I don’t think there’s any secret to the fact that WWE’s television is not the best in the world at the moment. Or if you’re being realistic, maybe in the last several year’s worth of moments. WWE has five hours of main roster television every single week and yet they have more trouble filling it than should be legally allowed. There are weeks where you can tell they are scrambling to fill time (How many talk shows do you possibly need?) and then they do things that leave you scratching your head and looking at your watch. That was the case this week on Monday Night Raw.
This week’s show was the go home edition for Sunday’s Tables, Ladders And Chairs pay per view. That means the show should be focusing everything they have on getting ready for Sunday, but that isn’t always the case. Monday Night Raw’s half of the card is all but set with a few rather enticing looking matches. Both of them got some time this week, but the show had some remarkably questionable timing for one of them and it is part of a larger problem with the show.
One of the featured matches on Sunday will see the Fiend vs. Randy Orton in a match that has some history. These two were in the Wyatt Family together for a time and even had a WWE Title match at WrestleMania 33 (the less said about that one the better, but it was a World Title match on the biggest show of the year). There is a connection between these two and they have a story to tell, so it isn’t like this is some nothing match that has no build or backstory to the whole thing.
The build for this week’s Monday Night Raw focused on two major things, with one of them being Bray Wyatt taking a field trip to Tropicana Field (we’ll come back to the other one later because it plays into this as well). That wound up meaning Wyatt standing in the ring and telling jokes (yes they were bad but I’m a sucker for bad jokes so I loved the whole thing) until Orton came out and asked if he wanted to play hide and seek. This resulted in Wyatt combing the building for Orton and various wrestlers interacting with the gang from the Firefly Fun House.
Then Wyatt found his old rocking chair (which apparently has rebuilding powers) and sat down, allowing Orton to attack him from behind. Orton then threw Wyatt in a wooden box, poured gasoline on it and lit the thing on fire (tying back into their feud as well as Orton’s past with the Undertaker). As you probably guessed, the Fiend popped out of the box and attacked Orton, playing up the idea that Orton is being outsmarted for the first time in what feels like forever. All well and good, even if it was a predictable surprise.
This was kind of serious:
Flash forward with me about seven minutes.
Riddle: “Have some Bronuts after a sweet victory!” Yeah after Fiend popped out of the box and attacked Orton, we took a break, came back to a replay, watched MVP lose to Riddle in 48 seconds, and then had Riddle talking about his wacky named donuts. Let me repeat that sequence for you: an attempt to burn a man alive, commercial, donuts, all in less than ten minutes.
Do you think this might have something to do with why nothing connects as well anymore? They literally just went from attempted murder to pastries in less than half the time they spent on the first two matches of the night. The Orton/Fiend segment might not have been the best, but I would think that it deserves a little more emotion than what they got here. It isn’t like WWE has no history to go on with something like this.
Back at Royal Rumble 1998, the show ended with Kane lighting a casket on fire with Undertaker inside. Back at No Mercy 2005, Orton himself lit a casket on fire with Undertaker inside. Note that this ENDED the show and only later did you find out that Undertaker wasn’t inside. In other words they gave this stuff time instead of going through it as fast as they could to move on to something else.
Now that’s just on pay per view and you have to move around faster with television. Ok, that’s fine. Let’s look back at something similar (or as close as you can get at least). Back on the February 2, 1998 Monday Night Raw, the New Age Outlaws put Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie in a dumpster and pushed it off the stage. For at least the next twenty minutes, that show stopped cold as Jack and Charlie were taken out of the dumpster, put on stretchers, and taken away. If you stretch that out from a two hour show to the three hours today, that is the equivalent of half an hour.
I know you can’t stop a show for half an hour these days (certainly not one with Elias/Jaxson Ryker, the 24/7 Title, Lana vs. Nia Jax, Asuka giving a pep talk, R-Truth meeting Huskus the Pig, Riddle promoting Bro-Nouns and the return of Mandy Rose) but is it too much to ask that this segment, which should have been a big deal, get more time than Montez Ford vs. Dolph Ziggler did last week on SmackDown?
If you’re really worried about the time, swap this with the other main event segment (the other one which was advertised as a big story on the show) of the Championship Ascension ceremony between Drew McIntyre and AJ Styles. Call me crazy, but what Orton tried to do to Wyatt is a little more intense than raising a belt which is going to be lowered back down before the pay per view anyway.
Orton and Wyatt have been World Champion in the last five months. They can’t get the closing segment of a show? Two former World Champions with a history, fire and hide and seek? If you’re that worried about how people are going to react to hide and seek being the main event, call it “Orton has a gift for Wyatt” with the rocking chair. They were in the closing segment of last week’s show. Did they lose that much drawing power in the span of a week?
Do it like this instead:
This is the kind of thing that takes away from the impact that something like this is going to have. If WWE is going to cut away from something like this so fast, it makes it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. If WWE doesn’t think it’s a big deal, why are the fans going to think that it’s a big deal? That’s where the problems can start growing in a hurry and that has been the case for a long time. WWE has this much time to fill in every single week, but they can’t get something that should have been a big segment any more time than that to build some kind of an emotional connection?
The match on Sunday is likely to work well because the two people involved in it are very talented and ultimately, that is what matters more than anything else. That being said, you might think that WWE would be interested in building their match up a little bit better than this. They have the history (even of Orton burning something involving Wyatt) and the story, but they didn’t get the time to let anything sink in. WWE has the time to do almost anything else that they want but for some reason they aren’t giving their stories that time when it matters. With that kind of logic, is it any wonder that so few fans still have time for WWE?
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!