At 8:29 PM on a Monday, I’m sitting here, halfway through Monday Night Raw, thinking I’d much rather be catching up on sleep. The show hooked me with the promise of Goldberg’s return, but hasn’t been exciting whatsoever. The WWE, as a whole, hasn’t felt exciting in a couple of months now.
The quality of the wrestling itself has been fine, but the repetition of stale storylines and odd booking decisions make the product feel tired and recycled. Ratings are terrible. The buzz of the WWE Draft and SummerSlam has long since subsided. Kevin Owens and AJ Styles are the Raw and Smackdown champions respectively. So, shouldn’t this feel like a huge triumph for the diehard WWE fan?
Why do I find myself dozing off during Raw? Shouldn’t No Mercy have felt like more than an elongated episode of Smackdown? From top to bottom, the talent and potential is present. WWE is stacked with superstars from the first dark match to the main event. So, it begs the question:
Is the WWE blowing it with the most talented roster in its history?
Everything begins and ends with the programming itself. Creative is doing itself no favors in keeping Raw at three hours. That’s an exhausting amount of time to prepare unique content for on a weekly basis. Now, they’re running pay-per-views every other week, on top of the round-the-clock coverage of the WWE Network.
There’s an abundance of time that’s met with a lack of direction for every wrestler in the locker room. That’s what made the Attitude Era great – every performer had something on his/her plate. It certainly wasn’t the quality of wrestling (seriously – go back and actually watch it).
If you’re struggling to fill three hours, either hire more people to focus on the mid-low card, or shorten the show. The ratings show that something isn’t working for Raw. But, that’s because Owens is the champion, right?
That’s how things work in 2016, right? People only watch wrestling for the World Champions, right? Give me a break.
Owens was put in a tough spot after Finn Balor had to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship. But, creative has done him no favors. Far too much time has passed since Triple H handed him the championship and walked away with no explanation. Since then, Owens teamed with Chris Jericho. The skits between the two are hysterical, but it does detract a bit from Owens’ credibility.
Not to mention, no one seems to have any idea what to do with Owens’ main antagonist, Seth Rollins. Since his return, Rollins has felt lost in the shuffle, teetering between heel and face with no clear identity at all. And, these are the Raw main eventers!
Look down the card, and you’ll see a floundering tag division, serious depth issues in the Women’s Division, and a Cruiserweight Division that just hasn’t gotten off the ground yet. Something simply isn’t clicking on Raw any longer.
On Smackdown (the clearly better brand of the two), weekly programming has been pretty good. But, it still has its serious flaws. Namely, we’re in about year two of the complete botching of the Bray Wyatt character. Dean Ambrose is starting to get a Roman Reigns-esque crowd reaction because of his hokey comedy booking. Inexplicably, Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz didn’t close No Mercy. It took place nearly halfway through the show and the crowd never recovered.
The bottom line is that we’re still being force-fed part-timers, while the talents of guys like Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze, Apollo Crews, Neville, and Luke Harper are languishing along the lower end of the card. NXT superstars, who aren’t spring chickens to begin with, such as Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode are taking bumps in developmental when they could be adding value to Raw or Smackdown. All this, and there’s just simply not enough “top guy” Rusev.
Those of you familiar with my work on Wrestling News know I’m usually an optimistic guy in terms of my WWE commentary. Over the last few weeks, I can’t help but feel like the WWE needs to step up and give this supremely talented roster the narrative it deserves. If they do these superstars justice, this could become one of the greatest eras in WWE history.
Step one – stop wasting their talent and burning time off the primes of their careers. End rant.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.