We have to talk about this. Over the last month and a half or so, WWE has run a storyline on Monday Night Raw involving the marriage of Lana and Rusev, who are married in real life, falling apart due to Lana having an affair with Bobby Lashley. This has been one of if not the biggest story on Monday Night Raw, getting as much focus as anything else and closing the show more than once. To say it has not been well received is an understatement so that means it’s time to go a bit more into it.
A lot of fans have been rather vocal about their displeasure with the story and I would certainly be one of them. There have been very few positives about the whole thing and I have a bad feeling that things are going to get even worse as time goes on. That being said, the story is far from the worst things ever and today we are going to break things down a bit and see what we can break down about the whole thing.
Let’s get one major thing out of the way first: this is not the worst thing WWE has ever done, this is not one of the worst things that WWE has ever done and it might not even be the worst thing WWE did in October. It’s a stupid story that is hurting all three people involved, but it has a point and you can tell most of their motives. There has not been some big WHAT AM I WATCHING moment and as long as that continues to be the case (which seems likely), it remains firmly in the bad but not disaster category. That alone is a very important point and needs to be kept in mind.
So what do we have here? Well….really only one thing over and over again: Lana has left Rusev for Lashley and Rusev gets beaten up over and over, normally after falling for Lana’s latest lie. Now keep doing that week after week with Rusev not exactly getting to do much in retaliation or having anything to celebrate out of the whole thing. Oh and he is a sex addict who kept trying to sleep with Lana every single chance he could get because he wanted her pregnant, the last detail of which may or may not have been completely dropped.
Ok this was good:
And that’s the whole thing so far. There hasn’t been a match yet and no one is exactly coming out of this whole thing looking great. The biggest problem continues to be the subject matter itself, which just feels out of place in the modern WWE. It feels like they’re trying to recreate the Attitude Era without all of the things that made it work. There isn’t really anything else close to this in WWE at the moment and that is showing pretty badly. When you factor in WWE literally referring to it as a storyline on Backstage, the realism that they are shooting for is lost in a hurry.
There isn’t much else to say about it at this point and that’s a problem in and of itself. What am I supposed to be invested in here? Am I supposed to feel sorry for Rusev? As in the one who was married to a blonde bombshell who helped him achieve a lot of his success in WWE? After possibly cheating on her? Or am I supposed to feel bad for the blonde bombshell who may have been lied to about her husband cheating on her and hooked up with a perfect physical specimen who is arguably an even bigger star in WWE than her husband?
The fact that I had to think a lot of that through is part of the problem. It isn’t that the story is too complicated but more that I’m still not sure why I would care about any of these people or their problems. The motivations make enough sense, but it’s not like any of them are all that likable. I know Rusev is the good guy in the whole thing and will wind up beating Lashley in the end. And then….what? I’m assuming Lana will try to leave Lashley for him and get turned down as everyone goes their separate ways, but is that the best conclusion they can have?
That’s what I keep coming back to with it: I have no reason to care about these people, what is happening to them at the moment or what is going to happen to them as a result of all of this stuff. It isn’t an interesting story and it feels completely out of place in modern WWE. If you want Lashley with Lana then just go there without having this big mess. Or don’t have them talk about the whole thing every single week with one soap opera trope thrown in after another. It hasn’t been very good…and yet there are certainly some positives about the whole thing.
It can’t all be good:
One thing that does keep standing out to me during the segments is how hard everyone is trying. This is a case where everyone is giving it everything they have in a story that no one really should be in. That takes some talent and dedication that several wrestlers wouldn’t have here. How many times have you seen someone check out on a segment or a match because they know it isn’t working? I know this segment isn’t working, but at least they’re trying and that’s more than a lot of people would be able to say in a situation like this.
With that hopefully comes some potential, as maybe the company will see the hard work and effort put into something like this and give them something better down the line. I mean, I know that isn’t how WWE works on its best days, but at least there is a chance that it could go somewhere. You know, provided that all three of them don’t have their careers destroyed by the huge mess that feels like it could have a lot of time dedicated to getting this mess of a story over.
At the same time though, there is one major factor that is working in their favor. As usual, the big solution to the whole situation is….YouTube, where these segments are regularly at or near the top of the list of most viewed segments on Monday Night Raw. In other words, there is an audience of people who want to see something like this, though it might not be the same people who watch Monday Night Raw on television every week. That does make a difference in the way the segments are being received, but is it enough to overcome their negative reception?
Probably so yes, as WWE loves little more than bragging about its social media numbers. If putting this on the show every single week is going to give that big of a boost to its YouTube views, I would certainly think that they would be happy with the fans not carding. At the end of the day, it isn’t like anyone is watching whatever they present on any given episode of Monday Night Raw anyway, so why not get some kind of benefit out of the thing until you can either come up with something better or hit absolute rock bottom in terms of the audience numbers? Normally I would ask how much worse it could get, but that’s a scary thought.
Though it did give us firery Rusev:
This story is not very good. There isn’t anyone to really sympathize with, the segments are downright painful to watch at times, no one is coming out of the whole thing looking good and there is almost no way that the blowoff match is going to make up for everything that we have sat through so far. That being said, people are watching it more than anything else on at least one platform, and that is better than nothing. WWE needs to try different things right now and at least there is a story here for a change. It might not be a good one, but it’s better than nothing, even if I would rather see something in a ring than a triangle.