Something strange has been happening to me lately.
No, it's not herpes, though I do still plan to have those lesions looked at by a physician. I'm talking about my love/hate relationship with WWE. I have found that over the course of the past 12 months, I've been enjoying the product even more than when I was younger.
And yet somehow liking Monday Night RAW even less.
That proves an interesting dichotomy, considering RAW is the organization's flagship program. And I can see that I'm not alone. Take a look at some of the recent reactions from the Cageside staff, like this one. How often do we get a write up north of the C+ range?
It's the exception, not the rule.
That leads to WWE math. The formula? If RAW is trash, then WWE must be trash, too. But it's not. I quickly realized, the reason I was enjoying the product more, is because I was finally judging it as a whole rather than the sum of its parts. There's more to this story than what we see on Monday nights.
A lot more.
The obvious answer is SmackDown! and while it's not as problematic as RAW (it's an hour shorter, which already gives it a head start), it's not the qualifier I was looking for. Instead, I've been finding it on Wednesday night, Saturday morning and (of all places) on WWE.com.
That's where holes are filled, pages are turned and questions are answered.
This week on RAW, the Primetime Players were bounced from a fatal four way match that may -- or may not have -- led to dissension within the ranks. But I didn't know that because after Titus O'Neil (who is fantastic) howled his trademark bark, the station cut to a commercial break.
When it returned, O'Neil and his partner, Darren Young, were eliminated.
Who gives a shit? Well, probably nobody, unless you watched this week's edition of "Backstage Fallout" (see it here), a weekly webisode that bridges the gap between RAW and SmackDown! -- as well as any other program that is charged with advancing storylines.
O'Neil is unhappy and a break up was ever-so-slightly teased.
As a result, I'll be watching their next appearance a little more carefully with that suggestion already planted in the back of my mind, just as I'll have yet another reason to jeer Antonio Cesaro after his spectacular "Fallout" promo. That's also where Brad Maddox got a few minutes to flesh out his persona (for better or for worse).
And what they can't get to on the web, they tie-in with Main Event or Saturday Morning Slam.
I won't pretend the product is perfect, because it isn't. But I've been able to enjoy it a lot more after grading it on its merits, which means taking the time to experience most -- if not all -- of the content being offered, rather than just sitting on the couch every Monday night and expecting it to dazzle me.
It's what DVRs were made for.