RAW Deal: Part-time hater
Okay, so this is the post-Fastlane world for RAW: Goldberg is champion, and Brock Lesnar (the guy who’s been getting punked in under a minute the last time we’ve seen him) is challenging.
If there’s one important lesson both brands need to learn right now, it’s that the part-timer experiment has failed. It’s actually failed for the longest time, ever since WWE tried to make the Rock champion and guys like John Cena and CM Punk pointed out the futility of it all. But Vince McMahon only consults the sweet, sweet sound of money for his decisions, so here we are.
To reiterate, here’s what’s happening: if you or any of your friends who were once wrestling fans and only occasionally pop in for the random WrestleMania think that none of today’s wrestlers hold up a candle to the big names of yesteryear—the same part-timers now that WWE puts on big shows like WrestleMania and Survivor Series because of these same fans—it’s because this over-reliance on names from the past stunts a lot of possible growth of the current generation. They don’t get the same stature because McMahon is busy glorifying the past, thinking it still has a big place in the present.
Brock Lesnar’s domination of John Cena and whoever came across him would be great if his defeat really helped a young lion’s reputation. Dean Ambrose would’ve been a bigger star—not necessarily a megastar, but definitely bigger—had he beaten Lesnar at their bland WrestleMania 32 feud. But because the big Lesnar loss went to Goldberg, the cycle continued, essentially telling the fans that only people from Lesnar’s era are able to beat the Beast Incarnate. When that’s the subtle messaging you’re sending out, how is anyone supposed to take any of the new generation seriously, even if they watch religiously?
If you think I’m only talking about RAW, SmackDown Live also isn’t quite immune from this problem. While their main championship feud is currently between a young wrestler and a veteran in Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, it means AJ Styles, arguably the most popular guy on the blue roster, has to deal with Shane McMahon. Don’t believe me? Here, it’s happening:
Unless announced otherwise, I’m assuming that Styles really is about to carry McMahon to a decent WrestleMania match—and in doing so, WWE’s depriving both Styles of a solid WrestleMania outing and an up-and-coming babyface of a possible star-making moment.
All of this is born out of a strange need to make WrestleMania more palatable through the cheap way: by luring in big stars who don’t slug it out in the ring every night, instead of making the product must-see by writing good stories and heightening the drama organically. To its credit, SmackDown is doing this a lot better than RAW, but it’s still not positioned as the top brand. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing, as while it’s not the most prominent show in the lineup, it’s apparently got a lot more freedom to do what it wants. The funny part is that in doing what it wants, it may very well end up being the top show by the end of the year. I’m willing to make that bet.
And even though WrestleMania had always been built partly on the back of big names both in and outside of the wrestling business, prior to this decade, it’s always gotten them as part of the seasoning, never the meat of the dish. It’s only in McMahon’s old age that he’s slowed down in trying to tell more hardworking stories in the ring (not that he’s had a great track record there, either). But what’s happening here is that in booking part-timers, he’s essentially sending out the message that this generation can’t really hack it—while preventing the same youngsters from being able to grab his metaphorical brass rings.
So what do we do here? It’s easy to propose a boycott, but it’ll be hard to organize enough people around the world to pull off such a radical move, beyond something utterly distasteful happening in a WWE ring. That’s not going to happen either, so it seems like our only option left really is to sit around and wait for Vince McMahon to pass away. It’s also real easy to say that we should just support every other bit of WWE programming that isn’t RAW, but the fact is RAW—and every other bit of WWE programming—still has something for everyone, even if we hate to admit it. There’s always going to be something for people to watch, and if anything, that’s the success WWE has built. They’ve created a product that resonates, whether we love it or hate it, even though sitting through RAW can be a chore. They’ve certainly lived up to the “entertainment” part of their name.
My best advice at this point? Despite everything you hate, everything that frustrates you about whatever WWE—or hell, any other wrestling promotion you watch—if you truly love wrestling, there’s always going to be something you like about it. Or can like about it. At this point, it’s about all we can do barring a major mess-up. At least we’ve got the freedom of choice. – Rappler.com
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro 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 and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, it’s just Ro and Camus while Stan goes on his world tour, talking about the week in wrestling, primarily Fastlane! Listen to it here!