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Alex Rants on RAW February 27, 2017

SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
859   //    28 Feb 2017, 16:28 IST
There are countless synonyms for the word ‘bad’ in the English language, and all of them can be used to describe this show.
 

Normally for these rants, I start off with some generic witticism about what’s happening in WWE right now. I’m going to skip that for this week’s rant on RAW and get straight to the point.

RAW sucked.

RAW sucked worse than any episode so far this year. In fact, there hasn’t been a RAW this bad in months. I’ve gone on to criticise RAW in the past for failing to book anything exciting in the lead-up to WrestleMania, but on most of those shows, there was at least one thing that I, as a loyal fan, enjoyed watching.

The same could not be said about this week. There was nothing redeeming about this episode of RAW that made me want to watch Fastlane and enjoy it. In fact, I’m probably going to watch it solely to see if it does, in fact, turn into a train wreck. But that’s still six days away.

So without further ado, let the rant begin.

We opened with a typical promo between the Authority and—oh wait, no, it was Goldberg opening the show with a promo of his own. During this promo, he said the same things he always says, about how he’s going to make short work of Kevin Owens on Sunday. I swear, if this Goldberg existed in 2003, maybe his first WWE run wouldn’t have been so terrible.

Kevin Owens then came out and looked like he was ready to fight. Instead, he made a brief tease at fighting, only to do what every single other heel does in WWE (even Brock Lesnar has been guilty of doing this): he backs out and makes his opponent ‘wait until Sunday’.

I get that the point of this is to sell the upcoming PPV, but it’s just so generic that it doesn’t help as much as a brief scuffle would. Remember when Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker had that epic brawl that was so awesome it required the entire roster to separate them from each other? And when Lesnar threatened to kill the Undertaker, the Deadman responded with, you're going to have to’? It was awesome, and it sold their eventual confrontation more than any promo ever could.

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This is what WWE is lacking at the moment: genuinely memorable moments of physicality. Sure, the wrestlers can go and have a match on Sunday, but RAW is otherwise void of proper moments of build-up. Had Owens and Goldberg had even the slightest of brawls, not only would it have garnered more interest in the upcoming Fastlane show, but it would’ve warmed the crowd up much more.

The next segment involved the New Day making a terrible pop culture reference about the Oscars. In case you didn’t see the Oscars (or aren’t from the United States, or don’t care), that’s OK, WWE, which has nothing to do with the Academy Awards in any way, shape or form, will devote more screen time to reminding you of what happened than most of the shows that actually talk about that sort of thing.

It’s weird, really. WWE’s writers seem to have a disturbing fixation on taking anything that’s not wrestling-related and making it a central topic in wrestler’s promos. It’s a bad approach because it takes the viewer/listener out of the story being told instantly. It shifts the topic of the conversation to something irrelevant to the task at hand, and it makes the person speaking sound either disinterested in something they’re supposed to be selling, while also tarnishing any sense of realism in those promos.

Normal people don’t make needless pop culture references in conversation unless they’re trying to be funny. But in the realm of wrestling, which combines choreographed violence with theatre, proper characters are supposed to exist in their own universes without referencing something irrelevant unless it makes sense for the story.

For the New Day and Charlotte (both of whom are equally guilty on this episode of RAW) to be forced to make the same types of comments despite being diametrically-opposing types of characters (New Day are wacky comedians, while Charlotte’s meant to be a no-nonsense heel) is a clear sign of the writers being apathetic to writing about wrestling and being more interested in writing about something else entirely.

This is apparently more important to WWE’s writers than selling a feud between its wrestlers.

There wasn’t much to Enzo’s promo this week. The only thing that appears to be happening with him is that he’s getting more outlandish with every passing episode of RAW. I used to enjoy his witty remarks about other people.

Now he’s become a glorified catchphrase regurgitator that talks in a nonsensical New Jersey slang that few people really understand. It’s concerning, as he’s starting to turn away fans with his gimmick. He better be careful; if he starts losing his positive fan reaction he might also lose his status as Cass’s tag team partner. And once that happens, Enzo’s doomed.

