The WWE is in a good place right now. The network has been a success, NXT is thriving, and wrestling has even recently gained mainstream acceptance. There really isn’t much to complain about with the current product, well, other than that the WWE’s flagship program is hardly watchable week to week.
That’s right. Monday Night Raw has been pretty awful in recent weeks. The WWE is continuing to throw out the same matches every week (please, no more Sheamus and Randy Orton!) while shoving the upcoming PPV down the viewers’ throat. No, we don’t need Triple H starting off Raw by reading off the entire lineup of SummerSlam, which can easily be accessed via a thing called the Internet. Please, no more six-man tag main events, or even worse, no main event match at all. The WWE is in too good of a place right now for Raw to be this bad.
Here’s how the WWE can make Raw worth your time every week:
More U.S. Open Style Matches
Man do I miss John Cena being the U.S. Champion. Sure he can get annoying now and then exclaiming, “THE CHAMP IS HERE!!!,” but there’s no denying how great his U.S. Open Challenges were every week.
Even if Raw was terrible for 2.5 hours, you could count on the Open Challenge making Raw worth your time in and of itself. Waiting in anticipation for who would walk out the entrance ramp was always fun, as was the epic 15-20 minute match that was to follow. The likes of Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Neville, Stardust and especially Cesaro put on excellent matches with Cena that were easily PPV quality.
Most Raws feature vanilla matches that are fast-forward worthy. The WWE is slowly regressing back to the format of saving epic matches for PPVs. That’s a mistake. The fans deserve great matches every week.
If Seth Rollins is the U.S. Champion long term, he needs to put it on the line in Open Challenges as well. If that’s not an option, than the Intercontinental Championship can serve the same purpose. There’s also always the option of putting two great workers together and giving them 20 minutes to excite the crowd. Storylines don’t need to be attached to every match to make it special.
Let the Good Talkers Talk, and the Bad Talkers Walk
Too much of Raw is spent on boring, unnecessary promos. Ryback’s backstage interviews have become borderline insulting to any fans watching older than the age of 15. He clearly reads off cue cards and still manages to slip up every other sentence. Let Ryback be Ryback. He can’t talk, but he’s an imposing figure. Let someone else grab the mic.
Bray Wyatt is given some time to talk every week, but not nearly at the rate when he was cutting promos aimed at the Undertaker heading into Wrestlemania 31. Those promos were on the longer side, but they were animated, engaging, and perfectly executed. I’d rather listen to Wyatt deliver a good promo than watch half of the roster wrestle.
Kevin Owens is another wrestler that is a joy to listen to. He’s straight and to the point with his condescending and aggressive verbal attacks on his opponent. Owens shouldn’t be eating an apple to build up his rivalry with Ryback. He should be grabbing the mic in front of the crowd and doing what he does so well.
Paul Heyman only shows up when Brock Lesnar does, so the rest of the roster has to pick up the slack on the mic. Wyatt and Owens are a good start, but the rest of the roster has to follow suit.
Have Real Main Events
These six-man tag matches have gotten out of hand. No one wants to see John Cena and the Prime Time Players against Seth Rollins and the New Day headlining Raw (no matter how great the New Day have been recently). These matches rarely have good wrestling and they fail to advance any meaningful plot.
Even worse is when the WWE fails to have a main event at all and chooses forward some angle, as they did last week when Stephanie McMahon pinned Cena against Rollins for the U.S. strap at Night of Champions. Raw is usually limping towards the finish line. The WWE Universe wants to see the best Raw has to offer once the main event rolls around, like this:
These are the main events people want to see. An impromptu Cena vs. Cesaro match that isn’t connected to an ongoing storyline? Sure, I’m not complaining. The WWE can do this every week.
The roster is so talented right now that just about any singles match that’s given time can deliver in the main event. Even a 20-minute match between Neville and Stardust in the main event would be a step in the right direction. In-ring excellence is as important as ever these days, so why not showcase that on the biggest segment of Raw? Anything but more six-man tag matches. Anything.