You know that friend we all have…the one you talk to on and off…the one who you kind of go in and out of hanging out with, but when you do hang out it’s like a day hasn’t passed?
Do you know, or admit, why you don’t talk to them more? Why you don’t hang out with them still? It’s because they keep doing stupid stuff. They keep making dumb mistakes over and over. You grew up, you moved on…they never did. They apparently never will.
The WWE, more specifically Raw in this case, is that friend. The poor decisions, lackluster stories and lack of creativity ruin what should be a new age in wrestling…and you can’t teach that.
Monday night I went to Raw in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana! (pause for the obligatory Mick Foley cheap pop) I took my kids, sat in a suite that belongs to my Aunt, who owns the ambulance that Braun Strowman came out of. I had hoped to see a good show. When I was a teenager in the late 90’s I went hoping for great shows, now I’m ecstatic with GOOD shows…the times they are a-changin’.
So there I was, watching, waiting to see my favorite part of Raw…Enzo Amore and Big Cass! I had hoped against hope that the payoff for the attacks wouldn’t be predictable. I had hoped that they wouldn’t break up probably the second most popular tag team on Raw (maybe even in WWE). I was hoping they weren’t going to do that stupid thing they always do…
For context: I grew up watching wrestling. I found out it wasn’t real when I was about six and I couldn’t watch it anymore. How could Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter not be real?!?! Why the hell was I eating my vitamins if some weird, bald dude with a mustache was telling me to instead of a superhuman Hulk? You mean he didn’t REALLY body slam a GIANT? Oh the humanity!
Fast forward ten years. My grandpa told me Hulk Hogan was now a bad guy. What? No way in hell! By then I had learned to appreciate the entertainment aspect of sports entertainment. I watched it faithfully through the good and bad until Triple H had sex with a corpse…After that I would come in and out, watching for a while until it was dumb again. I tried a couple years ago, but there was a dancing bunny who did a bunny splash…
My kids, however, love WWE (thanks to Scooby Doo and WWE 2k games). I liked the games and I thought maybe, just maybe, I would give it another chance. I really wanted to see this guy that comes out as a Demon (still haven’t seen it FYI). I wanted to know why two random dudes were throwing up nWo signs. I wanted to see if there were any cool characters instead of just a bunch of flabby guys in street clothes with as much character as the hairs on my big toe.
The day after WrestleMania I thought I would give it a chance. Kurt Angle was back on Raw. A friend of mine, who shall not be named and neither shall his employer, was a HUGE Angle fan back in the day. I never was, but he’s pretty funny now that I’m older. That first night I saw Enzo and Cass with Angle and I literally laughed out loud. That promo was hilarious thanks to the interaction between Angle and Amore. The scrawny guy talking s#!t while the big guy saved his butt was hilarious. The crowd loved them! That’s what they needed. That’s what I needed to want to watch wrestling again.
Then the draft happened. Instead of moving them to SmackDown Live and strengthening the weak tag division there, Enzo and Cass were left on a crowded Raw for…what, comic relief? Clearly now we know why. It was also frustrating that they took most of their good talent and left SD fairly BARON (play on words, and so fitting). Again, remember your friend that makes dumb decisions over and over…?
There is enough singles talent to fill both shows. Yet the deck is stacked. The storylines are boring, stale, repetitive and lacking creativity. They no longer even come close to pushing the envelope. Fashion Police win two singles matches back to back in like ninety seconds? What would surprise fans and get a huge pop? Changing the titles! But nope. Do titles even change hands on TV anymore? Women’s Money in the Bank match to make history…who gets the case? A man, if we can call him that. Raw has a part-time champ, SmackDown has a jobber for a champ. You can feed me s#!t all day long, but it ain’t tastin’ like steak no matter how much you tell me it will.
