Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - A self-imposed lull takes over a very long Raw episode featuring Daniel Bryan running away, Shield vs. Wyatt's IV, Sheamus winning the U.S. Championship, and more!
By Will Pruett
Did you know that Raw is three hours long?
For the last couple of months, I had forgotten this. I even found myself watching the pre and post shows on the WWE Network. My enthusiasm for wrestling increased as WrestleMania drew closer and it stayed even after 'Mania ended. Sure, there were a few moments I didn't care for, but I never found the show boring. This week, Raw felt like a three hour show for the first time since (approximately) Elimination Chamber. It was a long night where WWE seemed to lean into a lull.
Perhaps it's because every major program from the last special event seems to be going forward into the next special event. Bray Wyatt is going into his third month of talking about John Cena. Evolution and The Shield, who seemed to reach a satisfying conclusion on Sunday, were suddenly feuding again on Monday. Daniel Bryan went back to being afraid of Kane after taking the fight it him and lighting him on fire one night earlier.
WWE basically produced the go-home show for Extreme Rules for the second week in a row. The only problem; the show already happened. Extreme Rules was Sunday night and two of the three main matches had satisfying conclusions where babyfaces beat heels without any need for shady business. What is the storyline reason for The Shield to want to fight Evolution again? Why is Daniel Bryan so afraid of Kane when he was able to beat him by getting extreme?
The major issue here is WWE not producing reasons for these stories to continue on Sunday, when they already had plans to continue them on Monday. Why produce the season finale when you know you have another episode or two before the year is over?
Right now, it feels like WWE is almost forcing themselves into a lull. With the continuously less effective and entertaining Cena vs. Wyatt program leading the way, they are also basically rerunning Kane vs. Bryan and Evolution vs. The Shield with the exact same stories from last month. Some people will say this is because the WWE Network has people locked into special event purposes, but I believe the problem is bigger. WWE creative doesn't know what else to do.
Plans changed so much going into WrestleMania with Bryan's surprise ascension, Batista's failure as a babyface, Punk's departure from the company, Sheamus' lack of heel turn, and even Lesnar ending Undertaker's Streak. So much changed in a short amount of time concerning the highest tier of WWE talent. Of course they're in a holding pattern, they have to come up with the next stories to tell and decide who will tell them.
I'd be sympathetic if I didn't believe WWE was capable of adapting on the fly. A major shift in plans two months ago should have worked itself out by this point. Sadly, we are looking at Payback in four weeks with the same top three matches we had this past Sunday at Extreme Rules.
WWE is embracing the lull. It's not pleasant.
And now for some random thoughts:
- While WWE's self imposed lull is frightening, their presentation of Daniel Bryan is equally frightening. Bryan, who beat Kane using a forklift and fire at Extreme Rules, was seen cowering in fear in a dressing room, attempting to leave the arena prior to his match (while not wearing pants), running away from the ring right after his match, and driving a cheap rental car. It was not a good night for the presentation of the WWE Champion as a major ass-kicking star.
- The presentation of Bryan hurts everything around him. It makes Kane a less exciting character. It weakens Brie Bella. It makes Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton look bad. It's not the right way to present a champion, even if the plan is for him to be a weak/vulnerable champion.
- This would even be a bad way to present a babyface champion if it weren't Daniel Bryan. I'd have the same issues with John Cena acting this way. I had the same issues with a heel Sheamus running away from The Nexus in 2010. It's a bad idea.
- Adam Rose's bug debut on Raw did not play well for me. Among the issues with Michael Cole dancing and singing along himself (instead of letting it become a semi-organic crowd movement), there is the larger issue of the "party" being a small room gimmick. It plays well on the NXT soundstage because everyone is close and intimate. In 20,000 seat arenas, the gimmick needs to change. I'm not sure how to bring the small party to the big crowd, but I know it didn't work on Raw.
- Sheamus winning the United States Championship in a Battle Royal is fascinating. It definitely feels like he is turning heel coming out of it. It's a welcome evolution for Sheamus' character. Dean Ambrose didn't need the title anymore. Sheamus can run with it nicely.
- How many times are we going to see a heel lose due to not breaking a hold or corner spot on a five count? It's a cheap finish. I'm not into it.
- Bray Wyatt is fighting for you and me and all of the ugly people. Bray Wyatt's program with Cena has contained his best mic work, but the program itself is consistently getting weaker.
- They're going to drag out this Cody Rhodes and Goldust breakup.
- The Cinco de Mayo celebration was the official moment when Hornswoggle and El Torito's feud stopped being fun. The WeeLC match was fun. This was disappointing and probably racist.
- Rusev crush. Rusev crush politically. Rusev only crushes African Americans for some reason.
- Alberto Del Rio vs. Daniel Bryan felt like a match to fill time and set up an angle. Why not make matches have deeper meaning? What is Del Rio's role right now? What's his story?
- Big E vs. Wade Barrett wasn't as good as their Extreme Rules match, but it helped to establish Barrett. The idea of Barrett and Sheamus unifying the Intercontinental Championship and United States Championship appeals to me. They have strong matches and could build to a string feud around SummerSlam time.
- The Mr. T's mom video package cracked me up. He really does love his mom.
- Zeb Colter's deportation list was funny. It was more over than Adam Rose.
- Shield vs. Wyatt's IV was good, but not amazing. I always enjoy when these teams clash and they bring a very unique intensity to their matches, but this was the least of them.
- Was Roman Reigns' babyface comeback the same on Raw as it was at Extreme Rules? I'm pretty sure it was.
This show just felt like the beginning of a lull. It's strange because even Extreme Rules didn't feel like it was in a lull. After three really boring hours of Raw, things just don't feel right. Hopefully it's just for the moment and the next few weeks feel more exciting. Even if they don't, if WWE can bring a little more excitement after Payback, I'll be happy.
For now, I will patiently wait as all of these feuds drag on beyond their natural conclusions.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter @itswilltime.
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