The next two segments both demonstrated a strange dichotomy on RAW. So, Mick Foley is the GM, and he answers to Stephanie. Lately, it appears that Stephanie has been bypassing and disregarding everything that Foley has been doing, leading to obvious signs that he’ll be abandoning the position sometime soon.

If so, why should either Braun Strowman or Samoa Joe, two men that have either threatened Foley or disregarded his authority in the past, care at all about what he says or does? More importantly, why don’t they simply attack him (not for real, just enough to create a ‘worked’ attack)? If he’s on his way out, why won’t someone just attack him and get cheap heat for doing so?

Strowman, in particular, has threatened Foley on several occasions, yet he has backed away on just as many. If he’s supposed to be a monster the likes of which we haven’t seen before, shouldn’t he be completely unafraid of authority figures? As for Joe, he has HHH’s full support. So if Foley does something that Joe doesn’t like, couldn’t Joe just have HHH change that decision?

Imagine if, back in the day, Kane always stopped short of doing something monstrous because the Authority’s authority would be compromised. There’s no way he’d have gotten so popular. Monster characters are supposed to be indestructible forces that laugh in the face of barriers, and those barriers should include authority figures if they’re going to be successful.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that authority figures like Foley are doing more harm than good for the characters WWE are trying to push as monsters and juggernauts. Because those characters shouldn’t be limited by any authority that contradicts their desires, especially when said authority figure is portrayed to be a bumbling fool like Mick Foley.

This was probably the expression Foley had on his face when he received his script.

We then had a ten-minute promo that ended up involving five women, and only three of which actually spoke. This was another odd segment because it was apparent that they were stalling for him, despite the show being three hours long. So, they can have a 10-minute promo to set up a 12-minute match, instead of having a 5-minute promo that could’ve led to a longer, and therefore more exciting, match. Man, no wonder so many people prefer SmackDown.

Following this, we learned that the show would close with a promo, just like how it opened. But not just any promo…this was going to be a CONTRACT SIGNING. In other words, this is a promo with action…the action of one wrestler writing their name on a piece of paper. How exciting.

Regarding the next match between Big Cass and Luke Gallows…on one hand, I feel so sorry for Gallows & Anderson. Their credibility as tag team wrestlers is getting crushed with each passing week. The way they jobbed out to Roman Reigns over the past two weeks made them look like pigs being sent to slaughter, and this week Gallows lost to Big Cass in four minutes. If they were hoping of retaining any form of credibility upon arriving in WWE, those hopes must be long gone by this point.

On the other hand, this is WWE, so the money must be really good. I guess they must’ve made the same choice Matt ‘Tensai’ Bloom made five years ago: stay in Japan and be respected for your craft, or go to WWE where you look like a fool on a weekly basis but make tonnes more money. It seems the desire for a bigger paycheck was more powerful.

This will be Gallows & Anderson in two years...

Sheamus then squashed Titus O’Neil in 30 seconds, if that. If there was any reason to believe WWE are still punishing O’Neil for last year’s ‘hand-grabbing’ controversy, this would be it. The man has no credibility and appears to be going down the same path to Jobbersville that Wade Barrett was going down last year.

The only difference between them is that there wasn’t any major controversy to speak of in Barrett’s case. They just gave up on him and treated him like a joke, which is how they’re treating Titus, despite him being one of their best role models outside of the ring.

The next segment involved Seth Rollins discussing his injury. It led to Triple H telling everyone that once again he is the biggest threat on the roster. He even said so outright when he told Rollins to look at him directly instead of at Samoa Joe, who was at ringside.

If I was in Seth’s shoes and had to choose between worrying about an ageing part-timer and the man that might’ve broken my leg a few weeks ago, of course, I’d be more concerned about the latter. It’s common sense, which is something the writers obviously lacked this week.

After the promo was over, both Triple H and Samoa Joe left. No parting shot, no further assault to suggest a more aggravated injury, not even a fake swipe at Seth. They just left after he said he was going to be at WrestleMania.

