It’s Tuesday, and I managed to watch RAW last night! I think the last time I blogged about an episode of RAW was when I went to see it live on Long Island – the go-home show to Elimination Chamber, I think. My how things have changed (and not changed at all.) Before I continue, I’d like to give everyone a quick disclaimer: I’m trying to use less exposition, so I won’t explain everything that happened on the episode. If you haven’t seen it, you might not follow.
I would say I managed to stay pretty calm through most of what happened last night. I mostly enjoyed seeing some old faces – though I’m pretty over Ric Flair coming out and babbling incoherently about anything. Also, I don’t think Paul Heyman was given enough time to cut as scathing a promo as he is capable of. He managed to put a pretty great button on the conversation leading into SummerSlam – “You may have sold your soul to the devil, but your ass belongs to Brock Lesnar”. Absolutely brilliant. For a rubber match set in such an epic gimmick arena, we are getting some really lame promos from Heyman and Undertaker. It’s like everyone’s run out of ways to make the “Hell in a Cell” phrase work in a promo. In fact, as much as I liked the story for the main event last year, Ambrose and Rollin weren’t finding the right phrasing for that match, either.
There was a lot going on in my house last night, so I did end up walking away from the TV a few times, so I’m going to preface this next section with this question: how much of what went on last night surrounding the missing wrestlers seemed like it was happening in the moment? What I ended up catching seemed very off-the-cuff. I could be wrong, but it seemed to break down as: Randy Orton is not here, so Ambrose will face Harper and Strauman alone. Then it was Erick Rowan who came out with Wyatt and Strauman during the Flair/Reigns promo. Then suddenly, Dean and Roman were in a handicap match against Wyatt, Rowan, and Strauman. As a fan of Harper in particular, I’m not going to fall into the speculation going around – but I do hope he is alright and whatever kept him off TV was not something too tragic. I will say this: it is incredibly difficult to write live TV. Assuming that what is being reported about Randy Orton’s shoulder injury is true, and that whatever kept Harper away from TV last night was an emergency, WWE would have been in an impossible situation. Regardless of the audience involvement/interest in this ongoing storyline of Ambrose and Reigns vs The Wyatts, when you schedule six men for two matches and a third of those men suddenly aren’t available, what do you do? It makes sense to fill Harper’s spot with Rowan, but who replaces Orton as Ambrose’s partner? This is a fairly high-profile feud and I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head that it makes sense to add.
This leads us to what ends up being the main event of the night – Seth Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns vs Wyatt, Rowan, and Strauman. I know a lot of people were disappointed with this decision, and trust me I understand why. A Shield reunion is going to be amazing – one day. One day all three of these guys are going to be working heel or working face and end up back together in some epic battle against a tremendously strong trio – probably one that hasn’t even been created yet. So why on earth did we need to see them together last night? Because when the audience gets wild and the show starts to fall apart, you get the headliner to go out there to play the hits until the kids calm down. In reality, I’m not sure why everyone was so upset. Did everyone really think the three of them were never going to end up in the same place again? I didn’t hear this kind of groaning when they were in a fatal four way with Orton earlier this year. So what’s the problem? Because they were in a six-man tag against the Wyatts, their old trademark match? We knew, as an audience, there was no way Rollins was going to play nice. He was going to manage to weasel his way out. But for a few seconds, in the middle of the ring, we got a brief glimpse of what was and what could be again. One day. Just not now. And regardless of all of that, it told a story – that those wounds aren’t healed yet. So there is still more to come.
I was saying earlier to a friend that I don’t think anyone in the WWE fandom will ever be satisfied, or even happy, with the product. We’ve almost programmed ourselves to hate what we see each week. So I think everyone out there needs a huge hug. And I’m going to offer one to you. In Act III, Scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is whining to Friar Lawrence about being banished for killing Tybalt. And Lawrence has just about had it with him, and starts listing all of the good things – like, um, not being put to death, for example. He ends each line with the same phrase, basically driving home the point of Romeo being an ungrateful wretch. For the purposes of this exercise, the part of Friar Lawrence will be played by the Lady J.
An entire generation of 20- and 30-somethings obsessed with nostalgia still get to see some of their childhood heroes wrestle on television. There art thou happy.
A completely separate product has been designed to not only raise the standard we hold talent to, but is also training a new generation of fans to recognize a higher level of product. There art thou happy.
Paul Heyman is cutting promos on TV. There art thou happy.
The only title not currently held by (at least one) someone who has been through NXT is the US Championship. There art thou happy.
Sunday is the last time we ever have to watch Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker in the ring together.
There art thou happy.