The reasons started to pile up.
Names like Lio Rush, Luke Harper and Sasha Banks, who we haven’t seen on TV for all the wrong reasons. The fact Lars, whose “$100,000 fine” and mandatory sensitivity training for his past atrocious internet comments sound about as legit as the rent-a-cops that always fail to restrain wrestlers, is still on TV. Terrible nonsense such as the continuation of the Saudi deal, Dash Wilder’s reported forced contract extension and ... that fucking Ucey Hot segment.
It finally clicked on Sunday night. Maybe it was watching Game of Thrones fans become as upset as wrestling twitter and seeing how angry fandom can make people, that made me realize it. I just needed a damn break from Monday Night Raw. Yes, for the first time since CM Punk’s infamous “pipe bomb” promo, I decided to skip Raw.
The idea of skipping Raw got even easier as the hours passed on Monday as I saw all of the results from the pretaped installment on Twitter. Roman was back in THE WILD CARD role again? “How shameless?” I thought, as I realized WWE is trying so hard to get its ratings in shape that it didn’t care that its TV programming was starting to feel like non-canon, like glorified house shows. Nothing really matters when all of these temporary cameos clog up the boat.
And so dear reader, I went home Monday night, and instead of watching Raw, I enjoyed myself. I started the competition reality TV show Instant Hotel (where catty Airbnb hosts compete for a trip to America). I even got to watch some of the first night of New Japan’s Best of The Super Juniors shows, using to time to watch other wrestling that I am enjoying more.
So, to paraphrased Katy Perry: “I skipped a Raw, and I liked it.”
Throughout the night, wrestling twitter provided its valuable running commentary, highlighting the rare segments that I’m gonna watch later this week (Cesaro vs Rey and Firefly Funhouse: Bray’s Big Secret). So I was still able to keep abreast of the product without spending three hours watching it.
I enjoyed my WWE-free Monday night so much, that I even skipped SmackDown Live, which I heard was - in fact - skippable. During those two hours of SmackDown, I got to watch the Knicks get screwed in the NBA Draft Lottery, stream another Instant Hotel episode AND start night 2 of Progress’ Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Time well spent.
I’m not the first to pat myself on the back for taking a break from WWE TV. I’m writing this to send a brief message. I watched Raw live every week when it was at all possible for almost eight years in a row without break. By its own actions, WWE has currently become too much to watch. It seems to be emphatically pointing at the door for me, and probably for others too.
I’m not out, though. I know that. I’ll watch NXT this week for Keith Lee’s return. I’ll watch some of Money in the Bank out of curiosity, probably on a second screen while the Game of Thrones series finale plays on the TV. I’ll probably watch a Raw before June. I try to podcast about pro wrestling, and write about it here, so keeping tabs on the industry’s biggest show is kinda important. I can’t drop it entirely.
As WWE ‘s product continues to falter, I wonder how many others will discover that Monday nights can be better when they don’t have that three hour obligation hanging over their heads. Even for hardcore wrestling fans, there are plenty of places to get that wrestling fix. This summer, NJPW is running two massive round-robin tournaments that supply plenty of content. Beyond Wrestling is doing brilliant work with Uncharted Territory. There’s Chikara which just had an amazing rumble at its Infinity Gauntlet show. AEW is on the horizon with a prime time TV deal.
You just don’t need WWE to get your wrestling fix. Keep that in mind if your find your eyes glossing over half way through a three hour Raw on Monday.