Pro Wrestling

10 Ways WWE Tried To Fix WrestleMania On Raw Source:

After a polarizing WrestleMania, WWE headed into the first Raw of their new wrestling year with a lot of problems and not a lot of obvious solutions. Fortunately, the Raw after WrestleMania comes with a few guarantees: a hot crowd, and big debuts. As usual, the show did not disappoint in that respect, and while it wasn’t perfect, and there are certainly still some underlying issues that need addressing, most of what WWE did on Raw helped to alleviate many of the concerns some people had after what they saw as a disappointing WrestleMania, and showed signs that there may be a way out of the deep hole that WWE has dug for themselves in recent months. Heck, they might even be able to save Roman Reigns! Here’s what WWE did to try and make things better on Raw, and while not everything they did was entirely successful, at least it was good to see them make an effort.

10. But First, We Apologize For Our Fans For Some Reason

Okay, so we know the first Raw after WrestleMania has become this weird thing where all the “smart” fans who descend on the city for WrestleMania air their grievances in chant form and basically try to disrupt the program. We’re not here to tell you that you can’t chant whatever you want, but come on, at least wait until the show actually sucks before turning on it. That said, WWE hasn’t helped solve the problem by acknowledging the behavior of the post-Mania crowd, and in fact, they’ve basically encouraged it. Things reached the height of stupidity this year, when the commentary booth literally read a statement that actually warned viewers that the audience for the evening would be a bit “unusual” and “passionate”, as if fans showing passion for the product was something unexpected, or was less valid than crowds that sit quietly and watch the show. We’re not going to argue about the whole belief that “any reaction is a good reaction”, but seriously? This is the same company that literally cut off the audience mics at WrestleMania because they were overwhelmingly booing Roman Reigns, but the next night, suddenly it’s cool to express different opinions, in the name of “having fun out there”? You really can’t have it both ways, WWE. Either take what the crowd gives you all the time, or just ignore it and do your show. You don’t get to pick and choose which audience opinions “matter”. Source:

9. A Taste Of Things To Come?

All right, so Shane McMahon came back and blackmailed his father in an attempt to take over control of Raw, a scenario that was so unthinkable to Vince that he put his only son inside Hell in a Cell with The Undertaker at WrestleMania to prevent it. After losing, Shane came out the next night to thank the crowd and say goodbye, and on some sort of whim, Vince just lets him have control of Raw for the night anyway. Did we miss a step somewhere where Vince suddenly does things out of the goodness of the lump of coal he refers to as his heart, or is WWE basically admitting they had no real plan and are making up this storyline as they go along? Whatever the case, fine, Shane had control of Raw and proceeded to…hang around backstage and have casual conversations with a few wrestlers, occasionally making matches via proxy. You know what, though? After years of the Authority (and a long line of heel GMs before them) meddling in everything and taking up their fair share of TV time, it was nice to have someone in charge who was just kind of there in the background, ensuring the show went smoothly without having to be out in front of everyone with a microphone to spend twenty minutes setting up matches for the evening. And if next week’s guest, Dr Phil, can maybe help Vince forgive Shane, maybe this is something that could still continue in the future, even if the reasons behind it don’t make any sense at all. Source:

8. Wait, What Just Happened?

So, The New Day were engaged in their normal routine over the past few weeks, beating the League of Nations (this time for the tag team titles again, which was admittedly an obvious conclusion to draw, but we’re still going to take credit for calling it), and suddenly everything went crazy. First of all, Sheamus blamed Wade Barrett for being the weak link of the team, which he totally is, and Brogue Kicked him out of the group (and only a week after they finally got personalized t-shirts, no less). Fair enough, there have been rumors that Barrett was on his way out of WWE when his contract expires this summer, at least they gave him a non-wrestling Mania payday before likely taking him off TV until he leaves. But then the lights went out and came back up to the Wyatt Family attacking the League of Nations? Well, perhaps after losing in six seconds to The Rock, it was decided the only place left to go was a face turn, or maybe WWE is bringing back the Six-Man Tag Titles, but it was a confusing decision, to say the least. And since it’s Bray Wyatt, we doubt we’ll get anything resembling a coherent explanation, but we can’t help but find it slightly hilarious that the League of Nation is so disliked that even evil swamp hillbilly cultists seem like good guys next to them.–king-barrett—wwe-tag-team-title-match-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=17 Source:

