What's up wrestling fans? I'm back with another preview of Monday Night Raw, as this week's show rolls into Raleigh, NC and is guest hosted by two members of the legendary rock group ZZ Top. Although not much is known about this show tonight other than the guest hosts and an advertised tag team match which I am guessing will be the show's dark match main event, I want to take a minute to discuss my feelings on the first "celebrity" guest host debuting on Raw last week in the form of Seth Green. But first, let's take a look at what we do know about the show and what we might expect as we head into Night of Champions this Sunday night.
ZZ Top Guest Hosting Raw
When this announcement was first made last week, I will admit I scratched my head for a good 30 seconds as I had no idea what ZZ Top and pro wrestling had to do with each other, but then I learned from Good Ol' JR that they have been WWE and pro wrestling fans for many years.
I suppose if WWE is going to continue booking celebrities to guest host Raw, or at least names that are not affiliated with WWE or pro wrestling in anyway, at least book names of celebs who are passionate about the business and know the product they are going to be guest hosting.
I, for the record, was NOT one of the internet fans complaining that ZZ Top is a bad choice to host Raw as WWE is trying to lure in younger viewers with their new PG rated product. I think it's a great idea to have a guest host like Seth Green on one week to appeal to a younger demographic, and then an act like ZZ Top on the next week to appeal to a different demographic. The bottom line is that booking ZZ Top to appear on a Raw show is NOT going to make younger people who watch the show on a consistent basis change the channel tonight. There will still be plenty to watch for the fans who are unfamiliar with the band.
Seth Green as Guest Host and the Celebrity Concept in General
I thought Seth Green did a great job hosting Raw last week, and in general all of the segments he participated in came off as strong and entertaining television. The problem I have with the whole celeb concept, however, is that it does nothing for Raw if you are looking at the big picture. These celebrity guest hosts only provide one night of entertainment and do not setup interesting story lines that can develop throughout the course of a few months. Everything Seth Green did last week was contained in the single two hour program, and no stars will have a chance at revenge for anything he booked them in, nor will any story lines progress as a result of Seth Green's booking.
Most of the complaints that I read coming from WZ readers who watched Raw last week were complaining that they would rather see compelling and interesting story lines play out on Raw as opposed to a new guest host every week. This is the side of the complaints that I tend to agree with. If WWE placed a permanent General Manager in the guest host position, then it would allow them to create story lines that have a long term effect on the company and the show as opposed to just satisfying one broadcast. Secondly, it would take the focus off of what the guest host has planned for the evening and put more focus on the ongoing issues being created amongst the superstars, because after all, it's the wrestlers that need to be the primary focus of the show.
Lastly, a question I have been pondering the past week is "how do you book a heel guest host?" I think the Raw shows are going to become a bit stale if the guest hosts are always celebrity baby faces, so I think it's about time that WWE book a heel guest host to run the show so that we aren't always seeing the same segment types rehashed with different personalities. The bottom line is that if a celebrity is going to agree to host Raw, you know they are going to want promotion from WWE for whatever they are currently working on. Hence the many segments we saw last week where Seth Green was shilling whatever his latest project is. If a celebrity is booked to look like a "bad guy," then he or she may fear that people will not purchase their album, or buy their DVD, or see their movie, or whatever it might be they are marketing. Therefore the celebrity guests, if I had to guess, will always be booked as baby faces.
So, this leaves WWE with the option of having a heel guest host come in the form of a former pro wrestler, manager or anyone from the past or present that has either worked as a heel or is currently a heel. I think this is not only an interesting direction WWE needs to pursue, but a necessary one to keep the guest host gimmick fresh.
Looking Ahead to Tonight's Raw
This is the go-home show for the Night of Champions PPV this Sunday night, and in these situations WWE needs to be careful not to overshadow a PPV they need to sell by putting too much focus on the guest host of the show tonight.
Raw's side of the Night of Champions card features Randy Orton vs Triple H vs John Cena in a Triple Threat Match, Maryse vs Mickie James for The Divas Title, Kofi Kingston vs an opponent yet to be named, and Legacy vs Chris Jericho and a Mystery Opponent for the Tag Titles. WWE needs to make sure they focus on these matches tonight, and they definitely need to announce Kofi's opponent and sell that match the best they can.
People can't tune in to Raw every week to see a new guest host and forget that there's a big PPV they "need" to buy in a week. If no emphasis is placed on matches like the US Title, The IC Title and The Divas Title, then there will be little need for the viewers to want to watch these matches on PPV.