I made a post yesterday declaring my intentions to cease all WWE coverage and reviews after Wrestlemania if they continued their current path of predictability and awful writing. Knowing their track record, I was sure that Monday Night Raw would continue it’s downward spiral down from must see TV, to a forgettable and time wasting program. So I skipped the program once again and watched something more entertaining instead. But as I was enjoying my DVR recording of The Walking Dead and becoming engrossed in the story, social media exploded as Shane McMahon made his return to WWE. I immediately, and shamefully, tuned in to Monday Night Raw and held my head low. Because after talking so much sh*t earlier in the day about their product, I was glued back to the television marking out as Shane McMahon made his way to the ring.
Shane not only made his first appearance on WWE television in years, he spoke a lot of truth as well. WWE used a familiar face to address the fact that they are aware of how awful their programming has become. And just like I stated in my post earlier in the day, the first step to getting better is admitting that you have a problem. So WWE using their ratings drop as part of the storyline is both brilliant and original. And Shane being the one to address it is perfect writing. In fact, this was the first time the writing on the show delivered in a long time. Shane wants to run the company because it’s gone to the toilet and he wants it to survive, and he may also have something on Vince that hasn’t been revealed to the public yet. We’re talking blackmail material within the McMahon family, and that alone is worth tuning in with anticipation. With Shane McMahon back (at least for the moment), and the writing seemingly laid out for a story arch, WWE has gained the attention of the fans disappointed by Fastlane and pulled them back in with just the opening of Monday Night Raw.
The other things that stood out the most from the episode is the Lesnar/Ambrose segment, and the ending of the show. Once again, I was not interested in watching the show last night. But the attack on Ambrose spread around social media and was completely unavoidable if you’re a wrestling fan subscribed to wrestling based pages and Twitter accounts. I loved the realism involved with the segment. And instead of just using social media as a way to interact with fans they plan on ignoring anyway, it was used as a way to advance a storyline on the show while blurring the lines of scripted television and real events taking place outside of the ring. It was something we would have seen during the attitude era if it would have taken place today with our modern technology and social media available to use. It was solid evidence that PG does not have to equal lazy and uninspired writing.
Dean Ambrose (or Scrappy-Doo as I’ve referred to him lately due to how this feud is going) can only gain from his match with Lesnar. The storyline so far is selling his fearless and lunatic gimmick well, and he comes out on top regardless if he wins or not if his performance against Brock is received well. Also, it’s a street fight. So there’s a chance outside interference could play in to it. Imagine Dean struggling to hold his own against Brock, and Reigns interferes to help. Also, imagine if Roman’s interference causes Ambrose to have a falling out with him because he feels he could have defeated Lesnar on his own. If WWE is actually giving Ambrose a slow heel turn to face Reigns (which I think is a bad idea considering the reactions they’re both receiving) then Reigns interfering in his match would be the best way to kick it off.
But the biggest surprise of the night was Triple H’s attack on Roman Reigns. Perfectly timed, Triple H hit the ring dressed in his regular attire shedding his corporate persona to assure Reigns that he’s facing The Game at Wrestlemania. The problem with the segment was that WWE has successfully killed off all of the progress they’ve made with Reigns with their previous booking. The Royal Rumble was the point when the fans completely rejected him, and he has struggled ever since. Reigns was booed out of the building after Fastlane. Every segment involving him, or even the mention of his name, generated boos from the audience on Raw. But while being booed during a match that was stacked against him to gain him some sympathy, Triple H attacked him and inadvertently turned face as far as the fans were concerned.
Triple H was put in a tough spot. His mission was to go out and destroy Reigns to solidify himself as a dangerous heel for Reigns to overcome at Wrestlemania. But it would have been ridiculous for him to ignore an entire arena chanting his name and cheering as he destroyed their handpicked top star. So he did what’s best for business; he engaged the audience like a face would. Mocking Reigns, throwing a crotch chop, and holding his arms up in victory as the arena marked out for him is the exact opposite of how a heel should act and be received by fans. But it would have been unbelievable for him to brush off the massive chanting and ignore it to put Reigns over if he wasn’t receiving any sympathy from the fans at all.
So that leaves us questioning how Wrestlemania is going to play out. Fans are already predicting that Reigns will be booed out of the arena afterwards. Now it seems like Triple H will have the support of the fans behind him as well. Will this finally be the death nail in Vince McMahon’s pet project? Will this finally be the end of their attempt to make Roman Reigns the top face of the company despite fans not being on board with him? Because after it’s all said and done, and Reigns receives an awful reaction from the Wrestlemania crowd, what’s next?
I talked a lot of smack about how WWE needed to step things up if they want to bring back viewers. I made a statement that Wrestlemania might end up being my last WWE review while having no intention of wasting time on the episodes of Raw leading up to the event. WWE had clearly shown fans how little our opinions matter to them while also asking us to give them money by investing in to their network. Well, I decided I was no longer going to pay for a product I’m not interested in and planned on ending my abusive relationship with WWE. But WWE gave me the old “Wait baby, I’ve changed” routine, and I fell for it again. There is a lot of time in between now and Wrestlemania. The road on the way will surely be bumpy for WWE and Roman Reigns. But after a night that delivered more hits than misses, and the company openly working their failings in to the storyline, the road to Wrestlemania will at least be an interesting one.