The odd thing about WWE’s booking inconsistencies isn’t how consistent the promotion is at making the same mistakes over and over, it’s that it has shown that it’s capable of producing quality television. This week’s episode of WWE Raw served as another example of this duality.
As alluded to, this show indeed got some things right (as documented here), but most of those positives are nestled in an overall final product that contained far too much of what makes most WWE programs difficult to watch.
So, what were these negatives? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss today.
These are two of the things that went wrong on the Nov. 15 episode of WWE Raw.
Austin Theory replaces Rey Mysterio on the Raw Survivor Series team because HEEEEEAAAT
This company really can’t help itself, can it? It just can’t resist the urge to 1.) incessantly put heat on heels and 2.) put said heat on a heel authority figure. You know, because the only way to get babyfaces over is to have the antagonists humiliate them over and over again for “sympathy”. Certainly worked for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena, and, to use a more recent example, Becky Lynch.
On the heel GM front — which Adam Pearce definitely is now — it’s an unwelcome return of an overused WWE trope that comes with the expected lack of common sense. For example, why did Pearce remove Rey Mysterio from the Survivor Series team and replace him with Austin Theory if he wanted a Raw team full of former world champions (AJ Styles was right there)?
Also, why would Pearce swap out a popular legend for an unproven rookie if the Raw team’s performance is his main concern? And why does Pearce care about who’s on the Raw team if he and Sonya Deville run both Raw and SmackDown? But hey, who cares about all that basic logic when there’s HEEEEEEEAAAAAAAT to garner.
Of course, that heat doesn’t go to Theory for taking Mysterio’s spot or on Pearce for pulling Mysterio out of the match. Instead, it goes on the promotion for booking such a nonsense angle.
WWE’s “Underdog” booking
At some point, WWE is going to need to realize that booking a former Raw Women’s Champion and current WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion to lose all the time does nothing to enhance the idea that she is an “underdog”, especially when she’s losing matches to wrestlers who also struggle stringing together wins.
As stated in previous pieces that have focused on Nikki A.S.H., WWE clearly has no idea what underdog actually means, and now they have transitioned that misunderstanding into a story where she’s the Kendrick Perkins to Rhea Ripley’s Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook.
Sure, it will likely result in Nikki pinning either Queen Zelina or Carmella when she and Ripley inevitably defend the tag titles against them, but that payoff isn’t worth cementing Nikki as a goober who can’t win matches on her own.
Also, having Zelina pin Nikki only to have Ripley pin Carmella right after is more of that 50/50 booking that does nothing for either team, no matter how many promos Zelina cuts to get her heat back.