As most Voices of Wrestling readers will be aware, WWE programming for the most part typically sucks. It’s hampered with so many unnecessary issues, which makes it virtually unwatchable despite the obvious talented roster. Said issues include:

  • Extremely lazy/incompetent/illogical booking
  • Overproduction
  • Low rent CGI circa 2000
  • Corey Graves
  • Generic theme music
  • Unnaturally scripted promos
  • Consistent burying of young/promising talent
  • Corey Graves
  • The overuse of moronic buzzwords
  • Corey Graves
  • Storylines that center on demonic dolls
  • Three hour run times
  • Their persistence with the truly awful offspring of Rey Mysterio Jr. 

That’s just sum issues off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are more that just escape me at this time. But this week, after seeing some positive opinions on social media I decided to take a gander at the latest offering of Monday Night RAW.

And to my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t half bad.

Now don’t get me wrong the show is still a hard watch mostly, particularly with the torturous three-hour run time, but once you wade through the usual shit there were some very good positives to be found on the go-home edition of RAW before the Royal Rumble 2022.

Firstly, it should be noted that the crowd in the Huntington Center played their part. While WWE obviously and shamelessly sweetens the crowd noise each week, there seemed to be no need as this crowd was all in for some WWE-brand sports entertainment. They cheered everything that wasn’t Tamina and they ate everything up.

Good job Toledo.

Austin Theory and AJ Styles had a fine TV match, with both men afforded the opportunity to work beyond three minutes. Not only did both men shine, with AJ Styles unselfishly making Theory looking like a worthy opponent, and their hard work equaled an entertaining bout. And it ended clean! I personally can’t remember the last decent TV match RAW produced without a screwy finish and surprise surprise, both men looked better after the match than before it. Theory in particular looked strong despite the defeat, proving you don’t have to book garbage finishes each week.

RAW also had an entraining yet low-brow comedy segment that lead to a Randy Orton vs. Chad Gable match and once again the match had a somewhat clean finish. Color me stunned. Not only that, but it was another enjoyable affair, as Gable and Orton worked their socks off and were given the time to entertain.

Orton proved that when motivated he can be so good. Obviously, he’s rarely motivated, but he showed up here and delivered a fun match worthy of my time. Gable is just fantastic, and while I’ve no doubt WWE will ultimately cut the legs from underneath him soon, he showed everyone what he is all about here. He’s just so smooth and the crowd really lapped up everything he and Orton produced.

Wrestling is that simple, folks.

Gable also showed his charismatic side in the aforementioned skit which set up the match. Thankfully he has shed the skin of the awful Shorty G nonsense, which surely was a brainchild of Vince himself and shown that he has value in both in and out of the ring.

The Spelling Bee skit was pure hammed-up bollox and I really enjoy this side of wrestling when it’s done right. The problem is WWE rarely does it right (see Miz and Edge closing segment) and it’s rarely in AEW, so when it comes along I’m on board. Gable has so many similarities comedy-wise with Kurt Angle that it’s uncanny. His mannerisms, his timing, his deadpan reactions, the man is just so talented.

Elsewhere Bianca Belair showed why she is so highly rated, whilst simultaneously and once again show what a dumb decision was to book her like a geek at SummerSlam. She had a short match with Zelina Vega which demonstrated why she is a star.

Her husband Montz Ford provided further evidence that they have a future star in himself provided they don’t repeat the mistakes they made with what seems like an infinite amount of wrestlers before him.

Lots of negatives were still present too.

Shocker, I know.

Damien Priest and Kevin Owens displayed great chemistry in a match hampered with a typical shitty finish and short run time. The awful Nikki A.S.H story was the focus of an abysmal female trios match, which also featured Carmella persisting with this dumb face mask gimmick, as well as a typically disinterested Tamina Snuka, who was doing her best to make the latest edition of Botchamania.

Speaking of Botchamania, Dominik Mysterio was again proof that apples can fall far from a tree. Why WWE persist with presenting the son of Rey Mysterio on WWE television when he clearly has zero potential to be a professional wrestler is beyond me and he paid WWE’s faith by again stinking up another tag match as is tradition.

Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley was a waste of time as nothing happened beyond the carefree Brock Lesnar being himself on international television.

A waste of time.

This was also the go-home edition for their upcoming PLE, the Royal Rumble. Usually their most anticipated matches of the year—the Royal Rumble matches themselves are pretty dull affairs this year in terms of build and excitement. No obvious or interesting entrants are present and I see no stand-out potential winners. With no real stories going in to make these matches more spellbinding, it’s not a good sign for WWE though a hot crowd and could save it. On paper, it’s not appealing, which is a shame for a match that usually draws casual and lapsed fans alike.

Big E was absent again, proving once more that WWE views him as anything but a top-tier performer. He doesn’t look like a potential Rumble winner from the way he has been presented. The Miz and Edge are the most featured on RAW and I don’t want either of these men pointing at the Mania sign come Saturday.

At least Seth “go freaking away” Rollins was absent, so that’s a positive I guess. I can’t stand this guy’s cheap, heatless act and I will continue to avoid him no matter how good he can be in the ring.

Yes, there is plenty of garbage on RAW. But for approximately 40 minutes, WWE produced some decent content. If WWE could consistently build on the positives displayed here, it would go a long way to making their show watchable on a consistent basis. I know history suggests that I’m pissing into the wind and WWE will undo any goodwill they built up with me here come Friday when Smackdown leads us into the Rumble. But this week’s show, despite the obvious negatives, was a step in the right direction for WWE programming.

Onwards we march to the Royal Rumble… I guess.