The July 1 edition of WWE Raw saw an explosive start to what would become a memorable era of creative direction under new executive producer Paul Heyman.
Last night’s WWE Raw was the first Raw since the blockbuster news broke that Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff would be the executive producer of Raw and SmackDown respectively, news that shocked and excited the wrestling world with hopes of a better WWE product on the horizon.
Many wondered when Heyman’s creative influence would take over on Monday nights and while there are still conflicting reports as to how much influence Heyman has, the opening match of the night was a big indicator that the former ECW boss had his fingerprints all over it. The night started off with a Falls Count Anywhere match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley, but nobody saw what would come out of this match.
These two behemoths battled all across the arena for a while with weapons in use, but once they got back on the top of the stage near the backstage area, that’s when all hell broke loose. Strowman decided to ram Lashley through a big LED screen, which led to both men crashing through it amidst an insane amount of explosions and pure chaos in the arena. This was a jaw-dropping moment and it was handled absolutely perfectly.
The crowd was abuzz, people were scrambling in the backstage area to help Strowman and Lashley, the announcers were vocally shocked, and it all felt real. Even if you knew it was all part of the show, the thought crossed one’s mind whether or not it was real or staged, and that means it was very effectively done. Welcome to the show, Paul E. The Strowman vs. Lashley feud has been lackluster for weeks, but one night has completely rejuvenated it.
This was a patented Heyman way to kick off the show and it had the WWE universe buzzing, and quite frankly still does. Last night’s show was one of the more entertaining Raw’s in a while, and that has Heyman written all over it. There were some edgier and unexpected moments throughout the show that most fans attribute to Heyman’s creative direction. Whether or not he has the full creative power most believe he will get yet, anticipation is growing.
For all of his business mishaps in the past and behind the scenes issues, Heyman has been notably considered one of the most creative minds in the business. He completely transformed a struggling promotion in the 1990’s and turned it into the innovative and industry-changing promotion known as Extreme Championship Wrestling. His creative mind has never been in question regardless of if he’s a great businessman or not.
And then there was his time as the main creative force behind SmackDown in the early-2000s. Many consider this era to be arguably the peak of the blue brand and much of that can be attributed to Heyman. Hopefully, his creative magic can work wonders for a brand that has been in a stale and boring state over the past few months. If last night was any indicator, the red brand has a bright future.
Assuming Heyman is just getting his feet wet with his new position, once he’s able to book a show that’s solely “his,” that will be telling as to what to expect with the norm moving forward. If the past is any indication, it’s safe to expect some extreme moments along with focus on young talent, outstanding in-ring action, and compelling storylines and characters. Only time will tell how much influence Heyman will truly have, but so far, so good.
As we wait to see what Bischoff will bring to the table on the blue brand, the red brand is seemingly already in a better place after just one night featuring the mind of Paul E. Dangerously.