Each week Greg DeMarco watches WWE Raw on DVR with a stopwatch and sense of urgency. How much time will he save?
Let’s see how we go home to Elimination Chamber!
FAST FORWARD the opening nope. They did that for us!
Stephanie McMahon & Triple H start WWE Raw
- Fake excitement Steph is so terrible
- Okay, FAST FORWARD the PPV talk
- It’s WrestleMania season when the Brand Split means nothing
- FAST FORWARD Becky walking
- Triple H should know better than telling women to calm down–he’s married!
- The McMahon family is still in charge of the WWE–and this is about reminding everyone.
- Enter Sasha & Bayley–super fast start to Raw!
FAST FORWARD the entrances and commercials
Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan vs. Nia Jax & Tamina (losers enter the Chamber first)
- FAST FORWARD some of the boring match
- Watch some wrestling, FAST FORWARD the commercials
- More wrestling, FAST FORWARD Tamina
- Bayley stealing offense from Ronda!
- And that’s finally over.
- Nia Jax has become such a strong character
FAST FORWARD the replay, talking, and commercials
Hello I Am Elias
- The multiple interruptions were stupid
- FAST FORWARD the commercials
- Elias is JUST NOW talking? This must suck live.
- Thas was one hell of a guitar shot
- Enter Lashley (and Lio).
FAST FORWARD so much stuff. Seriously, what is up with this episode?
Timestamps: 22:09 (real time 58:47)
Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre
- FAST FORWARD the entrance and video for Finn Balor, and McIntyre’s entrance
- The problem with this match–and it’s not a bad match–is that we are just waiting for Rush & Lashley to get involved
- And there’s the expected DQ!
- FAST FORWARD and now we have Kurt Angle and Baron Corbin Sucks. Braun NOVELTYman, anyone?
- Yep, 6-man tag time, HOLLA HOLLA PLAYA!
FAST FORWARD the commercial
Timestamp: 27:03 (real time: 1:11:39 )
Finn Balor, Braun NOVELTYman, & Kurt Angle vs. Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, & Baron Corbin Sucks (plus Lio Rush)
- SHIELD camera shaking only works for SHIELD
- Angle Slam and there’s no way that finishes it
- FAST FORWARD Baron Corbin Sucks
- FAST FORWARD more commercials (geez!)
- WWE’s attempts to keep us from going away during commercials are so transparent. I don’t blame them one bit.
- FAST FORWARD Baron Corbin Sucks
- I just hit 30 minutes on the clock.
- Finn takes out Lio to sell Sunday’s match
- And Finn eats the fall. So terrible, “blown call from the official.” That shit is dumb.
- And here’s DEAN AMBREF to restart the match. Because we can do that now?
- WWE just reminding us that things are never going to be consistent. To quote Batista, DEAL WITH IT.
- FAST FORWARD the commercials
- I feel like the entire stretch of Balor/McIntyre to this has taken 90 minutes.
- Love the way Lio holds the Intercontinental Championship on the outside.
- You know, what if Finn Balor is The Demon this Sunday?
- BRAUN SMASH! NOVELTY ACT!
- At least he’s good at what he does.
- 8 hours later, this is over.
Kevin Owens promo from the bowling alley
- “One more month or so.” You can set your watch by it!
FAST FORWARD the entrances
Backstage Becky–this really is an Austin episode of Raw
FAST FORWARD more entrances and commercials
Timestamp: 1:44:00 (real time: 38:37)
Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riott
- Nikki crazy, y’all
- Nice touch for Ronda, wearing Reebok UFC gear backstage
- See, Ronda wants to see the match, too!
- I hate the mid-match interruption, this is a good match so far
- Michael Cole voice change signifies commercial? NOPE! But lots of fake Ruby hair on the floor.
- Riott Kick CONNECTS! (with nothing)
- Do not fast forward Paul Heyman
FAST FORWARD the commercials
Timestamp: 44:49 (Real time: 1:55:24)
Seth Rollins promo
- Seth here to remind us that he exists
- Accomplishment, accomplishment, attach by Brock, good news
- BROCK not here–crowd went nuts, too
- Babyface Seth is the worst Seth. HE BROKE UP THE SHIELD!
- FAST FORWARD the commentary
- And here’s DEAN AMBROSE, who supports Rollins?
FAST FORWARD stuff
Timestamp: 50:09 (Real time: 2:11:22)
Dean Ambrose vs. EC3
- Who else is in the Top 1%?
- This whole show has become a chore as we wait for Becky’s decision.
- Dean wins. YAY.
- Don’t know if you know, but Becky must apologize tonight.
- One does not FAST FORWARD Alexa Bliss.
FAST FORWARD the entrances
Timestamp: 55:50 (Real time: 2:25:07)
WWE Raw Tag Team Championships: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (c) vs. The Revival
- Gable & Roode are no makeshift team
- FAST FORWARD the commercials
- Computer and timer issues hit, but THE REVIVAL WON!
- Don’t give me that “it should have been on PPV,” THE REVIVAL WON!
