Monday, September 15, 2014

Instant Feedback: RAW Is Confused, It Hurt Itself in Its Confusion

Odd to see this on a show right before they wrestle again
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Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins are wrestling on Sunday, and yet they wrestled to a clean finish on RAW. Brock Lesnar's big appearance came at the beginning of the 10:00 hour. The show closed with an unproven newish heel going up against an old guard guy whose sell-by date may have already expired (as much as it pains me to write that about Mark Henry). Even on episodes worse than tonight's (and tonight's was bad, don't get me wrong), a theme rises to the surface. This show, however, felt disjointed, a manifestation of every rumor about how chaotic the backstage environment is on Mondays before the show goes to air.

The last half-hour of the show drove home that mish-mashy feeling, but then again, any good wrestling show gets hammered home by its conclusion. No sequence of events could exemplify how disjointed the show was then by going from giving away a clean victory in a match that's going to happen again in six days to a Wrestling Classic-style pay-per-view card rundown into a rally for America that usually would be buried somewhere in the middle of the show. Maybe the dismal nature of the show was blunted a bit by the weirdness of its events. Well, that and by an excellent trios match followed by a surprising John Cena/Paul Heyman flipping of the script.

Sure, everything made sense when compartmentalized, in a contextual vacuum so to speak. WWE may not really be competing with Monday Night Football, but it still does have audience overlap, and with the Eagles and Colts playing a hot week two matchup, the company had to go with its strongest pairing in Cena, Lesnar, and Heyman, when the game was at a lull. Rollins has been a controversy magnet on his pay-per-view appearances as of late, and losing clean to Reigns on television may have been a sign that he's going to be part of a reason to watch the special events on the Network that isn't tied to match quality. As for Alexander Rusev and Henry, even if Cena is still a tour de force, WWE clearly is looking for more of a supporting cast. The roster is in flux, and Rusev getting a look in the final segment of the show makes as much sense as anyone else.

Still, the ordering of things and the lack of a centralized theme other than "entropy" hit me for a loop. Then again, being predictable all the time is a curse in and of itself. I'm perfectly fine admitting that I didn't "get" what WWE was trying to do with this show, if it was trying to do anything at all that wasn't just throwing shit to the wall. Then again, maybe this format is a sign of things to come. The Network, no matter how bumpily it's started out so far, still changes everything. Maybe the idea of show flow or rise and ebb in storytelling is transforming before the eyes of the audience. If that situation is the case, the process is still very much a work in progress, but sometimes, renovations aren't that easy.