The WWE Brand Extension Draft was clearly lacking something all along; the proper direction. In the end, we are left with separate brands that have essentially been spread thin. However, we must give this time.
The past few weeks weeks of programming have made one thing painfully clear to hopeful fans; Monday Night Raw will always reign supreme in WWE. That old "B Show" distinction is not going anywhere anytime soon.
While SmackDown Live attempts to sort out their own problems, Monday Night Raw is not without it's own. Is Raw better than SmackDown? Yes. Is Raw an overall, great from start-to-finish program? No. Even the "flagship program" requires work.
Here are 15 immediate changes Monday Night Raw NEEDS to make:
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With too many hours and not enough talent, Monday Night Raw suffers from the Curse of the Third Hour; in which they must find content to fill the time slot. And what do we get? Mostly throwaway matches and sub-par segments.
While the USA Network may disagree, a push to reduce Monday Night Raw back to a two hour show could greatly benefit those on the roster; and relieve WWE from consistently looking foolish on Monday night.
The glory days of Monday Night Raw consisted of an action-packed two hour program where anything and everything was possible. When unpredictability was at an all-time high every minutes was a can't-miss-sixty-seconds.
With all this current programming (SmackDown Live, NXT, CWC, Pay-Per-Views) that extra hour simply feels like a long, drawn-out yawn.
14 Change Sheamus ... Again
"The Celtic Warrior" has seen better days in WWE. Yes, there is no denying the irrelevance of Sheamus; even his WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign in late 2015 meant little to the company and fans.
There is a new Irish Lad on the block and the fans of Monday Night Raw will always favour Finn Balor over Sheamus. With Balor comes a sense of organic connection, with Sheamus, a sense of force-fed cough syrup.
While his character has gone through shifts and transitions in the past, perhaps it is time to once again change Sheamus. The only question here: what the hell can the company do to make Sheamus matter?
That is for someone backstage to figure out; somewhere along the line.
13 Commentary Switch
There is always something off-putting about listening to a three-man commentary team; and this has been evident in WWE for quite some time. On Monday Night Raw we are "treated" to Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves.
Corey Graves was the right choice with this New Era. Graves is different and the company needs something different right now. However, Graves and Michael Cole are not finding that Jim Ross-Jerry Lawler spark.
Meanwhile, why is Byron Saxton out there? For that matter; why is David Otunga on SmackDown Live? Michael Cole and JBL should have made their way over to the Blue Brand to call the action while Monday Night Raw should have seen some more change.
Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves calling Monday Night Raw? Now, that's different.
12 No Comedy for The Club
Well, it appears as though Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are going to be known as the "guys who smash the male genitalia." Why? Because some writer, agent, or the boss himself finds humour is this act.
Now with A.J. Styles separated from Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows (wrong move), the duo will need to discover their own identity on the Monday Night Raw roster with "Ringpostitus" leading the charge.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows debuted with much momentum; but said momentum has subsided in recent weeks. Even if Anderson and Gallows capture the WWE Tag Team Championship, it is going to be difficult to follow The New Day.
The sad truth: the whole ring post gimmick may eventually catch on with the crowd thus forcing the duo adopt the act as a signature move.
11 Make Darren Young Great Already
The sight of Bob Backlund losing his grip on reality on a weekly basis has been a welcomed part of programming. Choosing to use Backlund to mentor Darren Young was a solid move but where is this going?
The idea to "Make Darren Young Great Again" should have already taken some steps forward. Young should have captured the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz at Battleground; indicating a sure sign of his eventual"greatness."
Feuding with his former Prime Time Players partner Titus O'Neil seems senseless. O'Neil is essentially a lost soul on the Monday Night Raw roster and in order for Daren Young to step up, he needs to face a Superstar who is not stuck in purgatory.
The timeframe to "Make Daren Young Great Again" is running out.
10 Bring in the Cruiserweights Now
While there is a Cruiserweight Division heading to Monday Night Raw, there is no real point in waiting. These exciting Superstars would definitely provide the program with a fastest pace during its slower moments.
The Cruiserweight Classic has yet to conclude and it remains unclear as to who exactly WWE will include in this upcoming division. However, there is not much need to have fans play the waiting game.
When hyping a huge return to the company, forcing the fans to wait weeks upon weeks usually works out well. However, these are only Cruiserweight competitors; let's see these guys in action.
Without any intention of diminishing their value, the Cruiserweight Superstars are never going to main event. Therefore, bring on the low-t0-mid-card excitement.
9 Place Cesaro in a Favourable Position
In a shoot-style backstage interview following the WWE Draft, Cesaro would express his displeasure with his selection. Cesaro was furious with the fact he was drafted late and with the idea of performing on Monday Night Raw.
This interview has somewhat translated into a storyline but lacks any true intensity. What hurts Cesaro most is his lack of strong mic skills. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Cesaro will be dropping any "Pipe Bomb" promos on Monday Night Raw.
While the company has seemingly failed time and time again with Cesaro, "The Swiss Superman" is far from a lost cause. Will Cesaro rise through the ranks to become WWE Universal Champion? Probably not but there has to be something out there.
Perhaps Cesaro could prove to be a worthy and consistent contender to the title without actually capturing the gold.
