It could be argued that last week’s episode of Monday Night Raw was one of the most hyped up episodes in recent memory. Hours before the show, the WWE twitter account tweeted that Shane McMahon would be returning to Raw and they also tweeted that a new faction would appear on the show. I may discuss RETRIBUTION in another article, but for this one, let’s take a look at what Shane brought with him to Monday Night Raw, what potential outcomes it may have, and an idea I have for making it must-see viewing in the 3rd hour.
The first time we saw Shane he said that Raw Underground would be debuting at 10 pm. In the segments that followed we saw Dabba-Kato debut, Erik bring back intensity to the Viking Raiders, Dolph Ziggler look dominant, and the Hurt Business complete a hostile takeover. A lot happened with Raw Underground in a short amount of time, and if you combine that with all of the other facets of the episode with stories progressing, a poisoning, and the new faction debuting, it was easy to get a little lost. So, where do they go from here?
Define the Underground
This idea of an underground fighting arena is new to me. Social media has referenced other promotions and “fight pits”, etc, but I think it is unfair to compare these because that leads you to have expectations for a new thing in WWE, which you should go into with an open mind. That being said, did I enjoy the first segment of Raw Underground? Not at all. I was super confused going through the segment because nothing was explained. We saw Dabba-Kato (no clue who this was at the time) debut, wreck some people, and Shane was just like “That’s Raw Underground! Wooh!”. When we cut back to the actual episode of Raw, I think my eyebrow was still raised like I was doing my best Rock impression, and I was just sitting in a pile of confusion.
As this new segment continues, we need an idea of what the purpose of Raw Underground is, who is eligible to fight there, and what are they fighting for. Is it just going to be random wrestlers beating up on nobodies? (Don’t think I didn’t notice that MVP fought the smallest dude in the room.) I’m fine with whatever they decide, but I think there needs to be at least some structure or just something that answers the question “why should I care about this?”. Granted it was only the first night, but currently it looks like Raw Underground is a place where struggling wrestlers can come beat the crap out of random people to get out some anger. If that’s as far as that goes, that’s fine because the segments with the wrestlers that had been established were really entertaining and have grown on me with my re-watches. But I need to know more about the Underground to be sold on it fully.
The Floor and the Ceiling
It may be because I have already started my deep dive into fantasy football, but I am all about ceilings and floors at the moment. For those unfamiliar, something’s ceiling would be reaching their max potential, whereas their floor, would be falling to their lowest potential. Looking at this new concept from the WWE their ceiling and floor are both kind of intriguing.
Starting with the negative, because it is less fun, the floor for this is that it crashes and burns and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Between the rampant quick cuts and the random dancers, there are already people who aren’t sold on this concept. I think Raw Underground’s worst-case scenario is that they don’t really have any idea where to take it and were just launching a number of ideas to increase ratings and they are just going to pursue whatever delivered the most. I think the floor for this segment is that it disappears post Payback, and isn’t mentioned anymore once another shake-up, draft, etc. comes. As far as the floor is concerned, starting off with a debut of a random wrestler wasn’t the best idea, and with the chaos that followed, it could fizzle out as quickly as it started.
When it comes to the ceiling, however, this could be a really good segment that gets some wrestlers time to shine and can fill time in another way than having more promos backstage. As I mentioned, the segment with Erik hitting vicious looking knee strikes on a random opponent brought back intensity to the Viking Raiders and Dolph looked great in his fight. Raw Underground could be a great way to keep wrestlers from getting “buried” especially if they are able to right their course from dominating in a fight or two. The potential for Raw Underground is extremely high if booked properly.
When it comes to the future of Raw Underground, I would like to see them come up with something that they can hype up and build each week. Whether that is just leaking a big name appearing, or if it takes the form of a tournament, I’d like it to be something that can be marketed and built to week in and week out. If it were a tournament, this would be a great way to establish what happens in Raw Underground, plus gives a great way to showcase certain wrestlers and give instant pushes to anyone making their debut like Dabba-Kato.
Everything Needs A Title
I think you could have Raw Underground progress without one, but there is so much story telling that could happen if there was a title and champion of the Underground. It would be an easy way to have an open challenge in Raw Underground to see who would show up to fight the champion. If I’m booking it? Do away with the 24/7 title (but don’t tell R-Truth) and replace it with an Underground Championship. If they make it that the title HAS to be defended in an open challenge format, 1 v 1, and only after 10 pm? I think it could be gold and the solution to the 3rd hour viewership decline.
Make it Must-See
Whether they give Underground a championship or not, in order to get people to tune in you are going to need to include recognizable, dominant, wrestlers. As mentioned, starting off with Dabbo-Katto wasn’t the best way to introduce Raw Underground. I think if they would’ve started with Erik and then debuted Dabba-Kato this week, it would’ve worked much better. Social media has blown up fantasy booking the Underground (Karrion Kross please) so there is some hype around this concept and they need to run with it.
Moving forward, let’s say they end up doing 3 Raw Underground segments a week. I think you hype up 1, or at most 2 of those segments by letting us know someone coming, and that 3rd segment has to be a complete surprise. This would ensure that people would have to tune in and it would create that excitement each week. Also, they need someone from another brand to show up to help create peak excitement and to make it so you truly don’t know who is going to show up. Already mentioning Karrion Kross showing up from NXT, other wrestlers that I think would do great in the Underground: Ciampa, Shayna Baszler, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley, Matt Riddle, Sonya Deville.
This is the beauty of this concept and it being in its primary stages, the amount of different directions it could go is exciting. Rumors are saying that Shayna Baszler will be appearing on Underground tonight so it will be interesting to see if they let intergender fighting happen, or if she is just going to absolutely demolish some random woman.
What are your thoughts on Raw Underground? Who do you want to see appear on it? What do you think of the idea of a Raw Underground title? Sound off in the comments about what you think!
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