THE SPECIALISTS TUCKER'S INSTANT REACTION - Raw: The conundrum that is fitting Brock Lesnar into WWE's full-time main event scene
Jun 23, 2015 - 1:25:01 AM
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Instant Reaction - WWE Raw 6/22
By Ben Tucker, PWTorch specialist
Overall Score - 5.5
The Indianapolis crowd at Raw proved one thing; the duo of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are the most important characters on WWE TV in 2015. John Cena is playing a key role for the future, lurking in the mid-card. Seth Rollins is a capable heel champion and Dean Ambrose has shined at times, but the fact is that the crowd reacts to Lesnar like no other and the landscape of the main event scene has adjusted accordingly.
While this is good in that within the last year WWE has created their first mega-draw since Cena, making Brock a guaranteed ratings draw, a problem has arisen in that the main event scene cannot progress without him. This leaves a clogged upper tier scene when he's present and the repetitive, somewhat lifeless main events that graced Raw every week between WrestleMania and now. Brock Lesnar has become the main event. When he goes, so does the big money match. He has become too big to leave out of the WWE Title picture, but at the same time his uniqueness is partially brought on because of his limited schedule.
And until Lesnar leaves, the opportunities left for upper mid-carders to break through the glass ceiling, especially big bruiser types, will become infinitely smaller and potentially leave them in scenarios where they are destined to fail (think Ryback at Hell in a Cell 2012, filling in for an injured John Cena and soon losing all momentum after being portrayed as a second-tier player to the "true" championship contenders). Raw tonight benefited from Lesnar's presence, but the long-term effects of his existence may cause WWE some growing pains in the future.
Yet, aside from Lesnar, Raw was largely a flat show. Brock Lesnar was fresh; meaningless Divas matches and the mid-card running on a treadmill was not. For as packed as having pay-per-views every two weeks may be, they at least forced the writing team to trim the filler from their shows. Tonight was the first Raw in a long time that, aside from Lesnar, felt inconsequential. Even the Kevin Owens and John Cena segment, for the first time since Owens's debut on the main roster, felt somewhat lukewarm. The Indianapolis crowd was clearly not as excited for the duo as they expected, resulting in Owens's discussion of the audience's support of Cena coming across as strange. While far from a miss, it was emblematic of Raw as a whole coming across as being of lower quality than usual.
The biggest story development in the mid-card happened to also be one of the strongest aspects of the show. Bray Wyatt's shrine of Roman Reigns was the first unique, memorable moment attributed to Bray since before WrestleMania. For once his mind games are actually working and they feel personal. This is what Wyatt has been lacking since the beginnings of his feud against Cena: a sense of psychological superiority over his opponent. Ryback not fearing anything Wyatt throws at him defeats the purpose of Wyatt's character. How great can the "New Face of Fear" be if he doesn't instill any fear? Tonight's continued toying with Roman Reigns was gimmicky and a bit cheesy, but it was entirely in character.
Meanwhile, Ryback's promo tonight, though somewhat stilted, continued to positively develop The Big Guy's character. He essentially delivers the promos that Ziggler should be delivering. Whereas Ziggler talks about working hard every day to entertain the fans, Ryback's goal is to work hard every day to win. He appreciates the fans, but putting on a great match is not his goal. This difference may seem superfluous, but it makes Ryback come across as much more human than his noodle-haired counterpart. Everyone likes to win and almost everyone likes to win more than being appreciated just for trying.
The tag division is in danger of losing momentum. Just as Ryback was pushed too quickly in 2012, the Prime Time Players won the Tag Titles too soon, resulting in the New Day's legs being cut off a month or so too early and the PTP not enjoying the full fruits of their labor. Despite being P.R. Superstars and beginning to develop a connection with the crowd, the segments with the champions feel like they are treading water more than any other on the show at the moment.
Well, besides Ziggler and Barrett's segments. Directionless and nowhere in the card to really move to.
I didn't think Raw was a bad show, but it wasn't stellar. Battleground is still a month away and, as expected, there isn't much of a sense of urgency. Lesnar carried this show like he carries the main event scene; it's time to show more consistency as a whole.
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