The RAW Conundrum

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Photo: WWE

Monday Night RAW is in the midst of a slump. I attended RAW at the London O2 Arena this week and whereas – to the WWE‘s credit – the show is always enjoyable in person, there was a clear sense whilst in attendance that there is an awful lot wrong with the program. The most naturally over star on the roster? Let’s keep him out of compelling storylines and throw him into random tag team matches every single week. Our failing face of the company? Let’s just keep doing what we are doing and damage him some more. I don’t know whether or not it is the yearly post-WrestleMania decline in quality, but something is wrong and something needs to change to freshen the show up. Let’s cover a few of the issues:

Raw Conundrum

What the heck is going on with Braun?

Remember the Braun Strowman from last year? That big, unstoppable, monstrous brute who was tipping over trucks and murdering Roman Reigns week-after-week? One of the rare pictures of what Vince McMahon sees in a star who actually manages to get over with the audience? Well, he’s been in random tag matches for weeks now and it is clear that creative currently has nothing for him. Sure, he won the Greatest Royal Rumble (deservedly so) and has still been booked as a winner, but what else can we say of Braun Strowman post-Mania?

He teamed up (quite randomly) with Bobby Lashley for a few weeks, and then with Finn Balor this past Monday; just what gives? “Stone Cold” Steve Austin went into detail on his podcast on this very subject this week; himself concerned about the over-humanization of the Braun Strowman character and his worries that he was being made into a comedy character when he is someone who should be a legitimate main eventer given his ability and presence. Braun is simply far too beloved by the WWE audience to not be doing anything meaningful during a time of the year when viewership tends to decline and interest is lost. Find something for him. Please?

Broken Tag-Team Division

For years after the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian and Team 3D era of tag team wrestling, the division was seriously neglected. To their credit, there has been a revival (no pun intended) of tag team wrestling over the course of the past few years (largely thanks to NXT). The Revival, American Alpha, the Ascension, Authors of Pain, The Bar, The Usos, The New Day and others have collectively brought life to a long-dead division. So what happens once things start to improve? Creative starts breaking up the division and undoing all of their good work on this issue. American Alpha are no more, The Ascension are doomed to and trapped in jobber purgatory, AOP have been off RAW for a number of weeks now (they were on Main Event this week) and The Revival have lost all of their momentum; losing matches on RAW for weeks.

This has been most notable on RAW as the Superstar Shakeup seems to have further dented the tag team division. They allowed arguably the best tag team in all of wrestling for the year 2017, The Bar, to leave for Smackdown Live. The Bar were crucial to that division. “Woken” Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are an entertaining and fresh replacement. However, there is a feeling that they are not a long-term tag-team. Even if they are, who is really left for them to feud with? The B-Team? Breezeango?

The Roman Reigns Problem

Roman Reigns is a very talented worker who often has his work overlooked as a result of the issues surrounding both his booking and his character. Now, with that being said, this is a major problem. As good and as talented as Roman is, he’s just not a babyface. It just doesn’t work. However, we all know at this point (if we learned our lesson from the Cena years) that Roman is not turning heel anytime soon – if ever. Fans should probably give up asking for it. Is turning Roman the right thing to do? Absolutely, yes. It would freshen him up and most likely get him over with the fans long-term if done correctly. But this is simply not going to happen.

If they aren’t going to turn Roman, then they need to portray more of the badass side of him. Roman was constantly heckled and booed at the O2 Arena this week, but was – to many fan’s surprise – cheered somewhat when he aggressively speared Jinder Mahal through a wall backstage. That’s the side of Roman they need to display more of. Roman as an underdog doesn’t work because it lacks any kind of believability. He’s not Daniel Bryan and he’s not Rey Mysterio. He is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound Samoan from arguably the most successful wrestling family not called McMahon. Book him like one.  He is not an underdog and he is not a sympathetic babyface.

When Will The “Authority” Nightmare End?

How long has this “Authority” stuff been going on for now anyway? Five years? If you consider the birth of the Authority as being the night Triple H Pedigreed Daniel Bryan at Summerslam ’13 and allowed Randy Orton to successfully cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, then yes, it is five years. The worst part about it? There is no end in sight. We have had Randy Orton as the poster boy for the Authority. Then we had Batista. Then we had Seth Rollins. Now? Kevin Owens is in that spot and it makes no sense at all.

The Stephanie McMahon character loves getting one over Shane McMahon, so yes, it makes sense that she would be thankful to Owens for causing him so much trouble and would be rewarding him for his work on that front. But are we all supposed to forget that Kevin Owens pretty much attempted to murder Vince McMahon on an episode of Smackdown last year? Vince is one of two people that the Stephanie character has always been very protective of, so it makes literally no sense that she would be so strongly backing Kevin Owens after the assault on the Chairman.

Then we have the weirdness of Stephanie being this evil, conniving corporate commissioner trying to make the babyfaces’ lives hell on the same show where they promote her as being this great, philanthropic champion of social justice.

I get that kayfabe is dead in 2018, but it shouldn’t be dead during the actual show.  It’s just weird. If she is supposed to be a heel, then let her be a heel. If she’s supposed to be a babyface, then let her be one and end this Authority nonsense once and for all.

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