By Will Pruett
Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu. He has no regrets.
Last week, when I returned to watching and writing about Raw, I wanted to be positive. I thought about that moment a lot during the month I took off. I thought about coming back with a refreshed perspective and being able to express some optimism about professional wrestling in general. I really wanted to be the outlier in a world of negative reviews. I couldn’t do that.
Last week, I struggled to even get through the show. This week was even worse. WWE has rendered weekly wrestling television pointless. They have taken the joy, passion, and fun out of tuning into Raw. I watch a 90 minute edit of the show and somehow it took 40 minutes to get to one match. I wouldn’t complain about this if the first 40 minutes had been great, but they weren’t.
This show opened with a poorly written/formatted segment with puzzling character Stephanie McMahon introducing her roster for the big TV show vs. TV show match at Survivor Series. She spouted off weird overly contrived catchphrases about “fantasy warfare becoming reality” before introducing Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, and her current sworn enemy, Seth Rollins.
Let’s talk about Rollins for a second. He was the best friend of The Authority, but has been betrayed by them. Instead of the passionate scorned hero suddenly finding righteousness and looking for revenge, he is still a sniveling sycophant looking for a way to be friends with Stephanie again. He has left Raw without a real protagonist. It’s a problem. On this show, he alluded to some sort of deal with Stephanie in return for joining her TV show’s team. This is not something a hero would do.
This poorly written segment was followed by another, this time with five tag teams arguing in the ring with a backdrop of jokes based on a movie from 1995. At this point, we got an actual match featuring New Day vs. Gallows and Anderson. The Tag Team Champions lost and the match was never spoken of again.
If there weren’t enough poorly written segments on this show where five people or entities argued, the Raw Women’s Division made sure to give us another one. This time it was Michael Cole introducing Charlotte, Nia Jax (whose theme music may have been the only redeeming part of this show), Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox, Bayley, and Sasha Banks. Chaos ensued as WWE assured us the trope of teams who cannot get along would never die.
The second match of the night was Sami Zayn and Rusev fighting for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series. This was the only point of the show where it felt like two wrestlers were fighting for something that mattered to them. Even this match was short, interrupted by a commercial, and somehow underwhelming. Sami Zayn won, which is nice. Rusev’s character is on a major downswing again, proving we cannot have nice things.
Finally, WWE gave us an action-packed main event, but still managed to mess up. They had a “Fatal Five Way” instead of a Scramble Match. For the love of all that is holy, why couldn’t I get a Scramble Match on this pointless show. The five members of Team Raw used conveniently placed Kendo Sticks, Tables, and whatever else they could find to attempt to wake up the crowd. It was mildly effective.
Five important wrestlers to WWE took absurd risks to cap off a bad show with a bad story. Kevin Owens accidentally pinned Chris Jericho, which will lead to two heels eventually fighting for the WWE Universal Championship. I doubt it will matter much.
After watching this show for 90 minutes, nothing in WWE has changed. I could have skipped it and skipped straight to Survivor Series. I wouldn’t be lost. I would understand every story. This is the true issue with weekly WWE television: It doesn’t matter. I could miss a full year and only see special events and I would still understand what was happening.
WWE produced a terrible show this week. I’ll choose to use my optimism elsewhere as the United States stands poised to elect our first female President. (You knew I wasn’t going to write on election day and not mention that. #ImWithHer)
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.