Let’s not waste any time. You all clicked the link to read about last night’s WWE Raw. Here it goes:
Raw Underground. Yep, we have officially jumped from the Performance Center Era to the Raw Underground Era. It all happened so fast I don’t even know where to begin. Well, actually I do because that is the entire point of this column. The only problem is what we all witnessed 24 hours ago from Shane McMahon was months in the making. Allow me to back track just a bit.
Everything that has transpired since March has sucked. Alright, I don’t think I need to tell any of you that. An empty training facility hosted WrestleMania in silence. Seriously. That really happened a few months ago. The Universal Championship match that could have legitimately been labeled a “Drea Match” by some (not me) was canceled and replaced in mere seconds and no notice whatsoever to the audience. John Cena had a so called match where he disappeared and was in the nWo for a moment all because of the setting and not being allowed to take any real bumps. Again, in front of no fans and no noise. Do I even need to mention the Boneyard Match (great) or the Swamp Fight or the fact that the annual Money in the Bank ladder match took place at WWE Headquarters? Oh, and it was won by Otis and Asuka. Yes, the men and women matches took place at the same time. Also, Asuka didn’t win the briefcase. She won the actual RAW WOMENS Title because Becky Lynch saw the current climate and said screw this to have a baby with Seth Rollins.
Sami Zayn is also sitting at home. Roman Reigns too. Kevin Owens also for a spell. Triple H, The Undertaker, Bill Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and other legends have hardly showed up and know that no audience means no payoff with no interest…in other words, no reason.
I didn’t even mention the Eye For An Eye thing because well, yeah.
Needless to say, WWE is in a jam. We all are. It has stunk, and everybody is doing their best even when things are at their worst. You can’t blame them for the recent health issues surrounding us all over the globe. They are trying to turn a negative into a positive (excuse the pun there folks). Thus, this entire RAW Underground experiment has been brewing for months. We all knew that at some point viewers would tire of quiet crowds, no pops, zero excitement over big moves, scattered cheering from trainees at the WWE PC, etc. All of that is fine and can cover up holes, but the holes are still there, sometimes under the surface.
Well ladies and gentlemen, we are officially under the surface. Ratings have just about bottomed out and with much of the roster either not feeling well or just flat out not feeling like showing up to work, WWE is in a panic. PArtially their fault but mostly just the way the world is right now. Look no further than every other sports organization doing their best with health protocols and delivering a satisfying product to their fanbase. Difficult task and you’d be a fool to say otherwise.
They have tried trotting out Big Show. Nobody cared. They tried re-airing classic pay-per-view matches. Mixed results there. They have tried giving Paul Heyman the book. That failed (no surprise). They have tried focusing on newer talent. As much as I love to see that, ratings didn’t budge after awhile. WWE has even gave the ball to the women (Bayley and Sasha Banks in particular) with a bunch of segments on weekly television. Still, no results to their liking. The cinematic matches have also been tinkered with since the Boneyard Match was considered a hit at WM36. Thumbs in the middle on that approach but again, doing all of this in front of no fans at the WWE PC only gets you so far…
…therefore, why not go outside of that setting?
No, not in a swamp or inside a corporate building.
How about a wrestling ring to keep fans of the sport intrigued but with no ropes to also show off the MMA/fighting side as well?
Throw in a cool darker background with pretty girls and hey! You may have something to draw interest, create buzz.
Welcome to Raw Underground.
Legitimately a Shane McMahon idea and one that he gets to narrate as Stephanie McMahon and Vince McMahon have lost all their goodwill to the WWE Universe. With Shane O Mac, he is still respected and looked at as “hope.” Even taking away his latest Best In The World run, I believe fans genuinely enjoy him. Behind the scenes, there’s nobody better and more well liked (one of the first to protect Bret Hart from his attacker at the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony) also somebody who on screen always gives to his opponents and is more than willing to mix it up. With him as the voice of this new project, at least it gets off on the right foot.
How did week one go?
In terms of ratings, not much. Numbers were just released. There was an increase but nothing to go nuts about. Nothing that you can point to and scream with joy. Probably just the usual bounce back viewership was going to get no matter what was presented.
In terms of quality, everybody has an opinion. Personally, I was intrigued at the beginning. By the time the Hurt Business took over at the end, meh. The Viking Raiders, Dolph Ziggler and the infamous Babatunde grappling with bums isn’t exactly must-see TV. It is different and can be cool in small doses, but every week at the top of the final hour? Wasn’t that the original 24/7 Title idea? To make the third hour of Raw more edgy? That was scrapped in no time, just as I expect this to be also. I don’t know. I hate calling things a bust after just ONE WEEK, but my confidence isn’t took high this concept sticks.
Could it improve with tweaks? Yes.
Can Shane O Mac be used in other areas? Yes.
Will this take WWE to new heights and spike Raw ratings? No.
Here is where I will give the company some kudos – they are trying. Okay. As noted above, at least this is WWE acknowledging that things are NOT going well and change is needed. It would be scary if the product just stayed the same and never did anything different. That is not happening right now. WWE is experimenting. The guys and gals are giving it their all inside the square circle and backstage, we see the effort. Is all of it working? Obviously not, duh…but give them credit. They’re trying. With everything in the world so bad right now, I can’t fault the crew for doing all they can knowing full well it is a losing battle.
Don’t blame Vince McMahon for the latest wacky idea to get fans interested in the product again. Thank him. Even though failure is a near certainty, he isn’t giving up one bit.
What do you think? Yay or nay for Raw Underground?