Opinion: Why Shield Reunion may not help RAW in the long run
After hitting the high of 4.5 Millon users in the 25th-anniversary episode of RAW, the viewership count has been up and down for WWE's Red brand. Once it fell below the 3 Mn users mark during May 1st week, it rose only once above that level - in the post-Summerslam RAW before dipping back again.
WWE seems to be using the recent Shield Reunion to bolster the RAW ratings and get Roman Reigns over with the crowd along the way.
Even though it helped stop the rating slide for a couple of weeks, the Hell in a Cell go home show has again dropped in viewership and Roman Reigns still gets booed when he comes out alone. So is this Shield reunion still the way to go for RAW? Let's see.
All Eggs in One Basket
With Shield feuding with Braun Strowman and the duo of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre winning the RAW tag team titles, all the major titles on RAW have been concentrated on to one feud.
There is a limit to which a feud can be dragged on without losing the viewers' interest. Having one feud carry a three hour show would prove difficult with the best of the creative teams.
With the track record of RAW's creative teams, we seem to be set for repetitive matches and meaningless segments acting as filler material while the main feud progresses.
Familiarity breeds contempt
The novelty of the Shield reunion will wear off with time. The same sight of either Braun or members of the Shield being laid out by their opponents will start to grate on the viewers.The viewership will start to decline again.
A captive audience requires a captivating storyline. Even with an abundance of talent like Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Bobby Roode, Bobby Lashley, The Revival, Authors of Pain and so many more, the RAW creative is doing next to nothing to build meaningful secondary feuds to hold the viewer's interest.
Clipping their wings
Shield breaking up and going their separate ways was what brought the best out of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.
They found their own personalities and formed their own separate identities. Rollins especially had some of his best matches post the Shield breakup. He made the Intercontinental Title, "THE Title" on RAW.
Both Rollins and Ambrose would have been legitimate contenders for Reigns' Universal title. But with Shield being together, chances of that happening are drastically low.
It has reached a situation that Rollins is not even having an Intercontinental Title defense in the Hell in a Cell PPV. The title which was the backbone of RAW in the absence of the Universal title has become an afterthought.
What could have been
In my opinion, RAW creative team missed a big boat when they didn't have Dean Ambrose turn heel at Summerslam and attack Seth Rollins costing him the Intercontinental Title. This would have worked out in so many ways:
- Dean vs Seth feud is so emotionally invested that it does not need any title involved in it. Dean and Seth are both good on the mic and they could have put on some intense promos and incredible matches.
- This would have freed up the Intercontinental title for contention. Finn Balor for one could have been a great challenger to the Intercontinental championship and 2 on 1 assault from Dolph and McIntyre would have given Finn enough opportunities to assume his Demon Balor persona
- With the Universal Title feud, the Intercontinental Title feud and the Seth vs Dean feud, RAW would have had three meaningful feuds to carry the show.
But, RAW creative team in their infinite wisdom chose to keep Dean as a face and reformed Shield as their latest attempt to " Get Roman Over with the Fans".
RAW creative teams are not thinking in the long-term. They are still using shock and awe as the go-to method to bolster ratings.
But that is not a sustainable solution. In absence of meaningful feuds throughout the roster and well thought through storytelling, RAW's viewership will continue to decline.
Just see how Smackdown Live has four meaningful feuds - Joe vs Styles, Hardy vs Orton, Becky vs Charlotte and Miz vs Bryan all given enough attention.
This kind of storytelling and a well maintained Tag Team division is the main reason why SmackDown Live is churning out great episodes week after week.