With the company coming off arguably the most public and busiest non-Mania month in WWE history; I was asked to fly the jet from Baltimore back into The Empire State Capitol. This time, to what was certainly an ancillary stop for the old man’s original four-lettered territory. On top of the most ambitious travel schedule Vinnie has ever put in front of his talent, a massive television contract was finalized in the last few days. This contract delineates a sad day for smarks, sheep, and all fans of the art form because our thoughts and opinions regarding this soap opera we love have just disappeared in a billion-dollar black hole. I am truly saddened for all of us.
With this explosive news in the background, what did we get for the first Monday Night Raw in The States in two weeks? When I was a young fan, Jesse Ventura used to refer to certain baby faces by telling us: “He’s got a million-dollar body and a ten-cent brain.” Last night, fans got stuck with the dime. RAW opens with GM Kurt Angle being properly serenaded with a “YOU SUCK!” chant as he heads to the ring. I hope he enjoyed the feeling. It was straight downhill from here. Angle was not given five minutes to hold his own balls. I wonder who cut them off? Oh look, Daddy’s Little Girl is back. Stealing someone’s chance because Vince struggles to make authentic heels. Her arm has healed. She has too much make up. Her mouth is still functional. The same cannot be said for her brain. Welcome to the downside of allowing ownership to play pricks on television. Stephanie, the match and results at WrestleMania were booked by your gene pool. Three choices: Shut your mouth, get off camera, or break the fourth wall.
After The Wicked Witch puts her Ginsu away, she mentions Roman Reigns. Before she can finish her thought, The Big Dog is unleashed from the back to a chorus of boos. He is still struggling with cutting promos years into his run. They are asking him to do John Cena style mic work. The next person who can do that is a generation away from the roster. Hype Machine actually says Management doesn’t wanna put Gold on him. Save it Roman. This latest accusation brings Kevin Owens out to remind him that he is not the only performer with authority issues. After getting to close to Steph, KO earns a singles match with Roman to commence immediately.
Kevin Owens is a fantastic bump taker. After about ten minutes of literally being turned inside-out; including a spear and Superman Punch, The Canadian was barely hanging on. This was the perfect time for Jinder Mahal to run in and exact some revenge for being put through a wall last week. This interference gave Roman the win by DQ. We weren’t done though. The Big Dog has backup too. Dude’s Shield Brother comes out to even things up. Seth Rollins was already a great athlete, but he is flirting with oxygen very few can breathe. Very little of what he is doing right now doesn’t look like it has an athletic purpose. His coin flip dives from ring to floor were breathtaking. Very rarely does Creative enable someone to hit a finish immediately after missing it, like you would try to do in a REAL FIGHT! It happened last night to give Reigns & Rollins the win. Seth Rollins is carrying the men’s division of Monday Night Raw right now.
My sincerest apologies for the nightmare we must walk into at present. Before we go into the wormhole, I’d like to remind my readers that this is 2018 and Bobby Lashley can work anywhere in the world. Last week, Sami Zayn of all people cut a promo telling us he would expose Lashley as a fraud by bringing his sisters to Monday Night Raw for an interview. Quick. does anybody but Vinnie care about this? Last night, the skinny Canadian bounced his way to the ring like he had solved The Kennedy Assassination. Instead, he called out three guys in drag to rehash this opioid-induced train wreck. This is 2018. Then Zayn called Lashley out to confront him with this bad joke. Walking Armageddon came out to crickets, disposed of the gentlemen quickly, and left to the same crickets. Anyone, including my colleagues thinking Vinnie’s negotiating skills turn him into Einstein with a script, just watch this segment. Yes Bobby, it’s 2018 and you sold your athletic soul to New York for six figures and THIS!
Three recess segments and I still fell asleep. That tells you how bad this episode was. First, Alexa Bliss is backstage cutting a history-based promo on The Romans and The Visigoths? Interesting set up to explain away her New Year’s Day loss to Ember Moon. Nice try Little Miss Math Class. You still haven’t graduated yet! Ten minutes and one BFF having a conniption fit later, The Lunar Lone Star won clean with The Eclipse. Excuse me, how does Little Miss Bliss have two pieces of Raw Women’s Gold? That’s right, she worked with a pro. Watch them hand her the briefcase. Sadly, more crickets. This time for the ladies. A Four-Way Money in The Bank Qualifier. Participants: Liv Morgan, Natalya, Sarah Logan, Dana Brooke. Only two of these girls have a pulse. Nattie got payback on Logan for the incident prior to the desert with The Sharpshooter and a clean tap out for the win. This night cements the case that Sasha Banks is indeed carrying The Raw Women’s Division. After the match Nattie cut a strange promo on her friendship with Ronda Rousey and what will happen in Chicago. Speaking of Ms. Rowdy, she signed the contract opposite Nia Jax. Even with Steph stirring things up, this segment felt slightly forced. Ronda is getting better on the mic. They didn’t bring her to Stamford to talk. I really don’t wanna see this match in June.
The rest of the show could’ve happened two months ago. Elias cuts a great promo. TURN HIM ALREADY! He beat Bobby Roode clean with The Drift Away. Bothers me when a guy like Roode is brought in to job out. He has more talent than that. Move these gentlemen along please. Baron Corbin beat No Way Jose for the millionth time on TV. The Former Lost Puppies; now being called The B Team, beat Breezango again. Stop acting like me if I won a match clean. You have generational legacies, respect them. Dolph Ziggler cut a promo on Chad Gable in a hallway. Of course this lead to a match with Drew Galloway standing outside the ring. For a nanosecond, I thought the former amateur Pan-American Games participant had a chance. Then my eyes opened. Dolph went over clean and Galloway landed a Claymore Kick afterward. Earlier in the night, Finn Balor and Braun Strowman were looking for a rematch with the above-mentioned duo. Steph hijacked Angle’s office. She was being her typical self. No tag-match. Rather, a main event singles contest between the two. After a surprisingly competitive match. Braun went over clean. Assuming Vince McMahon even had a brain after Steve Austin’s retirement, this is easily the worst episode of Monday Night Raw in five years, if not longer. I hope that money didn’t go to his head or somewhere else. Hopefully SmackDown is better.
Dear Smarks: WWE Does Listen To Fans
Either last week or earlier this week (my days are running together so I don’t remember), Stephanie McMahon was at a summit called ‘Game Changer’ and she made the following comment: ‘We’re successful for one reason only – we listen to our fans.’
The internet smarks ROASTED Stephanie over this comment, mocking her for claiming that WWE listens to their fans when, in their minds, that is clearly not the case. Why? Because Roman Reigns, not Braun Strowman is champion, among other things. Clearly, any company that makes Roman Reigns champion over Braun Strowman isn’t listening to their fans, or at least, their REAL fans. You know, the all-knowing, smark community who know how to run a multi-billion dollar business better than the people who work there do.
I’ve tackled this ‘Real fan’ nonsense in the past and I’m really not in the mood to do it now and the issue of Braun Strowman being champion is an article unto itself. However, let’s be clear here: WWE DOES listen to their fans and the fans they listen to are the fans that buy stuff.
WWE first, last, always, and forever, is a business. They need money to survive and being a publicly traded company, they need money to keep the shareholders happy, that means they have to know who and what makes the money to keep the shareholders happy and keep the company afloat and who is making them the most money is Roman Reigns.
Don’t give me that look. Don’t roll your eyes at me and grumble about him being over pushed and/or shoved down your throat. I can name several people in WWE not named Roman Reigns that are over pushed. The bottom line is that Reigns moves merchandise, his stuff sells and sells really well. Having been to a few WWE TV/PPV tapings, I can tell you that Reigns’ stuff can get a little tough to find and is usually the most requested item.
