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Alex Rants On: RAW, February 6, 2017

It's a New Day, a New Month, a New episode of RAW. Was it any better than previously, or did the show flop like the XFL?

No matter how hard you try, you will always see this as a reverse RAM logo.

Welcome to the Road to WrestleMania, ladies and gentlemen. It’s that wonderful time of year when WWE puts its best foot forward, creating the best storylines, dramatic feuds and exciting matches that…

JUST KIDDING! It’s business as usual with RAW being the exact same it always is. The only real reason there’s any major interest this week is because of something unplanned. Last week, Samoa Joe attacked Seth Rollins, which led to Rollins’ knee getting injured again. That, and there was a promise of a Goldberg appearance.

So, to summarise, the only major drawing factors for this week’s episode were a new guy that inadvertently hurt one of his co-workers, and a 50-year-old man whose popularity peaked in 1998, before 98% of WWE’s target demographic were born. Makes perfect sense.

And with that, let the rant begin.

RAW opened with the usual things that make it business as usual: an opening promo featuring the Authority 3.0, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon. They then introduced Samoa Joe, who tried to put the whole locker room on notice. All he did was talk big, and when Roman Reigns came out, Joe didn’t so much as swing a fist.

How is he putting everyone on notice? How is he threatening anyone? This was booked in the wrong way. By all accounts, everyone on the RAW roster should be terrified of this man. Not only did he put Tyson Kidd on the shelf for over a year, but in his debut appearance on RAW, he put Rollins on the shelf as well.

Okay, so maybe those weren’t his intentions, but they help build up an aura of danger for Samoa Joe. This man is putting people on the shelf legitimately, and WWE is barely acknowledging the danger of wrestling this man. Why not?

If WWE wants to be about realistic storylines, why not take advantage of recent accidents and spin them in a way that would suggest that Joe destroyed these two wrestlers on purpose? He’d be much more over as a heel in his debut than what happened here.

All he did was cut a generic ‘I’m threatening everyone’ promo that we’ve heard a thousand times, instead of doing or saying anything unique. Sigh. Once again we cannot allow a newcomer to RAW say something different, but he has to be as bland as the rest of RAW’s mid card.

Immediately afterwards, we got Nia Jax vs. Bayley, which was on its way to being a better match than normal. That is, of course, until the finish (I swear, this company is obsessed with saving clean finishes for jobbers only).

Bayley lost because Charlotte interfered, which made her look stupid. So next week, we’re going to have either a rematch of this week’s encounter or a tag team involving Sasha Banks as well and in all likelihood, a Fatal-4-Way for the title at Fast Lane.

I just wish this company would allow for matches to be actually competitive, where wrestlers aren’t made to be morons that are so easily duped by outside interference.

It’s through booking like this that the stereotype of the ‘idiot wrestling fan’ persists. Outsiders catch glimpses of wrestling like this one and think that only an idiot would enjoy something like this, especially when they’re older.

Sadly, ‘smarter’ and more psychologically-sound wrestling is rarely found in WWE, so those who watch WWE are left to watch matches that make little sense. Unless WWE starts treating its fans as more intelligent people, we’ll be left to a continuous cycle of match-ups, rematches and screwy finishes.

WWE finally did something right with the Cruiserweights on RAW. Akira Tozawa had a solid debut, during which the fans actually got behind him. They chanted as he powered up, they enjoyed his offence, and they actually made some noise when he won.

See this, WWE? This is all you have to do for the Cruiserweights to get over. Let them wrestle, give them simple storylines centred on their wrestling style, and the fans will warm up to them eventually. It’s not rocket science.

After this, however, the lack of logic of WWE’s writing reached its peak.

They booked Kevin Owens in a lose-lose situation when Goldberg came out and challenged him to a match for the WWE Universal Championship.

Goldberg challenging for the Universal Title in 2016 is like Harley Race challenging ‘Stone Cold’ for the belt in 1998

If he rejected Goldberg, he’d look like a complete coward, as if he were afraid that this 50-year-old could beat him. If he accepted the challenge, he knew he was facing a major concern, because if you follow WWE’s storyline progression (there’s an oxymoron for you), Goldberg demolished Brock Lesnar.

And it was Brock Lesnar who had spent the last four years destroying everyone on the roster, including the mythical Undertaker.

So, in theory, Goldberg is the most dangerous force on the WWE roster, and Chris Jericho accepted the challenge on Owens’ behalf (nobody knows why). So the outcome of this segment didn’t matter; either way, Kevin Owens was going to get screwed.

Beyond this point and until the main event, nothing on RAW really stood out. We had a generic women’s match (which thankfully ended with Nia Jax winning in a logical decision), a generic Sami Zayn vs. Jericho match (including the now-typical ‘this is awesome’ chant, which is now overused and insignificant), and another generic match involving the Cruiserweights.

I get that WWE is trying to make us care about all of these midcard guys, but there’s something about the flow of the show that just makes it so hard to really care about anything that happens outside of the main event.

Speaking as a loyal WWE fan that has been following the product for almost twenty years, the key figureheads behind the scenes don’t do a good enough job of making every episode a must-see. And this is WrestleMania season, the time of year during which they build up the biggest show of the year.

They should be putting on the most dramatic, exciting and unpredictable episodes of RAW every week. Instead, every RAW follows a formula so precisely you’d think that they were all doing their taxes instead of putting a wrestling show together.

The show closed with the first ever match between Samoa Joe and the Samoan named Joe. The match was good and was going in the right direction. That is, of course, until the finish (seriously, this is becoming such a commonplace occurrence that I think someone in WWE is trying to re-create TNA Victory Road 2009, where every match fell apart at the finish).

Samoa Joe, whom WWE was trying to establish as a new top threat in the company (despite looking like a refrigerator in that suit), debuted on the heels of a great feud with Shinsuke Nakamura in NXT. He proved he could be vicious and sadistic when angered, but none of that came across in his match with Reigns.

He didn’t go for the Coquina Clutch, he barely utilised any of his signature offence.

From this angle, it looks like he has a dent in his head from when Nakamura Kinshasa’d his skull into oblivion.

If anything, this match was an exercise in ensuring that Roman Reigns looked good, rather than an attempt to get Joe over with a more casual audience.

That mentality was proven true when Braun Strowman appeared, which led to Joe getting a cheap victory. Yes, Joe did indeed pin Reigns for the 3-count, but the obvious narrative from the ending was that Reigns was distracted and would’ve won had Braun not showed up.

So instead of using this opportunity to build up a new heel (who, as we established earlier, could’ve been built up as a legitimate threat to everyone’s safety with his attack on Seth Rollins last week), he was made into another RAW guy that couldn’t win a match on his own.

It’s as if WWE is now treating every heel like Kevin Owens: you win against jobbers cleanly, but against people that are more likely to be your equals, you cannot win without controversy. If you did, you might move up the ladder, but WWE doesn’t want that.

They want their upper mid-card guys to be stuck on a treadmill forever, constantly in motion without actually going anywhere. Then once they’re exhausted and cannot keep up, they’ll just fall off the track and someone else will take their place.

This might’ve been Joe’s first RAW, but already there might be cause for concern. He was a dangerous, dominant force in NXT, where the storylines made sense and were crafted in a traditional wrestling-based manner.

On RAW, he’s just another guy. Maybe, just maybe, those people that had hoped Joe would stay in NXT were right; moving ‘up’ to RAW is really a demotion.

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