Becky Lynch Promo (with Ronda Rousey, Vince McMahon, and Charlotte Flair)
- Masterfully done yet again, Charlotte Flair is in the match (like I told you), Becky Lynch now has to fight her way back in (like I told you), and this story continues its twists and turns all the way to (and at) WrestleMania.
- Note that this was the central focus of Raw, as it’s the most important program in the company. This will main event the show.
Estimated Timestamp: 1:25:00 (real time 3:00:00)
Time Saved: 1 hour an 35 minutes!
Overall this edition of Raw was just…weird. The show was cued up different than normal, and it showed. Let’s not yearn for the Attitude Era ever again. Onto the Smackdown!
Levin: The Continued Hypocrisy Of WWE’s Hall Of Fame
Since there is no written criteria, is the Hall of Fame inherently an issue?
Since there is no written criteria, is the Hall of Fame inherently an issue? David let’s us know what bothers him!
As the road to WrestleMania 35 ramps up and WWE begins to introduce its Hall of Fame class of 2019, I cannot help but think which former company superstar is going to get screwed out of their rightful place in professional wrestling immortality.
It happens every year once the Royal Rumble comes to a close and the Big, Bad Wolf, better known as WWE, plays politics with the selection process – much like the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Year after year, I write an opinion piece around this time, allowing my fingers to voice my displeasure for those deserving performers who have not heard their names called, the ones who have since passed and have been forgotten.
With the leaked news by several outlets that the Hart Foundation will be the first inductees for 2019, my crusade now begins in earnest. I have no issue with the decision to induct one of the greatest tag teams of the Hulk Hogan generation. It is what happens after the news of Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart and Jimmy Hart’s selection that gets me going.
A few years back, Mike Mooneyham wrote how WWE dropped the ball by not selecting the late Ray Stevens to the hallowed Hall while WrestleMania invaded Levi’s Stadium in California. It continues to be a slap in the face of the pre-Vincent K. McMahon business that is shut out from consideration. At some point, someone will have to explain to me why Ivan Koloff is not a member after doing the unthinkable and beating Bruno Sammartino in 1971. And for that matter, why are we so quick to bring Edge into the fraternity upon his retirement, but have failed to induct Owen Hart?
Like its new message to fans about better sports entertainment in the coming year, WWE must get this class right. The selection of the Hart Foundation means Demolition is still on the outside looking in.
If I’m picking the class this year, and no one asked my opinion, I’d keep the Hart Foundation and build around it. I’d add the late Brian Pillman, keeping Chris Benoit off the list for one more year. I’d add Koloff as Uncle Ivan is important to WWWF history. Chyna deserves her spot on the roster, with Sable being inducted next year. Batista could be a surprise inductee and the headliner of the star-studded group being The Undertaker.
While I have tried to hit a home run with this group of former wrestling greats, there are still performers who are deserving of a place in WWE immortality. I’ll leave that up for debate for another blog.
DeMarco’s 5 Tough Questions About All Elite Wrestling
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, especially if you love something.
All Elite Wrestling is setting the world on fire due to hopes of being a viable alternative. The excitement is great, but Greg DeMarco has some key questions about long term success.
Listen, I want All Elite Wrestling to succeed. If AEW can compete with WWE in even the slightest way, it’ll be good for the business as a whole. Great for the talent…good for the fans…and good for the business. But as someone who has been watching this for 35 years, involved in it for 12, and studying it for 10, I have to ask some tough questions.
I ask them out of love, because I love this business and want to see it succeed. Hopefully these are questions AEW has already asked itself. If not, they’re already in trouble.
5. Can AEW draw in local markets outside their niche?
Before you jump all over it, I know “Can They Draw?” is a stupid question. If you count ALL IN (and for all intents and purposes, I do) they sold over 10k tickets for one show and I am willing to bet they’ll sell out another. But that’s what I am talking about here–not in the slightest.
All Elite Wrestling can’t run holiday weekend events a few times per year forever. At some point, they need to produce television shows. Is that going to be a traveling deal? If so, can they draw locally in those markets, as fans aren’t going to travel weekly, twice a month, or even monthly to a TV taping. If they run 4-6 pay-per-view events per year, fans aren’t traveling to all of those, either. The market can’t support it. Those fans, while still complaining about the WWE product, are still going to travel for it, because they know the experience will still deliver.
AEW’s biggest national stars are Chris Jericho, and……….hmmmmmm……..
Cody Rhodes, nationally, is a midcarder or a comedy act. Kenny Omega is amazing, but outside of Japan (and Winnipeg) he isn’t a household name. The Young Bucks are insanely over, but will they draw outside of their niche on a regular basis? This isn’t a knock on any of them–this is reality. They can draw niche fans willing to travel, and that won’t sustain a regular schedule.
4. What is the infrastructure?
I know what you’re thinking, fanboy! “I don’t care about the infrastructure, I’m just excited about the product they are going to put on.” And I get that. It works if you’re talking about WWE, because you can roll with the assumption that there is an infrastructure in place to support the business. It’s been proven.