7. Meet The New Guys

All right, so Raw got off to a slightly rocky start, but make no mistake, WWE clearly intended the show to be a huge reset button on the roster, and in a way it makes sense that they clearly decided to try and ride out the pre-Mania injuries with what they had, so they could debut a bunch of new talent afterwards, when interest in the product traditionally peaks for the year. And boy, did WWE debut some talent last night. We’re as surprised as anyone that Apollo Crews got such a quick callup, because he’s definitely still got some work to do, but at the same time, it’s hard to deny that he’s got the look and the potential to be a huge star very quickly. While he’ll likely be in showcase (read: squash) matches for a while so he can get acclimated to the big stage, it was great to watch him make his entrance and then just stare at his name on the video screen, as if he couldn’t quite believe it himself. In addition, Baron Corbin got to make his Raw debut after winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and while we wish he hadn’t had to sell so much for Dolph Ziggler, Corbin forgetting the rules of wrestling and then blaming the ref for counting him out makes complete sense for his character, who spent his time in NXT blaming “indie darlings” for preventing him from becoming champion. Oh, and the Vaudevillains will debut on Smackdown, and they’re a fun tag team with a hilarious gimmick, so even though we’re not sure they’ll be a long-term success, they’ll be a unique experience while they last. Source:

6. We Actually Can Rebuild Him

Okay, so Roman Reigns is not a good guy. He’s not a bad guy, though, and whatever he claims, he’s definitely not The Guy. At least, not yet, but if WWE actually keeps doing what they did with him last night, he might get closer to actually being The Guy than he has in the last two years of his unrelenting singles push. While it’s not a heel turn, exactly, having Reigns play into the fact that crowds hate him, but he doesn’t care because he’s the Champion and he doesn’t sweat anybody, is actually the perfect character for him. He’s no Rock, but everything about Reigns just screams “arrogant”, and if anyone has proved that you can be an egotistical jerk and still get the fans on your side, it’s Reigns’ more famous cousin. The fact that he doesn’t care instantly makes him more interesting than the bland, pandering face he was originally pretending to be, because it’s a completely believable character trait. The fans can still boo him, but if he just makes wry facial expressions and “shooing” motions with his hands, then it works, and some people are going to end up cheering him because he just looks so cool. There’s still a long road ahead to completely reverse the damage WWE has done to him, but the Roman Reigns we saw on Raw was the Roman Reigns we should have seen from the beginning, and while it’s not a complete solution, yet, it’s a really good start. Source:

5. No, Really, Are You Serious, Bro?

In the back of our minds, we knew it wouldn’t last, because it was Zack Ryder. We kind of wish it hadn’t been The Miz dethroning him, but we did get to see his wife Maryse return, and if it’s actually a real return where she manages him as some sort of “Hollywood Power Couple” gimmick, it could entirely work. Also, it takes a brave man to wear whatever that gold-plated monstrosity was supposed to be in public, so more power to you, Miz. More importantly, it transitions the title away from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, which is an important factor in something that became clear by the end of Raw. Even if Ryder can’t win the title back (and that’s likely), he did get a WrestleMania moment in front of his family, which he totally deserved, and there’s still a chance that he could stick around in and get some more TV time (and maybe more wins?) on Raw, instead of settling back into NXT. Sorry, Mojo, but if it’s a tag team with you or a renewed purpose as a singles wrestler, we kind of like Zack more by himself.—wwe-tag-team-championship-match-raw-april-4-2016 Source:

