep your show and make the girls managers on Raw, whatever you have to do.  Having them go in a ring is insulting to fans, makes them a laughing stock, and serves no purpose.

This leads nicely into the Bella’s feud that is another pointless project with the Divas. While I will say, the Bella Twins have learned how to wrestle to the point they are not a complete embarrassment.  On the microphone that is not the case where there is a clear difference in the Bella Twins that does not involve having breast enhancement. Nikki is not only is packing the bigger boobs, but also is better on the microphone. The material has been pretty awfully though. This week the Bella feud hit the ring as part of a tag-team match and at least they didn’t give this classic one on one match away. Something they might have wanted to do with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns but will get there eventually.

Adding the Paige and A.J feud to the mix of all of this has only added to the mess that this has all become. I would think Brie gets involved and screws her sister from winning the title. That is the logical answer so they will probably go the opposite and have Brie help Nikki so she can take the title away from her. The obvious babyface move to do. Sadly, this feud marches on with no end in sight.

Seth Rollins wins the most questionable promo of the night award. He compared Roman Reigns to an ape which he acted out which was something that many will view as racist. It might well be that but I will leave that debate for others to have. What it was is a ridiculous promo that does Seth Rollins no favors in getting over. In addition, why is this match even happening at all with both booked to face each other on Night of Champions?

Dean Ambrose as I wrote yesterday (for Between the Ropes) has been the big winner by being written off the show during this terrible stretch. He has not been tied to all of the terrible stuff that has been going on during Raw for the last month.

The Miz and Ziggler having stunt doubles thing is so dumb it is insulting. Some may find it hilarious that R-Truth is the double of Dolph, but I find it was stupid and insulting. In any case, this feud while not horrible in the ring the story elements attached to it have sucked.

Usos and the Combo of Gold and Stardust feud is what it is. I am not sure why we needed to keep Cody as Stardust let alone turn this team heel. They are certainly booking this in a way I could see Uso’s dropping the titles. This is not to say that I want to see the Dust Brothers as champions.

How or why exactly we ended the show with Mark Henry and Rusev makes no sense at all. This is and has been presented as a mid-card angle and suddenly is rocketed to the main event spot? That makes little sense at all for what has been a decently booked campy mid-card angle.

When we come off a week in which NXT had a special event and it was booked fairly well it makes you wonder if the answer to all of the problems is simple. Vince McMahon has no say in NXT and leaves it completely in the hands of Paul Lévesque while Vince continues to be the final word on Raw and he clearly is not doing a good job of late. Perhaps the most shocking was the basic admission with in the script that fans watching Raw would likely bail out and watch the NFL. Never in my life would I have expected Vince McMahon to allow such a statement to be made even if it was just implied and not a direct one.

The WWE is not looking good these days and while people remain very optimistic about the future you have to wonder what kind of a future it will be at some point. The decline in people invested in the product has become fairly clear. Once people are gone, there is no guarantee you will get them back in the fold. The numbers keep shrinking and as good as the future might be who will have the faith and patience to be here for it. The answer is only the very hardcore base of the WWE audience that is usually the ones that are treated the worst by this company in terms of what they want to see as opposed to what they get.

There really is the reason to be concerned at the lack of quality in the product right now even if the ratings have yet to see a dropping off a cliff moment you can sense one coming if they product remains so poor. The other issue is obviously the focus and attention being paid to The WWE Network that has been taken off the core product and it shows.  When Vince Russo is sounding like a voice of reason in the wrestling landscape that speaks volumes to where we have gone.

Bottom line if the build to Hell in a Cell is anything like the one to Night of Champions it will be time to ring the alarm or press the panic button whatever needs to be done.