Vince Gotta Chill 1: WWE Raw Underground

Tonight was it.

The breaking point.

I tuned into RAW and I saw the new idea that was supposed to be WWE’s Hail Mary. 25 seconds into one of the most bat shit segments I’ve seen in years, I said it,

“Vince gotta chill.”

For the unacquainted, you’ve crossed a very specific threshold when a Black person says, “You gotta chill”. It means you are 9 and a half toes across the line of no return. The only thing that can save you, is to cease all forward fuckminded motion and, in the words of our ancestors,

“Set down somewhere.”

Vince needs to sit his ass down somewhere. Whatever I saw was a confusing jumble of half-formed ideas, involving some of my favorite current talent. The best I can describe it, the WWF Brawl for All meets Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition and a splash of Undisputed 3. They called it Raw Underground. I called it aggressively confusing.

Shane couldn’t save this shit.

It was jarring.

It didn’t make sense.

Shane McMahon, despite his confused efforts, couldn’t sell this bullshit to my disbelieving eyes and ears.

We were assaulted with generic hip-hop, disinterested video girls, and criminally misused WWE talent forced to use their legitimate grappling experience (Dolph Ziggler and Shelton Benjamin are both championship collegiate wrestlers, and Bobby Lashley has been running fades in MMA for YEARS) in stagey looking bullshit shot on the set for Bloodsport 3.

Vince gotta chill.

I thought WWE was in a creative tailspin when Seth and Rey had a loser, loses his EYE stipulation at a recent PPV, but this shit here….

Man listen.

NXT is the only product that doesn’t seem determined to batter my intelligence with goofy shit. I understand WWE’s overall product is for kids but I can’t pay my children to care about this shit.

It’s not fun, it’s insulting.

I tune in for the same reasons I’ve always tuned in, to see some athleticism and to test my suspension of disbelief. The current products on Raw and Smackdown aren’t even trying anymore. We will see a nice athletic match sandwiched between some of the worst scripted segments in the history of Modern Wrestling.

Tonight I caught myself yelling at the TV. My mouth freed itself from my brain and was repeatedly saying, “This is so STUPID!” It was a weird disassociation, but my body just couldn’t passively watch this shit anymore. Vince broke me.

Vince gotta Chill.

For as long as I can remember, Vince has been larger than life. WWE was the land of giants battling titans. His vision of simulated combat has always been problematic. But this shit here…

Fam. I don’t even know what this was supposed to be. Was it supposed to be an underground Fight Club? Is WWE doing the Kumite? Where is Bolo?

Bolo Needs Answers

They are already snatching eyeballs out on the PPV, are they going to introduce fatalities? They poisoned Montez Ford during the show, we are halfway to Mortal Kombat anyway. We just need Ricochet and Buddy Murphy wrestling on a platform over a pit full of spikes.

Vince gotta chill and I hate it here.

WWE has never been high brow entertainment. At its most basic level, WWE taps into the human desire of wanting to hear someone talk that good shit and see someone get theatrically punched in the face. We love it for what it is. It survived being revealed as simulated combat because we realized that the potential for catastrophic injury was real. We embraced the realness of the athleticism. But on Monday, with RAW Underground, we got a winking corpse in a bad 90s’ Karate flick.

Stop this shit.

Vince gotta chill.

I would be perfectly fine if RAW Underground is one of those things that happened and we never see again. It would be dope if next week, Monday Night RAW just pretended that Underground was a collective hallucination that never gets mentioned. It could become WWE’s version of Sinbad’s Genie movie. A thing that people seem to remember happening, but aren’t quite sure.

Vince gotta chill.

Vince is the problem. He’s fallen all the way off and is just throwing shit at the rim now. It glaring how competent NXT looks next to RAW and Smackdown. The only difference between these programs is the leadership.

HHH runs NXT. That’s it, that is the entire reason.

From a fan’s perspective, this shit doesn’t just feel chaotic, it’s nihilistic. Wrestlers are pushed and de-pushed. Wrestlers win titles and disappear for no reason. Backstage segments that have no reason for existing but to gain infamy and go viral for their terribleness. It really feels intentional. It feels like Vince is destroying his product on purpose.

I know the pandemic hit WWE hard and the adjustments made reflect the new demands of programing but, there is a tangible decrease in quality on Raw and Smackdown.

Vince gotta chill.

I was actually done and ready to publish this piece and I made the mistake of watching the last segment of Smackdown.

Apparently, they are reducing very recent civil unrest as a shitty way to rehash the NXT Invasion angle. I’m not sure needs to hear this but, deliberately confusing your fans isn’t the same thing as telling a compelling story. I didn’t know what the fuck I was looking at in the final moments of Smackdown but the thing that stuck with me more than anything else was the chainsaw. A CHAINSAW.

So, did they bring the chainsaw with them? Why? What kind of person grabs a chainsaw to a physical confrontation? Did they bring a chainsaw JUST to cut the ropes? That seems to be an oddly specific reason to grab a slasher villain movie weapon. Again, this shit is punishing my suspension of disbelief.

There wasn’t a person in my house that wasn’t confused by all this. My wife and I are old enough to know better and we couldn’t call it, my kids who are still young enough to fully believe what their eyes see were perplexed. It wasn’t the good kind of confusion that makes me want to see more, it was the brain hurting type of confusion that makes me want to avoid this shit for a week.

I planned on this being a recurring feature but, this might be a one and done column. Watch Raw and Smackdown was punishing. I don’t know if I want to do this again this week.

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