WWE | Pro Wrestling

Inside The Wheelhouse for June 25th, 2009: How I would save the WWE RAW brand

Hulk Hogan The RAW “brand” is slowly becoming the wrestling version of the New York Yankees and this is coming from a New York Yankees fan. On paper they have the best roster with the biggest names in the WWE on the “A-Show.” They are live every Monday Night; they have the McMahon’s heading up the creative end of the show. They are supposed to be the best show in WWE right?

With Triple H, Randy Orton, John Cena, The Big Show, Batista (when healthy), Shawn Michaels and soon to be the 16-time World Champion Ric Flair on your roster you can pretty much dominate the WWE World when it comes to the three brands…right?

Wrong.

I can never remember a time since the WWE brand extension back in 2002 when RAW seemed to be completely un-entertaining and horrible to watch. Even the infamous Triple H-Kane feud with the Katie Vick crap was a little bit more entertaining then the television RAW has been producing post-Wrestlemania 25. And when Donald Trump was the “owner” of the RAW brand it appeared that RAW 2009 is going to be slowly making its way into the wrestling crap hall-of-fame.

But just like any storyline that has shades of wrestling crap on the horizon there is a glimmer of hope from saving what right now is the “C-Show” in WWE. Now this scenario of saving RAW is on the grounds of what is going on currently in the world of WWE’s flagship show equipped with Vince McMahon as the “owner” and all the current champions. Here are some ideas I have to save the RAW brand and turning it back into great television like the two other brands are currently producing.

The prospective General Manager of the RAW brand is “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. I say don’t put Flair in that position on RAW because it’s to predictable that Flair could or will be the General Manager of RAW in the near future after he fully sells the punt he received from Orton.

Hold him out until a surprise Summerslam appearance where he turns on the babyface (that I will get to in a second) at the time challenging Orton (keep the belt on him) for the WWE Championship. Then have Flair serve as a manager for Orton and the veteran guiding the Legacy faction. Manager’s are a lost art in Wrestling and seeing the beloved Flair doing one more run cutting heel promo’s as the “dirtiest player in the game” will possibly get the old school fans to tune in just to hear Flair. This protects the retirement angle and allows to respectfully utilizing a sixty year old living legend with out getting him hurt or putting him over a younger talent.

As for the General Manager I would call upon the man that guided wrestling into the spotlight in the 80s “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Hogan has not been on WWE Television since the Raw 15th Anniversary show so he has been out of the eyes of wrestling fans for quite sometime now. The reaction of “Real American” blasting through the speakers in the arena the night he makes a surprise appearance to be the General Manager could possibly blow the roof off the building.

And who does Vince McMahon possibly “hate” more then Donald Trump himself? Hulk Hogan. This gives a “big name” to RAW General Manager position and also utilizes the legend in a role where he can hopefully heal some longtime injuries that have almost crippled him over time.

Onto to the RAW roster…like I said before the RAW brand is the equivalent of the New York Yankees. On paper you have some of the biggest names in the business in Triple H, Orton, Cena, Big Show, Batista and Shawn Michaels. You’ve got to “shake up” the brand with it being under the Trump flagship now to give it that feeling that it’s a completely different show now. Trump or his general manager need to make some trades with the other brands to give us better storylines and fresher feuds on the “A-Show.”

With Trump as the owner he needs to make an impact by doing a “blockbuster trade” to get people to watch his version of RAW. The blockbuster trade I have in mind that could benefit RAW would be sending Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy & The Miz to Smackdown for Edge & The Undertaker.

Now some of you may see this as a lopsided trade with Smackdown getting more then RAW. But let’s face it Edge and The Undertaker have helped carry the Smackdown brand for the last couple of years and its time that the blue brand is lead by guys like CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio. You send Shawn Michaels to Smackdown as you await him to return from his time off because Michaels can help elevate the game of guys like CM Punk & Jeff Hardy.

Either one of those two guys in a feud with HBK is looked at as a guy that can get elevated to another level and be looked at by the WWE audience as a “big time player.” Matt Hardy should have never been moved from Smackdown and can easily get lost in the shuffle on a creative disaster show like RAW. You can have him feud with his brother again or even put him in a feud with Rey Mysterio.

The Miz is a talent that is a good angle away from being a decent upper mid-card wrestler like his former partner John Morrison. A feud with The Miz & Morrison over the IC Title or just in general can really give us the feeling that one day these two will be huge stars like in the late 90s when WWE gave us The Rock/Triple H feud in ’98.

Now back to RAW. Edge can easily get lost in the shuffle now on the Smackdown brand with CM Punk and Jericho making their ways in the heel ranks. Like I said last week I think it’s time to turn the “Rated R Superstar” to a face. You slowly turn him face (like the way they are doing with CM Punk turning heel) and put him into a program with Randy Orton. An Edge/Orton feud is a fairly fresh feud that hasn’t been jammed down our throats (like Triple H/Orton). They have history together from the Rated-RKO days and even a brief feud over the IC Title back in I believe 2004.

Edge vs. Orton for the WWE Championship can headline Summerslam with the Flair turn that I talked about before. Their feud can take us into Survivor Series if done correctly that entertains the fans appropriately. A “Rated R Superstar”-”Ultimate Oppertunist” face is very intriguing and almost has that “tweener” feel if they did turn him face. Edge-Orton is fresh, it’s new and could even lead to many different feuds into the future (The eventual Ted DiBiase face turn when The Marine 2 comes out (have him feud Orton) & potentially elevuating Cody Rhodes in an upper mid-carder position (have him feud with Edge).

As for The Undertaker, his time on the blue brand has almost run its course over the years. Placing him on the RAW brand gives us fresh feuds that the fans want to see. The one feud that sticks out above the potential rest on the RAW brand would be a Triple H-Undertaker feud. You can leave of them both face like they did with Michaels at WM25 and the fans would eat it up. Just like Michaels-Undertaker it’s something we haven’t seen in a long time and would really intrigue new and old fans. You can even do the same thing with Cena/Undertaker. It’s something fresh and new that the wrestling fans haven’t seen.

That’s my thoughts on how I would fix the RAW brand currently. You have to give the fans a strong build to “the biggest party of the summer.” It’s one of the big four and you need to give a new fresh feel to the RAW television. It has got stale with the Orton-Batista & Orton-Triple H stuff. It’s been too overplayed and the fans need to start seeing something new. To quickly recap here are some of my thoughts on how to save the RAW brand:

• Turn Flair heel at Summerslam by making his return to WWE programming and align him as a manager with Randy Orton & advisor to the Legacy group.
• Make Hulk Hogan the General Manager of RAW.
• Trade Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy & The Miz to Smackdown for Edge & The Undertaker.
• Slowly turn Edge face and have him feud with Randy Orton at Summerslam.
• Put The Undertaker in a feud with Triple H or even John Cena; like the way they did with Shawn Michaels, where both wrestlers are still considered faces.

Hey a Wrestling fan can dream…right?

I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on how you would fix the RAW brand by e-mailing me at [email protected] and I will address them in next week’s blog when I discuss the Top 10 wrestlers WWE needs to start building NOW to start the groundwork for the future of WWE programming.

Till next week…your “Inside The Wheelhouse.”

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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