What Is RAW Underground & What Does It Mean For WWE?

You don't talk about RAW Underground!

RAW Underground
Source: WWE

So Vince McMahon must have finally sat down to watch David Fincher’s Fight Club recently because we now have the WWE equivalent in RAW Underground. Introduced by the now controversial authority figure Shane McMahon, RAW Underground gives the more ‘legitimate’ fighters a chance to get on TV and show off their various backgrounds in submission-based grappling and MMA style fighting. So far, the new skit has been met with mixed reviews, with many still undecided on how this is going to fit in with the rest of the broadcast.

It’s almost as if RAW Underground is trying to be its own mini-brand, throwing back to the Brawl For All tournament that recently hit the headlines as part of the Darker Side of the Ring documentary series. Apparently the brainchild of Shane O-Mac himself, this league of heavy hitters will flourish in an environment with little to no official rules, where anything goes and the strongest will prevail regardless of what ‘the machine’ makes of them. Definitely a take on the ever-popular UFC-style of fighting that has developed more of an influence in recent years.

Dolph Ziggler, The Viking Raiders and The Hurt Business, superstars that regularly appear on the standard RAW programming, were all given a decent showing in Underground’s first outing, wiping out competition in the form of random local fighters and a couple of NXT hopefuls. As of now, these performers have little to nothing to fight over, with no championships currently active to make this into something tangible. Regardless, this is a great opportunity to let those that might slip under the radar get some exposure for something other than standard one-on-one wrestling.

It’ll be interesting to see exactly where WWE go with this fresh segment, whether it will remain something that’s shoe-horned across the three hour programme or instead given its own platform to grow and thrive. It’s certainly something that could find a place on the WWE Network, especially if the rumoured tier-system is going to come into effect at some point in the future. Adding the RAW Underground episodes would definitely add some intrigue for those who are debating paying more money for their subscriptions.

It could also expand across the entire reach of the WWE, having already included a few from the NXT undercard, there’s nothing stopping some of the more established stars of the black and gold brand to transition over to the main roster to take part in Underground. Wrestlers with legitimate mat-wrestling/MMA backgrounds such as Kyle O’Reilly, Oney Lorcan and KUSHIDA would naturally make themselves at home in amongst the grungy, industrial aesthetic. Stars from NXT UK and even 205 Live could even make a go of establishing themselves as tough guys as part of the Underground roster, giving everyone a new aspiration to work towards as part of their WWE career. With so much talent being left to go to waste, there’s certainly a reason for WWE to make the most of this new feature.

With so much from this week’s episode of RAW breaking headlines for a multitude of reasons, this could be the revitalisation that WWE needs to help them bounce back from the damages of the global pandemic. The word is talking about RAW, for better or worse, this will at least give them a bump in the ratings that have been steadily declining for well over a year now. With the intrigue of where exactly WWE are going to take RAW Underground next week, with the Hurt Business staking their claim as the stars of the division and the new style giving a new lease of life to the likes of Ziggler and the Viking Raiders, it could certainly be going places.

On top of that, we also have the mystery of who was sabotaging the production last night, with a gang of masked protesters causing havoc across the show and then the soap-opera style plot-line of ‘Who poisoned Montez Ford’. There’s definitely something for everyone to be invested in as the build towards SummerSlam unfolds.

RAW Underground will return next week with a new series of shoot-style battles and hopefully a clearer picture of what we can expect from the series going forward, whether a tournament will be announced to determine a champion of the division, or a more official roster to start building a brand around.

What were your thoughts on Shane McMahon’s RAW Underground? Let us know in the comments if you’ll be tuning in to see the next bout of MMA in WWE next Monday night.

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