Jim Neidhart died less than four months ago. That’s all the time it took for him to be used in an angle to draw heat on Monday Night Raw, as WWE has been writing Ruby Riott to use him against his daughter, Natalya. This should pack one hell of an emotional punch.
It does not.
I’ve been trying to figure out why and I think this week’s episode of Raw gave us a clear example:
You get the idea here: they’re going to have a Tables match, so Ruby made a table with Neidhart’s picture on it and vowed to put Nattie through said table at TLC. That maybe sounds good on paper but it failed in the actual execution of it. That’s because while the death of a father and the exploiting of it should lead to visceral hatred and furious rage, there is nothing of the sort here. Those two are performing. They are not two people embroiled in a blood feud — they’re actors who are acting. There is never any time you feel like anything here is genuine because they choose to play up the performance aspect of it.
Ruby’s promo is just that — it’s a wrestling promo. It’s not a person trying like hell to hurt their enemy, be it verbally or emotionally, it’s a performer performing and the entire scene plays out too much like a performance. It’s all just too obvious.
Further, it feels unnatural. Why would Natalya simply stand there while Ruby was going on and on?
This is part of wider problem WWE has — they ask wrestlers not to be wrestlers, but actors playing parts on a show about wrestling. Segments like this provide the best example of exactly why that doesn’t work.