3 Surefire Solutions to Improve WWE Raw During Braun Strowman's Injury Absence

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistNovember 30, 2018

Credit: WWE.com

Monday Night Raw, the flagship program of WWE, is close to falling apart.

The show has been frustrating to watch for months for various reasons. The stories have been consistently bland. Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and more have been sorely missed in the second half of the year.

While the show is not starved of talent, the writers seem incapable of using the stars left active to keep Raw interesting. This is only going to get worse with the latest injury.

As reported by Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc, Braun Strowman is scheduled to return to Raw on Monday, but he may not be able to compete for an extended period of time because of his recent elbow surgery. This leaves the brand even worse off for a while.

The Monster Among Men would likely be kept off the show entirely if Raw had more stars available. This is the same reason Alexa Bliss continues to be heavily involved on Raw despite concussions keeping her from competing.

Either way, Raw needs to start making changes to balance the show. Strowman's injury leaves a void. Three hours of wrestling is already tough to sell when the roster is overflowing with talent. Now it feels like everything is being stretched too thin.

The most recent edition of Raw included an hour in total of Baron Corbin, who is far from a main event act. The show was rewarded with an abysmal third hour audience drop to 2.111 million viewers, the second-lowest in Raw history, as reported by Middleton.

It is time to take action. Raw is too big a show for WWE to simply sit back and wait for the talent to return. Drastic steps are necessary. These are three possible directions Raw could take to improve until Strowman and others return to the ring.


Credit: WWE.com

Commit Fully to Drew McIntyre and Elias

WWE is on the precipice of having major stars break out, but it feels like they are being held back for no reason. No one is more clearly set to step out into the spotlight than Drew McIntyre.

The Scottish Psychopath is an archetypal Superstar, from his impressive size and speed to his innate charisma. While there may be some reservations about his potential because of his first WWE run, he has clearly reinvented himself and become a franchise performer outside the company.

The former Chosen One is being used in a top spot but only in a supporting role. He has worked alongside Dolph Ziggler and now Corbin without taking a step out of their shadows, even after his emphatic domination of Kurt Angle.

Instead of standing behind The Lone Wolf and Bobby Lashley, McIntyre should step into the spotlight. He should have been the one wrestling The Monster at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December before Strowman's elbow injury, and Raw would be better off if he were the one holding the WWE Universal Championship.

In a similar fashion, Elias is ready to break out. His surprise face turn has been a success, with every WWE audience now singing with him. The Drifter has always been a great worker, but over the past few months, he has been a star.

His promo work is second to just about no one on Raw, and he's proved to be a reliable in-ring worker as well. However, he continues to miss out on featured roles. Since he was defeated by Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank in June, he has competed at just one WWE pay-per-view.

His feuds have been consistently underdeveloped to the point that it feels like he has not had one long-term rival since debuting on the main roster in spring 2017. All he needs is a chance to shine because he has knocked every opportunity out of the park.

With McIntyre and Elias both established as true top stars for Raw rather than just secondary guys on the precipice of breaking out, Raw's main event scene would feel far less empty.


Start Building the Women's Tag Team Division

The women's divisions on Raw and SmackDown are far larger than the booking makes them seem most weeks. While Ronda Rousey continues to be featured heavily, Sasha Banks and Bayley, The Riott Squad, Natalya, Mickie James and Alicia Fox all seem to appear and disappear on a whim.

There's nothing for them to fight for, with The Baddest Woman on the Planet only feuding with a few top women. All this would change if WWE introduced women's tag team championships.

A few teams do not make a division, but it would be an easy sell to have Raw and SmackDown both competing for the same tag team gold. SmackDown also has a treasure trove of untapped talent paired up as tag teams.

If Raw starts by introducing the titles as a goal to be won in 2019, even all the way to WrestleMania, both brands would benefit by beginning to build up worthy tag teams to fight for the championships.

Suddenly, having Banks and Bayley face The Riott Squad again would have purpose. Mickie and Fox could be more than just the stand-ins while Bliss is out of action. More women would have a reason to step up to the imposing force of Nia Jax and Tamina.

Championships exist in wrestling to add purpose to stories. Fighting for a title matters more than just getting another forgettable victory. The women's division needs more gold to fight for, and it begins with tag team titles.

This would also perfectly set up what is perhaps the most crucial idea in making Raw feel important again.


Credit: WWE.com

Exchange Talent with 205 Live, NXT and NXT UK

The main roster consists only of Raw and SmackDown, but WWE has just as much talent working the developmental and secondary brands. It is not a new idea for WWE to use stars from one brand in another, but there needs to be a far stronger focus from here on out.

Call-ups are inevitable. NXT is technically considered the development program for building stars for the main roster. However, that does not mean the relationship has to be linear.

If Raw needs to find talent to fill time, it would be easy to bring in some of the many great stars the brand has signed for appearances on occasion. Seth Rollins could hold open challenges to be answered by guys like Pete Dunne, The Velveteen Dream and Mustafa Ali.

Few things would help legitimize The Authors of Pain better than beating down Heavy Machinery or The Street Profits in semi-competitive clashes rather than the fairly even bouts they have with main-roster teams.

This doesn't have to be one-sided, though. Tyler Breeze and Harper have both been used in NXT already, coming down for house shows, and WWE could do more in this regard. Sending down underused guys would be a perfect way to test them in new environments.

The WWE roster is the deepest and most talented it has been in history because the company has so many brands to build. Superstars who are barely even appearing on Raw could be making an impact in NXT while NXT wrestlers might be better served going up and starting the grind.

This relationship would freshen up WWE as a whole, but Raw would be the biggest beneficiary. Instead of gutting NXT to try to fill spots that will be taken back by returning stars, the red brand could bring in developmental talent for occasional appearances or even short runs to test the waters.

Aleister Black could be a huge star on the main roster, but it is hard to say how he will be received until he makes the jump. If he spent a month on the main roster, feuding with Ziggler as a test run, it would be far clearer what his potential would be when his time to make a permanent transition arrives.

The possibilities are endless, and this is clearly already an idea WWE has considered. 205 Live stars such as Lio Rush and Lucha House Party are being reintroduced to fans on Raw, and it would be odd for Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy not to get similar chances.

With as much talent as WWE has under its umbrella, it is a farce for any show to feel devoid of talent. The biggest WWE show is the worst offender, clearly lacking stars when there are so many talented wrestlers left unused each week.

It's time for WWE to embrace the Superstars who are available and stop wallowing in frustration at all the missed opportunities that come after injuries.