For the past few months, the WWE's top priority has been to raise subscriptions for the WWE Network. That was kicked into overdrive on Monday, as RAW was turned into an infomercial for the Network.
From the very beginning of the show, Triple H was repeating over and over again that for $9.99 you can get the Network, on which could you watch the upcoming SummerSlam. For one segment, it was kind of funny. However, the broadcasters ran with it so much that it seemed like every segment and match featured at least one mention of subscribing to the WWE Network. The shilling for the Network was repeated so much that it almost felt insincere by the end of the show.
With all of this going on, at no point during the show did they ever actually give a good reason why anyone should actually get it. The closest they came to actually giving a reason (besides getting to watch SummerSlam) was by saying that people could watch the 2012 match between Brock Lesnar and John Cena. If that's the best that they can come up with, maybe they need to rethink their strategy. The people who would want to watch that match are the people who already have their subscriptions to the Network.
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Possibly the most confusing part of this is that they had a perfect opportunity to plug the Network while also building a storyline. During the night, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose had a Beat The Clock challenge where the winner would be able to decide a stipulation for their match at SummerSlam. After Ambrose beat Alberto Del Rio, he'd later come out during Rollins' match, distracting Rollins enough that he lost to, of all people, Heath Slater. Ambrose had a chance to decide the stipulation, but he wouldn't announce it on RAW.
When would he announce it? Well, you'd think that with all the shilling for the Network, this would be a perfect opportunity to show why, by having him announce on Main Event, or even by having a Lebron James “Decision” style show on the Network where he announces the stipulation at the end.
But no, instead he'll be announcing his decision on Smackdown.
It's things like this that's hurting the WWE's ability to draw subscribers. Besides getting the pay-per-views at a discount, what is the reason to get the Network if you are just a fan of the current product and don't really care about the video library? The WWE should be using the Network to enhance current storylines. It should be a must-watch for anyone who wants to truly follow the company. Instead, while it's great for the library, and NXT, and the pay-per-views, people can just follow the show on TV, the same way it always has.
The WWE Network was supposed to revolutionize the business. However, right now it's just more of the same. Hopefully the WWE will catch on to that fact soon.
The Rest of RAW
** Roman Reigns and Kane had a Last Man Standing match. I can almost overlook the fact that they reduced a Last Man Standing match to an unannounced match on RAW. However, this just wasn't a very good Last Man Standing match. The ending was, of all things, a spear from Roman Reigns. Not a Spear through a barricade, not a Spear through a table. A Spear in the middle of the ring. Thankfully, this apparently ended the feud between Reigns and Kane. Later in the show, Kane came by and handed his mask to Stephanie McMahon. We'll see if he's going to go away for a bit, or just return without the mask for a while.
** The WWE ran an interview package with John Cena and Brock Lesnar twice during the night. It was, quite frankly, a fantastically done segment. The WWE needs to do more of this, just having them sit down and then edit their promos to go back and forth. It felt like a package to a UFC title match, which isn't a bad thing. It was particularly intense from both people, and it wrapped up with Lesnar saying he'd leave Cena laying in a pile of his “blood, urine and vomit.” It was perfectly done, and if this is what the WWE can do when Lesnar isn't there, they should have no problem having a run with Lesnar only there part-time.
** Once again, Stephanie and Brie Bella had the final segment of the night. This is interesting because last week the ratings dropped during the last hour, which finished with those two. It was a contract signing, which of course in the world of wrestling means it led to a physical confrontation. Brie said that she was not just fighting for her and her sister, or even her husband, but everyone that the Authority had tortured over the past year, including Vickie Guerrero, the Big Show and the Rhodes brothers. If delivered better it might have actually been a powerful promo. At the end, Triple H trapped Brie behind the desk while Stephanie delivered a Pedigree to Nikki. Brie escaped, only to receive a Pedigree of her own.
** Chris Jericho beat Luke Harper by DQ. Jericho had the upper-hand, and Bray Wyatt came into the ring to attack Jericho. Interestingly, Wyatt used the Samoan Spike to Jericho, finally using his taped thumb for something. I think this is a nice wrinkle if Wyatt starts using this more often. It's a more primal, sadistic, move that works well with Wyatt's character. Since Jericho won, Harper will be banned from ringside at Summerslam. Rowan had lost to Jericho on Smackdown, so the match will be one on one with presumably no interference.
** Dolph Ziggler beat Cesaro in a very quick match. Miz was on commentary, and it was officially announced that the two would face at Summerslam. It's very confusing what they're doing with Cesaro at this point. Last week it seemed they went out of their way to make Cesaro look strong, and just one week later, he loses in about a minute. Hopefully they figure out a direction for him soon.
** Rusev beat Sin Cara in a match that happened, in full, during a commercial break. Rusev came out, they went to break, and when they came back, Rusev was celebrating. They showed what you could have seen on the app, and then Swagger came out. If you missed Smackdown, those two will be facing each other in a Flag Match at SummerSlam.
** Stardust and Goldust had their first match in weeks and beat Rybaxel. They need to start going somewhere with the Dusts, as they're quickly losing momentum.
** RAW hailed from Austin, Texas, so Damien Sandow came out in an Oklahoma shirt to Boomer Sooner. This brought out his opponent, the returning Mark Henry, who quickly squashed him.
** Bo Dallas beat R-Truth to get a measure of revenge for last week. Just like Truth did last week, Bo caught Truth in a surprise roll-up when he was caught off balance.
** Diego beat Fandango. Hornswaggle came out with Fandango, but Fandango quickly turned on him after the loss. Diego and Torito made the save for Hornswaggle.
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