No Chance – When a New Episode of WWE Raw Supershow, Starts to Feel Like a Rerun…

When Raw went of the air this past Monday I sat staring at the screen, a bit dazed. Some espionage show came on next and I just kina let it wash over me as I tried to let Raw sink in. I was stunned. Raw was over and I had absolutely nothing to write about. I mean sure, there were two new hours of wrestling. But did any of it really merit a full discussion on the internet? I had nothing to say that I hadn’t already said. John Cena vs. Del Rio? I had commented on that because I’ve seen that match before. Vicky’s gang coming to the ring with a mic? We all knew that it was going to end in an interruption followed by a beat down before the first word was even spoken. Announcers fighting in the ring? I had already said plenty on that the last time someone in creative thought that that was a good idea. There was nothing new to say because the entire show had been so predictable. And that’s something that never works out well in wrestling, predictability.

The Unexpected. Its one of the big things I hope for each week watching WWE. A matchup that I never expected to see, instead of the same one that was on last week, last PPV and will probably happen again the next week. A face turn on his best buddy or a heel defending someone out of the blue. The music of a wrester I never expected to see again hitting in the middle of a main event. Each week I sit there and hope, something will happen. Almost every successful storyline recently has had that kicking off point. Nexus, eight guys I never expected to see on Raw coming in and destroying the ring. The show ended with us having no idea what to expect the next week. “The Walkout,” The bulk of the lineup, essentially quitting all at once, leaving the show, and at the end of the show, I had no idea what to expect next week. The summer of Punk kicked of with a promo where Punk said things I never expected to hear, only in this case, the unknown element was kind of taken away, when I could simply go on the internet to find spoilers about the next week’s episode. No matter where each of those storylines ended up, they all were born from an unexpected moment.

Of course that can’t happen every single week. How many people out there can still make an unexpected return to the ring? Not one per week for sure. And weekly Face/Heel turns would grow annoying very quickly. Too much “unexpected” and the unexpected itself becomes the expected. We saw that happen with the Nexus invasion. And while the first few weeks of Punk’s triumphant return were thrilling, even the most diehard Punk loyalists (of which I probably am) would have to admit that before too long, we already knew what Punk’s “pipe bomb” was going to sound like before he said anything. Knowing what is going to happen isn’t always a bad thing. More often that not, you can look at two wresters in the ring, know who’s currently getting a push, and already know the ending of the match. That doesn’t mean that the match can’t be good. But knowing how a match will end because you’ve seen that match before is something different. Then we fall into something worse than the expected, repetition.

This past week on SmackDown, there was a 41 man battle royale where the winner could challenge someone for the belt. That’s 41 contestants and two defending champions. In fact, I see no good reason why mid-card belts couldn’t be challenged for, so four defending champions. A touch of math reveals that this makes 164 different match options, and what do we get in the end? Another Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry match. Why did we get that? Who still thought that these two had anything new to bring to a match? How many times had we already seen them fight? At least to PPV matches and who knows how many on Raw and Smackdown over the past few months. There was no reason for this fight, especially when there were so many other options available. Why not bring out an totally unexpected victor, someone we’ve never seen in the main event before. Or have them challenge for a mid-card belt. It would be much easier for me to believe that a mid-card belt is at risk of changing hands than a belt that is going to be up for grabs in an already scheduled PPV match next week. And even if you insisted on having Randy Orton in your main event, does it half to be with Mark Henry? When’s the last time we’ve seen Del Rio fight Orton? Again, I know that the belt isn’t going to change hands, but at least it’s a match I haven’t seen as much. Or wait a minute, isn’t Randy supposed to be in a feud right now with Cody Rhodes? And doesn’t Rhodes have a belt? Then why don’t these two fight? (Though I admit, that’s not exactly the un-treaded territory that I’m asking for) and would it be so terrible if Orton wore the Intercontinental championship for a few weeks? I don’t think your dream wrester Orton is at any real risk of slipping back down to the mid-card, and if you want to restore the legacy to the title the way you claim, you could do worse things than having Orton wear the title.

I know that I’m not breaking any new ground here. The constant rehashing or reusing of story elements or matchups is a constant complaint, and an understandable one. After all, with all the different wrestlers and personalities you boast about having in your company, why am I asked to watch the same two guys go at it week after week. WWE may have some defense. After all they do have four hours of content to provide on a weekly basis, more if it’s a PPV week (and even more if you count the internet shows) And I’ll admit, four non-stop compelling hours of interesting action, storytelling, and well performed feats of wrestling can be a bit of a tall order. I’ve said before that Raw often feels like a great hour long show that is always stretched out to fill a two hour time slot, but sometimes, like this week, we don’t even get that hour.

Unrelated thought:

Are Zack Ryder and Mason Ryan on their way to forming a tag team? They sure do get involved in the same matches a lot. Just think, a few months ago we had no real tag teams, only random wrestlers thrown together so that someone would be there to hold the belt. Now we are on our way  to having four solid teams. Air Boom, Awesome Truth (who still need a better name), those guys that Vicky is training, and this one. I won’t say that the tag team division is back, but it does look like it’s on its way.

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