WWE's Shameless Raw: The Danger of Burying the Viper Above Ground
If the Ortonites can remember, there was a time in which missing an episode of Raw would have been unthinkable.
There were faults in the program to be sure, but nothing that a bit of corrective criticism wouldn’t have at least provided a temporary fix for.
The WWE, like any entertainment organization, is not without its flaws; but the time in which partial mistakes were simply overtaken by creative brilliance seems to have passed them by.
Call it evolution if you will, but I'd rather like to think of it as a lack of creativity.
We're not talking about TNA and if we were, I'd be a bit more understanding. But WWE is an empire; and one stocked to the brim with talent. Excuses are running thin and excitement has been running low.
So low in fact, that I, a fan who at one point in time practically lived for Monday nights, actually committed one of the most unpardonable sins a devout wrestling fan could commit last week. Though it may seem to be unthinkable, pessimistic perception became disappointing reality.
I actually missed an entire episode of Monday Night Raw.
Not because I got stuck in traffic; and not because a family member had taken ill; but because I simply forgot.
I didn't forget that it was Monday and I didn't forget to turn on the television; even be it for a brief two-hour period, I forgot that Raw even existed.
Around midnight last week, I had realized that "Wow, I totally missed wrestling tonight."
Not so much in the entertainment missed; but in the reality that had become my lack of enthusiasm.
That form of entertainment, that social gathering that had once been a fixture of my Monday nights with friends and family, had translated into a forgotten Raw, and a disheartened spirit for what was once the most exciting time of the week.
I did manage to catch Raw this week however; but it was only in the predictable that promise was to be found.
Yet even with that promise, came more questions.
What exactly does it mean to "bury a viper above ground" anyway?
That doesn't make any sense; does it?
But anything is possible in WWE.
Enter the viper.
Randy Orton has become, if you don't mind my saying, the hottest act in professional wresting.
Which doesn't surprise me much seeing as I've known him to not only be the most talented performer in the industry, but also the one to have displayed the most promise year after year.
That promise of course, being contingent upon proper creative direction.
Unfortunately though, cheering fans doesn't always translate into fantastic creative decision-making.
The answer is obvious albeit perhaps, not to the average fan watching that which makes them cheer.
There are both "long-term" and "short-term" fixes to issues that plague professional wrestling.
Turning Orton "face" was to give the fans what they wanted.
On paper at least, to make them cheer is to make them happy.
Translation = "short-term" solution.
They'd cheer for the face to win every match, every week, but if they were to actually see that happen, what motivation would there be to tune in again; and what satisfaction would there be to have in one side of the equation accomplishing success without resistance?
Essentially, "liking" or even "loving" Randy Orton doesn't necessarily mean much in the "long-term" unless one has the intent to use his character properly.
Otherwise, while RKO’s may translate to paper-victories and fan's approval, they would be essentially doing nothing more…than burying the viper above ground.
I make mention of the "Orton-issue" first only because, while it may seem to be nothing more than criticism of a good thing going, the reality is that the criticism is both valid and perhaps, the company's most pressing issue due to the lack of utilizing their most talented performer to his fullest potential; under the guise of making a "good move" as evident per the fan's approval.
The next issue on Raw however, appears to be a bit more shameless.
At first, I was one of the biggest critics of Sheamus.
An unproven entity rewarded above and beyond his capability for performance for nothing more than the sheer desire to deliver something "new" to a product grown stale by senseless repetition of inept creativity.
"The Sheamus experiment" failed, and failed miserably as his first title reign proved to be one of the most disappointing eras in recent memory; a time in which the WWE championship took a back-seat to storylines featuring more accomplished performers.
The countdown to when the failed experiment would be brought to a prompt conclusion was evident.
Afterwards, however, Sheamus of all people began to impress me.
He was awarded a Wrestlemania match with a man in whom the term "out of his league" would be as much indicative of a glowing generosity as it would be close to the reality. But regardless of how out-matched Sheamus was on the grandest stage of them all, he achieved a slight degree of credibility if by association; and nothing more.
Triple H helped make Sheamus into something slightly more than an over-grown "tuffmin" with a bad gimmick and a poor sense of story-telling.
He became that same over-grown tuffmin with a bad gimmick and a poor sense of story-telling, but one for which was actually competent (on a physical level and nothing more) to share a ring with one of the greatest performers in history.
Sheamus was, as they say, on a roll; by his standards at least.
But a roll that ended with the disappointing crowning of an undeserved second WWE title reign.
Subtraction by addition?
Common vernacular better have paid close attention as Sheamus' “shameless gift” personified perhaps better than ever, a clever play on an otherwise common figure of speech.
Yet while the countdown may have already begun in regards to when this calamity will be brought to (god willing) another prompt conclusion, the fans will surely be torn apart by having to root for the lesser of two evils.
Whether they consider that lesser evil to be Sheamus or John Cena is a matter of personal preference; but the reality is that there is no "good" answer to this serious issue.
And just where you might think a logical answer might become available, it might instead, lead to yet another problem within the WWE-title picture.
Is he not guaranteed a title shot for any championship; at any time, any place?
It would be like watching the "shameless catastrophe" clothed in different attire.
Another unproven and perhaps "under-talented" Superstar pushed beyond his capacity for actual performance into the realm of undeserved glorification.
Disappointing would be putting it mildly and in-fact, the concept of this "Nexus" is partially responsible for my own declined sense of enthusiasm.
A group of unproven Superstars who have accomplished nothing; showing little promise to become anything more than roster spots, taking center-stage as more accomplished performers are reduced to futile storylines no more valuable than the month on the calendar.
I commend WWE for being daring enough to "try something new" and for continuing to do so despite how unpalatable the angle may be for a hungry audience awaiting the next credible and stimulating storyline.
But continuing to push an angle without promise does little more than provide a temporary solution for an ever-growing problem.
Audiences will cheer for the "new" all the while remaining unaware that the current angle is not only a short-term elucidation but also, the repetition of a failed formula already made evident by both of Sheamus' failed title pushes.
When living in a universe where your most talented performer is reduced to becoming nothing more than a "weekly attraction" while the most significant entity, the WWE championship, revolves between an unproven commodity and a stale recitalist...
You know that the stars are out of alignment.
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