Monday, February 10, 2014

Instant Feedback: You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round

How many times has this scene kicked off RAW in the last six months?
Photo Credit:
RAW tonight opened with The Authority tsk-tsking Randy Orton and talking about who the Face of WWE was while Orton replied with something befitting a wrestler who had no right being in the position he was in. It ended with John Cena wrestling Randy Orton in a match that promised to end their rivalry. If you feel a sense of deja vu over that sequence of events, then you're not alone. The road to WrestleMania seems like it's in a rut right now. A scant few characters have made meaningful advancements. Daniel Bryan is still chasing brass rings in sarcastic tones. Dolph Ziggler is still getting KTFO'd by Alberto del Rio short superkicks. Orton and The Authority had the same tension. I guess the fact that Orton had switched from bratty backlash to desperate brown-nosing is improvement, but not by much.

The amount of recursion within WWE programming in any given portion of the year is staggering. Remember, around this time last year, Daniel Bryan and Kane were on their second or third reboot of the Dr. Shelby therapy treatments. They interacted tonight, only Kane was now part of the machine that Bryan has been fighting since SummerSlam. They have history, but that history has been lost to the greater narrative. I hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, they call back to the Team Hell No days and WWE gives the audience something to latch onto, but I can't help but feel like another skip on the LP is coming soon.

Funny that one group escapes this malaise is the Wyatt Family. The lone spark of character development on the show was driven by them. Their appearance at the end of the Mark Henry/Dean Ambrose match elicited some of that superstar aura from Roman Reigns as he led the charge towards an aborted battle. Why, however, are the Wyatts the one faction that escapes the constant setting and resetting of the same acts in the story?

The theory that makes the most sense is that the writers can only seem to concentrate on one group's narratives at a time or else they'd either get fried or they'd just confuse Vince McMahon with all the moving parts, well, moving. With the Wyatts being the beneficiaries of advancement, everything else remains in a state of stasis at the absolute best. At worst, the narrative creeps back to a prior reversion, because hey, it worked before, hasn't it?

Shows like tonight highlight the reason why RAW is at its best not when it is looked upon as a story, but as a show where things might happen. Whether those moments are connected to a prior astral tether that holds everything together or not seems irrelevant because the structure of the show renders it as such. For every electric weekly serial that is produced, WWE seems to put out at least one show where it throws the leftovers into the microwave and see how well the crowd eats it up.

But the Wyatts and The Shield kept it from being a total waste. So did the plentiful amount of solid and satisfying wrestling matches and singular performances. WWE's roster right now has a bunch of guys and gals on it that excel at taking the same oeuvre and at least dressing it up. Orton tonight was his predictable best self as the sniveling trust fund Champion trying desperately to find an angle that will keep him in management's good graces. But without story progression, those morsels are just remixes on the same song. No matter how great the original was, releasing the same base material with little tweaks here and there is going to get old pretty quickly.