RAW Deal: WWE switches up as ratings dip

Joe 'the Grappler' Marsalis

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RAW Deal: WWE switches up as ratings dip
There seems to be a bit more effort being put into the Monday Night Raw storytelling following record-low ratings

BOSTON, USA — As much as I would like to stay away from talking about Monday Night RAW’s narrative in the context of backstage goings-on, I’d like to break down this week’s episode using business.

The past couple of episodes have been drawing record-low ratings for episodes not set during the holiday break, with those episodes drawing only around 3.3 million viewers. That might seem a lot to casual observers, but the WWE is not used to those numbers. Vince McMahon, ever reliant on the ratings as a measure of success (due to the selling power it provides his product), is not happy with this. Changes must be made.

So it’s probably why the formula has been switched up: Seth Rollins and any drama involving The Authority has been cut out of the opening and closing segments (regardless of storytelling logic—I wouldn’t have minded last week’s Rollins/Kane segment closing the show), the New Day (which has become more and more ultra-popular that I’m scared for the day they reach critical mass) is either opening or closing the show, and, well, there seems to be a bit more effort being put into the storytelling.

To be fair: there’s still a lot of things left to be desired, but there are bits and pieces here and there that pleasantly surprise me. For example, Xavier Woods and Big E answering John Cena’s U.S. Championship Open Challenge breaks the formula of both the tag champs being stuck solely in feuds against their contenders, as well as the formula of random jobbers-to-the-stars taking Cena to the limit, only to lose when SuperCena rears his buzzcut head at the last minute.

The storytelling has needed a boost for a while now, but this isn’t enough yet. This kind of concerted effort toward hardworking storylines needs to apply across the entire card. You can’t be doing great with Cena and the New Day and the Dudleys and Roman Reigns and the Wyatts and Seth Rollins and Kane, while neglecting the Diva Revolution or the rest of the random midcarders that are aching to be in something worthwhile. Especially if it takes the whole of 3 hours to get to the good parts.

And while we’re at it, that’s the other problem—3 hours is just too much to fill, and it’s already quite obvious that no matter how good some of the stories being told can get, a team can strain to fill those minutes. Even if you stick a handful of good, long matches in a regular episode of RAW, you run the risk of overworking your amazing talents and making special events look just like regular shows.

These are all concerns and suggestions I’ve been parroting in some form or another for the longest time, but it needs to be drilled over and over if we want a chance of someone listening to us and somehow making the product better.

I acknowledge the things they do now, but nobody should be resting on any laurels. Not just yet.

High spots:

  • Not a bad six-man tag match between Shield feat. Randy Orton and the Wyatts. I just wish there was more nuance to Orton’s relationship with Ambrose and Reigns, but I do think they’re building something between the two Shield guys with the latter’s single-track focus on Bray Wyatt.

  • Natalya is back and winning! But this feels like a win that should happen on PPV.

  • I can’t decide if Summer Rae proposing to Rusev is a good thing that happened, but it’s pretty progressive that a woman proposed to a man. It seems as though this is all beginning the buildup to Rusev reuniting with Lana, but it’s sort of weird that they suddenly dropped the whole deal with Dolph Ziggler.

  • I briefly touched on it above, but it was a great main event between Cena and Big E. On top of everything else, the New Day pretty much established their status as heels to be reckoned with, and not just heels to be annoyed with when they came out dragging Ziggler’s body. That’s how you elevate new stars—you go all out. It didn’t matter that Big E got pinned clean, because everyone remembers everything that happened before and after… including a curious accidental superkick by Ziggler to Cena.

Low blows:

  • As much as I love the intrigue of split-personality Kane, the saga treaded water this week by not introducing any new little wrinkles to the story. Now that we established that Kane transforms from Corporate to Demon when he leaves Rollins’s sight, can we start working toward either figuring out whether this is deliberate or not, or the part where we know it’s deliberate, and Kane skips being the whole Corporate Kane and just go full Demon already?

  • And speaking of flip-flopping, why is Stephanie now a full-on face? First she openly chastises Rollins, then the New Day. What makes it worse is that Triple H still seems to be on Rollins’s side, despite ordering half of the challenges in his way this year. Either pick a side, or start building toward Steph vs. Hunter. (These are the parts that need fixing.)

  • I wish Big Show was given more time to re-establish himself as a monster giant so that people would care about him when he finds himself in situations such as getting destroyed by Brock Lesnar. It would mean a lot more for Lesnar when he does actually go about destroying him.

Do you like wrestling? Do you enjoy listening to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a podcast about wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person (and voice of PWR) Raf Camus! On their latest episode, a new voice joins them and discusses PWR Renaissance—and on a bonus episode, Grantland.com editor and the author of “Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ UnlikelyLove Affair with Basketball,” Rafe Bartholomew talks to Stan about the recent FIBA Asia Championships, attending a RAW, and Philippine wrestling! Listen to the post-Renaissance episode here and the Rafe Bartholomew episode here! – Rappler.com

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