The first ever live WWE event I attended was Monday Night RAW at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY. It was two weeks before Wrestlemania XXX which meant there were a lot of big stars in attendance that night. I was with a big group of friends and we all found ourselves sucked into the chants that erupted, like the first ever “Let’s Go Harper” cheers for Luke Harper who was wrestling John Cena that night. I had such a great time.
As a native New Yorker watching episodes of RAW that are being held in Brooklyn on TV, I hate the crowd. That’s the same crowd I sat in nearly two years ago, but it’s also not. It appears the “joke” of hipsters in Brooklyn is not entirely untrue, and only furthers my distaste for an audience insistent on getting itself over. How does this audience dare to call Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch “boring”? It took them almost the entire six-man tag match to start a boring chant, and that match was more drawn-out and painful than waiting of Novocain to kick in before dental surgery. There is, of course, no real fix for this. You can’t control thousands of New Yorkers (many have tried) so you have to find a way to combat their masturbatory tendencies with a quality product.
That’s not, however, what they did last night on RAW.
Now don’t get me wrong; there were good parts to the show. I am all for R-Truth coming out and getting confused. I am all for Becky & Sasha to throw down. I am all for Kevin Owens to demolish people. But that’s not enough to make the show good. Maybe it’s enough, in some people’s eyes, to keep it from being a complete train wreck, but it’s not enough to make it good. As far as I’m concerned, there was so much rotting awful on this program that this blogpost could be pages and pages of me gutting it out like a pumpkin. But I won’t do that to you, dear reader. Let’s just focus on one thing.
The opening segment of the December 28th, 2015 episode of Monday Night RAW involved Vince McMahon throwing some serious derogatory comments at Roman Reigns that were based on Reigns’ ethnicity, and then Vince getting angry (about what I’m not sure) and putting his hands on someone portraying a police office for the segment. Vince was subsequently “arrested”, and tossed into a police car while his daughter shrieked about police brutality. Those are the plain and simple facts of this segment. I know a lot of people were getting down on the PC Police last night, coming in to ruin wrestling by saying what’s allowed and what’s not. Here’s the thing, though. It was a bad segment.
There was no way to rewrite this segment and have it not be bad. The Chairman and his brat daughter were not on their game last night. The segment was slow, the dialogue seemed bizarre and out of place, and as a viewer I couldn’t for the life of me understand where any of it was going in terms of the storyline between Mr. McMahon and the WWE World Heavyweight champion. In terms of a professional wrestling promo, it was badly done. It appeared as though they decided (for the third week running) to change the opening segment in the last moments leading up to air. The past two weeks this has worked to WWE’s advantage, but still was clearly identifiable as off-the-cuff and unrehearsed. This week took that concept to a whole new level and had me regularly questioning if everyone in the segment actually knew what was going to happen next.
When you also consider the societal implications, it was in truly bad taste. On a small scale, the relationship between the New York Police Department and the people who actually live in the five boroughs (not the white-collar commuters that regularly push in to the city Monday through Friday) is one matchstick away from a bonfire. Also, in light of the news which came out within the hour leading up to RAW that no charges would be handed down in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, it’s impossible to consider this whole section of the show entertaining as it is in direct contrast to reality. WWE is a fictional, scripted product that has regularly connected with its audience in an intense (and lucrative) way by commenting on the state of our society. Part of what made Stone Cold Steve Austin such a beloved character was his standing up to The Man, and refusing to be held down by his boss. Why, then, would WWE attempt to stage the arrest of an affluential white billionaire at a time when the reality of our society is that people of color live in fear of the constabulary, and more specifically black people are regularly being killed. Art imitating life is one thing – art spitting in the face of life is something else entirely.