WWE has been hit with another COVID-19 outbreak and this week’s edition of Raw shows how the company continues to struggle to adjust its content.
Monday Night Raw was hit with heavy news when Drew McIntyre revealed a positive COVID-19 test that forced him into quarantine. Nearly one year into the global pandemic, WWE finally acknowledged the situation that has impacted the entire world. Without McIntyre, and others who were potentially exposed to the disease, the show was forced to shift gears hours before airing. Yet, the way WWE did so reek of laziness and an overall lack of creativity.
In the past, there are times when WWE was hit with a curveball and the company found an interesting way to make a change. The response to Finn Balor’s injury that led to Kevin Owens’s WWE Universal title run is a rare example. Sadly, this edition of Monday Night Raw does not fall into that catalog.
Jeff Hardy, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, and Sheamus all competed in multiple matches tonight, each one after participating in a previous match. These quick finish to “I can beat you” restarts were as predictable as could come and a clear attempt to fill in time on the three-hour product. There were some moments that would interest any wrestling fan, such as Drew Gulak and AJ Styles getting a moment to showcase their abilities. But overall, there wasn’t anything in this night that had any long-term value or stakes.
Could WWE have done something differently? Yes, for starters pushing its performers to take the global pandemic more seriously and instituting measures to avoid the multiple outbreaks that have impacted not only the WWE but the total industry. WWE has the deepest talent roster of any promotion in professional wrestling, yet this show featured so many retreads that fans could skip this week and not miss anything from a storyline standpoint.
Imagine if there were a series of Royal Rumble qualification matches like Gulak and Styles put on but featuring more individuals across the roster. That simple shift makes this entire show more valuable, gets more names on the show that do not usually get television time, and has stakes that impact one of the most important PPVs of the year. Plus, it answers the glaring loophole of how some individuals just declare for the Rumble while others are asked to qualify. Fans continue to ask WWE to make their angles make sense, but the promotion seemingly refuses to take any steps to make that happen.
Monday Night Raw is frequently a challenge to watch. The reasons for the challenges continue to grow longer than the reasons to enjoy the show each week. WWE’s continued inability to properly address COVID-19 has hit once again, this time impacting its champion. What if this had been Roman Reigns, who purposely stayed away because of concerns for his own heath after battles with Leukemia? WWE wouldn’t be able to find a creative way to keep fans engaged – that’s the easy answer, as Raw this week thoroughly proved.