A few months back I wrote an piece about how this era of the WWE is eerily similar to that of the “New Generation” from the mid-90s. It was a fun and introspective look into how wrestling, just like everything in life or sport, is cyclical. Recently, WWE RAW has been getting murdered by the fans for being boring and stale. Since a lot has happened over the last 6 months, I took this as inspiration to revise my previous work, and compare 2018’s RAW superstars with a few stars from days gone by. Hopefully along the way we can identify the fundamental issues with todays product, and perhaps offer some hope for the future. To get things kicked off properly, let’s get the obvious out of the way….
Dolph Zigglar and Drew McIntyre are Shawn Michaels and Diesel:
This comparison is nothing new since these guys started teaming up back in April. What separates these duos is that the bigger guy might have the brighter future moving forward. The top of the RAW roster is wide open at this point. Roman Reigns is on the shelf indefinitely. Brock Lesnar comes and goes as he pleases. Braun Strowman is dealing with injuries. There is a severe lack of legit larger than life heroes on Monday nights. Drew could stand toe to toe with Lesnar and it would be believable. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best choice for the #1 babyface on RAW, especially with Reigns’ health in question. As for Dolph Ziggler, he is what he is. The talent is there, he rarely gives you a bad match, and he is annoying enough that he can be top heel. The real money will come down the road if these 2 guys ever lock up. I’d enjoy a Ziggler/McIntyre Universal Championship match, wouldn’t you?!
Finn Balor is Razor Ramon:
This is a holdover from my previous work, but I will attempt to freshen up my take a bit. Finn Balor, much like Razor Ramon, is one of the most talented people on the RAW roster. The problem is he gets saddled with nonsense feuds and struggles to break from the pack. What he really needs is a character change. It’s hard to believe that a guy who occasionally dresses up like a Demon, could in fact, be boring. He has the potential to be a tough, cool character just like Scott Hall was when he joined WCW and ditched the Cuban gimmick. Finn could really do wonders for his career if he channeled a gritty Irishman fighter, while still using the Demon when he really needs it.
Braun Strowman is the Undertaker:
Every generation needs the giant scary guy, and that is exactly what Braun Strowman is. The fans are fascinated by him, and want nothing more than to see him dominate the competition. This is where you can draw the parallel between Braun and the Undertaker. They both struck fear in their opponents with nothing more than their aura. Take away Taker’s first world title run that lasted only 6 days, and it took him until 1997 to taste legit championship glory. Braun is destined to climb to the top of that mountain. The main issue seems to be his health, as he has dealt with a few injuries throughout his young career. Hopefully he can shake that stigma and be force for years to come.
Bobby Lashley is Vader:
I love this comparison. Both of these guys are legit badasses who, at their best, can be utterly dominant. Vader was a multiple time World Champion in WCW, as was Lashley in IMPACT. Vader flirted with the main event in WWE, but never reached he same heights as he did down south. Lashley has that same feel. He lacks those intangibles that you need to get over in the wrestling landscape of 2018. Gaining Lio Rush as a hype man isn’t enough for him to reach the mountaintop. One of the greatest managers of all time, Jim Cornette, couldn’t help Vader either. I was a huge Vader fan back in the day, but don’t have that same affection for Lashley. He looks like he was cut out of a comic book, but thats where the fascination ends.
Dean Ambrose is Owen Hart:
In my previous attempt at this concept I tapped Sami Zayn in the Owen Hart role. Ambrose fits this role better considering his history and relationship with the SHIELD. He is angry and bitter about being his career being eclipsed by his brothers, just like Owen. A renewed rivalry with Seth Rollins could position Ambrose as a big player on RAW moving forward. I’d like to see Ambrose move away from the SHEILD sooner than later. It seems to be the easy play for the writing staff, but Ambrose can give you so much more, and work great matches with anybody. I hope he can carve his own path without the shadow of his former group.
Seth Rollins is Bret Hart:
I am going to be brutally honest here, but I stand by my assessment. Seth Rollins is a terrible babyface. He has a whiny voice reminiscent of the annoying kid from the “Polar Express”, which doesn’t do much to fire me up as fan. I felt this way about Bret Hart when I was a kid. He just always came off as a cranky bitch in his promos, and I couldn’t stand him. I think we can all agree that Rollins is currently the #1 babyface on RAW, much like Hart was for most of his career. They both are near untouchable after the bell rings. I appreciate both of these performers as technical marvels, but thats where it ends. Their personalities leave me flat, and that is such a vital part to playing the hero. Bret kept the company going as the bridge between Hogan and Austin. Seth is facing the same task in the post-John Cena world of the WWE. His brother Roman is gone for a while. It is his time now. I hope he flourishes, I just have to see it to believe it.
WWE RAW is struggling. These superstars all have the potential to turn this ship around. There must be a common effort by the writers and the performers to give us interesting characters and stories to bring RAW out of the doldrums. Until then, they will continue to play second fiddle to the more stable Smackdown. Until then, we will continue to be disenfranchised with the RAW brand.