Before you jump to conclusions, just hear me out and then objectively judge for yourself.
As I was flipping between TNA and RAW this past Monday, something struck me. Not right away, but as the night wore on it became abundantly clear that I was watching the worst episode of Raw that I'd seen in years.
For starters, the Diva's Title match between Eve and Maryse was horrendous. I counted four actual wrestling moves: A moonsault by Eve that she didn't connect on, a botched neckbreaker...I think there may have been a clothesline in there somewhere. The last move was a solid looking bridge/pin attempt that won Eve the Diva's Title.
In a way, I feel bad for Eve because it appears as though she's a capable wrestler. I'm not sure why anyone buys her gimmick as "the kind of woman you can have a beer with," but regardless, the match began with a hair pulling contest. This alone speaks volumes about how the WWE views its female competitors.
On that note, I could speak volumes on the fall of women's wrestling in the WWE, but I'll move on.
So David Hasselhoff hosted Raw? I think the worst part was the fact that he couldn't even "act" his part. He sounded way too much like he was reading off of cards. Any one of the nameless, faceless race car drivers the WWE has had host the show recently did better jobs. But that's not the WWE's fault (to an extent).
The match between David Hart Smith and The Miz, which had a very TNA-like 10 minute talk-fest before the sudden "oh, they're wrestling right now!" No, I don't mean that in a good way.
The match itself was boring. Now Bret Hart has proclaimed Miz Show the best tag team ever? Why do I care about this?
Evan Bourne versus Carlito? Not a bad match, but Bourne doesn't have bad matches. Which is all the more reason to start giving this guy a legitimate push. He could be the next Rey Mysterio: the undersized guy that's so good at what he does, he's able to compete with the big guys and win titles.
I can only hope the WWE will see this and realize that having him wrestle also-rans like Carlito is about as useful as TNA hiring the Nasty Boys and Orlando Jordan.
With two strikes against Raw, I flipped back in time to see John Cena "put on a clinic" with Otunga. Yes, Cole used those exact words. Really? JOHN CENA is putting on a clinic? He of the five wrestling moves? This is the guy that Otunga gets absolutely schooled by?
No, this wasn't even a squash match. I might've actually been okay with a squash match where Cena thunders to the ring, does his five moves and leaves.
This was a humiliation match. An "everything you can do, I can do better" match.
From this point on Otunga looks like a green amateur, which is just what the WWE wants given that he's on NXT—that horrible show on SyFy nobody watches because the rules make no sense because it's an overly scripted "reality" show, etc.?
As a general rule, it never helps either wrestler when the established main event star makes the new guy look like an absolute joke.
It's why Daniel Bryan, a guy that shoud've been brought right in to the mid-card scene in WWE, is now a jobber to the likes of William Regal on that third-rate show. I get that wrestlers need to pay their dues, but there's also something to be said for bringing talent along and reacting to what the fans want.
This is my whole point though.
The WWE has moved so far away from what wrestling fans have wanted for the last 10 years that I barely recognize the show that was once ruled by the likes of Stone Cold, The Rock and Degeneration X.
Everything we've seen leading up to Monday's unwatchable Raw has been a downhill crawl from those glory days. I know I'm waxing poetic about those days, but it's true. The personalities back then were larger than life. Now I'm supposed to buy Sheamus and Jack Swagger as main-eventers?
After that, we have the same old wrestlers in the same old angles, only now it's toned down for a PG audience. So no Sable-style bikinis on the women, no bloody barbed wire or inferno matches. Now we get Hornswaggle creating mischief, Santino mispronouncing names, Chavo further debasing himself, and a roster that hasn't looked this bad since Doink the Clown was a fixture on the program.
No really, look up the roster wiki for Raw then sit there and honestly tell me that you like a majority of what you see. Outside of Triple H, Bourne, Miz Show and maybe Orton, the rest of that roster is full of dull, uninspired, plain name guys that do absolutely nothing for me.
I know, I can already hear you showering me with "TNA Mark" comments and things like "if you don't like it, don't watch" but here are the facts: I've always watched WWE. I remember Tugboat turning on Hulk Hogan and forming the Natural Disasters. I remember renting every WWF video the second it came out. I've been a fan since before Raw existed.
So no, I'm not some rooster in the hen house. I'm merely a fan that's disgusted by the decline of a once great company.
Remember several years ago, when many of the big names were retiring and people (Jim Ross included) stated that the WWE really needs to develop new stars? Well, we're finally seeing the results of the WWE's lack of ability to develop talent.
I don't know when this happened.
Back in the late 90's, everything the WWE touched turned to gold. WCW even tried to copy them in terms of attitude and failed miserably. Having Ed Ferrera dressed as JR pouring BBQ sauce on a tied up Madusa's chest told me more than anything else—the WWE was so far above and beyond what WCW was doing that I was surprised they didn't concede defeat in the next segment.
But somewhere during the last 10 years, as the WWF changed into the WWE and then the WWE Universe, the company known for not only developing new stars but taking other companies' garbage and turning them in to gold, simply stopped putting out the hits.
Some will tell you that the WWE is actively trying to put out new stars; to develop the talent of tomorrow. I'd say they're failing so far. I think that Swagger has potential, but c'mon, we're not exactly talking about the next HBK or Undertaker here.
Can you honestly look at Raw or Smackdown's rosters and show me any real future mega stars? CM Punk? Maybe. John Morrison? Perhaps. Kofi? Nah, they don't push the smaller guys to main event status—he's a mid-carder for life. Dolph Ziggler? Drew McIntyre? I guess. Maybe some people like these guys, but I just can't force myself into caring about them.
Edge or Jericho? I think it's safe to say that the two of them are at the peak of their game right now. They're awesome, but I wouldn't say that either of them could really take the ball and run with it.
Perhaps the WWE simply needs to stop throwing muscle-bound meat-heads out there and start creating characters again. Will we ever see another Kane type of character introduced?
Maybe I'm just old school. Maybe I'm out of touch with what Vince McMahon is trying to accomplish with Raw and Smackdown. But after going through the highs of the wrestling industry, I'd still assert that last Monday's Raw was a clear-cut indication that the WWE is currently headed through one of the lowest of its lows in well over a decade.
What do you think? Am I just a frustrated fan still hot two days after seeing an episode of Raw that I actually had to turn off because I was so annoyed with what I'd seen all night?
Or do you feel that the WWE has lost their touch a bit? With NXT failing, the lack of characters and the stars of tomorrow (as well as many of the stars of today) don't create an bright future.
Personally, I want to see the WWE succeed. I want larger than life characters that are fun to watch and entertaining. I want to be shocked and surprised by story lines and see how far the WWE is willing to go to entertain fans. Sure I want the old days, but I want them to be modern and better.
As a fan, is that too much to ask?
Perhaps that's why what I'm seeing now, especially on Raw, has been so insulting, especially this past Monday. I'm not saying that I want it to be 1998 again—I don't—but I want that same kind of intensity, that same quality of writing and the sense that anything can happen.
Who knows, maybe in this newer era, I'm simply not part of the WWE's target audience. I find that strange though, considering how long I've been a fan.