Let’s run down a recent list of poor decisions in WWE in the style of headlines (think of a weird Weekend Update skit)
GUY NO ONE CARES ABOUT IS WWE CHAMPION (Do you even know his name without Google? Be honest…)
MAN WINS HISTORIC WOMEN’S MONEY IN THE BANK MATCH (20 years ago this would have been great. In the current overly political, post-feminist world we live in it’s suicide.)
MYTHICAL BEAST ALLEGEDLY SIGHTED ON RAW (Read this with a bad Crocodile Hunter impersonation, “Crikey, over there we have the extremely rare Universal Champion. Now, usually he’s only found at big Pay Per Views but tonight he’s in the ring! Don’t move to fast, you might scare him off!)
40 YEAR OLD MEN STILL WEARING POLYESTER, STILL #1 CONTENDERS (I can’t be the only one who watches Matt Hardy and thinks, “Damn, he’s hobbling around the ring like an old man!”)
“PSYCHIC” CLAIMS TO PREDICT RAW (Let’s see…promo, fight, set up for match later, odd matches in between, lack of reason for most matches, no title defenses, recap every 10 minutes, big brawl because Raw.)
WWE FINALLY GIVES YOU A REASON TO WATCH AN ENTIRE EPISODE OF RAW (Then does exactly what you, your mom who has seen wrestling once, every internet site, every smart mark and your dog thought they would do. They turned Cass heel because he’s big and “looks” like a wrestler…what made that finally matter after ten years? Hi 90% of the WWE roster…no, of course I’m not talking about YOU!)
I believe that somewhere out there in this vast universe lies an alternate Earth where WWE pulls the lips of yes men from the dark recesses of Uranus and sits down to write the best show possible. Everything makes sense, every story has a beginning, middle and end. There are surprises, twists, turns and enough action and excitement to make Dean Malenko scream like good ol’ JR.
They have the talent. Finn Balor is loved by the crowd. Enzo and Cass, New Day and Shinsuke Nakamura have the crowds singing along or repeating every word. Bray Wyatt could make The Undertaker look tame and boring. Kevin Owens modern interpretation of Bret Hart is money. James Ellsworth is the most hated man in the world (that dude deserves a pat on the back for how good he is at being terrible). Elias Samson is…I don’t know what he is, but he’s sure as hell fun to hate. Randy Orton, who was always that cocky @$$ you wanted to punch in the mouth, is the cocky @$$ you want to see punch other people in the mouth.
In the age of the internet it is hard to know what fans want. I get that. ECW started it and it’s been downhill since then. We boo the hero and cheer the villain. It can be confusing, especially if you’re surrounded by an entire team of dumb friends who constantly make poor decisions. LISTEN TO THE CROWD! Don’t force someone on me because YOU think I should like them. The Rock, Austin, Hogan, the nWo, DX, Punk, Cena (a long, long time ago) worked because they were organic. They were good characters who adapted to the crowd. Now, sometimes you end up with nWo B-team, but sometimes you end up with the Wolfpac.
Just go with it. One of the most frustrating things about WWE is that if someone is over with the crowd they feel there’s no reason for them to have a title. What sense does that make? That’s like Marvel saying, “Well, Avengers blew away the box office. There’s no reason to make another movie.” Or it’s like someone saying, “Well, The Walking Dead is the biggest show on TV, so we don’t really need to make it good.” It gets old when the good guys never win. It gets old when the people the crowd loves never get a title. Why don’t you just air a picture of a middle finger for three hours and tell them how you really feel?
Unfortunately, you keep going back. When your friend does something dumb you are there for them. When Raw pulls a WWE you still tune in (on DVR where you don’t count for ratings, fast forward most matches and condense three hours to forty-seven minutes). If your friend would look at their bad decisions and see what worked and do more of that while doing less of what gets them beat up/in jail/fired/dumped/ignored then their life would be better. They would grow. They would take the good, take the bad, take it and then they’d have the facts of life. The facts of wrestling are if stupid is as stupid does then let’s do it again.