Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu. He has no regrets.
In acting, you learn something early and come back to it often. The core of any dramatic work are the objectives of the protagonist and the antagonist. Often, these core objectives are opposing. They are deeply motivated by who the characters are and what they do. They are the wants central to their beings. Good actors create good objectives for their characters. Throughout a story, characters try different tactics to achieve their objectives.
Watching Raw, I was reminded of this, but not for good reasons. I was reminded of this as Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon attempted to stack the deck against Roman Reigns. It struck me: I have no idea why they don’t Roman to be WWE Champion.
Vince McMahon doesn’t seem to like Roman Reigns, but I am unsure of why. What did Roman do to Vince? Why isn’t Roman an approvable face of the company? WWE has never actually given us a true motivation for The Authority to dislike Roman Reigns.
They seem to dislike Roman simply because he is a protagonist in this universe. While WWE has elevated the McMahon family to super villain status, the best super villains tend to be the most motivated. They aren’t caricatures of villainy. They’re people with understandable motivations, only those motivations have been achieved the wrong way.
Disliking Roman Reigns simply because he might be the protagonist is WWE is a job for the fans, not for the authority figures. Authority figures like this inherently break the universe. I know Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon was an amazing and compelling feud, but WWE has tried recreating it about 100 times since then. It has almost always failed. It has never lived up to the original feud. Attempting, over the last 17 years, to recreate something that only worked once is an insane idea. It’s also exactly what WWE has done.
The WWE storytelling universe is broken. I said it after Survivor Series and it remains true today. Raw demonstrated just how fractured this universe is. Reigns is fighting against The Authority, but The Authority only exists as a plot device. They’re solely around for fans to dislike them. They’re solely around to make Roman’s life seem more difficult.
While it’s often used as a cliche to describe high maintenance actors, WWE needs to look at every character and ask “What’s their motivation?” Who are they supposed to be? Before WWE can answer this about everyone from Vince McMahon to Heath Slater, they will lack the core of a compelling universe.
And now for some random thoughts:
– The surprise of the night (and the best part of the night) was Kalisto defeating Alberto Del Rio to win the United States Championship. Del Rio and Kalisto finally had the good match they couldn’t muster in the WWE Championship semi-finals. Kalisto emerged as a great hero in one short night. It was an upset echoing the 1-2-3 Kid upset of Razor Ramon in the best way.
– Kalisto as United States Champion for a long reign could be a delightful story. He mentioned the title being about opportunity. What if he decided to do some open challenges? I could watch Kalisto have competitive matches on a regular basis. What if he entered into a major feud with a compelling heel? Rusev could shine here. Kalisto being elevated is good for WWE overall.
– What if Roman Reigns had actually been upset about having the defend the WWE Championship in the Royal Rumble? It’s not fair. It is an injustice. Roman should be pretty angry. Getting angry is what got Roman over at TLC and the night after. Why isn’t Roman mad as hell and refusing to take it anymore?
– I was saddened by the lack of Becky Lynch on this edit of Raw. By all accounts, her and Charlotte had a very good segment. I would have enjoyed watching it. This is one of the two times per year I end up sad about a Hulu Raw edit. Luckily, WWE has a YouTube channel.
– Weird thing about Charlotte and Becky: The WWE women’s division is being built around a singles feud, not a faction war or “revolution” silliness. The WWE women’s division also seems more compelling than its been in months. Crazy, right?
– Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus was better than the crowd gave it credit for.
– Sheamus begin busted open by the ring post looked brutal. Hopefully he is okay.
– Chris Jericho is downright cringeworthy right now. His segments are an odd greatest hits assortment from 1999. Much like most non-N*Sync music from 1999, it sounds horribly dated (Sorry, Backstreet Boys). I’m told Jericho is supposed to be a likable character, but I don’t see it at all.
– Stephanie and Vince saying “That ain’t/isn’t booty” together was a heartwarming father-daughter moment. It also didn’t need to be on TV.
– Why do all these guys just stand and chill on the ramp when asked? Why does Roman Reigns say his whole livelihood is the WWE Championship? Was he not supporting his family or living before last month? WWE likes to make their stars seem relatable, but they should look more at major sports instead. I don’t need to relate to Aaron Rodgers to cheer for him.
– Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar were used well on this show. It seems like WWE is building up to Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar II at WrestleMania and may give them a Hogan vs. Warrior moment like the 1990 Royal Rumble. I would be fine with this main event, but honestly surprised by a lack of Triple H.
– Brock Lesnar will always look like a bigger star than Roman Reigns.
– Speaking of a broken universe: the “one vs. all” concept was a bad idea from the beginning, made worse by never being explained.
There is a serious lack of storytelling consistency on Raw. It is apparent when they try to do things like this “one vs. all” concept. Without a change in the storytelling process, WWE will continue down this road. It’s frustrating. This wasn’t a bad episode of Raw, but it was an annoying one.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? If they aren’t super annoying thoughts, hit me up with them! Check the Twitter twitter.com/itswilltime or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.