There was nothing ‘legendary’ about WWE Raw’s Legend’s Night, as the show merely laid bare all the fundamental issues with this embarrassing program.
I don’t think there could have been a more poetic juxtaposition than WWE Raw Legend’s Night with Wrestle Kingdom 15’s Night 2. Now, I fully understand the expectations for a show like Wrestle Kingdom and a weekly episode of Raw are much different, but, at the same time, it’s hard not to look at the brilliance of NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom, take one look at Raw, and ask the question, “Why the hell do I even bother?” to the latter even more sharply.
The most poignant moment during Legend’s Night wasn’t a racist clown pretending he invented the smartphone, Randy Orton untheatrically announcing the conclusion to the previous week’s supposedly must-see cliffhanger, Goldberg preparing for another world title match he shouldn’t be in, or Lacey Evans preparing to get wiped off the Internet by Cardi B.
No, no, it was something that didn’t even happen on Raw.
After the show on Raw Talk, Mustafa Ali absolutely lit into the whole concept of “Legend’s Night”. He was incredulous at how WWE could dedicate three full hours to wrestlers who already had their moment and who, as he pointed out, put everything into wrestling in order to help progress the business.
Honoring legends is nice. Asking them to come in for a night, do nothing (for the most part), and take the heat from the audience for being involved in a show that accomplished nothing other than keeping rising talent off the show, however, is no real honor. Did this episode help the Big Show? What about Alicia Fox and Mickie James? What was the point of having Mark Henry verbally buried by Randy Orton?
None of it mattered. Those three hours went by with nothing achieved and no legends used to help make any rising stars look better. It was embarrassing and a new low for WWE when it comes to insulting their audience.
For months, WWE fans have pined for the company to take the current stars seriously. Fans have begged the company to give wrestlers like Angel Garza more screen time or better material. Many of us were led to believe Peyton Royce would get a singles push, except now she’s taking a backseat to Evans in a tag team that nobody asked for. Keith Lee had a title match, but his first title shot came on an episode of Raw and not a major PPV. And he lost. And he was overshadowed by a guy very few fans want to see on their screens in 2021.
You know what “Legend’s Night” is? The latest mistake in WWE misusing nostalgia. Remember Raw 25 three years ago? It wasn’t good either, including DX burying the Revival. But it at least hit the nostalgia factor. The only possibly funny, nostalgic moment from “Legend’s Night” was Teddy Long trying to book The Miz in a one-on-one match with The Undertaker.
WWE is like your friend that makes a New Year’s resolution every year, has no actual clue what the hell they are doing, and instead of actually trying to figure out how to get better at whatever it is they are trying to accomplish, they give up.
Every single January, WWE tries to do something to “spice up the product” or “reset things”…the buzzwords go on and on. TalkSPORT’s Alex McCarthy reported that USA Network executives are “furious” with the ratings and that a “big reset” could happen in WWE content after the Royal Rumble, but what we saw at Legend’s Night does not make me optimistic.
Since SmackDown has been such an excellent show lately, it’s too simplistic to blame everything on Vince McMahon. Though, it’s worth pointing out that SmackDown was largely poor until Roman Reigns returned. And the issues with WWE’s booking are clear to see in every aspect of SmackDown’s booking beyond the main event scene that is dominated by Reigns and Paul Heyman.
Vince makes the same mistakes over and over again. He does not introspect or examine his failings, perhaps thinking that everything that is wrong with Raw is on someone else. Legend’s Night encapsulates many of the consistent issues Vince has. He calls legends back without any purpose, his shows have no continuity, and he cannot develop young talent, or at least foster an environment that is conducive to the creation of new stars.
There is one last point I would like to make. Women’s wrestling has been the strength of WWE programming over the last several years. Legend’s night had far more male legends on the show, and they were a bigger part of the show. Worse yet, there were only two women’s matches, with one marred by mind-numbingly pointless interference from Ric Flair.
I cannot name an instance in which a legend was used in a way that added to the show. WWE is grasping at straws and doing everything they can except for the two things that have been proven to generate interest from wrestling fans: focus on the Women’s Division and help boost new stars the audience has shown authentic interest in (it’s not hard to check what fans are saying on social media!)
Legend’s Night was a flop. And hopefully, WWE gets serious about real solutions to the long-standing issues on their three-hour “flagship” show, otherwise, we could be in for a full WrestleMania season of flops on Monday nights.