In recent years, it’s not exactly a secret that World Wrestling Entertainment has seen its audience shrinking at levels not seen since Hulk Hogan’s physique in 1994. And whenever that happens, we often see Vince McMahon throwing various things against the wall to see what may stick – one need look no further than the legendary Attitude era to see a man willing to set the apple cart on fire in an attempt to garner attention. And while that’s been less the case recently as the company seems ever content to stick with a pat (and ever aging) hand, here and there we’ve seen at least attempts of trying different things.
Sometimes that works. Sometimes it fails. Care to guess which side of the coin we’re on today?
Yes, kids, it’s time to discuss Shane McMahon’s now legendary fight club. Portrayed as a sorta kinda shoot fight portion of the normal Monday night show, it was rumored to be essentially Brawl for All 2.0. Like the world needed such a thing.
It wasn’t really Brawl for All.
It wasn’t really a shoot fight.
It wasn’t really entertaining.
It was…well, you know…WrestleCrap.
Fortunate this here site is named as such!
So the show opens with the epitome of a tough guy – SHANE MCMAHON. And you can tell he’s ready to rumble, as he’s wearing a sorta pseudo army shirt. I mean, look right there on his arm – it’s a pocket fit for a pack of smokes!
If that’s not a tough guy, I don’t know what is!
Amazingly, though, somehow Shane was NOT going to be the featured act. No sir, instead we got…
…whoever this guy is! No idea, but he got hit with one power bomb and couple punches that had him going cross-eyed right in front of the hard cam. Shane is so concerned for his health that he began screaming “that’s it, that’s it!” All I can say is thank goodness for Shane McMahon – he apparently saved this man’s life.
THAT, kids, is how we got into the first ever Raw Underground.
No idea if it should be italicized or not.
To be honest, probably not. Doing so would give it some semblance of importance. Not meaning that it would indicate that it was an actual real television program, more that I spent more than 2 seconds pondering if it deserved me hitting COMMAND+I prior to typing its name.
Yeah, this disaster really isn’t worthy of type of effort.
So Shane comes out, stops the ‘fight.’ Said fight took place in a ring with no ropes, in what appears to be Kevin Dunn’s idea of what a dingy warehouse would look like. I’ve worked in my share of dumpy places like that, and trust me, this ain’t it.
But hey, EDGY!
You know what else is edgy?
Skanks in fishnet, dancing in pink neon lights!
With each passing moment, this becomes less a wrestling show than a PS2 intro video. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.
“Welcome everyone to Raw Underground,” says Shane, “where there are very little rules, lots of excitement, carnage, chaos, and quite frankly, lots of things I would like to see.” As has been preached to me by nogoodniks the world over, when you want brutality, you always need to make sure to drop a “quite frankly” in there.
You know what else our pal Vince goes to when he needs a quick ratings fix? Say it with me – a really tall guy!
And thus Shane introduces us to Dabba-Kato, who he notes is 7′ tall and, to quote Shane, “I dunno, maybe 360 pounds?” Dabba smirks at Shane like, “uhh, whatever pappy”, and then we get something else that lets us know this is 100% a WWE production:
JUMP CUT CITY!
Seriously, who watches that and thinks, “wow what action!” and not “wow? what? action?” Just watching that clip makes me want to grab a bottle of Dramamine. I will be honest, I don’t watch a WWE faithfully as I used to these days, but I see this and honestly question not WHY someone would watch the company, but HOW someone COULD watch it.
That legitimately makes me kinda sick. Is other TV like this? I mean, it’s a like a five second clip with six cuts!
And then, after seeing Dabba-Kato beat up a couple ham & eggers, we just go back to regular old Raw. The commentators tell us how cool & hip this Underground thing is and how they all dig it. If you want something to be truly cool & hip, do you know the first thing you do NOT do? Tell someone how cool & hip it is.
Especially with WWE announcers, because they are about as far away from cool & hip as you can get.
Also never ever use the term “cool & hip”. You’ll sound like a 52 year old man writing on a website that’s been around forever talking about the worst in pro wrestling.
Next we get one of the Viking Raiders in more tough guy action! And if you don’t know what that is, well, it’s basically just pro wrestling but with no ropes and people jumping up and down next to the ring for no discernible reason. Also, Shane McMahon screaming “that’s sick!” over and over while a four second loop of music plays on repeat for all of eternity.
Usually when I am writing about stuff like this, I just shake my head and press on. Tonight, I am literally in tears laughing at how someone somewhere thought this was COOL and would bring in that coveted younger demographic.
Again, this was all planned out. Money, likely more than any of us would ever want to know, was spent on this. Time – TIME, THE MOST VALUABLE ASSET ANY OF US HAVE!!!! – was spent setting up the warehouse to make it look like the hood or whatever. I try to never ever swear, but my fingers are fighting my brain to allow them to type “FFS” after every sentence I am writing tonight.
Amazingly, this concept didn’t die after the first week. Nope, it returned and we all knew what was missing – another giant man. Remember kids, when things go wrong, just keep finding super tall guys until it goes right. In this case, we get Shane’s door man, and yes, that is in fact Omos in his WWE debut. What an auspicious start. Nowhere to go but up from here.
I don’t mean that as a joke. It’s impossible to go lower than this.
Back to Nauseavision we go, but week two brings us an added bonus: Shane is now calling the action as if it’s an amateur wrestling match! “Whoa, going for the single leg! There’s a front face! These guys are expending a lot of energy!”
If you’re going to make us suffer like that, at least bring in Bischoff for a payday to talk about front leg round kicks or whatever so we can laugh a bit.
Shayna Baszler also shows up and is promptly caught in a chin lock by some rando in the audience. If the poor girl was brought into this mess in an attempt to add some ‘legitimacy’, well, that’s out the window now too, although to be fair she does wind tapping this geek out.
Back to the good ol’ Raw announce crew as they tell us again just how awesome this all is.
As a reference point, this is also what WWE considers “awesome.” So maybe they’re not far off.
In an effort to be positive, I should note that this platform was at some level introducing new folks to the audience – Dabba-Kato, Omos, Arturo Ruas. I mean, it wasn’t like they were just wheeling guys that had been around forever in the company out there.
Oh wait, my bad, here comes Dolph Ziggler, noted shoot fighter extreme.
And spare me the emails and posts about him being an amateur wrestler. Already know that, already don’t care.
Still, I suppose if you really want this to get over, you need someone to show up who could legitimately hurt people.
I mean, she hurt people over and over when she wasn’t supposed to, but it’s a start I guess!
Also an ending, as she immediately leaves within seconds of her arrival. And people say she’s dumb. Puh-shaw.
Soon enough, Underground became the Hurt Business show. Which is fine – good heel group, and it would be a good way to display their talents. I mean it’s a tough guy competition, right?
Which explains how Billie Kay would appear as well.
Oh, you just make everything better.
After a few weeks, it just became the same old same old. Ten million jump cuts every twenty seconds. Shane yelling stupid things. Looping music that had you reaching for the closest sharpened pencil. And if you were holding out hope for those new guys?
Well, Arturo was soon passing out to Dolph’s sleeper hold…
…while Dabbo-Kato was getting obliterated by Brauny the Strowman.
It was just a complete disaster.
Shockingly, the plug was pulled on this fiasco within two months of its debut. Rumors swirled that the company was concerned about potential Covid breakouts. Seriously, that’s the story. But let’s be serious for a moment: do you think, for one second, when the world gets back on its axis and we’re all vaccinated it’s going to magically reappear?
Ain’t no chance.
Even Vince isn’t that dumb.