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What to expect from Paul Heyman’s Raw

Whether the July 1 episode of Raw was well-received or not, there were always going to be questions about how much of what we got was the vision of new Executive Director Paul Heyman, and how much was Vince McMahon & the team from before Heyman was given the newly created position (also given to Eric Bischoff on SmackDown).

That the episode was generally well-received has only turned up the volume on the conversation.

Here’s what we know.

On Wrestling Observer Radio, it was said Heyman was not at the pre-show production meeting with Vince and writer Ed Koskey. But Dave Meltzer did agree that the former ECW head man’s imprint was all over Raw. And it gave us some good indications of what he plans to do with WWE’s Monday night flagship:

“This was not a 100% Paul Heyman show, but this was a very, very heavy Paul Heyman show - so essentially this was his first show... you have all these ideas and all these things, and you want to bring in new guys... you want a younger roster, everyone knows that, you want a younger roster. A lot of the stuff that you see is basically trying to answer all the problems that they have that you can answer and you’re allowed to correct - that was the deal {with the July 1 episode]. There’s gonna be different guys pushed, there’s gonna be some new people up - Street Profits were moved up, Mike & Maria [Kanellis] were put on television for wherever this angle’s going, you know, and who got her pregnant - that’s a Paul Heyman angle right there. Long-term angle, we’re setting the seeds for all that stuff...

Ratings aren’t gonna turn around in a week, or a month, or anything like that. They might get slightly better. But I did feel this is a show that, and we’ll see, that at least should hold the audience better and not have the big drop... I think that’s the goal, not drop as much in the third hour... I think the idea is that, okay, the first hour’s usually gonna be the highest rated one, so we’ll put Undertaker right at the start of hour two and keep him out there as long as we can. They didn’t really announce anything for hour three until they got to the AJ/Ricochet challenge, which was a decent portion into the show.“

Ratings are great and all, but we’re more concerned about the quality of the product. Using younger talent and telling long-term stories sounds good. What else can you tell us, Dave?

“One of the things they’re not gonna do... at least for now, no heel authority figure - and no authority figure at all. Heyman was on the show, which was really just a segment to get The Street Profits over. He’s still gonna be doing promos - the character of Paul Heyman is still gonna be the advocate for Brock Lesnar, that’s gonna stay the same.

He was very adamant about not wanting to be an authority figure on television. That’s one of his key things is, the authority figure thing has been played out years and years and years ago, and it’s one of the changes he wants is no authority figure stuff on television.”

This lines up with some older quotes from Heyman’s Inside The Ropes Live show from a few years back that have been re-circulated in light of his new job, and sounds good to me. While I actually like the hands-off babyface model NXT uses, if the alternative is a McMahon or no General Manager, I’ll take no GM.

And speaking of McMahons, while Heyman may not have been at the pre-show meeting, both PWInsider and Pro Wrestling Torch say the new Executive Director worked with Vince at gorilla position for the entire show. Insider’s Mike Johnson specifies that it was like any other week, with McMahon having the final say on all decisions. But the Torch’s Wade Keller points out the two were on the same page, and worked very well together.

Overall, it looks like a lot of positive signs, and it feels like it’s been a long time since we could say that about main roster WWE. The question, at least for me, is how long will the new approach get to produce results in the form of increased ratings and/or attendance. The changes are good, but it will probably take weeks of consistency before skeptics are convinced and word spreads.

Hopefully a commitment to stick with the program was part of the negotiations which went on before Heyman agreed to the job.

We shall see. In the meantime, like what you’re seeing and hearing about the newest era of Raw?

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