WWE Raw Underground was something different at a time when WWE needs it most
Change in the world of professional wrestling is often met with excitement and apprehension at the same time. Heading into Monday Night Raw, there was a lot of talk of uncertainty around exactly what would occur when the show kicked off at 8pm. All fans knew was that Shane McMahon was back and set to debut something new for the show. That came in the delivery of Raw Underground – a scenario that pulled right from Bloodsport, both the 1988 film and the Josh Barnett led wrestling promotion. Looking back there are things that were done right and of course some things that should be changed.
As with anything that happens in wrestling, there will be those that enjoy the content and those that have their complaints. Raw Underground was certainly something different and unexpected. There were things to like and things that could need some adjustment. Also known as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the first edition of Raw Underground.
WWE Creative has consistently been maligned for its rigid nature. Instead of shifting when reactions are negative or non-existent, the nature is to stay the course. Raw Underground was clear move to attempt to infuse something different into the show at a time when ratings are tumbling to historic lows.
The first night of Raw Underground presented some wrestlers in a different light. Dolph Ziggler and Erik from the Viking Raiders had “bouts” in which they handled the jobbers thrown their way. One of the biggest complaints about Ziggler is that his booking is never believable. In Raw Underground viewers were immediately reminded that he is a high-level, record-holding collegiate wrestler – skills that transition over into the world of “real fighting.”
Same with Erik. The Viking Raiders were marred in comedy segments for weeks. In less than five minutes viewers are reminded that they can crush any man in front of them on a moment’s notice.
Plus, we were introduced to Dabba-Kato, the renamed Babatunde, who smashed another jobber in a squash match. Every underground fight movie has a giant of a man that must be overcome by the main character and WWE has their own ready to go.
The editing around these segments was bad. WWE is frequently accosted for its nature to make camera cut, after camera cut and tonight was no different. What was even worse was the random glimpses at scantily clad women badly dancing on the second stage.
If WWE wants to deliver something gritty, then the camera work in these segments can help build to that. Single camera with fewer cuts would make the nature of these “fights” look just as underground as their name entails. If the rest of WWE Monday Night Raw is supposed to be the sanctioned portion of the night, then remove all that flair to give Raw Underground it is on look. That means eliminating all the random camera cuts.
Get rid of the dancers. Period. The three women dancing on stage harkened back to Kelly Kelly’s dance segments when ECW was rebooted. Professional wrestling is beyond the point where women are featured in such a way. They did not add anything to this segment and are not needed. There is not much explanation needed beyond that. Focus on the fighting and stay away form the sexual innuendo.
It is still early to claim whether Raw Underground is something that worked or not. Here is to WWE Creative attempting something different when its known for not doing that when things get bad. With the first edition of the segment over let’s hope that viewers get more of the good, less of the bad and the ugly is erased like it never happened.