When it comes to wrestling, I don’t normally do reaction articles. In fact, I try to make it a point to not do reaction articles because wrestling is non-stop – one story bleeds into the next, one feud boils over into the next. From weekly show to weekly show, from ppv to ppv – nothing every truly stops. Even Wrestlemania, WWE’s “super bowl” acts as much as a start to new things as an end to old. All of that being said, I am in a super reactionary place right now and I just have to talk about this week’s Monday Night Raw.
The Little Things Give You Away
Speaking of the never ending cycle of WWE, before Michael Cole even had a chance to fully bloviate about how Bobby Bob Lashley had supplanted Roman Reigns as WWE’s resident Big Dog, the importance of that win was essentially washed away. On Monday night, Raw GM Kurt Angle called out Brock Lesnar and his advocate to fulfil his ultimatum of Brock shows or gets stripped of the Universal Title. Heyman eventually agreed for Brock to defend the title at SummerSlam for fear of his client being stripped. PAUSE. As is custom in WWE, everybody who thought they might have a claim at a shot strolled out. Bob came out (fair enough), followed by Drew Mcintyre (umm, sure), Finn Balor (I guess so), Seth Rollins (give this man all the titles) and Elias (ok, just stop). For some reason WWE thought that we would be surprised that Roman eventually also threw his hat in the ring. We knew Roman was coming out, let’s not play games. Kurt sets up two triple threat matches for the show with the winners facing each other next week on Raw. Here is how everyone knew exactly what was going to happen rather than event give us the hope of a fresh matchup Kurt set Roman and Bob apart in the triple threat matches. Roman went against Drew and Finn and Bob was paired with Seth and Elias. Great, we all knew it would be Roman vs Bob II at that exact moment.
So Roman wins the first match, much to no one’s surprise. Then we got to the main event.
As much as all of us smarks wanted to see Seth pull out the victory to setup something truly interesting next week, deep down we knew what was headed our way. We knew the freight train of Bob Roman II was destined to slap us up side the head without any hesitancy or delay.
In the End It Doesn’t Even Matter
So now here we are, confused and full of questions are we gonna lose or is this just a lesson… both. Fans are losing in this scenario and it’s a lesson to smarks to never have hope. WWE immediately made Bob v Roman I irrelevant by circling back to it 8 days later with the added bonus of number one contendership on the line. Beating Roman Reigns clean on ppv should still kind of be an important thing – and without a major title on the line, Bob should have been able to run off of that win for a bit. Lesnar Reigns IV seems inevitable at this point. Roman gets to get his win back against Bob. Roman gets to beat Lesnar finally at a Big 4 ppv for a major title and we can all keep it pushing as though the last 18 months of the Universal title being mostly held hostage never happened.
Also, to Vince, no amount of keeping Brock off television and away from the product is going to result in that Brooklyn crowd cheering for Roman. Also, we don’t really care about Lashley Bob, so even if you decide to go that route, it won’t net you better results.
Breaking the Habit
There are so many ways WWE could have approached this story differently and in a myriad of more interesting ways – and one or two that they still can.
First, as I said from last night, WWE should have given us a different final matchup for the number one contender spot. They could have put Bob and Roman in the same triple threat. Even if Roman ultimately was/is going to be the winner, at least give us a more interesting matchup to get there. In fact, they could have gone so far as to have Roman pin Bob off of the third man’s finisher or Roman not pin Bob at all giving them an open door back to this feud (potentially as a title feud) after the SummerSlam dust settled. Just give us a little unpredictability man.
Going beyond just the number one contender’s match next week, WWE had an opportunity to do something really special. We could have had Roman vs Seth next week. This would have been better for so many reasons. First, Seth vs Roman, while seen once or twice, isn’t too stale a matchup to run back here – this is still an amazing matchup and probably a really strong match in general. Second, with the level of popularity that Seth Rollins is experiencing right now, and the year he has had thus far, the level of interest and the amount of eyeballs on next week’s match would have been exponentially higher. No one cares about Roman vs Bob. While it’s a fresh matchup, both guys are mostly dead to the crowd right now and would draw the wrong kind of heat. Seth vs Roman, however, is capable of moving the needle during a random Raw in the scorching heat of summer. But that’s not even the best part – the best part of that match would be the potential fallout.
Imagine with me that Seth loses to Roman (this would still have been the most likely outcome, let’s face it). Seth now having lost his IC title to Dolph, then having gotten screwed out of the rematch and then losing to Roman could start a slow burn towards a heel turn. The story could be how his year started off so hot and now he is losing all of his momentum. Have him lose a couple more high profile matches in service the turn and then pull it off at something like Survivor Series or Hell in a Cell to give a jolt during the fall season. This could have been a nice little story.
Alternatively, you could have used that match to do a full Roman heel turn. Roman has stated in the recent past that if you want to turn him heel put him in a ring opposite Daniel Bryan. While Seth is not in the exact same category of babyface, he is probably the best face option on Raw than can draw the type of vitriol that Roman imagines coming out of a program with Bryan. Seth could have won the match and Roman snap and beat the holy hell out of him and cost him the shot at SummerSlam due to injury. You could also have Roman use outright heel tactics to win the match and set a potential post SummerSlam, post Brock rivalry that could also light up Monday Night Raw in the fall and bring much needed long term interest back to the red belt.
That’s not even mentioning if Seth had won, beaten Brock and had to fend off Mr. Monster in the Bank at some point. The potential stories from that direction are too amazing to think about because we know it’s not happening.
Alas, Vince does not want us to have nice things, he wants us to have his things, the way he wants us to. PAUSE. This is why as much as SummerSlam is basically a month away, interest is limited. We don’t know AJ’s next contender yet and amidst rumors that WWE never considered closing Sunday’s ppv with the match for its titular belt, there is little interest there. With Bryan’s contract status still up in the air, there is no guarantee that we see the full scope of a feud with Miz. With Kane injured, Team Hell No is on ice. With the Bludgeon Brothers holding the SD Tag titles it’s meh. With Carmella holding the SD women’s title, life sucks. On Raw with Dolph as IC champ, who cares. The B team, while entertaining, will only really be interesting if Bray starts to try to woo his brother to the dark side. Thank heavens for Alexa Bliss and the undeniably royal beating she will get from Rousey at SummerSlam. But across the board there are little to no stories of genuine interest. WWE has just under five weeks to build us up for SummerSlam and they seem to think that setting up Brock Roman IV or Bob v Brock or a triple threat is what’s best for business. NEWSFLASH, we don’t care about Brock, Bob has zero charisma, and Roman has been so effectively ruined that nothing there is nothing you can do to make fans cheer him at SummerSlam. So yea, after last night, WWE has left many fans kind of numb.
One More Light
Ahhh, but there is hope. One more light, if you will, that can shine hope into the darkness that is the Raw main event scene. There is a monster, lurking in the dark, with a briefcase. In that briefcase he holds a contract for a Universal title match at any time. A monster that can (AND MOST DEFINITELY SHOULD) be unleashed in the aftermath of whatever becomes SummerSlam’s Universal title match. Smarks everywhere are holding their breath for a monstrous cash in by Mr. Monster in the Bank Braun Strowman. Braun is our last gasp for fresh air on Raw. An extended Braun championship run can be a whole ton of fun. So above all else, WWE please let Strowman successfully cash in that briefcase, wreck the entirety of the Barclays Center and leave SummerSlam as our beloved Universal championship. If you do that, we’ll overlook most of your Roman and Brock related sins of the last two years (nah, but we’ll at least shut up about it for a while.)