Pruett’s Pause: WWE Raw – Can we talk about WWE’s Women’s Division? Plus thoughts on A.J. Styles vs. John Cena, Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns, and final Money in the Bank hype

Logo_Raw_dnBy Will Pruett

Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu. He has no regrets.

Two percent. Two. This is four minutes and forty-four seconds out of the one hundred eighty five minutes Raw is on television. This is the total length of time WWE spent focused on their Women’s Division last night. This data comes from Kate Foray’s Raw Breakdown Project, where she looks at the time various important items get on each episode of Raw. (Side note: This is a great weekly read about Raw and you should all check it out.)

According to her statistics, in the weeks since WrestleMania, WWE’s women have comprised just 6.36% of Raw on average. At the most, they have made up 11% of the show. At the very least, they have comprised just 2% of the show (like last night).

I’m not sure what exactly to say here. I tune into WWE Raw on a weekly basis thinking “this will be the week when they change everything”, but as I watch, nothing changes. WWE has had a serious problem with their presentation of women since the overt sexism of the Attitude Era. This sexism has carried over through multiple attempts at establishing fairness and equality for women, both by fans and the women themselves.

When I wake up to watch Raw on Tuesday mornings, I still find myself optimistic somehow. It makes no sense. Maybe it was the groundbreaking presentation at WrestleMania that convinced me to hold out hope. I tried. I tried for the weeks and even months to follow. I badly wanted to believe WWE had changed. Even as we saw poor matches and a slumping story between Charlotte and Natalya, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I can’t anymore.

WWE currently has the following women listed on the WWE main roster (I have omitted announced injuries and non-wrestlers): Charlotte, Alicia Fox, Becky Lynch, Dana Brooke, Eva Marie, Lana, Maryse, Naomi, Natalya, Paige, Sasha Banks, and Summer Rae. This is 12 women. Between these 12 women, WWE currently has one ongoing feud: Charlotte vs. Natalya. This feud has been going on since the night after WrestleMania. The following additional talents have been used to make this feud seem important: Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Charles Robinson, and Dr. Phil. With all of this, this feud has produced exactly zero quality matches.

On top of a serious lack of quality wrestling or quality storytelling, last night on Raw, we didn’t see Alicia Fox, Eva Marie, Lana, Maryse, Naomi, Sasha Banks, and Summer Rae. This talented group of women is currently sitting on the bench in WWE. Why is this? Is there no time on a three hour show to tell another story or two with these seven Superstars?

Many have speculated that Sasha Banks is being left off of television to get her ready for a major storyline going into SummerSlam. This is exceptionally counterproductive. The way to tell Sasha’s story is to actually tell her story. WWE is ignoring her existence instead of building her up. It truly says something about WWE’s faith in their own storytelling when they’re instinct is to take a wrestler off TV to get them over. Why not use some of the other talents currently on the bench to help make Sasha a more important star?

On top of the 12 women currently on the WWE main roster, there are also 10 on the NXT roster. If WWE wanted to feature a few squash matches on Raw with wrestlers like Liv Morgan or Alexa Bliss being defeated, they easily could. This would give WWE fans a chance to get to know the characters in this division. Honestly, I still cannot tell you who Sasha Banks is or what her journey up to this point has been. WWE has done a remarkably poor job telling her story.

How can this be considered anything but horribly sexist? How does WWE not decide to make their women more than 2% of the show?

On top of all of this, somehow we are already building tension between Charlotte and Dana Brooke, a newly formed pairing, while Charlotte also loses a couple matches to Paige (who lacks a storyline altogether). I don’t now what WWE is doing with this division or what they’re thinking in general, but it isn’t good. They can do better. They must do better. All wrestling fans deserve better.

—————————————

– The final build to A.J. Styles vs. John Cena was delightful. I don’t mind the overall story with Cena and Styles being “I was the best on the indies” vs. “I was the best here in WWE”. If one were to imagine a real life conflict between those two men, it would probably sound something like this. I enjoyed the choice Cena forced Styles to make and I like the possibilities WWE has with this feud moving forward. I expect Money in the Bank to be a very good first chapter of a long story.

– The reunion of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose in the middle of the ring on Ambrose’s formerly defunct talk show was fun, but not as electric as I expected. I still believe most of the work was already done for Rollins vs. Reigns at Money in the Bank, but the two of them could have delivered better final hype for their match. Dean Ambrose entering the mix as a potential winner of Money in the Bank will lead to some fun speculation of a Shield three-way in the near future.

– Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho should never happen again.

– Many of the matches on this show felt like nothing. I like watching Cesaro and Sami Zayn wrestle, but only eight minutes between them disappointed. I enjoy Kevin Owens doing great things, but teaming up with Alberto Del Rio against the mostly absent Lucha Dragons is far from great. It felt like WWE peaked a little too early with the Money in the Bank match build.

– I enjoyed about 85% of the tag team segment to open up Raw. The portion where I found myself confused: Gallows and Anderson making sports jokes. I can laugh at trombone infidelity, but I cannot care about the Saints’ horrible defense. Let’s all just make jokes for the TV audience at large and not the people in the arena, okay? Also, Gallows and Anderson are big bad dudes. They should have just hit someone.

– Shane and Stephanie McMahon are not getting along. Corporate Kane is showing up. To me, this all points towards WWE having Shane and Stephanie run Raw together while another General Manager is put in place over Smackdown. This will bring me joy.

– Remember when I said I would never see The Shining Stars/Primo and Epico on Hulu Raw again? I was right.

Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? If they aren’t super annoying thoughts (and please don’t ignore this and post super annoying thoughts), hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email me at itswilltime@gmail.com.


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