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This Heath Slater story is legitimately compelling

It was really something to see and hear Seth Rollins open this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw with a promo that was straight out of a current WWE fan’s mouth: the show sucks, and it’s all Baron Corbin’s fault. That’s not true, of course, or at least the latter part isn’t exactly accurate. Yes, the acting General Manager is a big part of why the show has been borderline unwatchable in recent weeks but he’s also responsible for one of its best stories.

That would be the saga of Heath Slater, who has one of the most compelling character arcs of any wrestler on the roster. While it may not have been on purpose — and we can reasonably expect that it’s been a happy accident to have worked out this way — WWE is telling a compelling long term story with this perpetually down-on-his-luck wrestler who has kids to feed.

Corbin, the evil bastard he is, ordered Slater to wrestle Rhyno last week with the loser being fired. Because he has a character with clear motivations, Slater emerged victorious, as much as it tortured him to be the reason his tag team partner was out of a job. He’s done a great job of maintaining his displeasure at that too, which is no small feat in a WWE story, where story points are so often forgotten or ignored you’d think they all suffer from amnesia.

This was followed up in the form of further humiliation, as Corbin assigned Slater to officiating duties, making him a referee for this week’s show. He wasn’t impartial in his first match, allowing Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush to break a lot of rules en route to victory. But that was a running buddy of Corbin’s. Hmmm. Later, Baron had him officiate his Intercontinental title TLC match against Seth Rollins in the night’s main event. There, Slater interfered on his behalf, much to the displeasure of the live audience.

Again, though, he had a clear motivation for doing so. That was before they added this layer to it:

“I’m not proud of what I had to do. But it’s one of those things to where it’s like I’ve got a family and I have to do what I have to do. I’m not happy about it, but I have to do what I had to do.”

That suggests Corbin made him referee for the express purpose of doing his bidding, playing into the show wide theme that he’s awful and ruining literally everything and everyone. This isn’t just making it about how bad Corbin is, however, but how sympathetic Slater has always been. He’s just a man trying his best to do his job so he can provide for his kids.

It’s impossible not to pull for him to win out in the end.

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