Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Raw Review: The League of Nations Rises

To say Raw was disappointing last night would be an understatement. After last week's disastrous ratings there were rumblings that something BIG was in store in order to right the ship.  Unfortunately, that wasn't really the case and we were left with another so-so at best episode of Monday Night Raw which was disappointing yet not completely unexpected.  WWE currently has themselves in a bit of a bind due to a lot of self-inflicted issues and mismanagement of talent and a great many other issues.  Anyhow, on to the show.

This week I am going to do something slightly different and not really bullet point the Raw Review like I typically do.  The reason for this is that the whole thing basically hinged on one angle and that was really the only thing of consequence so far as I was concerned.

That angle was the continuation of Roman Reigns vs The Authority which gave birth to the League of Nations.  Let's start at the beginning.

Raw opens with New Day heading down the ramp which was a nice change of pace.  WWE Champion Sheamus comes out, looking sharp I might add, to gloat along with them over his WWE World Title victory.  As New Day leaves and Sheamus continues to gloat he is finally blindsided by a Roman Reigns Superman Punch which was a really cool moment and gave us this visual.  This was also the first sign of trouble because due to WWE's mishandling of "Their next big star" the crowd's reaction was subdued at best.  Roman leaving with the belt is something that many would refer to as a heel move, but to me it works in the sense that Roman Reigns justifiably feels that he is the rightful WWE Champion.  This leads us backstage where he's hanging out with The Usos and Dean Ambrose which is a nice little deal.  The next sign of trouble arrives with The Authority however as they implement a stipulation that tells the audience they are going to get jerked around later in the night.

The stipulation is that Roman Reigns has earned a shot at the WWE World Title, but can only win it if he beats Sheamus in 5 minutes and 15 seconds (the length of Roman's WWE World Title reign at Survivor Series).  That screams unsatisfying outcome and the stipulations added throughout the night only make the howls grow louder.  Basically, if Roman does not win the match then Ambrose and The Usos will lose their title shots at TLC.  You know at that point you are definitely destined for some shenanigans.  At the time I feared they would be Dean Ambrose turning on Roman to save his IC Title shot.  Basically, Ambrose attacks Roman to get him a DQ victory, but in the process costs him the WWE World Title.  Luckily, we didn't get that.  What we got was far, far lazier.  With about a minute to go we get interference by friends of Sheamus to give Roman a DQ victory, but protect the title.  While I try not to think too hard about this stuff that makes no sense whatsoever.  In order to maximize the screwjob to Reigns and his boys they should have attacked Sheamus leading to a DQ victory for him, a loss for Roman Reigns, and a loss at the title shots for The Usos and Dean Ambrose.  Worse yet, the stipulations were spelled out so poorly that people who were watching the show were confused as to what the DQ victory for Reigns meant.  Some heard that Reigns had to win the TITLE in order to help his boys out and others heard that he needed to win the MATCH.  It turned out to be the latter so no harm there to The Usos and Ambrose, but the whole thing felt like a huge waste of time.

Out of this we get the formation of the League of Nations faction led by Sheamus and including King Barrett, Rusev, and surprisingly Alberto Del Rio.  The formation was awkward because they didn't leave Roman laying which seemed like a missed opportunity.  The Usos and Ambrose came down and like predicted earlier in the show we got an 8 man tag match for our main event.  Not the most satisfying thing ever since it was a) predictable and b) wasn't as exciting as seeing the WWE World Title change hands, but it is was it is.

When the main event rolled around this crowd couldn't have looked less interested and I don't really blame them.  Match should be fun at least, right?  Well, New Day shows up and makes it a 7-4 handicap match which is not going to help anyone ever.  The match seemed ridiculously long because everyone worked hard yet the audience yawned.  Now I don't typically offer much in the way of match analysis, but as several pointed out on Twitter they built to an Ambrose hot tag (not Reigns for whatever reason) who got pinned clean as can be.  Like I said, a handicap match typically doesn't help anyone and this one was no exception.

The whole thing was an example of chickens coming home to roost such as 50/50 booking and sacrificing your roster at the altar of Cena.  Also the inability to figure out how to maximize the strengths of your performers while minimizing their weaknesses.  Holding off until it is too late to try to build guys is yet another issue.  It's frustrating because they have a talented roster and people like me want to see something different, but by the time we get it we barely care because everyone has been handled so poorly.

As for the rest of the show the only things of note in my opinion were the beginnings of what appears to be a heel turn for Charlotte against her friend Becky Lynch, and the surprise return of Tommy Dreamer to assist the Dudley Boyz against the Wyatt Family.

As I said on Twitter there were a lot of things I liked in theory about last night's show, but in execution it was severely lacking.  I will be very interested to see what the ratings are and I doubt the news will be good.  Raw right now is a frustrating mess and really the only hope is that Royal Rumble to WrestleMania season starts to spice things up some more.