Before I get into the bulk of this letter, let me set the scene first, as I know you’re a fan of the art of story-telling;
It’s about 1pm on Tuesday the 16th August and I’m currently heading towards our nation’s capital, London, for what will undoubtedly be a day of too many kids screaming, too many crowds and a hot, stuffy and sweaty underground tube ride or two that will make me want to give a Stone Cold Stunner or RKO to all those around me. This is all whilst shouting at my phone for not letting me play Pokémon Go as it can’t find the GPS signal. First world problems at their finest.
Before I reach my joyful destination however, I have a three-hour bus trip to kill time on, and so I find myself sat in a surprisingly comfortable leather seat, and my thoughts wander to wrestling, as they often do. Admittedly, this train of thought was probably initiated by having the Bobby Roode theme song blaring through my headphones all morning. Anyway, enough digression.
Ok, one slight digression.
I am writing this to you, Mick Foley the wrestling fan, not Mick Foley the GM. I don’t even know if you will see this at all but there’s no harm in trying. The first point I want to address is that I am writing this letter to you as a fan of the business, and a fan of yours. I love your honesty when you have spoken about the product in the past, and how you really care about what happens to both the company and the superstars. You have spoken about how you have driven 12 hours to watch an NXT show that brought you to tears, and I will admit to marking out when I got to see you last year at SummerSlam, and I was delighted to see you be given the role of Raw GM. I follow your Facebook page and I see someone who is legitimately interested in the voice of the fans. It’s great to see you reply to the comments that are left and discuss the opinions of all and not enough people do it. The WWE Universe can relate to you, Mick, it’s why we all love you. Well, except my old housemate.
This morning I woke up, and as I have the day off I thought I would watch the flagship show of WWE – Monday Night Raw! I love the new shirt by the way, Mick. Now, I can guarantee nobody in the UK actually wants to watch the show live – there’s just too many adverts and it finishes at about 4am even when it doesn’t overrun. Watching the day after cuts the show time after adverts to about 2 hours and 15 minutes which shows the astonishing amount of adverts that are on it, but that’s a separate rant for a separate day.
Going back to last night’s Raw. A couple of weeks ago, the first episode of the ‘new era’ Raw was a show that had the wrestling world stand up and take notice. It was the best show I’ve seen for a very long time. Since then though, Raw is starting to fall back into some bad habits. Everyone knows that the fabled ‘Internet Wrestling Community’ are a hard bunch to please, and it doesn’t matter what happens, there will always be someone with a complaint about things. However, there are some things we, the WWE Universe, ask for that shouldn’t be too much to expect as a fan.
At its most basic, as a fan we tune in to see if the good guy can overcome the bad guy and get their reward for doing so. NXT has become renowned for very simple, easy to follow but extremely effective booking. Bayley had overcome the odds, beating all other challengers to eventually reach the pinnacle of the mountain when she beat Sasha Banks last year at Brooklyn Takeover to win the NXT Women’s Championship belt. Superstars have to earn their right to become the number one contender, beating all others around them to get the challenge. There’s a title they want to reach, and they are trying to beat everyone else to achieve that goal.
Last night on Raw, Sheamus and Cesaro had a heated confrontation that you broke up. You commented on how you had challenged Cesaro to prove he was over his shoulder injury, and that Sheamus has sorted his attitude out – all excellent motivating points – and then stated that you would see them fight ‘not once, not twice…’ at this point my interest peaked. 2 out of 3 falls, surely? ‘But seven times, in a best of seven contest…’
Ok, slightly interested. So what does the winner get? I waited, but no more information was given. Why would they agree to fight a potential seven times? Does last week’s match between them not count? Where do they go from here? Why not have the winner become the number one contender for the US title? Is a potential seven matches, not including the previous week, going to be a bit of overkill? The creative team seem to struggle to come up with finishes to continue feuds that only have to go a week or two (that damn ‘rollup of death’), how are they going to make these two appear to hate each other so much that they want to tear each other apart week after week? Why wasn’t this set up for Owens vs Zayn, as that would have made more creative sense? I know these aren’t necessarily your decisions to make, but you have to see these inconsistencies as well?
This week also saw the company suddenly decide to force the phrase ‘Demon King’ down our throat in regards to Finn Balor. At first I was bemused as to why that gift was given away on Raw, but I realized that the casual fans who don’t watch NXT would have no idea what was coming and the reaction from the crowd proved it was the right move. However, please don’t let WWE ruin it through overuse and the incessant addiction of categorizing everything. We don’t need to #DemonKing every Monday night, save Balor’s best for PPV’s. As a second point – why wasn’t this closing the show? This is meant to be the biggest title in wrestling, yet its not the ‘main event’. Regarding the title, it would have been nice to see you and Steph, and even Rollins talking more about the prestige and honour that would come with being the first ever Universal Champion. If Rollins wins, he can use that for as long as the belt is around, just like Jericho does when he speaks about being the first ever WWE Undisputed Champion, even now, 15 years later.
This has been a bit longer that I anticipated, but nonetheless, there’s one more point I want to talk about, and that’s using the talent you have at your disposal. As an example, I think it was last week that Sami Zayn didn’t even show up. The man has had numerous match-of-the-year candidates and just disappears? Even if he is injured (which I’m guessing he wasn’t as he showed up this week to wrestle), give the man some promo time. I’m certain you all have a long term plan for him, and it’s likely that he will have a feud after Summerslam, but why not start sowing the seeds for any potential feud. The same applies to Neville – I would certainly pay to watch Neville vs Zayn in a feud by the way. I’m not sure if Neville is being saved for when the cruiserweights show up, but he’s too good to just be wasted on taking out jobbers each week. The man carried NXT for a long time, give him something good to get his teeth into. We, as wrestling fans, are currently blessed with what I feel is the greatest roster the company has had for 15-20 years, when you take into account the quality and the depth, a great example is how stars like Samoa Joe and Nakamura can be left in NXT to help that brand grow.
Don’t waste this golden generation of talent with 3 minute matches, over-scripted pro’mos and lazy booking. I plead to you, Mick Foley, General Manager of Raw and the star of new WWE Network show ‘Holy Foley’ (You’re not the only one who can do cheap plugs), to not waste this opportunity to satisfy not just the hardcore wrestling fans and internet community, but also to get new, casual fans involved and interested. My girlfriend has never seen wrestling in her life, but after she sat and watched some with me the other day she can’t stop adding ‘and you can’t teach that’ on to the end of statements. When (hopefully) people like Cedric Alexander, Zack Sabre Junior and Kota Ibushi show up, along with the likes of Nakamura and Samoa Joe from NXT, please just let them fight.
I beg of Mick Foley the wrestling fan, who happens to also be GM of Monday Night Raw please make sure your voice is heard, and don’t let any concerns you have be pushed under the table. Help people such as Sasha Banks become the mega-stars they’re capable of being.
In Foley I trust.
If you feel so obliged, follow me on twitter @workawaysteve