Well it took them long enough. The last few weeks of Monday Night Raw have been downright brutal, with some of the most boring, difficult to sit through and at times flat out horrid wrestling shows I’ve ever seen. There have been very few bright spots to be seen anywhere at all, and even WWE has figured that out this time around. Last week Seth Rollins blamed General Manager Baron Corbin for most of the problems, basically turning him into the scapegoat for the whole thing and having him act as the surrogate for the McMahons.
It was clear that something had to be changed in a hurry, with the show’s ratings and audience dying right before their very eyes. The question became what could be done, which was something that nearly every fan had their own answer to. As it turns out though, WWE had their own idea in mind and that included Vince McMahon himself showing up to fix things. Well now we know what happened and….it was certainly something. Today we’re going to take a look at the changes that took place on Monday Night Raw and why I’m not exactly convinced that everything is going to be ok from now on.
Vince opened the show along with Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, with the big idea being….more McMahons. Yeah amazingly enough, after all those years of the McMahons dominating the show, the solution was to have them being the focus of the show AGAIN. Oh and not just Monday Night Raw, but the completely fine SmackDown Live. That wasn’t it though, as the four of them also promised fresh matches, faces and names around both shows. That would be the theme of the night and, after an hour or so of stuff we had seen over the last few months, we got on to something new.
Meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses:
Later on in the night, a graphic appeared saying that six names would be coming up from NXT. While we already knew about one of them and another wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world, it was still quite the surprise given how infrequently the callups tend to happen. There’s some good and bad mixed together, but at least there will be some fresh matchups, likely on both shows as none of them were assigned a brand.
Finally, the thing that doesn’t exactly tie directly into the new direction but is certainly something fresh, was the announcement that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn would both be back soon. Zayn has been out of action since June with shoulder surgeries and Owens has been gone since October due to double knee surgeries. While neither of them are going to be the biggest of game changers, they’re both big names who haven’t been around in a long time and will both be major assets to the show.
So what does all this mean? Let’s take a look at each of these things, one by one.
We’ll start with the obvious and….yeah the more McMahons thing doesn’t give me much hope. Part of the problem with the show has been the horrible authority figures and adding more of them doesn’t really fix things. It’s certainly better than having Baron Corbin as the horribly lame General Manager, but the problem isn’t just the person playing the role. It’s also the fact that we’ve had General Managers or something similar for over twenty years now. How long do we need the same trope?
As I’ve said quite a few times: is it that hard to just say “we’re doing this tonight because WWE says so”? We don’t need someone holding our hands through the whole show and telling us every single thing that is going to happen. Whether WWE wants to admit it or not, their fans are actually fairly smart and can figure out what is going on in front of them, including without the inane commentary telling us the motivations and bickering like annoying five year olds.
The other issue from this part is how little things did change throughout the night. We saw several matches that were carrying over from the previous shows and indications that these stories were going to be continuing for several weeks. Yeah the last hour was dedicated to one match, but it was the same group of women we’ve seen for months, with Natalya, who has been around for over ten years now, getting a shot at Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey next week. Not the unique Ruby Riott or the rather popular Sasha Banks or Bayley, but Natalya, who isn’t exactly thrilling and has been around about as long as anyone.
Maybe they’re waiting for after the holidays to do the big stuff or maybe this is their idea of major changes. Either way, this wasn’t exactly inspiring and the idea of hearing more from Triple H, Shane and Stephanie every week is far from the big solution to everything wrong. It doesn’t help with the biggest problem on Monday Night Raw (I’m still not sure why SmackDown Live needs help in the first place) as none of them are Universal Champion, and for now it’s just more of the same, albeit with some better talkers who come off like they actually have some authority.
Moving on, we have the six names from NXT. While we already knew about Sullivan, there were some surprises in there. Let’s take a quick look at all of them:
Lars Sullivan. Probably the second best option of the five and the one with the most hype. If there’s one thing Vince still knows how to do, it’s push someone like this to the moon, and that’s likely what’s going to happen. Either as a bodyguard or a star, Sullivan is going to be a big deal, at least for a little while.
Heavy Machinery. The lone tag team of the bunch and one of the acts that worries me the most. These guys are a lot of fun and have completely exceeded everything they should have done. While they could make a splash, there’s a good reason to believe that the comedy spot awaits them.
Nikki Cross. This is the one where you had to know it was coming as she already had a match on SmackDown Live last month. She’s another case where there’s no point in keeping her down in NXT if she’s not going to get the Women’s Title, so bring her up to the main roster and let her be insane.
Pleased to meet all of you:
Lacey Evans. In a way I get this one but in a way I don’t. Evans is someone who isn’t ready to come up to the main roster but at the same time, she doesn’t have much of a reason to stick around in NXT. She’s not getting near the main event scene down there so bring her up and see what she can do before she’s turned into a jobber.
EC3. This is the easiest of all the callups as EC3 was ready for the main roster the day he was signed. He has the look, the charisma, the talking skills and the work to be just fine up there and while he’s destined to be in the midcard, he’ll be fine there for a pretty long time to come, if nothing else just due to his look.
It’s not a bad class, but their results may vary. At least we have some fresh names though and that’s going to help in the short term, but again it’s a case where the bigger problem isn’t fixed. If they’re treated the same way as everyone else already on the main roster, it’s just a matter of time before they’re just like any other person in the company.
Finally you have Owens and Zayn and…..it’s Owens and Zayn. The show can use some big names coming back and especially the kind of people like these two, who can talk very well and have quality matches against anyone you put them in there against. These two can be put in the beginning, middle and end of any show and give you results, which is something you can never have enough of. This is nothing but good, and gives you some actual hope.
I wonder what they would think of this now:
Overall, this week’s big shakeup wasn’t so much of a shakeup as much as a “stuff happens and Corbin isn’t General Manager” anymore. The McMahons being around isn’t going to fix things but that’s hardly ever stopped them before. It almost has to be better than what we’ve had in recent weeks, but until we have a regular World Champion, it’s still just a bunch of people running around in search of ANYTHING to do, and that’s where the show fails. Fix the big problem, not all the side issues that we’ve grown to tolerate over the years.
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 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 1997 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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