Eric Bischoff has been on record as saying that WCW lacked infrastructure in multiple areas. One of them was merchandise. Now, unless you walk into an arena and stare at the floor the entire time, you’ve notice that merchandising is a HUGE deal to this business. Hell, you can buy one of 10 t-shirts for The Chairshot on Pro Wrestling Tees right now! (And you should!) I think they have the merchandise side down, thanks to Pro Wrestling Tees. What about ticket sales? Advertising sales?
Right we know about Tony Khan, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks all serving in leadership roles. You have to assume Chief Brandi Officer isn’t her real title, but Brandi Rhodes has an office job as well. I would bet Adam Page does, and I really hope (for his sake) Christopher Daniels does as well. Otherwise, why would he leave ROH? But what else?
Who is doing the accounting? Who runs the risk management? Is it the same as the Jacksonville Jaguars? Same as Fulham? Who is taking care of insurance? Who administers the benefits for the office staff. WHO IS THE OFFICE STAFF? These are real questions, and without being sure this is in place, how do you know this is going to last?
This is a real concern–and might be addressed. Let’s make sure it is.
3. What is the TV situation really going to be?
Dave Meltzer has reported (and I use that term loosely) that the two TV deals that AEW have on the table are both the best non-WWE deals since WCW. Is he talking revenue or exposure? I seriously doubt it’s both, and I suspect it’s the latter.
If you are a serious television partner, why would you pay for a TV product that doesn’t even have a pilot? You have no idea what type of production they’ll put out! And if the partner is one who will produce it for them, no we’re looking at an AXS TV level of deal (which was suspected, and dismissed, a while back).
If the deal is for exposure, even if they aren’t making any rights fees up front, it better be good exposure. If it is, then it’s worth it. But will they market it? TNA had good exposure with Spike TV, but Spike didn’t push the product. The marketing was terrible, and drove it into the ground. Word of mouth–word of social media–isn’t going to make you a national television brand. The neck beards standing around the pool on Thursday aren’t going to make you a national brand. Strong advertising is going to make you a national brand. That doesn’t happen without an engaged television partner.
2. Will they get their own Hall & Nash?
WCW was legitimized by Hulk Hogan, but it became a real war once Scott Hall and Kevin Nash went over. That’s when you knew it was getting nasty. That changed the business. If all this accomplishes is getting WWE to pay more for their name talent, the “world change” didn’t really help AEW. It helped WWE talent who could have jumped ship but didn’t.
Someone needs to jump. Randy Orton? Maybe, but he doesn’t move the needle nationally. They need a Daniel Bryan, a Seth Rollins, A Becky Lynch, a Charlotte Flair or (best of all) a Brock Lesnar. That makes people take notice. Dolph Ziggler won’t cut it. Chris Jericho only goes so far in 2019. He’s huge to wrestling fans, but he alone can’t draw in the national audience.
I know this is similar to point #2, but it goes beyond in-ring talent.
1. Is Tony Khan Willing to fire Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega?
This, for me, is the most important question of all. The guy supposedly put up $100 million of his own dough, right? What if it fails? What if they make mistakes and don’t learn from them, and fail more? You really think he’s going to throw away $100 million? HELL NO.
The Khan Family owns an NFL franchise and a Premier League club. From a financial perspective, you pay a large sum of money up front for the purchase, then pay the operations cost in rights fees. Your biggest concern on a yearly basis is team management and–more importantly–running a stadium. History has told us that you can be horrible at running a professional franchise and still make money. It’s really hard to fail.
But AEW won’t have rights fees like an NFL team does. Not to that level, not hardly. So they have to make money from other areas. Are they getting the merchandise money. Salim Khan is worth a reported $7.2 billion. Neck bearded wrestling fans will tell you that means he’s got money to spend. That’s why they were standing around a pool on a cold Vegas night instead of having important business to tend to. Salim Khan doesn’t want to spend his money, he wants to make money.
Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Kenny Omega have a combined 7 months of experience running a wrestling company. They didn’t “run” ALL IN, they were the front men for a Ring Of Honor super show. Still don’t believe that? Look who owns the footage. It’s not All Elite Wrestling.
So if they fail, Tony Khan will have three choices:
- Lose more money
- Close up shop
- Replace the leadership
Is he willing to fire the AEW Four? I bet he is.
One Key Piece Of Advice For Tony Khan…
Hire a consultant. You’ve got Conrad Thompson running around, have him call Bruce Prichard. Maybe he helps Cody, The Bucks, and Kenny, maybe not (I’m not sure they’d welcome the help). You don’t know how to run a wrestling company, so hire a guy who does to be your checks-and-balances. You don’t know when you need to make a move, so he can help you.
Again, I have to restate (because I know how you are) that I want this to succeed. AEW represents the best potential #2 in the North American wrestling market today. But for All Elite Wrestling to succeed, they have to know the answers to these questions. If they don’t, then I can say you’re welcome. Figure it out now and you’ve bought yourself at least a few more years. WCW lasted 13 years (1988 to 2001). TNA/IMPACT Wrestling and Ring Of Honor have outlasted it. Can AEW? Time will tell.