Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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WWE’s Current State of Monotony

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Last night on Monday Night Raw, the team of Sasha Banks, Ember Moon and Alexa Bliss were set to take on The Riott Squad. Alexa Bliss pretended to be hurt and ditched Sasha Banks and Ember Moon, making it a two-on-three handicap match. Then, Bayley runs into the ring and magically decides to make herself legal, and the referee for some reason doesn’t believe someone who wasn’t in the match attacking the other team constitutes a DQ. He counts the winning pinfall and the new trio of Bayley, Sasha Banks and Ember Moon wins. Backstage, they celebrate and Sasha Banks/Bayley nearly hug it out, only for Kurt Angle to inform them that The Riott Squad won by DQ because Bayley wasn’t legal and that their win didn’t count. That kind of summarizes the current state of WWE programming. Nothing has any meaning, and there’s no payoff to anything.

Towards the end of the episode, we got a preview of what to expect for next week. Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax will be face to face in the ring. There will be a fatal four-way match between Bobby Roode, Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens and Finn Bálor. There will be another fatal four-way between four of the eight women in the women’s ladder match. Are you starting to see the issue? Look at the repetitiveness. We just saw Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey face to face not only in the ring but backstage last night. We already had a contract signing between them and a brief stare down the week after. So tune in next week so we can see them do the same thing? Are they actually going to get physical? What’s so unique about it? Then there’s the laziest possible booking there is. Just take four competitors from two singles matches that we got Monday and throw them into either a tag team match or a fatal four-way. The winner gets imaginary momentum heading into Money in the Bank, and they will no doubt climb to the top and grab the briefcase, which is the new way of pointing at the WrestleMania sign at the Royal Rumble.

There’s no kind way to put it, but right now, WWE sucks major ass. Yes, I know, this isn’t the first time WWE has sucked, as there have been many times where WWE has seen these stretches of actively bad programming. But what makes this cold stretch unique is because of the reasoning. It’s not due to a lack of talent or even a lack of quality. It’s the lack of meaning. Every one each week has a role to play, and they just play it and that’s it. There are no strings attached, there is no emotional connection we are to make with any of the stories in each feud and we are supposed to be programmed to absorb it.

Raw began with Elias in the ring doing his shtick. Seth Rollins comes out and the two have a stare down. Jinder Mahal attacks Seth Rollins from behind in continuation of what they did the week before. At this point, we are all programmed to expect Roman Reigns’ music to hit within 30 seconds of the beat down. Then, when the faces clear the ring, it is at this point where we expect Teddy Long to come out and announce a tag team match if Teddy Long was an Olympic Gold medalist. And because we all know that Seth Rollins will probably hold the Intercontinental Championship past Money in the Bank and that it’ll be a cold day in hell when Jinder Mahal beats Roman Reigns, the faces will probably lose the match. There was about half an hour devoted to just this alone. If this sounds familiar, it does, because WWE spent even more time in the first hour not too long ago building to a tag team match with Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins and Jinder Mahal/Kevin Owens. Elias was just merely a substitute for what Kevin Owens would have done. Look at Bobby Roode. He has a big, shiny robe like Ric Flair. He smiles like Apollo. He says things. His theme song is the same line on repeat. He likes saying glorious. He likes posing. His finisher is a DDT. Isn’t that fun? Finn Bálor comes out, says nothing, and does the same thing every week. You having fun yet? Sasha Banks and Bayley like each other but they don’t like each other at the same time. Isn’t that controversy intriguing? Look at the tag teams. Do you realize Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy have literally done NOTHING since winning the tag titles? They come out and they do the same thing, and we’re supposed to absorb it. What about The Bludgeon Brothers? Look at what The Usos have been reduced to. There’s nothing compelling about any of it.

Again, it’s not only meaningless, but it’s repetitiveness. WWE can switch around the characters, switch around the words and even switch around the segments, but the concept as a whole is in a holding pattern and the hamster is starting to get fatigued on that wheel.