8 Drop The Golden Truth
Searching for Pokemon and hanging out with Scooby Doo? Goldust and R-Truth, collectively known as The Golden Truth have been relegated to backstage comedy segments on Monday Night Raw.
Comedy in wrestling is great; when said comedy is comical. The Golden Truth provide nothing to the Monday Night Raw program and are simply a rehashed version of Goldust and Booker T circa Ruthless Aggression Era.
With the New Era in full swing, there is little room for these wily veterans to rise up the card. However, their backstage antics are really contributing little to the Red Brand except bathroom breaks and channel surfing.
It's time to realize that The Golden Truth was all a fabrication.
7 Lose the Squash Matches
At first, the idea of the Local-Jobber Squash match brought about some nostalgic feelings. However, those feelings were quickly replaced with boredom and despair as now twice a night during a Monday Night Raw broadcast, a Squash match will occur.
Building Nia Jax is a smart move as Jax is bound to be a major play in the Women's Championship picture in the not-too-distant future. However, nobody is getting behind Braun Strowman, so give up the dream.
Braun Strowman represents the WWE figure of the past; big, mean, intimidating. Of course, this ghost no longer haunts the WWE locker room and the likes of Strowman are now unwelcome spirits.
The times and styles have changed and fans now long real wrestling matches more than ever before.
6 Give the Titles to Enzo and Cass
As alluded to earlier, the next team to hold the WWE Tag Team Championship will have some big and colourful shoes to fill as The New Day have taken their opportunity over the past year and ran with ferocity.
However, there is one tag team on the Monday Night Raw who can step up in place of The New Day: Enzo Amore and Big Cass. When looking for colourful characters, look no farther than Amore.
What Big Cass lacks in personality, Enzo Amore more than picks up the slack and then some. Amore alone is enough to pay attention to this duo who are ready to tag over the Monday Night Raw Tag Team Division.
And think of the possible hilarity that would ensue between The New Day/Enzo Amore and Big Cass.
5 Take Caution When Pairing Fueds
Why must WWE continue with wedding angles? While the Lana and Rusev segment was not a technical wedding, it remained in the realm; and it dragged out for way too long. Once again, WWE filling time.
Out comes Roman Reigns who takes his shot at comedy and falls flat. Both Reigns and Rusev posses weak mic skills and it sure shows when paired together during a promo. WWE must be cautious of this moving forward.
This segment produced "boring" chants, cheap comedy, and yet another unnecessary cake-to-face spot which WWE has grown fond of over the years. This proved a pretty far stretch to cake somebody on television.
Al-in-all, this entire segment should serve as a prime example of what not to do moving forward on Monday Night Raw.
4 Let Lana Loose
In regards to that terrible wedding angle: Lana would be the latest victim in a long line of caked WWE Superstars. The real-life wife of Rusev was made to mangle the pastry and wear it with as much pride as she could find.
At WrestleMania 32 - during the pre-show - Lana made her official WWE in-ring debut; but nothing ever came from that night in Texas. And now, Lana is less of a Superstar and more of a slouch.
While Lana will not be able contend with the likes of Sasha Banks and Charlotte right away, it may be time to allow Lana more of an opportunity to shine ... away from Rusev. Perhaps even drop the fake Russian accent.
If WWE is willing to take chance on Eva Marie over on SmackDown Live, then why not Lana on Monday Night Raw?
3 WWE Universal Championship?
This sounded awful from the beginning. The moment Monday Night Raw General Manager, Mick Foley announced that the Red Brand's major title will be known as the WWE Universal Championship, fans began to cringe.
Prior to the Brand Extension, the general consensus was that one show would retain the WWE Championship while the other would re-introduce the World Heavyweight Championship. However, such is not the case.
Major titles are supposed to sound important. The WWE Universal Championship is simply a byproduct of the company-created term: "WWE Universe." And now, those who watch Monday Night Raw must learn to love this title.
The WWE Universal Championship? No mater how many times it's said, it doesn't roll off the tongue like World Heavyweight Championship.
2 Less of Stephanie McMahon
When the Brand Extension was first announced, the excitement ran rampant throughout the WWE Universe. The idea of Stephanie McMahon vs. Shane McMahon on a weekly basis provided somewhat of a new feel.
However, Mr. McMahon would arrive one night and inform fans that there would be General Managers implemented for each brand. While the choices - Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan - did not disappoint, the power position has become crowded.
Recently, Stephanie McMahon was absent from the Monday Night Raw broadcast; allowing for Mick Foley to run the show on his own. Aside from a fake phone call, there was no influence from Stephanie.
Stephanie McMahon should be used for sporadic appearances throughout Mick Foley's tenure as General Manager.
1 Mick Foley Needs to Shine
Mick Foley wearing a suit just doesn't feel like Mick Foley. The clipboard vs. tablet spots have provided some minor humour to the program but Foley has yet to shine in his role as General Manager of Monday Night Raw.
Duplicating the old Commissioner Foley days are not an option. However, Foley feels less of a organic character and more of scripted authority figure so perhaps the reintroduction of certain aspects of The Commish days would be acceptable.
Perhaps Mick Foley is simply adjusting to once again being a regular on-screen character in WWE; but something about Foley's current role certain needs a tweak. More edge? More comedy? The gavel? Something.
As we continue to tune in (for now) on a weekly basis, here's hoping Monday Night Raw figures out the formula.
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