THE RAW REVIEW - PART ONE
Note: This RAW REVIEW has been divided into two parts.
Part One addresses the issues with the WWE’s flagship broadcast - particularly its problematic three-hour time-slot and continued misogyny toward the main roster women's division. It is a call to action for passionate wrestling fans to find a creative way to affect lasting change in the WWE, to push through dejection and arrive at a new solution.
Part Two is my attempt at a solution - I do not want The Raw Review to devolve into yet another column of complaint. And so part two is simply an examination of the main event match between John Cena and Cesaro. CLICK HERE TO READ PART TWO.
Wrestling fans must galvanize to let the WWE, and particularly the USA Network, know that the three hour format is harming RAW and it’s harming professional wrestling. United as we may seem thanks to Twitter and catchy hashtags, we are entirely ineffective when we let good ideas and good intentions filter through the inherent obnoxiousness of internet commentary.
Not one match or segment on this show told a story, with the exception of the stellar main event and those segments involving Lesnar, Heyman, and Rollins.
On a gargantuan three hour variety show, about forty-five minutes mattered. About forty-five minutes required one’s attention. The rest was random filler that either entertained your or did not entertain you. Regardless of whether or not you were entertained, the handful of matches that took place prior to the main event had no solid narrative foundation and nothing was contributed to the momentum of those who participated in them.
This must stop. Returning to two hours will not cure the primary issues with the WWE's perspective on professional wrestling, but it will cut the filler down by sixty minutes. That is progress. We must let The USA Network know that they are losing money in wanting whatever ad revenue they're getting for that third hour. That third hour is alienating and makes it harder for viewers to become emotionally invested in the action. Lack of an emotionally investment results in lack of a monetary investment.
Fans must also continue to galvanize to let the WWE know that the main roster Diva’s Division is in absolute shambles. It is a disgrace that female performers like The Bellas, Paige, Natalya, Tamina, Alicia Fox, Naomi, Summer Rae, Lana, and more continue to represent such an antiquated perception of female-worth, and it is laughable that a company as massive as the WWE with a television show as massive as Monday Night Raw would continue to find a pitiful ten minutes or a meaningless five minutes here or there for these women, all the while ignoring the need to create interesting narratives around them that showcase a variety of distinct, relatable personalities and distinct motivations. We are watching a division made up of the same jealous, catty, or insane girl-character who has no concept of honor or self-respect.
That’s what the booker thinks of these women, and the performers are forced to rely exclusively on their looks to get over. As entertaining as these ladies can be with their limited characterizations and their limited time, it is impossible for them to become anything beyond adverts for the more successful Total Divas. The division is worse today than it was before the #GiveDivasAChance and #WomensWrestling trends began. And it seems as though the NXT women are poised to rise up to RAW in revolt against The Bellas - a narrative that is fundamentally at odds with what the NXT women represent, a narrative that is a RAW-style story that has nothing to do with the spirit of athletic competition that the NXT women are known for.
WWE fans feel helpless in the face of such problems.
I read the blogs, the Tweets, the messages, and the comments of many a WWE fan.
These fans are downtrodden, trudging through a landscape of dashed dreams and broken promises, clinging to any hope they can possibly find, wanting things to get better. Or they are resigned, beaten into utter disinterest due to abject, infantile programming.
It should not be so hard to be a wrestling fan.
Regardless of whatever behind the scenes reality we cannot perceive, it feels as though we are fighting against a handful of people who not only have no interest in what their audience thinks and feels, but a handful of people who have no basic understanding of quality and intelligence.
It seems insurmountable, as though The Good cannot possibly overcome The Bad.
And I do not have the answer.
All I know is that the deeper I travel into the WWE-abyss, the closer I’ve gotten to affecting some sort of positive change.
The more we try to find an answer, the more ways we discover to let the WWE know that there’s money in listening to their audience. And we must not get caught up in exclusively disagreeing with who wins a match or who’s being pushed over someone else.
Those gripes undermine a good cause.
There are deeper problems related to tenets of the art of professional wrestling.
There will always be bad booking and nonsensical pushes.
But pointlessness should never define the majority of a broadcast. You should not be able to so easily tune in and out of Monday Night Raw.
And in 2015, flagrant bigotry cannot stand.
So if you’re a writer or a YouTuber or a podcaster or someone who holds sway in the professional wrestling community, I charge you to double your efforts and to increase the effectiveness of your efforts. If you already have an audience, don’t simply reaffirm their sense of rightness by continuing to moan.
Inspire others to relentlessly hold a mirror up to the WWE, to make it abundantly clear what needs to change. Inspire others to create something, rather than to complain about something in one hundred and forty characters or less.
Write good blogs and make good videos and gather smart fans and push forward from a place of righteous logic and a place of love for professional wrestling.
If you believe the only way to fix RAW is to stop watching RAW then launch a #RAWProtest campaign that actually works. If you know a protest of RAW won’t work then think of some other way to get your point across that the company might actually listen to. If you do not care enough to put that effort forth then find a way to simply not add to the perception that WWE fans are obnoxious, perpetually dissatisfied trolls.
Consider whether your comment on a post might not be better suited for an article or a letter to Stamford or an interview on a friend’s show or a fleeting thought in your brain that vanishes not long after you have it.
Find a way to get to work.
Find the answer we have yet to find.
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