My Two Centsss - The Raw That Broke The Camel's Back (a.k.a. I'm Done With Raw)
By Super Chrisss
Sep 13, 2016 - 11:27:50 AM
Tom Jenner rocks!
Prior to the brand split – hell, before a brand extension was even announced by WWE – you would have been hard-pressed to find another columnist on LOP more excited about the idea than yours truly. While many people were busy complaining that the roster was “too thin” to split in half or WWE creative would still be WWE creative, I for one had high hopes that creating separate brands would reinvigorate the product. In a way, I was right. SmackDown is no longer the Raw-lite show – they’re now must-see TV! Look at last Sunday’s Backlash, for example. I was very tempted to write a column praising the show to the heavens, but my colleagues Tito and The Doc beat me to it. Backlash blew both this year’s SummerSlam and WrestleMania out of the water, and it’s not even close. I’d argue Backlash was the best non-TakeOver Pay-Per-View of 2016 thus far.
What’s even more impressive is that Backlash put on a nearly 5-star PPV WITHOUT the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton and American Alpha on the card. That’s incredible in it’s own right. Who would have thought that a SmackDown-exclusive PPV co-headlined by The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler and a match featuring Heath Slater and Rhyno would have been such a success? It just goes to show that whoever has been booking Raw since the week after the draft has NOT been touching SmackDown. SmackDown’s roster is so much smaller than Raw’s, yet every member of the blue brand matters. From the main-eventers to the women to the tag teams to the up-and-comers, everyone on SmackDown has a purpose and plays their role to a tee. SmackDown – and Backlash – has proven that quality will always trump quantity, especially when up against a three-hour Raw.
Before I go on a Monday Night Raw tirade, I have to be a bit sympathetic towards the flagship show. While the creative team deserves the majority of the blame for Raw’s overall crappiness the past two months, there are certain factors which they cannot be blamed for. Being three hours is an automatic disadvantage, for starters. It was not a Vince McMahon decision to keep Raw at three hours permanently – that blame falls on the USA network. Furthermore, Raw would look very different if Finn Balor (who they had clearly been grooming as the next top face of Raw; sorry, Roman) hadn’t gotten injured and forced out of the storylines for the next six months or so. With Finn out and nobody liking Reigns, Raw is/was short on top faces, while SmackDown has Ambrose, Cena, Orton and Ziggler.
But the pity train stops there. I can be understanding of why Raw has struggled since the draft, partly because of the two aforementioned variables. However, many people thought SmackDown got screwed in the draft and wondered how the hell they were going to fill up two weeks on a consistent basis. Then they lost John Cena to another hiatus from TV and some live events, as well as a Randy Orton who is yet to be medically cleared to compete. None of that stopped SmackDown from being the better of the two shows almost every single week for the past two months as well as hitting a home run with their first SmackDown-only PPV.
Simply put, from top to bottom, Raw is a complete and utter mess. They tried to be different and go in a new creative direction their first night as a separate brand (which worked out great), but since that night, Raw has been a chore to get through. Last week’s Raw was probably the worst episode I’ve seen in years – YEARS! For those who have found a way to forget most of the garbage from eight days ago, I apologize for bringing back bad memories, here’s what I wrote on Twitter last week (and the show was only halfway through – we weren’t even at the dreadful third hour yet!):
-If you’re going to try and turn Rollins face, why do you have him cut a heelish/whiny promo in the opening segment? That’s just confusing.
-Why is Rollins still using The Pedigree? I get he wants to send a message to HHH, but didn’t he start using it as an ode to his mentor?
-Bayley’s character is just not right. She’s supposed to be the underdog, not undefeated and beating the women’s champion three weeks into her main roster debut.
-It took them all of two weeks to give away Bayley vs. Charlotte on Raw.
-Why do you make the Sheamus/Cesaro series 3-0 in favour of the heel with the next match – potentially being a clean sweep – taking place at a live event?
-They book Zayn vs. Owens despite their “last match ever” happening less than two months ago – huh?!
-Bo Dallas is reportedly ‘punished’ for his drunken airport incident by being brought back to TV and winning matches all of a sudden?
-They thought the Nia Jax/Braun Strowman squash matches were so entertaining they decided to have Bo do the exact same thing. Why?!
Like I said, all those tweets took place before 9:30pm so that was BEFORE the whole “Old Day” segment, Braun vs. Sin Cara and Jinder Mahal vs. Darren Young happened. By that point, I was very, very down on Raw and contemplated turning it off early. Instead, I stuck around to see Owens and Zayn have a match that was good, but obviously not in the same league as their Battleground match. Then, of course, Roman Reigns earned a potential title shot just by showing up and staring at Kevin Owens. Okay, whatever.
With my patience for Raw growing thin, I was not at all upset that my friends decided to go have supper and some drinks after school yesterday (Monday night). I figured I would be home by 9:30 and catch the second half of Raw. That’s exactly what happened, and despite only tuning in with half the show remaining, I was done watching by 10:30pm. I couldn’t get through more than an hour of last night’s Raw – it was just as bad, if not worse, than the week before. Raw’s creative team proved once again they still don’t know how to book feuds; are The New Day and Gallows/Anderson going to wrestle every week until they wrestle – AGAIN – at Clash of Champions? I’m not as pissed as some people were about Epico going over Enzo last night (because it counts as a big win for the Sounds of Silence); rather, I hate the booking. Instead of doing useless promos backstage with The Golden Truth, they can’t film some footage with Enzo & Cass going after The Sounds of Silence instead of just having them wrestle every week? Lazy, lazy booking. You also have guys on the roster who could use more exposure to get over, yet you’re giving promo time – and a win – to Jinder Fucking Mahal? Why? The dude was boring and a jobber (pre and during 3MB) his first run with the company; it’s bad enough they brought him back. Then, you sacrifice Jack Swagger (who's still over, somehow) to this buffoon? Why?!
I apologize for all the ranting and complaining, but man, Raw has been pissing me off lately. As a result, I’m going with the old adage of “If I don’t like it, I won’t watch it.” I don’t have a DVR, so I’ll be skipping Raw for the foreseeable future and only checking out anything that interests me on YouTube. I’ll tune into Clash of Champions next Sunday, but if that fails to impress, I’m officially becoming a SmackDown/NXT-only guy by the end of the month.
For those of you brave fans who will continue to tune into Raw every week, you have my utmost respect and appreciation. I sincerely hope that the arrival of the cruiserweights next Monday will improve the show’s quality, at least for some parts. There’s no way they’ll get anywhere near the amount of time to wrestle as they did on the Cruiserweight Classic, but as long as their matches are five minutes or longer, they should provide something fun to sink your teeth into.
I was hoping the brand split would make me want to tune into SmackDown every week. Never did I think it would make me want to tune into SmackDown only and give up on Raw altogether. Life can be funny sometimes.
YOUR Two Centsss: Do you still watch Raw every week? All of it or parts of it? If so, why? If not, why not?
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