Let’s talk about Raw.
In general I mean. I guess I could talk about yesterday’s Raw and break it down segment by segment, but that would be fruitless. Because Raw is boring. It’s a boring television show. Yesterday’s episode wasn’t even a bad episode, and yet it was still boring. Let’s go over some reasons why.
1. The opening promo. Every Raw starts with a twenty minute opening promo. It’s supposed to set up the rest of the show, to make people interested in what is going to happen for the next three hours. Instead, I barely pay attention to it. It’s too long, too formulaic. The highlights, what few of them there are, will be replayed a half dozen times during the show, so why even watch?
WWE knows this. Randy Orton hung a lampshade on it after coming back, saying he wasn’t going to give a long promo at the start of Raw. Then he and HHH gave a long promo at the start of Raw. So they clearly know they have fallen into a trope of starting the show the same, and by having the good guy Orton say he won’t bore us with that, they’re calling the opening promo a bad, boring, thing. So why do they continue to do it? Every week, either The Authority or someone feuding with The Authority comes out and talks for twenty minutes. Every once in a great while they’ll change it up by having John Cena or Paul Heyman or Daniel Bryan do an opening promo instead, but it’s still the same old shit.
2. The length. Everyone knows the three hour length of Raw is a problem. HHH knows it. But it’s unlikely to change any time soon, since the WWE is pretty reliant on that TV money right now. But a lot of the problems of the show stem from the long three hours it is forced to fill. NXT and Lucha Underground are an hour, and have to use that time wisely. It’s not a coincidence that these two are the two best weekly shows going right now.
And how the hell does every week have an overrun, sometimes of 15 minutes or more? It has to be intentional, because I have a hard time believing that every week they screw up their schedule. Is it a ratings thing? I don’t know, but it means Raw runs longer then most Pay Per Views, which is ridiculous.
3. The announcing. All the above would be bearable if the meat and potatoes of the show was less of a chore to watch. And the main reason it’s such a chore is the announce team. Mere words cannot express how much I hate listening to Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler/Booker T. Their performances are unfathomably bad. We have Booker T talking about random inappropriate things, JBL ranting about and burying the wrestlers, and Jerry Lawler making grandpa jokes, but they do not compare to my utter loathing of one Michael Cole.
Ever since his amazingly atrocious heel announcer run, Michael Cole has been the worst announcer in the history of wrestling. The only good thing to come from Jerry Lawler’s heart attack was Cole dropping the heel gimmick and going from “hit the mute button” bad to “grin and bear it” bad. He leads the other announcers in free-ranging conversations about anything and everything except what is happening in the ring. He talks about old cartoons and old actors and makes jokes about the wrestlers, the fans, his coworkers, and anything vaguely relating to pop culture. All that is preferable to when he actually talks about the wrestling though, because according to Michael Cole, every move is the most devastating move ever down, every staredown is the most intense staredown ever down, and every cool moment must have him yelling at the viewer, telling us how cool the moment is, over and over again, lest we let such a moment slip by us.
And it’s obvious where this comes from. Thanks to the WWE Network, the entire history of the WWE is open to us. And by going back you will find some amazing announcing. Gordon Solie does the first Starrcade. So many classic Jim Ross shows. My personal favorite team of Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon. And of course, at every Saturday Night’s Main Event and early episode of Raw, is Vince McMahon.
The reason Michael Cole is so unbearable is because that’s what Vince McMahon thinks good announcing is. Watch something with Vince doing commentary. Now watch something with modern day Michael Cole. They sound exactly the same! Vince’s problems with Jim Ross are well known, because Jim Ross did not fit the Vince McMahon mold of announcing. Michael Cole fits. He fits like a fucking glove. And in doing so, make Raw nearly unwatchable.
There are other problems, but those last two are the big ones. Nearly everything wrong and frustrating about Raw stem from having too much time and the contemptible announcing.