This made Triple H look like the biggest idiot of a villain. He had a self-described Destroyer working for him, and he didn’t unleash him to try and remove the thorn in his side that was Seth Rollins? Why not? What was stopping both HHH and Joe from attacking Seth in in order to gain more heel heat? Just as well, why didn’t Seth swing his crutch around to show that he could still fight despite being injured in order to show guts and determination?

This was as flat a segment as possible, which was reflected in the generally-deflated response from the audience.

I know I’ve used this particular picture a lot lately, but it’s too good not to use it. It applies to virtually every segment Joe’s involved in.

Big Show squashed the Shining Stars, who are now at the very bottom of the totem pole in the tag team division. This was done because Show is the ‘star’ of WWE’s next animated crossover film involving the Jetsons and WrestleMania. If you have very small children, this might make for an entertaining hour for them. Then again, today’s kids have iPads and 10 different gaming consoles at their fingertips, so I doubt that WWE will be able to make their mark with this film.

We had another cruiserweight match up next that lasted probably three minutes. I’ve tried to stay positive on this matter, but that I can no longer do. It’s official: the WWE cruiserweight division is what the Divas Division was back in 2014. No one cares about these characters because they have meaningless matches that don’t tell a story.

As a result, the live crowd doesn’t get invested in the matches, leading to less crowd noise. Ultimately, you have a doomed division that isn’t taken seriously by the fans, management, or even the wrestlers. One might as well call this a failed experiment that was killed because someone backstage took what magic the division had when Triple H booked it and turned into a mockery of itself.

This is what happens when you put something in a booker (read: Vince and his innermost circle)’s hands without them having a thorough knowledge of what makes that thing work.

What sweet, sweet, beautiful memories...

The final scheduled match for the evening was Cesaro vs. Samoa Joe. Yes, you read that correctly: Samoa Joe and Claudio Castagnoli had a match in a WWE ring in 2017. Now, a smart person would’ve looked at these wrestlers’ previous history together and thought, ‘wow, this is something many fans have been clamouring to see forever. Let’s give them 20 minutes to see what they can do’.

But who are we kidding? This is WWE we’re talking about. So the match got seven minutes and ended abruptly and without much excitement, leaving us robbed of the great RAW main event that could’ve been.

At least WWE remembered they had a mini-storyline going on and remembered that Joe and Sami Zayn are feuding. For a moment there I was convinced that they’d forgotten that and were going to let Joe walk back without a scratch. So, kudos to WWE’s writers for remembering their own history from last week.

Cesaro & Samoa Joe in a dream match? Nah, the fans don’t want that. They want Roman Reigns signing a contract, DAMMIT – Vince McMahon.

The show ended with the contract signing, and it went about as well as you’d expect. This wasn’t like the contract signing between CM Punk and Vince McMahon, where the underlying story was exciting and full of intrigue. This was a generic contract signing that led to a generic promo and a generic brawl.

The only semi-interesting moment during the brawl between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman was that Strowman threw Reigns into the turnbuckles so hard that the turnbuckle snapped. It looked genuinely powerful for a moment…until you remembered that Reigns is wearing a flak jacket that protects his torso.

So, for all intents and purposes, that attack shouldn’t have hurt Reigns at all. He has, after all, taken much worse punishment and no-sold it completely.

So, as mentioned earlier, this week’s episode of RAW was abnormally bad. Nothing stood out as memorable, apart from the announcement that Beth Phoenix will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. No real storyline progression outside of Seth Rollins’ appearance, but even that wasn’t as exciting or dramatic as it should’ve been.

Finally, an extra point should go to the Green Bay crowd, who were dead silent and unenthusiastic throughout the entire show. During several segments I was wondering to myself, ‘am I watching a wrestling show or a memorial show for a recently-deceased celebrity?’ If there was ever a crowd that exemplified the expression, ‘so quiet you could hear a pin drop’, this one was it.

I know I’ve written a lot this week and your eyes are probably tired of reading (there was a lot to rant about, I know, but it was indeed that bad), so I’ll leave you with a parting gift: it’s the GIF that keeps on giving, Braun Strowman doing a kip-up.

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