Looking up and down the Money in the Bank match card, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be an awesome show. And I think it actually will be. Just pretend that you knew that this was going to be the card one year in advance. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura for the title in a Last Man Standing match? Epic. Two Money in the Bank ladder matches? Sign me up. Seth Rollins and Elias rocking with a potentially high-quality mid-card showing? Say no more. Ronda Rousey competing for a title in her first singles match in her WWE career? Reeks of awesomeness. But again, how many of you are exactly excited to see those matches? Just look at how each of the matches have been built. The Money in the Bank ladder match is really just thrown together with a series of random qualifying matches that certain guys happen to win, and it’s the same deal for the women. Jinder Mahal cost Roman Reigns a match, Roman Reigns tells Jinder Mahal backstage to shut up, and they have a match. Seth Rollins celebrates on an announcer’s stage, but because Elias hit him from behind, they just have to have a match. Just have to.

What turned into a series of fun tag matches between Braun Strowman/Bobby Lashley and Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens has degenerated into a horrible secondary feud between two of its participants. Sami Zayn can’t take one extended vertical suplex from Bobby Lashley, and this leads to a match. Over time, Sami Zayn realizes that men with wigs and makeup aren’t actually Bobby Lashley’s sisters. He informs us that Bobby Lashley uses motivational quotes on his Instagram like every other human being, and does the one sure-fire, but cheap, way of gaining heat, and that is to question his military history. It’s a deplorably bad feud that doesn’t utilize any of Bobby Lashley’s strengths and just makes him look like a geek and makes a world-class performer in Sami Zayn look desperate trying to make something out of literal shit. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura can’t have a definitive finish to their matches, so they need to have a match where there just has to be a winner. And tomorrow, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura will have a contract signing to make their match official (I guess this match and Ronda Rousey/Nia Jax are the only matches that are happening since those are the only two matches that have had an official contract signing, right?) even though we’ve already seen them attack each other in the ring. The hype man for the preview asks “Will AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura be able to restrain themselves?” Jeez, I don’t know. They keep kicking each other in the dick. Kind of hard to say.

Now believe me when I say I’m not one of those people who’s just going to claim that I am going to leave WWE because it’s bad just to return the following week. I still enjoy watching WWE because it’s home to some of the best sports entertainers money can buy. However, it’s moments like these where you have to realize WWE is wasting some of the best years of its performers. WWE arguably has never had a roster this deep since the Ruthless Aggression Era, and there’s a positive blend of young guns to lead the future, savy veterans to provide guidance and the present stars of today. There’s no reason why each edition of Raw and SmackDown LIVE shouldn’t leave you in awe. I’ve been trying to find out the reason as to why programming can be so average with rosters filled to capacity with star power. And I’ve figured it out. It’s all our fault.

Yeah, we are to blame for everything. Yes, the creative team puts out that stupid content and the ever out-of-touch Vince McMahon approves it to go on the air. That being said, why do you think they put all that stupid stuff out that you know will make Vince McMahon laugh uncontrollably? It’s because we loyalists still keep tuning in each week in the hopes that the programming will improve. We hope that we see a potential four star match on free TV, or that some bombshell promo is cut. But these days are hopes are getting put up for nothing and our loyalty has not been rewarded. If WWE doesn’t have to go all out or even pretend that they care to put on a decent show, they won’t if it doesn’t affect the ratings. Vince McMahon reportedly had his eyebrows raised at the fact that people immediately left the building both during and immediately after the Samoa Joe/Roman Reigns match at Backlash. But an even bigger eyebrow would be raised if thousands, if not, millions of people just decided to tune in to ESPN or TNT on Monday and Tuesday nights. Unless something forces them to put out better content, nothing will change, that’s why WWE is in the state of complacency it is in.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to initiate a self-imposed exile from watching WWE and I certainly won’t stop watching because I have too much faith in the performers to do so. I’m just trying to provide an explanation for what we’re seeing, and right now, it isn’t good.