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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Is Monday Night RAW a Terrible TV Show?

October 25, 2019 | Posted by Jake Chambers
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Welcome back to the 411 Fact or Fiction – Wrestling Edition, I’m your host, Jake Chambers. Every week, Fact or Fiction poses statements on pro-wrestling history, culture and current events and then challenges writers to explain why they believe each statement is totally factual or completely fiction. No middle ground will be tolerated!

This week’s guest is: Tony Acero. Every Monday you can find him right here on 411 providing a more lively, engaging and energetic real-time recap of RAW than frankly that show deserves. Tony is a writer, a poet, a lover and a warrior (probably) who pines for craft in his beloved WWE and cares little for the bottom line mentality that drives much of the decisions and fandom of today. Is he the last of a dying breed? Let’s find out!

Statement #1: Monday Night RAW has been a terrible show for many years.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Everybody reading this knows this statement is a hard FACT! I don’t think even the most die-hard WWE fan can say that these weekly RAW episodes are good television. The reason most of us watch or follow what’s going on is in hopes that one day it won’t be terrible on a consistent basis. Even Tony, a man who literally recaps the show every week for this very website, couldn’t possibly make a case for FICTION here, could he? 

Tony Acero: FACT – Sorry, I can’t make a case for Fiction, and man, does this hurt me to admit. One could deduce that a person who dedicates more than five hours of his Monday to a product that he is so willing to call “a terrible show” has something terribly wrong with him. Said one would be correct, but that doesn’t change the quality of the show. RAW isn’t good. It has glimpses of good; it has attempts at good; it even has a random solid showcase, but the law of average deems that the show is simply…not good. I could explain that from my point of view – a writer – the show is horribly messy, has no long term story-telling goals or qualities, is inconsistent, has denied its characters growth, cannot thread a single story into or out of a more intricate one, and is less entertaining than a child’s YouTube channel. What’s worse is that I could also remove my bias as a writer and simply watch it as it is sold. It is sold as a “the longest weekly episodic television show of all time.” It’s deemed an entertainment show. It’s deemed a television show. If we are holding the standard that these labels imply, then compare them to anything as good as Breaking Bad or as bad as Big Bang Theory, and one could still argue that it pales. I want every week for Monday Night Raw to be good, and could count on two hands how many GOOD ones there have been for as long as I have been doing this. They were usually the ones after Mania, until the WWE found out and screwed that up, too.
 
Statement #2: AEW could beat RAW in head-to-head ratings on a regular basis.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – If you were to judge things just based on the first few weeks, then I think you could say AEW might have a shot. However, I just can’t believe in those ratings AEW is getting right now are going to last. I remember once there was a show called Intelligence starring Sawyer from Lost, which after its debut episode was promoted by the ABC network as the “highest rated new show of the year”. Sure, it was the second week of January and there were no other new shows on the air yet, but who’s counting? Actually, probably those who cancelled it after 13 episodes. So While AEW has been pulling some fantastically ratings in the first couple of weeks, that’s nothing compared to accomplishment of the WWE to sustain mediocre ratings with a terrible show year after year. Beating RAW at that game will take more than crafting good TV, it’ll take knowing how to still keep those ratings when you’re doing it poorly.

Tony Acero: FICTION – I don’t know why this is even a conversation topic; yet I am aware that it will exist from here on out. I’ve never been one to compare shows of any federations, as I’d rather enjoy them on their own merits, and not by comparison. Still, if there were a comparison, AEW will not be beating RAW any time soon, nor should that be their goal. From what I’ve seen, although there are some players who like to twist the dagger, there is still a large sense of a majority of the roster doing things for the greater good of the boys. AEW is literally like a month in terms of weekly tv, so to put a target on the behemoth of a back known as the WWE wouldn’t be bold; it would be foolish. Now, we have the qualifier of “could” beat RAW in head-to-head ratings. I’ll make this much shorter; no. 
 
Statement #3: Sasha Banks has only been successful in wrestling because of her looks.

Jake Chambers: FACT – In 2019, I know we’re quick to celebrate the diversity we see in popular culture, but c’mon, clearly super attractive people still get ahead easier than the rest of us. I’m not even saying that Sasha Banks is “hot” necessarily, I’m just saying every WWE superstar is generally better-than-average looking. This is a superficial company based on putting attractive, near-naked people in the ring to faux fight, you’re not getting in the door if you aren’t borderline hot (unless you’re obese, super tall or scarred). Is Sasha Banks a better wrestler or personality than Kimber Lee, Gail Kim or Sara Del Ray? Nah, but somehow she’s at the top of the WWE prime time TV food chain… interesting.

Tony Acero: FICTION – Don’t you dare! You’re talking to the single biggest Sasha Banks fan on the entire website, in and out of the comments, and I think she is the hottest thing since AJ Lee, but I CANNOT deny the skillset that she has and her abilities. I will readily admit that she’s lost some of her luster, but one can blame the fact that the WWE has sucked in putting together women’s wrestling for quite some time. They had like a year known as a hiccup where the women were kilin it in the game, but it didn’t last long and we quickly ended up getting “first time” matches that didn’t matter, title reigns that lasted all of a week, and just an all around unfocused product. As for Sasha in comparison to Kimber, Kim, or Del Ray, how bout instead of comparison, wonder what they would be able to do together. If you could deduce that the matches would be solid or amazing encounters, then that’s not simply because they are good, it’s because Sasha deserves way more credit than just being cute. Now, if you want to talk about her promo skills, I may be able to side with you, because that girl cannot do it unless she’s amping up the ratchet, or not swinging her head. Gotta love her, tho….<3
 
Fact or Fiction – Quick Hits
– one sentence is all you need for this FoF lightning round!

