By Will Pruett
Will Pruett watches the 90 minute Hulu edit of Raw because it’s better.
“You’re talking about nostalgia, that’s exactly what The Hardys actually really truly is.” – Booker T
Booker T on commentary is a true gift. He may be horrible and a random soundbite generator, but Booker T also finds a way to cut to the truth of the WWE world in a way most commentators are forced to avoid. The above quote about The Hardys is a key example of this. Booker T unintentionally described one of the biggest issues with the return of The Hardys and all of WWE in this moment.
The return of The Hardys at WrestleMania was awesome. I was happy to see Matt and Jeff Hardy make their triumphant entrance into Orlando and impressed by their effort (not to mention the amazing effort they put forth the evening before with The Young Bucks at ROH’s Supercard of Honor XI). I understood bringing Matt and Jeff in as a tag team and making it as exciting as they could.
This episode of Raw featured the first promo from The Hardys to air on WWE television (Raw Talk doesn’t count). They were in “Awwww shucks, we’re happy to be back” mode and it wasn’t the most flattering look. While Matt and Jeff are still charismatic, it wasn’t as dynamic as they could be. They simply said they’re happy to be the 2001 versions of themselves once again.
At this point, dear reader, you may be expecting me to advocate for the “Broken Universe” Hardys to be in WWE, but I’m not about to do that. I understand why these characters who went on a journey in TNA to become who they were are not entering into a half-told story in a new promotion. I’m fine with lacking The 2016 Hardys, but I’m not fine with returning to 2001.
WWE is all too content to rely on nostalgia. We see it at every WrestleMania and SummerSlam. We need to nostalgia roster come in and push the regular full time roster down the card. It’s disappointing and, honestly, frustrating as someone who enjoys watching wrestling. I don’t always want to hear about how great the year 2001 was. I watched it. I lived it. I understand the good and bad of 2001. I can tell you every pay-per-view main event of 2001 off the top of my head. Why would I want to watch it today?
Nostalgia is the business WWE deals in, but it doesn’t have to be. The Hardys returning with the same music and entrance they had so long ago is an example of this. WWE knows how important Matt and Jeff can be beyond their 2001 personas. They saw it in 2009.
I will cut the nostalgia tag team run for Matt and Jeff Hardy a little more slack, but it is time for WWE to stop dealing solely in nostalgia and become modern. The rest of the world is waiting.
And now for some random thoughts:
– I’ve officially added seeing a ring collapse in WWE as a part of my wrestling bucket list. I have no idea how I am going to accomplish this goal, but I must. It looks like a ton of fun live. My only problem with the collapse of the ring on Raw this week was the multiple replays of fans reacting to it. It made the moment seem less important each time a bewildered, tired, and maybe drunk fan put their hands above their heads in surprise.
– Big Show and Braun Strowman are magic together. They have great chemistry and are quite fun to watch wrestle. It’s not the fastest match, but they are athletic marvels and can bring the best out of each other. I know Show has had a long career, but Strowman might be in my top five favorite opponents he’s had.
– Remember when John Cena and Alberto Del Rio had to have a Last Man Standing match in a collapsed ring? That was terrific.
– Alexa Bliss becoming the number one contender for Bayley’s Raw Women’’s Championship made total sense. Bayley does her best work against a strong antagonist. Bliss is the strongest antagonistic star on Raw right now. I only wish there was more time to build to this match. These two women should be able to produce promo magic together, but I don’t think one week is enough time.
– Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax vs. Mickie James vs. Sasha Banks was a fun, but occasionally clunky, match. Nia played the monster well and didn’t seem to risk anyone’s life the way she did Charlotte’s a week ago. James and Banks had their moments as well. What I’d love to see in the coming weeks is a feud below the title feud. James and Banks could be a great one.
– Samoa Joe and Chris Jericho had a good, but slow match. Nothing was really bad, but sometimes it looked like watching two wrestlers mark their pace instead of going full out.
– Seth Rollins was fine on commentary, but when he was delivering his promo to Joe, something was missing. Joe and Rollins didn’t click on the mic this time and both men seemed to be saying lines they don’t believe. The lack of motivation was a stark contrast to Rollins’ great segment a week ago.
– Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro was a fun match.
– Color me surprised to see Finn Bálor wrestling on Raw after his concussion from Jinder Mahal last week. His squash over Curt Hawkins was exactly what it needed to be.
– The Miz and Dean Ambrose seem to be feuding, which is odd. Why bring two guys over from Smackdown and have them instantly feud. This is the opposite of a shakeup.
– Good guy authority figure Kurt Angle is still doing nice work.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.