There are a lot of things I like on Raw and SmackDown. But if I didn’t have to watch the shows for my job, I probably wouldn’t.
Some of that is due to how easy they make it to find the things I like or am interested in via highlights and recaps. Another is how watching a PPV event is usually a complete - and very enjoyable! - experience. On the weekend event shows, WWE gives us slickly produced recap videos that explain the issues between the combatants. All the filler is cut from them. They lead into matches that are almost always good, and frequently great.
Then it’s back to three or four weeks of the same old, same old.
Two things really stick in my craw about the Monday & Friday grind, and it looks like they’re going to be staples of the build to SummerSlam.
This horse has been beaten to death, but it keeps. coming. back.
After two Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley Raw Women’s title matches last week, Nikki A.S.H.’s cash-in offered a glimmer of hope the scene could be shifting. And it is... two two straight weeks of Flair vs. A.S.H. matches. The Queen won a non-title match last week, so the champ immediately challenged her to a rematch.
It’s not nonsensical. Charlotte’s evil, Nikki’s inspirational, so the almost superhero wants to show her fans she believes in herself. But isn’t there another way to accomplish those goals? And what incentive do we have to watch next Monday’s rematch when we know we’re getting a remix of this feud and Flair vs. Ripley in the already announced Triple Threat at SummerSlam? Especially when that broadcast will catch us up on anything relevant we may have skipped in the weeks leading up to it?
Are the Bobby Lashley/Goldberg and Roman Reigns/John Cena angles exactly the same? No. And they’re not over yet either, so hopefully each will have unique twists and turns en route to the inevitable SummerSlam matches.
But the “heel champion denies a returning legend” beat each program has hit over the past week is impossible to ignore. They’re different shows, and different characters, but that’s not enough to keep some portion of the audience from rolling their eyes. Again, how does that make those fans - of which I count myself as one - want to watch five hours of your television product every week?
WWE’s solidified its place in the pop culture landscape, and turned record profits, while relying on things like rematches and redundant stories. Maybe they can continue to. But why wouldn’t they want to strive to be a little more creatively interesting?
The week-in, week-out faithful aren’t going to stop watching if they don’t get a repeated match every Monday, or if the writers take different paths to PPV main events. And wouldn’t others stick around, return, or seek out their product if they heard it was fresher and less homogenous?
Perhaps someday we’ll find out. But that day didn’t come this last week or this week, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to come next Monday either.