''RAW'' relies too much on Austin and The Rock
Stars and ''girly'' stuff dominate a tiresome holiday weekend show, says Mike Flaherty
”RAW” relies too much on Austin and The Rock
”RAW Is War” (Mondays, 9 p.m., TNN), broadcast live from Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, raised an interesting question on its Sept. 3 show: Did the entire creative staff call in sick? Until the WCW-ECW alliance is spun off as a completely separate entity, the WWF will be in a real bind trying to meet two conflicting objectives: keeping its biggest names in the mix while pushing the newer, younger, more exciting superstars it has acquired over the past few months.
The most recent effort bodes ill for the near future. As popular as they are, the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin aren’t currently in the greatest feuds of their careers — and they’re not doing their best in-ring work, either (Austin, in fact, rarely fights at all these days). Yet their sheer star power mandates that they loom large on ”RAW” and ”Smackdown!” So the Rock is plunked down at the top of the 10:00 p.m. hour in a title defense against Christian. The audience received no narrative run-up to the match from the Rock’s point of view, and worst of all, he didn’t deliver a promo. He merely walked on, went through his paces, and disappeared.
As for Austin, well, let’s put it this way: In sports entertainment, there’s a fine line between inspired slapstick and flaked-out nonsense. The former is what we saw during Stone Cold’s hilarious set pieces last month with Vince McMahon and Angle. The latter is what we see when his comic foils are Stephanie (McMahon) and Debra (Austin’s wife), who have been getting WAY too much air time of late. As for Ms. McMahon, if she’s not writing this pap, she’s surely the biggest beneficiary of its giggly excesses. With her long-winded promos and shrill spotlight hogging, it seems as though the shows’ primary objective is to heighten her stardom. If I wanted to listen to that noise, I’d watch ”The View.” Yup, I said it: WWF TV has become too girly.
The big losers in all this are the handful of truly entertaining superstars now on the roster who should be getting the push of their lives but instead — due to the need to keep the WWF brand in the forefront and, no doubt, backstage politics — are getting underplayed. Most hurt by this wrongheaded thinking are Tajiri (stuck tagging with the Big Show after being squashed a couple weeks back by Booker T) and Rob Van Dam (honored with faint praise by a perfunctory main event that really wasn’t: the Angle-Austin shenanigans occupied the show’s post-11:00 p.m. climax). The truth may hurt, but these two performers (as well as diamonds-in-the-rough Lance Storm and Rhyno) represent the future of the business. Their booking should reflect that.
What ticked you off about last night’s show?
WWE Raw Is War