The first Monday Night Raw following the announcement of Paul Heyman’s new Executive Director role seemed to create an artificial atmosphere of change even if the former ECW architect hadn’t actually yet taken up his new responsibilities.
The electric feel - later echoed by much of the discerning online fanbase and Twitterverse - was established early. An energetic opening clash between Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman concluded with the chaotic sight of the pair crashing through the stage, leaving a hole more gaping than most recent storylines. It was smashed up for for the remainder of the show, and beyond merely being an effective use of WWE’s stunt magic at work also rather deftly inserted suspense and urgency into a show that’s lacked any of either for months. Those tuning in later will surely have been moved to find out why the chasm was there, or at least wait for the commentary team and a highlight package to act as a reminder.
Raw’s enough of a slog when the talent don’t have reasons to be, but it’s reached a point where the viewers occupy the same utterly irrelevant space. Dwindling ratings have reflected this most of all - the audience isn’t just shrinking because of external factors, but because of the flagship’s inability to make Raw feel like a destination broadcast.
It's arguably Heyman's biggest challenge in his new position. A dearth of stars, interesting angles and match combinations are symptoms of the systemic problems rather than the problems themselves.
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.