It was December 1997 when WWE chairman Vince McMahon ushered in a new era for Monday Night Raw -- an "Attitude Era," if you will -- by declaring Raw as "the cure for the common show" in a memorable promo.
While it's unlikely in today's PG-era that WWE will announce a similar turn into a more adult-oriented product as it did nearly 20 years ago when competition with rival WCW was at its peak in the "Monday Night Wars," Raw has found itself at a point of stagnancy in recent weeks.
The WWE's flagship show has battled wild bouts of inconsistency in the seven weeks since SummerSlam, effectively slipping to B-show status opposite in-house rival SmackDown Live in the court of public opinion.
This week's Raw wasn't groundbreaking by any means, nor will it stand out as being memorable for any one specific reason. But it was fast-paced and consistent just the same, with what might be called the "cure for the common Raw" proving to be a justifiably gratuitous use of its two most entertaining figures of late.
WWE did well to build the majority of the episode around the budding (with teases toward potentially volatile) friendship between Universal champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. The heel pairing has provided Raw with many of its top moments in recent weeks, from lengthy in-ring dialogue to quick-hitting backstage comedy and strong main event matches.
Monday night was no different, with the duo making multiple appearances throughout the episode, building toward a main event match between Jericho and Seth Rollins. WWE did well to hold the attention of viewers by creating the stipulation that a victory by Jericho would add his name to the title match between Owens and Rollins at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on Oct. 30.
In the end, Rollins proved victorious in an entertaining match, which kept the loosening threads of friendship between Owens and Jericho intact. But there was enough attention to detail in the storyline throughout -- including Owens deciding against coming to Jericho's aide as the episode concluded -- to plant seeds for the future.
Ultimately, that's all that viewers want: for the dots to connect and the storyline of each feud to progress at a steady rate. If anything, fans don't want to feel like their time invested -- and in this day and age for WWE, that involves upwards of 10 hours each week -- was spent in vain.
Major events like surprise title changes or celebrity drop-ins can serve as rewards for fans who make Raw a can't-miss staple of their television week, but they should never become the foundation.
This week's Raw went back to the basics of building storylines organically while sprinkling in the extra flavor of teases toward potential turns. It might not have helped to provide an episode that instantly will spike ratings or light up social media, but it helps build toward consistency -- which is exactly what Raw has lacked.
Hits and misses
It's becoming redundant to mention each week how Jericho, closing in on 46, only seems to be improving during his current renaissance, particularly in terms of his comedy. But here's to hoping WWE has no plans of shutting down "The List of Jericho" gimmick any time soon, even to the point of being played out. It's working, so might as well let it ride.
In what can prove to be tricky execution, give WWE credit for effectively intertwining the feuds of both Sasha Banks-Charlotte and Roman Reigns-Rusev to the tune of a strong opening segment and an entertaining mixed tag-team match later in the show.
There was a strong level of attention to detail throughout, including fun banter between Charlotte and Rusev early on, which escalated into a backstage argument between Charlotte and Lana later on. The segment also exposed the strong chemistry, both backstage and inside the ring after their victory, between Banks and Reigns, which drew a large babyface pop from the Oakland crowd. Should the company insist on keeping both characters away from a heel turn, pairing them together when it makes sense could do a lot for their respective approval ratings.
It's hard to imagine how the eventual payoff of a pay-per-view rematch between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg could possibly live up to the expectations that most fans would have in their heads. After all, Goldberg is 49, and despite staying fit with MMA training, he hasn't been anywhere near a wrestling ring since his 2004 departure from WWE. But the buzz that would accompany the storyline -- provided Goldberg actually announces his return next week on Raw -- should do well to spice up the intensity on Monday nights. It would also bring about the weekly return of Lesnar advocate Paul Heyman to a place he belongs as a centerpiece on Raw.
Heyman delivered a strong promo on Monday, issuing a challenge from Lesnar in response to Goldberg's comments last week on Off The Top Rope with Jonathan Coachman. It was a reminder of just how once-in-a-lifetime Heyman's ability to cut a promo truly is, and how WWE's new generation of superstars simply don't come close. It also exposed the biggest drawback in Lesnar's part-time schedule -- the fact that Heyman disappears along with him. Being "a Paul Heyman guy" means something and WWE fails to take full advantage of Heyman's talent by not aligning him with more superstars.
- Bill Goldberg (@Goldberg) October 11, 2016
It was great to see The New Day return to operating at their comedic best for the second straight week before the start of Kofi Kingston's singles match against Cesaro. Not only did Kingston score points for his "Full House" reference in front of the Bay Area crowd, Big E was hilarious in pulling cereal from his singlet and tossing into the crowd. The match also produced an interesting experiment when Sheamus, showing just how disinterested he was in Cesaro's match, sat against the ring post and recorded a Facebook Live video in real time. While the payoff in this case wasn't substantial, the WWE just might be onto something here for the future.
Mick Foley's plaid suit was, well, something. At the very least, he stayed in character by wearing red and black.
Sin Cara's official move to the cruiserweight division made plenty of sense given his in-ring style, and he looked strong in his debut on Monday, teaming with Lince Dorado to defeat Drew Gulak and Tony Nese. Not only does Sin Cara provide a proven veteran presence, it would only seem to make sense for Neville and Kalisto (who currently competes on SmackDown Live) to follow his lead.
The rebranding of Bo Dallas isn't going anywhere, from the political sign he carries to his nonsensical rhyming. It's time for the one idea that makes sense above all. (Yes, that idea.) Let him join his real-life brother Bray Wyatt as a member of Wyatt Family, where the creepiness of his character will be at home. Who knows? Combining their creative forces and natural charisma could prove to bring out the very best in both of them.
It might have only been a few minutes long, but the locker room segment between WWE cruiserweight champion T.J. Perkins and veteran heel Brian Kendrick was incredibly effective at outlining the essence of their respective characters. Perkins' counter right hand that knocked Kendrick down was the perfect exclamation point
Great call by WWE for allowing Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson a chance to beat down Enzo Amore and Big Cass, thus further establishing the viciousness of their characters. The unprovoked attack was complete with Gallows yelling that "the games are over." It has been talked about at length how The Club's unsatisfying feud with The New Day failed to present them in the proper light. Consider Monday's appearance a return to the style that makes them so good.
Move of the night
Cruiserweight Lince Dorado's shooting star press off the top rope onto Drew Gulak, helping lift himself and teammate Sin Cara to victory in their tag-team match, was a thing to behold.
- WWE (@WWE) October 11, 2016
Line of the night
"First thing [Curtis] Axel needs to concentrate on is getting rid of those cargo shorts. It's 2016 and that's unacceptable." -- Raw commentator Corey Graves