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Is WWE's Main Event Scene the Root Cause for Raw Being Mediocre?

Philip LindseyContributor IMay 18, 2021

Photo credit: WWE.com

Sometimes, it takes the right character to elevate a show.

Viewers experienced this when Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman joined Breaking Bad during the second season's eighth episode. Vince Gilligan's series was already good, but Odenkirk raised the bar as the fast-talking criminal lawyer. In fact, the character became so compelling that he became the lead in a spin-off: Better Call Saul.

If any professional wrestling show could use an injection of new antagonists and protagonists, it's WWE Raw. Of all of the company's programming, its flagship series has been the most uninteresting lately. Honestly, the biggest difference between the red and blue brands is Roman Reigns.

The Tribal Chief has quickly become the most compelling wrestler in the company, and his heel persona has paid off for SmackDown, which struggled for a while after the move to Fox.

The series isn't perfect by any stretch. If you look close enough, it is plagued by some of the same issues that hinder Raw. However, crafting intricate stories around the brand's main champion has covered many of its flaws.

Considering what WWE has managed to do on Friday nights, it isn't hard to tell that Raw's main weakness is the lack of fresh and defined characters like The Head of Table.

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True to his namesake, MVP has been integral to the brand because the emergence of The Hurt Business and Bobby Lashley's rise to become WWE champion have been highlights for the series. But most of the three-hour show still feels so stagnant without a designated main event-caliber star.

           

The Absence of Intriguing Character Development

Thanks to Reigns, the Universal Championship has become more relevant than its more well-known and prestigious counterpart. That's quite a feat considering the history of the company's second world title, but the absence of a similar presence on Raw has become a glaring problem ever since.

It's an unfortunate byproduct of the company's renewed focus on the universal title, but Lashley isn't exactly chopped liver. The All Mighty has been a pleasant surprise this year, and his first WWE Championship win was long overdue. Moreover, he looks the part and the company has molded him into a believable threat, but there is a clear difference in storytelling when compared to The Tribal Chief.

On SmackDown, WWE creatively uses continuity, Reigns' Samoan culture and fans' preconceived notions to create something unique and engaging. For example, Daniel Bryan's departure and seemingly final title push was an ingenious way to play off of his history with the company and The Tribal Chief. It was a rare display of how the company can effectively enrich its top villain and reference its programming without insulting its hardcore fans' intelligence.

The ongoing Bloodline storyline featuring The Usos is also enthralling. Even more, it has bolstered an unexpected star in "Main Event" Jey Uso.

WWE has to find a way to do the same on Raw, and there's no real excuse because there is a wealth of talent there.

         

The World Title Picture Needs New Contenders

Some detractors would argue SmackDown has better options with former world champions like Seth Rollins and potential contenders like Big E.

However, AJ Styles and Kofi Kingston are established Superstars that WWE could heat up at any time. As a matter of fact, this week's main event proved just that, as The New Day man answered Lashley's open challenge and pinned him to close the show.

This is exactly what the WWE title picture needs right now: some new challengers. Drew McIntyre was a great champion during the pandemic era, but it's time to try some new matchups. The Scottish Warrior has been a part of the main storyline for over a year, and his feud with MVP and the CEO of The Hurt Business has run its course.

To develop him into a top titleholder, the company has to pit Lashley against some different opponents and tell some new stories. Successfully defending his title at WrestleMania 37 should feel like a bigger deal, but it's hard to see it as such when the 44-year-old is still going back and forth with the opponent he beat at The Showcase of the Immortals.

Frankly, this isn't just a problem that plagues the main flag-bearer because Rhea Ripley desperately needs different matchups, as well. Her loss to Charlotte Flair last year at WrestleMania 36 will forever link the two competitors, but not in a good way at this point. The Nightmare needs to prove she is capable of moving the women's division forward without The Queen looming over her.

WWE may be merely stalling until Becky Lynch returns. So, this would be the perfect opportunity to take more risks and do something drastic to build up a new threat for her to deal with. The company can't continue to rest on its laurels on Monday nights when it is doing so much better on NXT and SmackDown.

If Raw is going to get out of this creative rut, WWE needs to improve its main event scene. The direction forward starts with reinvigorating the landscape around its world titles.

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