WWE Raw's Focus on Big Show Took Away from Hell in a Cell Build
Monday's WWE Raw began and ended with Big Show as Hell in a Cell storylines got lost in a giant's shadow.
The subplot has overtaken the main story; the background has been inverted with the foreground.
The go-home show before Sunday's pay-per-view focused too much on a member of the supporting cast rather than the two lead men in the upcoming WWE Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton.
WWE made it clear that Big Show will have a major impact on the outcome of that bout but didn't need him driving in on a big rig to do that. It's something most fans have expected for some time.
"The Authority" opened up the show by smirking and smooching in the ring. Soon after, Big Show interrupted courtesy of a rogue satellite feed. The big man stood in front of a brick backdrop and growled at Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
He told them that they didn't know the meaning of the word "respect."
His speech was filled with other, similar cliches, but it was still an effective segment. Big Show's anger felt real, as did McMahon's flustered response as she scrambled to find someone to shut off the feed.
When Big Show was finally silenced and Triple H tried to laugh the incident off, the audience was sufficiently prepared for "The World's Largest Athlete" to insert himself into Hell in a Cell's main event, looking to spoil Orton's corporate-sponsored coronation.
Even with all the moving parts around it, this will be a match between Orton and Bryan.
The McMahon family, Big Show, The Shield and the bout's special guest referee, Shawn Michaels all add to the potential drama, but it's Orton and Bryan that have to do the heavy lifting inside that cage. It should be those two the narrative focuses on more.
WWE has done that at times, having Orton threaten Bryan's fiancee, Brie Bella, in the training room on a previous Raw.
Monday's Raw lacked that personal element. It didn't push the animosity between Bryan and Orton much further, while it certainly did that for Big Show and Triple H. There is no compelling new reason for these men to hate each other.
Even the contract signing segment zeroed in on Big Show in the end. Bryan and Orton traded some harsh words for each other, there was clear tension between Triple H and Michaels, but the lasting image is Big Show driving into the arena in a big rig.
This isn't sports where sometimes the role players become the stars in big games, i.e. Robert Horry throughout his NBA career, this is a medium where WWE is in control of where the audience's focus ends. WWE chose Big Show here.
No amount of snarky comments or punches thrown could compete with the loud visual that was Big Show's truck entrance. This is what the camera faded on, what fans will be talking about when they discuss Monday's Raw.
That feels like a strange choice for a headline-making story considering Big Show is not on the pay-per-view card that WWE hopes fans will purchase. If the company is going to turn to vehicle spectacle to build excitement, why wasn't it Bryan behind the wheel?
This fan's idea from August is equal parts hilarious and ridiculous, but would have at least turned the spotlight onto a direct combatant for the WWE title, not an outlier.
Bryan standing next to Big Show and leading "Yes!" chants doesn't count as a heroic act that gets the fans further beyond him. Orton didn't have his moment either.
While those two can gripe about not being emphasized enough, Monday's Raw all but ignored the World Heavyweight Championship match. Yes John Cena was featured in a career retrospective, but shouldn't have Alberto Del Rio had at least a quarter of the screen time that Big Show had?
The world title bout is a story of Cena possibly returning too soon with an injured body part that is Del Rio's favorite to damage.
All the hype about Cena's healing abilities and resiliency is great, but why not focus on how dangerous Del Rio is as well? Perhaps he could have spent the go-home episode breaking a jobber's arm or threatening to end Cena's career.
Instead, his contribution was a YouTube video of his cross armbreaker in action.
Meanwhile, Big Show framed the narrative of the episode, was the antagonist in a story not his own. The end of Hell in a Cell promises to crown a new champion and more of Raw's focus should have been on the men in contention for that honor.
Rather than following Big Show's attempts at crashing the gates and storming the castle, a future WWE champ's rise seems a more pertinent choice as the epicenter of the Hell in a Cell buildup.
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