Penny Candy: Random Observations from Raw and Total Divas

Total Divas is fast becoming more entertaining than Raw. Partly because it’s only half scripted like all reality TV; (I don’t think every single thing they do was 100% predetermined, but I also don’t think everything that happens is just completely random either), and partly because it’s clearly not hindered by TV-PG. I also, at least personally, find some of the little surprise glimpses behind the scenes that I don’t expect to be wonderful.

For example I actually had no idea that Norman Smiley was in the ‘E’s employ as a trainer, and I marked a bit when I saw him helping train Eva. Big Wiggle in the hizzy y’all!

I also laughed my ass off at Nattie’s insane jealous stunt letting Fandango spar with her to make TJ jealous, mostly because of the “ah fuck…” look on Fandango’s face when he realized exactly why he was in the sparring ring and his sudden shift in body language from passive “Yeah sure I’ll run exercises with you Nat” to “Can I please just quietly go back to the gym now?”

We also had the beautifully awkward sexual couples therapy for Ari and Vinny, and Ari’s discovery of her Domme streak.

The rest of the show was passable. But that 45 minutes was still FAR more entertaining than Raw. Because on Raw this week, without going back to rewatch it the only part I can actually remember is Daniel Bryan getting kidnapped. (There, I used his stupid WWE Rebranding name, happy?).

And that’s literally it. Without rewatching it, or checking one of the various Raw Recaps here on IP, I honestly can’t remember anything about Raw except the Punk/Danielson/Wyatts stuff and a vague memory of Cena getting laid out to close the show.

What does it say that a fluff semi-scripted “Reality” show on ‘E that WWE probably doesn’t actually much care about aside of it being a marketing gimmick for brand awareness is more entertaining and genuinely fun to watch every week than their flagship show? Or that Raw has become so predictable and boring and dull and badly written with Vince HHH and Steph’s pet ego angles dominating everything despite a clear lack of any fan interest in more MacMahon stuff that I’ve forgotten almost the entire show only four days later?

WWE seems to be in a freefall. It has no real competition to drive it to be better and it has enough easily pleased sheep fans to keep it reasonably profitable that it doesn’t actually need to be a GOOD product to survive. It’s the wrestling version of Tyler Perry; 99% of it’s product is pandering garbage, but the stupid people keep buying tickets and teeshirts anyway so they see no need to be creative or to actually try to put on the best product they can.

As long as they’re still making money it’s like the MacMahons don’t even care anymore if their product is actually GOOD. That’s why the side projects that Vince doesn’t really much care about are so much better than the main product. Raw and to a lesser extent Smackdown are Vince’s babies, and by extension Trips and Steph’s, and take up the bulk of their attention, and are what those three are hands-on with.

But the side shows, like NXT, Main Event, and Total Divas, well, they let other folks run those because they don’t care much, and it shows. Those shows are all free to be a little different, and all in their own ways surpass the flagships.

We all on IP pretty much agree NXT is the best pure wrestling show the ‘E puts out.It’s like early ECW without the garbage matches. Young hungry talent gets to shine, commentary gets to focus on the action instead of having to spend half the show putting the bosses’ pet angles over, and the audience is mostly smarks who love the product and that crowd is more alive and fun than most live Raw crowds except those in cities like Jersey, New York and Boston. And the matches are actually given decent time to tell a story.

Main Event and Superstars generally gives talent either jobbed out on Raw or ignored entirely time to shine, to be the focus, and to show they’re worth being noticed.

And Total Divas is actually HURTING the flagship by showing in clear terms what an unmitigated failure TV-PG is for a product like WWE. Airing on E and somehow freed from the TV-PG handcuffs on the rest of the product, it’s proven that WWE just works better both WITHOUT the PG handcuffs and WITH clear direction and a lack of reliance on juvenile storylines.

And honestly it makes me sad as a fan.

I’ve been watching WWE since I was 9, and I don’t think I can ever bring myself to completely stop watching it entirely. But honestly the only entertainment I really get out of Raw anymore is making fun of it with my friend Paige when we watch it. The show itself consistently fails to entertain me save the occasional bright spot with certain talent, and if not for the viewing get-togethers I probably wouldn’t watch Raw at all. I already don’t watch Smackdown.

I really want to LIKE Raw. I really do. But I just can’t. It’s half-assed crap the MacMahons shit out to entertain themselves, not the fans.

At least they DO put out some good product. I just wish they’d make their flagship as good as the tugboats surrounding it.

Tags: , , , , , ,