INSTANT REACTION – 8/8 Raw: Second Batch of PWTorch writers breaking down Monday’s Raw – where old bad habits resufaced

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8/8 WWE Raw Instant Reaction – Three-Pack Edition

In the spirit of PWTorch contributor Ben Tucker’s “Instant Reaction” series, we present the top three takeaways from Monday’s Raw from PWTorch staff, contributors, and correspondents.

Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist

(1) Three hours is too long! When reviewing the original “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie in 2003, Roger Ebert wrote, “There’s a nice little 90-minute B movie trapped inside the 143 minutes of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,’ a movie that charms the audience and then outstays its welcome.” Unfortunately, that sentiment is usually the best-case scenario when it comes to Raw. The first 90 minutes or so were good this week … and then the fatigue set in. By the end of the show it felt like the same tired formula, with the same stale acts in the main event.

(2) Raw is good when WWE freshens things up. Boring, wordy, drawn-out talking segments have long been a terrible way to open Raw. But if WWE insists on going that route, at least they’re doing it with three of the best talkers in the business. Enzo Amore was gold, and Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens were great in their roles. Big Cass has a long way to go, but he was very good playing off Enzo again this week. The Braun Strowman squash matches are so refreshing. Finn Balor’s promo was overproduced, but a big improvement over his talking segment last week, when WWE left him out there to die a slow, painful death. WWE is doing some things right with Raw. Unfortunately …

(3) Raw is still festering with Vince McMahon’s stench. Multi-segment matches. Golden Truth in awful comedy sketches. Stale wedding cake gags. One step forward, a dozen steps back.

Joel Dehnel, Lucha Underground reviewer

Raw is starting to feel old again. WWE is three weeks removed from the WWE Draft and the rebranding of Raw, and the show already feels stale. The first week felt like they hit the reset button with a new format, graphics, and set-up. Now in the third week, Raw feels pretty darn close to where it was before.

Sure, there are new faces and some wrestlers are getting chances they would not have previously. The show is cluttered with NXT alum, which sure beats seeing the same crop of guys wrestling the same matches every week, but it feels as if they have kept the same product just with new players.

Raw still starts with a long, drawn-out promo, which was 15 minutes this week. From there, it leads to an impromptu match. After that we get multiple backstage segments of the authority figure, more long promos, a few meaningless matches, and more awful comedy, which leads to another promo followed by another impromptu match.

Raw has reverted to bad habits and lazy booking. The long promos haven’t gotten any better and if anything there has been more of them. If WWE honestly wanted to make Raw feel fresh and work to get back the many viewers it had lost. They would…

(1) Cut back to two hours, enough said.

(2) Take the brand split seriously – two weeks in a row, Smackdown roster members have shown up.

(3) Take the show seriously – lay out the show at the top of the hour and continue with some of the techniques from Week 1.

(4) Change Creative personnel on top. Of course, this won’t happen.

– There’s also Roman’s new spot. As I had stated previously until I see evidence proving otherwise, Roman Reigns is still the chosen one. Reigns lost to Finn Bálor a couple weeks ago and has since been shifted to the mid-card in a feud with Rusev. Roman’s character is building his way back up the card while the person portraying Roman is paying his dues backstage.

This week, Roman took part in comedy segment with Lana and Rusev which resulted in Lana landing in a wedding cake. A few weeks ago Roman was in the WWE Championship match headlining a Network special and now he’s the wedding crasher. On the surface it appears that WWE has given up on Reigns, but in reality he’s still the guy they want on top. WWE is putting Roman on the quest to build his way back up the card. People have been calling for a few years now that Roman should win a mid-card title and slowly work his way to the main event. WWE saw Roman’s violation as an opportunity to reset Roman in a logical way, giving him a break from the main event. As seen this week, there were audibly more cheers than jeers for Roman in both of his appearances. He was even cheered as the last man standing to close out the show. Bálor is getting a shot at the title because he’s the shiny new toy that happens to very good and only time will tell how far he goes. He could be the future babyface champion while Roman becomes a more naturally suited top heel. For now, I still believe Roman is the guy they want to go with, they are just taking a more methodical detour to get there.

– The curious case of Sami Zayn. Sami came off of a winning feud with Kevin Owens, but this week on Raw he was nowhere to be found, relegated to the pre-Raw Superstars taping. It could be as bad as they felt they had nothing for him on Raw and everything else on the show was too important to be cut. I don’t know the answer to this case, but it stuck out considering he was a top player in the mid-card. Hopefully next week we can get some answers.

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