WWE Raw hasn't consistently been a must-see show since the Attitude Era in the late '90s, causing more and more viewers to gradually tune out over time. However, it can be argued that the company's flagship show has never been in worse shape.
Raw's ratings have slowly but surely been sinking for several years, though the creative direction of the show hasn't been this terrible for an extended period of time. The 2018 Superstar Shake-up did a number on the red brand in April, but that's no excuse for Raw's recent string of atrocious episodes.
The Nov. 26 edition, in particular, resulted in outrage among fans online, with many claiming it was the worst episode ever, including popular podcaster Jason Solomon:
It isn't a matter of waiting until WrestleMania season for the product to improve, either. If WWE doesn't immediately address the issues plaguing Raw, then the show will continue to suffer.
A primary problem the red brand has faced for years is its length. The show almost always drags, but in the company's defense, it's difficult to deliver three hours of compelling programming every week, especially with a limited roster.
Thankfully, USA Network's elimination of the overrun Raw used to have was a step in the right direction, but that doesn't make up for the lack of riveting rivalries and captivating storylines on the brand.
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose had the potential to be a feud that would entice viewers to tune in week after week, but the follow-up to the latter's shocking heel turn in October has been underwhelming, to say the least.
Instead of focusing on their Shield roots and history as rivals, WWE has instead had Ambrose insult the audience and cut promos while wearing a gas mask. Rollins, on the other hand, should have been the next big star in the absence of Roman Reigns, but he comes across as no more exceptional than anyone else on the Raw roster.
At a time when WWE's roster has never been better from an in-ring standpoint, it's unbelievable how few Raw Superstars feel special. While universal champion Brock Lesnar is the closest thing the red brand has to an actual attraction, his infrequent appearances have left the show without a world champion and nothing for the wrestlers to fight for.
Raw has also failed to make its women's and tag team divisions priorities this year, instead treating them like afterthoughts.
Despite the success of the critically acclaimed Evolution pay-per-view, virtually everyone from Raw's women's roster has been booked to look inferior to Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax. When it comes time to focus on fresher faces, fans will have zero reason to want to get behind any of them.
The tag team division has had similar struggles in 2018. The overreliance on poor comedy (e.g., Drake Maverick urinating on Bobby Roode's robe, The B-Team's unlikely rise, Lucha House Rules, etc.) has killed any interest fans had in promising tandems such as The Revival and AOP and has rendered the twin titles irrelevant.
Above all else, acting Raw general manager Baron Corbin has been at the core of the red brand's woes since he was appointed to the role in August. Although he has attempted to make the most of his position of power, he has been no different to every other heel authority figure in the history of Raw.
At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on Dec. 16, Corbin should lose to Braun Strowman and be fired from his role as Raw GM. Hopefully his replacement (if one is even necessary) will be a babyface who can rid the brand of most of the nonsense (handicap matches, babyfaces being beaten down relentlessly, etc) that has cursed it for ages.
If WWE can stop scheduling the same matches multiple weeks in a row and work on what has been hurting Raw for so long, there's a chance the show can be salvaged by the beginning of 2019 and return to being bearable weekly viewing.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.