4. Uh Oh, They Want The Only Person Who Isn’t Debuting

Poor Charlotte, she tried to say something heartfelt about the new Women’s Title and what it meant to all the female wrestlers on the roster (before intending to turn it into a self-serving heel speech because obviously), but the crowd really, really wanted to see Bayley debut and it clearly flustered Charlotte. Honestly, with the sheer number of debuts on that particular Raw, the potential for an extended feud with Natalya (and inevitable rematches with Sasha), and the fact that a Bayley-Asuka rematch in NXT is something we really, really want, we’re actually somewhat okay with holding off on Bayley’s main roster debut, maybe even until after SummerSlam, so she can get a fresh feud out of the gate instead of being jammed into a situation that already has several unsettled issues. We know, we want to see wacky arm-waving inflatable tube men on Raw just as much as you do, and probably more, but we also don’t want Bayley to get lost in the shuffle right off the bat. Source:

3. There’s Really Only One Word To Describe Them

And that word is “incredible”. We purposely left the Realest Guys in the Room off the original article about Raw debuts, because Enzo and Cass deserve an entire entry of their own. We’ve been talking them up for months, while wondering why WWE continued to not pull the trigger on bringing them up. And as Raw barreled into the third hour with no sign of them, and several significant debuts already having occurred, it looked like another missed opportunity. But then the music hit, and there they were, and it turns out it didn’t matter what city they debuted in, Enzo and Cass are going to be huge. They’re not the greatest wrestlers in the world, but with an entrance that brings back memories of the New Age Outlaws at their peak, a completely unique look, and a guy like Enzo who has a gift for mic work that puts him among the very best, these guys are perfectly set up to be big stars. Even if you didn’t know who they were before Raw, that one segment did more than enough to sell anyone on how big a deal that act should be. Just don’t ask us to explain Enzo’s hair. How are we doin’? Pretty good, actually. Source:

2. A Swiss Army Knife Is Always Useful

Let us allay your fears, Sami Zayn is not really injured, WWE just decided not to put him through another grueling match after taking a beating against Nakamura on Friday and then enduring the ladder match car crash on Sunday. Plus, it gave Kevin Owens another opportunity to be a gigantic asshole to his eternal nemesis, and frankly, he’s not going to pass that up. But what’s really important is who WWE decided to fill Zayn’s vacant fourth spot, and rather than go with the usual suspects, it turns out they had one big surprise left in them. First of all, let us remind everyone that Cesaro looks absolutely incredible in a suit (and out of one, to be entirely fair), and if he can keep that for all his entrances it will probably be one of the best things ever (and should almost certainly make him a front-runner to replace Daniel Craig for the next Bond movie). And anyone who said he can’t connect with an audience is clearly in denial at this point, because everything he did had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Sure, he didn’t win the match, but his positioning upon his return was very promising, and hopefully will lead to even bigger things for the Swiss Superman. Source:

1. Well, This Is New

We talked earlier about how Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were quietly transitioned away from the Intercontinental Title on Raw, and we even seemed pretty positive about it. Now, at the main event spot, we can explain ourselves. After months where WWE’s main event scene was decimated by injuries (and wasn’t particularly healthy before that), to the point that Sheamus somehow ended up as a top contender for a while, and there were so few main event heels that Triple H somehow became the obvious pick to hold the WWE World Heavyweight Title headed into WrestleMania, there is now a bright light at the end of that tunnel. On Raw, WWE instantly elevated four talented Superstars into the main event scene in Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, and AJ Styles, and filled the void they left behind with debuting NXT talents. They won’t all be in Pay Per View main events instantly going forward, but it’s pretty clear that even when other stars return from injury, WWE hopes to establish these fresh faces at the top of card in 2016. And after all the complaints about losing to Chris Jericho at WrestleMania (don’t get us wrong, that was still a baffling decision), AJ Styles is now the #1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and from his reaction after he won, that actually means a great deal to him. We’ve said before that he’s already closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and WWE isn’t paying him main event money to not use him in that role, but it was still surprising and incredibly pleasing to see them follow through so quickly. Frankly, if Roman Reigns can’t have good matches with AJ Styles (and we believe that he can), then it’s good to find out now. Oh, and this might not actually go anywhere, but wasn’t there a group of guys that Styles used to hang out with before he came to WWE? Whatever happened to them? Source:

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.