In Flickering Myth’s weekly feature, Jackson Ball looks at the booking decisions made on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, and how they could (and perhaps should) have been made differently…
Sunday’s PPV brought about the end of several feuds, both long and short term, as well the shock return of Alberto Del Rio and the dismantling of the Undertaker at the hands of the Wyatt Family. It also seemingly left all of the major championships without obvious challengers going forward.
Fortunately, this week’s edition of Raw sought to rectify that issue, at least in part by holding a mini-tournament in order to name a number one contender to Seth Rollin’s WWE World Heavyweight Title. The tournament generate some great matches for the show, as well as giving the night a real sense of direction and purpose, something that has been missing from Raw in recent weeks. Ultimately, Roman Reigns was crowned the winner and, as a result, immediate challenger to the biggest prize in sports entertainment.
The tournament was great and made this week’s edition of Raw stand out above recent offerings. That being said, however, there were still a few issues that could have been handled better by the WWE booking staff.
WWE’s New Odd Couple
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of this Sunday’s PPV was the surprise return of Alberto Del Rio. Having taking an extended hiatus from the WWE to wrestle for Lucha Underground, the former WWE Champion shocked the world by returning and taking the US title from John Cena.
This is a great acquisition for the WWE whichever way you look at it, but there is still one element that doesn’t really add up. Rather that returning with his long-time announcer and valet, Ricardo Rodriguez, Del Rio appears to have found a new manager in Zeb Colter.
Don’t get me wrong, Zeb Colter is a decent performer, and it was nice to see him back on our screens after taking a mini-hiatus himself, but it is a little strange to see him aligning himself with Del Rio. Those of you who remember the lengthy championship feud between ADR and Jack Swagger back in 2013 (you’d be forgiven for forgetting), will recall that Colter was then Swagger’s manager and adamantly opposed to Del Rio and everything he stood for.
Given that this was the last major time that these two performers crossed paths, it’s peculiar that the former enemies have now been thrown together with very little in the way of an explanation.
This week on Raw, Colter cut a backstage promo explaining that the alliance was based on their mutual belief that positive relations between the US and Mexico should be championed (which is a complete turnaround from his borderline-xenophobic attitude a couple of years ago). This motive was made all the more confusing by Del Rio then calling Neville (an Englishman) a ‘selfish, entitled immigrant’.
Finally and perhaps worst of all, Colter then coined a new name for his and Del Rio’s new alliance: Mex-America. I mean, that is just terrible.
The whole thing could have been cleared up in much better way, meaning a less confusing state of affairs for the WWE Universe.
How It Should Have Been Booked:
First of all, keeping the concept of a Zeb Colter promo makes complete sense: why have him around at all if he isn’t the mouthpiece? You can even keep the promo in its backstage location with Renee Young as, after a lengthy in-ring promo from The Authority at the start of the show, a change of scenery can help freshen things up.
Rather than completely ignoring their past feud, this time around both men acknowledge it. Colter tells Renee that he had grown weary of the current state of the WWE, and claims that it needed ‘waking up’ by a new ‘hero’. He claims that John Cena is a false idol who has be posing as the industry’s saviour, but he lacks the ruthlessness and conviction that is needed, and that he is not worthy of admiration.
Colter then describes an ‘epiphany’ that he recently had, in which it occurred to him that he witness someone in the past with those exact attributes: Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio then takes charge of the promo, describing how he was surprised at first when Zeb sought him out, but eventually understood that, together, they could achieve great things in the WWE. He then states that have put previous disputes behind them and have finally united to usher in a new era of dominance.
Bonus Booking: Michael Cole’s Short-Term Memory
This little piece of Bonus Booking is more an amalgamation of Raw of the recent years, rather than just this Monday’s episode, and it revolves around the commentary team’s inexplicable tendency to completely forget previous feuds or events. While the title singles out Michael Cole (who is certainly the biggest culprit, given his status of play-by-play announcer), the same short-term memory loss clearly befalls both JBL and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.
An example of the commentary team’s increasingly selective memory came this Monday when, thanks to the Number 1 Contender Tournament, Dolph Ziggler squared off against Big E.
Casts your minds back a couple of years and you’ll probably recall a time when Ziggler and Big E were actually running buddies, with the latter acting as the former’s ‘muscle’. This was around the time of Ziggler’s sensational Money in the Bank cash-in, and his thoroughly unsensational World Title run.
Remember that? Congratulations, you have a better wrestling memory that the entire Monday Night Raw commentary team!
Neither Cole, King or JBL gave so much as a passing mention about these two Superstars shared past, which is frustrating given how much rubbish they usually fill the air time with. What makes this even more baffling is that, earlier that very night, all three announcers were proudly regaling stories and moments from Alberto Del Rio’s first run in the WWE, which was happening at the exact same time as the Ziggler/Big E pairing.
It may seem like a minor point, but it’s simple snippets of information like this that go a long way in making the commentary sound competent and professional. Plus, let’s be honest, the Raw commentary team aren’t exactly held in the highest esteem these days, and it’s because of little missed opportunities like this.
You can guarantee that this sort of point wouldn’t have been missed by the NXT announcers: Corey Graves is always on-point with historical gems like this.
How It Should Have Been Booked:
The Raw announce team actually provide the WWE Universe with useful and entertaining information about the match in front of them.
Either that or promote Corey Graves.
Jackson Ball – Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn