I hate to say I told you so but I told you so. In a 1600-plus word manifesto, I explained on Monday how WWE's creative rut was only deeper after Night of Champions. I focused on Brock Lesnar retaining the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and how it would only compound the company's problems going forward.
Episodes of Monday Night Raw are traditionally weak after pay-per-views as WWE likes to do rematches. That wasn't my issue with this week's show, it's the fact this week's show was yet another mundane/skippable broadcast that highlighted all of the problems from the creative rut. The show featured at least one good point, which I will get to after I explain the problem's with this week's broadcast.
Titles are completely useless meaningless props
WWE booked Dolph Ziggler to go over The Miz, winning back the WWE Intercontinental Championship. At least WWE is booking the champion to actually defend, right? Well, not exactly. They just switched the belt at Night of Champions and as much as I want to see the company do more with Dolph Ziggler, I thought it was too soon to do a change on Sunday. To do another just makes the belt too winnable and devalues the title as a prop. Having Damien Sandow come to the ring with a replica of the belt underscores that point.
Another problem I had with this match was Ziggler -- as the babyface -- won with a handful of tights. That made it look like he couldn't win the title clean, so he resulted to heel tactics as he staved off interference. But isn't he a babyface?
WWE needs the Intercontinental Championship to mean something. There is only one world title -- held by a guy that's rarely on TV -- so they're without a main title on most shows. Many hoped this would mean the IC title would relive its glory days. I knew better and it's this type of booking that prevents it from being anymore than a prop.
The Usos saw their 202-day WWE Tag Team Championship reign end at Night of Champions, with Gold & Stardust reclaiming the titles. There's nothing wrong with Gold & Stardust. Goldust continues to showoff a fountain of youth and Cody Rhodes is one of the most underutilized/underrated workers in the company. But they're on a proverbial treadmill. They've already had their run as a dominant tag team -- they were 103-day tag team champions just last year -- and I don't see where they benefit from yet another run. Especially when Luke Harper & Erick Rowan could have benefitted greatly by knocking off The Usos in the months prior. However, we're here and Gold and Stardust are tag team champions. So how does WWE book them on Raw?
Jey Uso pinned Goldust the very next night in a 6-man tag team match. I understand the revenge factor and appreciate WWE trying to keep The Usos hot but anyone that knows me knows one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing champions on their back. Especially the night after winning the titles; it gives them no credibility.
Warning: Card is subject to change
WWE announced on Monday afternoon via social media that Dean Ambrose would return to the ring on Raw in a match against Randy Orton. We covered the announcement and posted the promotional graphic on Facebook.
The matches that we actually got were Ambrose vs. Kane and John Cena vs. Orton. I didn't have a problem with the new matches but it underscored just how volatile the creative situation is in WWE. I kid you not, there are actually websites reporting on Tuesday about "last-minute script changes." Yes, there were some last-minute changes. Thank you for pointing that out.
Daniel Bryan might as well still be WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Daniel Bryan is currently "out indefinitely" with neck/elbow/nerve injuries but he would be a better champion than Brock Lesnar. Even without being able to compete. Why? Because he'd actually be able to appear! Lesnar as champion hasn't worked. I explained whySeth Rollins should have went over at Night of Champions and this week's Raw showed exactly why.
The official Raw preview questioned who was next for Lesnar. The answer is no one. Brock flew home on Monday afternoon and was never advertised to appear on Raw. After all, his schedule is limited and WWE doesn't want to "waste" any of his dates. Even if it means absolutely no followup from a dirty finish from a pay-per-view main event the night before. WWE didn't even have Paul Heyman appear, which indicates to me they're not even trying anymore.
I missed not having The Wyatt Family on this week's show but I can understand why they were held off. It was Night of Champions fallout so there's no use in risking talent not on the pay-per-view getting lost in the shuffle. But there was absolutely no excuse for no Lesnar. WWE is caught between a rock and a hard place. They gave Brock the streak and now need him to maintain ultimate heat to squeeze whatever dollars are left out of him but they can only put him on the "important" shows due to his expensive and restrictive contract.
The arguments for Lesnar remaining champion are fairly asinine.
"It builds prestige" It doesn't build prestige if the champion is rarely on TV, it just pisses people off. The whole idea that Lesnar's part-time status will create more intrigue when he does appear sounds good on paper but it doesn't translate into more viewers. The fact that WWE no longer needs pay-per-views to "pop high buy rates," as they actually shame you for buying the pay-per-view nowadays, that notion can be thrown out the window. The WWE World Heavyweight Champion needs at the very least to be on Raw every week. Especially the night after a dirty pay-per-view main event finish.
Someone Tweeted me that the finish to the Night of Champions main event made them excited to see what happens on Raw. That was their claim the pay-per-view "worked." Well, how do you feel now that you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENED?!
Proof that WWE is completely out of touch with reality
Look, I've been a vocal critic of the $9.99 marketing campaign for the WWE Network. It makes WWE seem desperate, devalues a valuable service and markets a cutting edge product as a cheap alternative to traditional pay-per-view. But on Sunday, WWE proved just how out of touch with reality they truly are. Michael Cole continuously stated throughout Night of Champions if you are watching on pay-per-view you paid $54.95, when the WWE Network is only $9.99.
Wait a minute. Vince McMahon essentially created pay-per-view by using his highly rated weekly TV series to promote monthly must-see material. Now, they're so desperate for Network subscribers not only do they not what you to do what they've been conditioning you do for decades but they want to mock and shame you for it. This ridiculousness continued on Monday Night Raw:
— Richard Gray (@wnwdotcom)
— Richard Gray (@wnwdotcom) September 23, 2014
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It's impossible for extraordinary wealthy people to understand how ordinary people live. After all, Vince and Linda McMahon literally burned $100 million at failed United States Senate runs. But surely there is someone working in WWE's marketing department that knows this is a horrible idea. This violates the core principles of doing business. I get that cable and satellite companies are backing away from WWE pay-per-views in droves and WWE is "all in" on their new Network model. But you should never ever *Jericho voice* EVVVVVVVER shame someone for taking enough interest in your product to spend money.
There's no way for Vince McMahon to understand why this is such a bad idea -- but someone, somewhere needs to tell him that when people take interest in your product and spend money, that's a good thing that should not subject them to condemnation.
Save us Dean Ambrose
There was one shining moment from this week's episode of Monday Night Raw and that was the return of Dean Ambrose. He took another step forward as a future key player and was the one element that didn't frustrate the hell out of me. Jesse Sherwood stated on Sunday that Ambrose is like Brian Pillman and Steve Austin rolled into one. I completely agree. He's the antidote to so many of WWE's problems right now. I just hope they don't screw it up because it's abundantly clear there are too many problems to count right now with WWE.