Enduring Thoughts: Monday Night Raw Looking To Reclaim Its Status
I first heard of Monday Night Raw when I was nearing the age of 10.
By this time, the Attitude Era was taking full form and was the biggest thing in professional wrestling.
Stone Cold Steve Austin graced our television sets, though he would raise concerns with his beer drinking, vulgar language, and overall rebellious nature.
The Rock was not that much different. He had a little more flair (no pun intended), but was not above saying a crude thing or two.
At that time, Raw was war.
It was the edgiest time in the history of professional wrestling. The industry was never a bigger advocate for TLC matches, darker characters, constant r-rated material, and topless women.
And so, the Attitude Era was a success. Raw was proof of that.
Let's fast forward to today.
Raw is no longer war. Fortunately, the logo has improved substantially to the point where it's not a big deal.
Stone Cold and the Rock are nowhere to be found. Injuries and a successful movie career can do that, right?
The TLC match is now a gimmick match that is featured in a pay-per-view event every December. The rareness that made them so special diminishes.
The darker characters are now heels who have a motive that is quickly thwarted by carbon copy faces.
"Rated R" material is now PG—for a while at least.
Topless women are hard to find in pro wrestling now a days...that's why I still have my backyard wrestling tapes, but you didn't hear that from me, or anyone else.
Actually, you didn't hear that at all.
All reminiscing aside, the flagship show of Monday Night Raw has changed since the Attitude Era. To be less biased, the show has clearly evolved since its spectacular debut in 1993.
The show has had its high points (Monday Night Wars ), and the show has apparently reached an all-time low in today's standards.
Every week, we're given a special guest host that many of us never really want in the first place.
Most of the time, the hosts are out of their element, and seem to taint the quality of Monday Night Raw in general.
Without a permanent authority figure in tow, many of us feel like the show merely wants ratings. This would be completely fine, if it weren't for the fact that quality entertainment is the expense of using guest hosts.
The main event is somewhat decorated, but limited. A lot of traditional wrestling fans have been verbal about the repetitive nature of the show's headlining matches.
John Cena is the most recognized figure in professional wrestling, but at a cost.
Every week, he's a favorite target of fans who wish to protest the WWE's stance on who should be pushed to the main event.
John Cena never did anything wrong, and there's nothing he's done to deserve the boos. I can say he's probably the best thing for wrestling right now, as he draws in audiences like Hogan, Austin, and The Rock did in their day.
To hate John Cena is to hate professional wrestling. Unfortunately, that fact doesn't override the opinions of jeering fans who are upset with the downward spiral that the WWE has gone through.
He's not the only bland part of Raw though. Triple H is a constant force in the main event, and until recently was a man who always got his hands on a championship belt. Many blame Stephanie McMahon.
Randy Orton is supposed to be the top heel today. The strong year he had in 2009 was tainted by poor booking after his Royal Rumble, and multiple short title reigns.
Jack Swagger is surprisingly a world champion less than two years after he joined the WWE. He's also lost every match he's been in since winning the belt, both to Randy Orton that has changed his alignment.
Sheamus is a wrestler with great potential, but the errors of the creative team caused him to be scorned by Internet wrestling fans as well as young fans who are programmed to hate the bad guy.
The main event doesn't go further than that, and almost half of that main event is just starting to shape up now.
The mid-card of Raw is usually a victim of limited storylines, on and off matches, John Cena victories, and occasional jobbing to leprechauns that crawl out from under the ring.
Wrestlers with potential, such as Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne, MVP, and others are put down without any help...unless they hold championships.
The Miz is the holder of the United States championship. His reign has benefited him, although he's had no opponent to challenge him for the title.
The static nature of his reign is probably due to him holding the tag team championships with a man who once dominated the main event scene of every promotion he's been in—The Big Show.
The WWE women's division has not been well off. Once upon a time, it was a division that thrived on its sexy female talent, decent storylines, and occasional exceptions of the WWE diva.
On Raw, there's potential in the Divas title division. Eve Torres isn't the best wrestler in the world, but will likely carry the Raw women's division now that she is champion of it.
Maryse is a fantastic heel that can actually make you hate her. Many things will come out of this for her in the future. Kelly Kelly may be a pretty face, but she's shown passion for the wrestling aspect of the divas division and is often ignored as a solid contender.
While there is some potential in the females who are decent enough, the more talented divas are ignored.
Gail Kim and Katie Lea are the two most talented in-ring wrestlers of their division but have not been given a chance to win the divas title. The elder was arguably the most recognized women's wrestler in the world. The latter was successful during her time in WWE development, winning the OVW women's title.
But, even the best wrestlers fail to be recognized. That is how the WWE works, I guess.
Monday Night Raw has lost its colors, but there are some bright spots.
The guest host concept does work to an extent. Ratings have apparently gone up from time to time.
John Cena is a guaranteed drawing force in the promotion. Again, he's the industry's most recognizable figure, and the best thing for the WWE to have.
The WWE is making a lukewarm attempt to push younger talent. Sheamus is cementing himself into the main event to stay, and Jack Swagger is joining him while being a world heavyweight champion in his own right.
The PG rating, though limiting, can broaden the fan base of the show. The only thing missing is solid booking in order for it to be a true success.
The WWE's flagship show that we know may be gone, but with change, Monday Night Raw can reclaim its place as a top show.
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