1. If a video of Randy Savage and Men on a Mission rapping about the Lex Express existed it would be one of the greatest moments in hip hop history. 

Jake Chambers: FACT – Because it does exist!


 
Tony Acero: FICTION – Sorry, but as your former Hip-Hop Columnist of 411mania.com, I cannot agree with this, regardless of the amount of low cut tank-top wearing, breast-exposing men or women may be included. 
 
2. Val Venis should have been WWF Champion.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I liked the idea of the gimmick, but I think Venis wrestled with too much skill and should have been more like The Sandman to really pull it off.
 
Tony Acero: FICTION – I loved Val, even in my most immature of ways, but never saw him as that character as WWF Champion. 
 
3. “What’s Up” by R-Truth is a song that will NEVER get old.

Tony Acero: FICTION – It got old the minute Carmella started touting her own verse. 
 
Jake Chambers: FACT – NEVER!

4. The best porn stars are better actors than the best pro-wrestlers.

Tony Acero: FICTION – Even with the astronomical amount of hours that I’ve spent watching the most elaborate of performances on any number of sites, I cannot deny that pro-wrestlers still, and forever will, have The Rock. 
 

¡SWITCH!

Statement #4: You can think of a way to make a weekly 4-hour RAW work.

Tony Acero: FICTION – I feel like my immediate answer was FACT; that I could make this work and would drool at the opportunity. As a writer, it’s a silver platter with a silver spoon inside one of the best kitchens, ever. And yet, a four show of ANY kind just doesn’t seem entertaining at all. We are stretching the bounds of the 2019 mindset of television with 3 hours already. I’d be hard pressed to watch RAW, in its entirety, without fast forwarding or skipping if I weren’t tied to my 25 year contract with 411mania.com. If it weren’t for the RAW Report, I’d likely watch the Hulu version, or an episode on 1.5 speed, skipping anything Corbin does, and pissing when Lacey Evans shows up. FICTION is just more realistic of an answer, as I wouldn’t want to be tasked with making a weekly four hour RAW work, and if I were, it would only be a matter of time before burnout and fatigue lead to my eventual demise. 

Jake Chambers: FACT – Here’s what I’m suggesting: completely flip the dynamic between TV and PPV. Every week on RAW, put on a 4-hour PPV with just matches… big matches, 7 to 9 of them, 10-15 minutes each minimum, one after another, commercials in between, main event slot is 30 minutes commercial-free. There should be no in-ring promos, non-wrestler appearances, skits or dopey rando tag team matches. And then that one event on the Network each month can be full-on story driven. We don’t know what’s going to happen before that Network event, it can feature mostly talking and surprises, while helping to set up the next month of Monday night 4-hour weekly pro-wrestling PPVs on RAW.

Statement #5: The mainstream legitimacy the WWE so desperately covets is ultimately meaningless in 2019, and proven so by them actually getting it with the FOX TV deal.

Tony Acero: FACT – I think there’s a lot more to this statement than just the fact that they got a deal with FOX TV. I don’t think the WWE will ever be “legit” in mainstream, and they should have stopped trying a long time ago. The deal with FOX TV isn’t because they were legit in the eyes of mainstream, they were legit in the back office where people counted money and saw the exponential growth that this carnival hosting company brought to the table. I’m proud of our little engine that could, even though that little engine hasn’t been a little engine for years because it has given the OTHER little engine an opportunity to toot toot its way onto Wednesday nights! This isn’t a knock on the WWE, though, it’s simply saying that “mainstream legitimacy” may have been what the WWE was looking for, but what they received was “Crossover Appeal,” and as much as I am proud of our product, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed any Fox personality on my show, any SNL hosts, any actor (save for like two) cameos, or anything else for that matter. Y’all got the deal, be happy, but let’s get some good writers, fuck. 

Jake Chambers: FACT – The funniest part about the real world becoming one big kayfabe pro-wrestling promotion is how the world’s biggest wrestling promotion then just turned into a meaningless real world “brand”. You would have thought (dreamed) that the mainstream acceptance implied with a 2-hour live weekly prime time network TV show would be the promised land for wrestling fans. But we’re in a post-content era, where creating culture is an equation not a process. The WWE had to buy into that system to get where they are, neutering their own creativity as a result. FOX didn’t sign up the WWE because of their excellent content. They don’t respect any artistry in the WWE system. They think they can make money for doing nothing by hooking up with a company that is doing the same. Meanwhile, WWE fans spin wheels in their head about all the should-dos and must-bes on TV with no journey or destination to pay all that off. The WWE is no better now than they were a month ago; neither respected by a mainstream that has no respect for itself, or loved by fans who got them here by hoping getting here meant things would change.

Well, Tony, being an articulate and passionate fan isn’t going to will Monday Night RAW to be any better, but we thank you for your amazing contributions today and every Monday on 411’s Live RAW Coverage.

Not only does the man provide over three hours of witty transcription of the action, but he then takes to the podcasting airways just minutes after it ends to record his thoughts on the The Reaction as part of the Chairshot Radio Network. Definitely worth a listen!

Be sure to follow Tony Acero on Twitter for all of his musings outside of his Monday contributions to wrestling culture.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Wrestling Fact or Fiction. While you’re over at Twitter go ahead and follow me too and join a tiny elite of bots and defunct accounts that are treated to random and “hilarious” New Japan tweets. I’m going to be scouting for new participants who want to step up and take the FoF challenge, so that will be the best way to get in touch!