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Monday’s Raw was a good show in the ring, a weird show in presentation, and an exploitative show at the end. It’s unfathomable that WWE used Reid Flair’s death in a big spotlight like the main event segment and did run it past Reid’s mother, according to her tweets, putting everyone involved in a difficult situation.
For this week’s Raw 5 List, we’ll sit in the middle on what turned out to be a strangely-presented show … where there is sure to be a perfectly good explanation for everything…
The Raw Five List
(1) Kane & Taker opening the show – where nothing new happened. WWE wanted to start Raw with a big segment to try to hook viewers. The problem is last week’s Raw ended with Taker & Kane completely dismantling the Wyatts. So, this week’s Raw started with pretty much the exact same result of Taker & Kane dismantling turncoat druids playing surrogates for the Wyatt henchmen.
So, why is anyone supposed to care about what happens at Survivor Series now? And, if WWE wants people to care about what happens at Survivor Series, why did they not re-visit any of this later in the show to reinforce one of the big selling points for Survivor Series? It turned out that the main Taker-related selling point was “Undertaker Week” on WWE Network, not his anniversary PPV match. Weird.
(2) Order of Title Tournament matches. WWE saved the weakest quarter-final WWE Title tournament match for the last of the four. Alberto Del Rio did not seem to have much chemistry with Kalisto, and their match fell well short of the other three. If it was by design to not over-shadow the final segment of the show – the Divas Title contract signing – it ended the TV portion of the two-week title tournament on a sour note. Yeah, weird.
(3) No Roman Reigns in the final segment. Either Reigns is not winning the WWE Title on Sunday, so WWE did not want to raise expectations by having his quarter-final victory be the final image of Raw, or WWE was super-determined to have the Divas Title contract signing in the final segment of the show.
However, if Reigns is the next top star in WWE, shouldn’t his quarter-final victory and long gaze at the WWE Title belt be the final image of the PPV lead-in show? If not Reigns’s match, shouldn’t one of the tournament matches putting emphasis on the top prize in WWE contain the final imagery of the show? Weird title oversight.
(4) Roman Reigns’s presentation. Let’s sort this out. First, Reigns was cocky in his pre-match promo and blatantly overlooked his opponent about to enter the ring by talking about the semi-finals on Sunday. Then, he acted unimpressed and dismissive as Cesaro walked to the ring. Then, he wrestled a straight-up match, but lost crowd support as the match unfolded, as verified by live correspondent Big Earl in the building, mainly due to how good Cesaro looked in the ring. Reigns had enough fan support to be celebrated as the victor, though, and all seemed to be restored via post-match handshake with Cesaro.
So, was this WWE dipping their toe in the water on a kinda-sorta heel version of Reigns? Or, were they having Reigns slightly pivot only for this match since he was facing fellow babyface, Cesaro? How about trying to give Reigns an edge to be more “well-rounded?” Or, is WWE just oblivious to how unlikable they can make Reigns seem at times? How it came across to me was a half-baked attempt to give Reigns an edge by leaning heel, making him more unlikable. Weird.
(5) Divas Title contract signing. Good for Charlotte and Paige getting a key main event segment. But, on a show where Taker & Kane made a special appearance leading into the 25-year celebration of Taker’s Survivor Series debut and WWE set the Final Four of the title tournament leading into Survivor Series, this should have been in a different slot, like the top of the third hour. Instead, Charlotte and Paige were put in a difficult spot where WWE pushed the envelope too far by going for the Reid Flair elements to get to a show-closing pull-apart brawl.
I agree with Livecast caller Michael on the Raw post-game show that perhaps this was a reaction to Ronda Rousey main-eventing the UFC 193 PPV on Saturday. The problem is that WWE did not lay the foundation and effectively set the stage over a period of months for Charlotte and Paige to have smart, strong material to work with in this spot without going the Reid Flair route.
Going back in time, WWE introduced nine Divas and three teams over the summer, had trouble getting everyone over, went through several combinations of tag matches, took two months to get to a singular feud, just wrapped up the Bellas-Charlotte feud, had Paige act back-and-forth in an awkward teammate tension story, and finally had Paige turn … two weeks ago. That’s not enough lead-time to get to the spot that Charlotte and Paige were in Monday night. That’s on WWE, not Charlotte and Paige.
Not only that, but Reid’s involvement had no place in the storyline – it was purely an attempt at shock value since WWE had not introduced Reid’s background to their general audience. Charlotte talked about Reid in a respectful way during one of Michael Cole’s sit-down interviews on WWE’s website several weeks ago, but his life & death has not been part of Charlotte’s main TV story.