Now before any of you make snide comments about Reigns having more stuff to sell, I checked WWE’s shop are and compared the number of Roman Reigns shirts to the number of shirts for AJ Styles, in terms of shirts including: T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and what’s available for both genders, Roman Reigns had thirteen shirts available while Styles had twenty. Thirteen different shirt designs to twenty and that doesn’t include hats, gloves, or the non-wearable stuff available.
Oh, Reigns’ stuff is bought by women and kids, so it shouldn’t count? Here’s my question: So what? It’s still money that SOMEONE is spending on merchandise. If WWE didn’t want women and kids to buy their stuff, they wouldn’t be marketing stuff for women and kids. Why? Because women and kids are FANS!
For those of you still grumbling, here’s some food for your thoughts: Why should WWE listen to their ‘real’ fans? No, I’m serious. Why should they listen to fans who cheer something one week, boo it the next, demand that indy darlings get pushed despite getting mediocre pops from Main Roster audiences, and pay more attention to beach balls and time clocks than the matches? Why should they listen to people who BRAG about spending a lot of money on tickets just to boo one person they don’t like?
WWE is like any company, they listen with their bottom line, and what they’re hearing from fans is that the fans like Reign because that’s the stuff that sells the best. And before you say one thing about about Reigns’ stuff being more available at TV tapings and Live Events, I’ve been to a RAW taping, a RAW PPV, and a SmackDown/205 taping and while Reigns stuff was at SmackDown, there was also a lot of Styles and Cena stuff available at RAW events and I’m not hearing any complaining about that.
Maybe the problem isn’t that WWE isn’t listening, it’s just that your views aren’t the what the majority paying fans think or want. WWE is catering to what most of their fans want, not just the small minority that can’t seem to make up their minds about what they want.
Cheap Shots: Should Finn Balor Quit WWE?
Why Finn Balor should “Quit” The WWE
After seeing KO burst into tears on Monday night RAW two weeks ago and “quit” there were a slew of videos about why KO “quit”. The biggest one was to revitalize his character. So in playing the devils advocate why not have the first Universal Champion quit? Here’s why!
After Balor won and “lost” the title after 2016 SummerSlam he’s had and up and down career in the main roster. The once longest reigning NXT champion was a phenomenon when he joined the NXT, but once he hit the main roster, while fan support is still there it is fleeting. He had a brief reunion with Gallows and Anderson which might’ve singled a heel turn to fans, a feud with Rollins for the IC title and has had back to back to back matches against Baron Corbin. None of which have done anything for the superstars character. A heel turn might have helped a few months ago, but the repetitive booking has kind of killed that momentum.
With Finn away from the scene for a while it might help the WWE reevaluate the talent that is Finn Balor, it might also give Finn time to figure himself out too. With a WIN to his name against Elias, it seems like the co-founder of the Bullet Club may either turn to his alter ego The Demon, or perhaps a superstar shakeup is in order and he should be in place to get Balor back in the limelight. Right now, Raw seems packed full of main card talent that is either starting a faction of sorts I.E. Braun, Drew and Dolph or is turning on The Shield.
Listen, while SmackDown Live is producing the better show, it is not like the talent on there is being utilized any better. Nakamura is in limbo with the U.S. title, Aj and Joe are having a great feud in terms of promos, but not in the squared circle. The only thing that brings SmackDown Live as the A show is really their tag division and the Charlotte Flair/Becky Lynch feud.
So maybe a frustrated Finn goes away, and comes back as The Demon on SmackDown Live and interjects himself in the feud between AJ and Joe, maybe he causes friction between The Club and AJ and they “screw over” AJ during a title match, the possibilities are endless moving Balor to team blue, but what this boils down to is WWE needs to make this move while Balor is still a fan favourite and what I mean by that is that he will always have the crowd behind him, but even the loyalist fans can get bored.