WWE Raw Fallout: Undertaker Return Reeks of Desperation and More Takeaways
The road to Extreme Rules began Monday on WWE Raw, and the writing team had a major surprise in store for fans in the form of the return of The Undertaker.
The Deadman made the save for Roman Reigns, fighting off Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon while simultaneously setting up a marquee tag bout for the July 14 pay-per-view extravaganza.
The move may have left fans buzzing, but it was another desperate attempt to generate a creative spark using a name from the past rather than focusing on the stars of the future WWE has up and down its expansive roster.
Dive deeper into The Deadman's re-emergence and the issues that surround it, as well as other takeaways from this week's episode, with this recap of the June 24 USA Network broadcast.
Undertaker Returns in Desperate Attempt by WWE Creative to Ignite a Spark
The Undertaker's unexpected return to Raw represents WWE Creative's continued descent into desperation as it looks for any way to spark interest—and television ratings—for its product.
The last time fans saw The Phenom, he was stinking up Jeddah in a match with Goldberg that was one of the worst in recent memory. Bringing him back as backup for Roman Reigns in his rivalry with Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre with no real backstory or reason stinks of creative despair.
The revelation he will team with The Big Dog at Extreme Rules not only supports that idea, but it also ensures he will be around Raw and SmackDown for the next handful of weeks as WWE builds to his pay-per-view return.
It would be one thing for Undertaker to pop up in time for a show like SummerSlam, for a match in which there was an established story or reasoning for its existence; it is another for him to pop up to help boost WWE Network subscriptions or sell tickets for a C-level event like Extreme Rules and a feud he has nothing to do with.
To say The Deadman's last showing was embarrassing would be an understatement. Why put him in the ring with the potential to further unravel his legacy with no long-term benefit? Why risk him stumbling, fumbling and falling over himself as he did in Jeddah?
The risks outweigh the rewards, the match will not be some memorable barnburner that suddenly reignites the audience's passion for wrestling and Undertaker will not benefit in any measurable way beyond his bank account.
The return is unnecessary and, quite frankly, unwanted.
Especially after the mess in Jeddah and the last few in-ring performances by The Deadman in which he has looked every bit his 54 years.
It is time to let WWE's last true gunslinger ride off into the sunset with his legacy intact, before the aura and allure of Vince McMahon's greatest creation erodes to the point that he's just another old guy who didn't know when to hang up his boots.
The Neutering of Braun Strowman as a Main Event Attraction Continues
Remember when Braun Strowman was a breakout star and legitimate contender to win the Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar? Worse, remember when people cared about him?
No, neither does WWE Creative.
The diminishing of Strowman's credibility continued this week as his rivalry with Bobby Lashley delved deeper into ridiculousness, this time courtesy of a Tug-O-War. After defeating The All Mighty in an Arm Wrestling match, The Monster Among Men picked up another win in a family-picnic special.
Nothing about the segment benefited him. It did nothing to further the never-ending rivalry with Lashley, who Strowman has beaten down and pinned multiple times in recent weeks. All it did was draw more attention to the fact The Monster Among Men is a former world-title contender whose booking had delegitimized him and left him a shell of the unstoppable force he once was.
And therein lies a problem with the recent WWE product.
Anytime it does something right by capitalizing on a breakout star's popularity and momentum, it ultimately does just enough to screw it up and book them into the ground. This, before rendering them meaningless in the deep, dark abyss of the WWE midcard.
Samoa Joe Finds Relevance in Renewed World-Title Push
On a night of questionable creative decisions, one thing the writing team did for the betterment of its show and one of its performers in particular, was the elevation of Samoa Joe into the main event scene.
The Destroyer was fresh off losing the United States Championship to Ricochet at Stomping Grounds when he attacked WWE champion Kofi Kingston after back-to-back matches with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, leaving the popular babyface lying in a heap.
In one segment, Joe rebounded from defeat by physically making his intentions to challenge for Kingston's title known.
It is a bit peculiar that management would have The Samoan Submission Specialist lose to set up his main event run, but they needed to get the title off him and Ricochet needed the boost so, in that regard, it worked.
The question now is if Joe can re-establish himself as one of the most dangerous men in the industry ahead of what will likely be a title match at Extreme Rules. He has been here before, combated the likes of Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in high-profile PPV matches, but he regularly loses momentum along the way.
If WWE Creative can sustain it, the company could have a potential new champion on its hands and a legitimate badass heel around whom it can build the show as Joe enjoys one last great run on top.