The late 1980s through the early 1990s was a pretty special time in pro wrestling. The idea that wrestling was “real” still floated about, WWE programming was formulaic in a way but only because the method was tried and true, and every match on a card would feel important, not just the ones for the titles as it has mostly felt for the last 15 years or so.
Ever since the brand split happened, it appears the WWE has gone back to its roots a bit. Sure, it hasn’t fully gone back to a time in wrestling when a gimmick was that of a man being a full-time wrestlers and part-time NASCAR driver, but many of the things we have witnessed on the last few episodes of Monday Night Raw had a very “back then” feel to them.
We can start with the reintroduction of jobbers. Like, legitimate jobbers. Not some talent who has received a push here and there but is now losing a bunch because the WWE no longer sees the value in him or her. We are talking straight-up local talent who are built in less refined ways than people who do nearly any other mundane profession.
This can be highlighted in all of Braun Strowman’s matches since being drafted to Raw. Each week the mountain of a man comes out, looks burly, then devours what always appear to be the smallest local wrestlers the WWE can fine. To their credit, each of those jobbers have done a tremendous job in playing up their jobber role, even to the point of it being patently absurd when you think about it.
There’s more early 1990s feel to Raw as of late.
The random in-ring promos and interviews – the latter being done with the jobbers sometimes. The important aspect of in-ring promos the WWE has focused on, which was highlighted this week by Seth Rollins, was providing a talent the opportunity to cut a promo by himself. No interruptions, no back and forth banter, just one guy spewing his agenda in front of a national audience.
From the aspect of the interviews, we aren’t talking about just backstage ones, either. The WWE has had someone pop up to interview people right after matches right outside the ring, right before matches in it, and nearly everywhere else in between. It adds that little extra character development to each of the wrestlers.
There’s the video packages. Not only The Wyatt Family compound stuff that technically happened before the brand split, but Finn Balor doing a solo interview/vignette on Monday night. A move that wasn’t completely abandoned by the WWE over the years, but hasn’t been featured in that big or engagingly overdone of a way since Jim Ross interviewed Mrs. Foley’s baby boy during the early portions of the Attitude Era.
Also, the few times on each Raw when the WWE cuts away from the ring, focuses on the now-detached ringside broadcasters, and allows them to speak on the show happening in real time, is a really nice touch. This reminds one of old WWE pay-per-views when each show would open with Vince McMahon, and whoever was his broadcast partner for that particular show, for them to say hello to the audience. The cameras would also check back in with them as the show progressed, and all involved would begin to give their feedback in a non-forced way.
With the broadcasters now being removed from ringside, it has allowed them to stand when the cameras cuts back to them, which is obviously a very small detail, but it makes everything feel fresher. Plus, Michael Cole and crew appear to be more at ease.
These are all obviously small things. It is also worth noting that it doesn’t necessarily mean the WWE is pulling all these maneuvers from previous eras, either. It just so happens to feel that way, but in an extremely good way.
Who knows why the WWE seemingly changed much of the way Raw has been broadcasted. We do know they are trying to different things, however, as both brands have gone through logo re-brands, SmackDown has a completely new camera angle, and a bunch of other aspects from a production standpoint that hearken back to yesteryear have been implemented.
Honestly, who cares for the reason. Whatever the motives behind these new – if not actually rehashed – production values the WWE is using, it has been glorious.