Did Monday Night Raw get you excited for the upcoming TLC PPV? It is easy to answer “no” when the go-home show didn’t give you much to anticipate.
Even though the industry has changed in many ways, the PPV market is still a driving force in professional wrestling. Getting wrestling fans to pay a fee, whether subscription or one-time, to watch a major card is a strong revenue driver for promotions. “Go-home” shows are used to set the stage for the event, building excitement around the biggest matches and names involved. This past Monday Night Raw was the brand’s “Go-home” show heading into WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. And sadly, it is a testament to why it is hard to get excited for these monthly showcases on the WWE Network.
Week to week, WWE Raw feels like a version of the movie “Groundhog’s Day,” where wrestling fans are trapped in a repeating cycle of the same show. There were some matches, none of them which involved any stake, including the men and women set to face off on Sunday’s show. The show culminated with a “Title Ascension Ceremony” where Drew McIntyre’s title was lifted above the ring while he and AJ Styles talked to each other – breaking down into the predictable brawl when John Morrison and the Miz interjected.
It is too easy to complain about the week-to-week content that WWE produces. But it is even more telling when asking if these shows build excitement for the network specials, PPVs, or whatever they are called. The answer is fundamentally “no,” no matter how it is shaken out.
Look back to the build of AEW Full Gear as an example of how each weekly show leads to a strong PPV. The majority of the matches on this card were built, without the need for incessant variations of the same match that was set to be presented on the PPV. And even more important, the matches that occurred on the show brought closure to those angles, at least for that period, instead of going right back to them on the next show. There’s value in all of that, the go-home show, PPV, and the fallout-show that happens right after. WWE continues to struggle creatively in all those areas.
There are things that the WWE is doing right, but those examples are few and far in-between. Take the build of the Roman Reigns versus Kevin Owens storyline. There is a lot of anticipation around how that match will play out on Sunday, even though it is easy to predict a Reigns victory to continue his dominant build. With SmackDown’s version of their go-home show heading into TLC set for Friday, viewers can expect to see something important occur between these two men and the other parties involved. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the card, and it shows as the event draws closer.
There has been a palpable excitement in professional wrestling these past few weeks. Sadly, none of that excitement has been around the WWE product. There is very little to look forward to on this TLC card and WWE is to blame for how it built this show. With each lackadaisical show put on television, it is as if the company is saying “watch, but we can’t promise this won’t be a waste of your time.”