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In this week’s Top 5 List from Raw, we rank the contributions made by Legends who appeared on Monday’s Raw from Dallas. Conveniently, there were five Legends who appeared on Raw…
(1) The Undertaker. Taker needed to make an appearance on the final Raw before Hell in a Cell, where he faces Brock Lesnar. There is still confusion over how the audience is supposed to view Taker, with WWE seemingly backing off the heel presentation, but Taker’s presence alone helped sell HIAC on Sunday.
(2) Brock Lesnar. Lesnar needed to make an appearance on the final Raw before Hell in a Cell, where he faces Undertaker. The audience seemed conflicted over how to receive Lesnar, especially as it relates to interacting with kinda-heel Taker, but Lesnar’s presence alone helped sell HIAC on Sunday.
(3) “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin’s show-opening monologue felt like a tack-on, especially after WWE and Austin went back and forth over whether Austin would actually appear on Raw, or just be in the building for his post-Raw podcast with Brock Lesnar. Austin did set a good tone for the show with some energy and laughs. Setting up the Taker-Lesnar promo exchange seems like a lost opportunity, but what else can Austin do at this point if he’s not going to wrestle or have a regular role on WWE TV?
(4) Shawn Michaels. Michaels and Austin could be flip-flopped, as Michaels had an important promo exchange with WWE World Hvt. champion Seth Rollins at the top of the second hour. However, the material was so flimsy on Michaels’s end playing PPV pitchman until Rollins interrupted. Once HBK and Rollins got rolling, though, it was a solid exchange that helped Seth look like a big deal interacting with a big star.
(5) Ric Flair. In the eyes of many viewers, Flair was wasted at the top of the third hour doing a little reminiscing and then endorsing Roman Reigns. WWE just won’t give up on force-feeding Reigns, will they? It makes sense to use the Legends to endorse the next wave of stars, but the selection of Reigns when he’s struggling right now made many viewers cringe.
The overall picture is WWE dropped five Legends in the middle of a disorganized Raw at a time when the TV product is turning people away. WWE hoped the Legends would be a shot in the arm for the show, but the environment is so polluted that it seems like no one is a difference-maker.
On the other side of the age spectrum, WWE hopes that a fresh crop of talent from NXT could be difference-makers when they are dropped onto Raw, but, again, in a polluted environment, those breaths of fresh air eventually fade into the environment unless treated as special over a long period of time. Not just a few matches like the case of Kevin Owens or Charlotte.