WWE has been forced to get creative with their storylines now that they're putting on shows with no audience, leading to some memorable brawls on their programming at some rather bizarre locations. Now, it looks like a recurring theme for WWE's weekly Monday night show will be to present MMA-style wrestling matches as part of a new segment called Raw Underground. Perhaps looking to spice things up with more "realistic" fighting that's more comparable to something like UFC, these matches can best be described as "Fight Club meets WWE."
The reveal came on this week's WWE Raw, which saw the anticipated return of Shane-O-Mac. Previously, he'd has been "fired" from the company after losing a match to Kevin Owens last year, but WWE had been hyping his return on this week's Raw with a special announcement to be made. On the show, Shane McMahon hosted the unveiling of Raw Underground, revealing a dark ring in a dimly-lit room looking like something from an underground tournament of fighters. McMahon personally provides commentary for the segments, and winners are declared when their opponents are left knocked out or otherwise unable to continue the fight.
One of the biggest differences wrestling fans will notice with the Raw Underground ring is that it has no ropes at all. The mat is also oversized compared to normal WWE rings, allowing for more bedlam in the ring without the ropes to keep everyone inside. Competitors are also wearing street clothing instead of your standard wrestling tights, further giving the new segment that Fight Club feel that WWE seems to be going for. Of course, these matches are still part of the storylines and will not consist of "shoot fights" like the infamous "Brawl for All" competition in 1998 that left several wrestlers seriously injured. Still, there's something about seeing these guys duking it out in a dark, grody arena that makes the fighting appear a bit more brutal.
The first matches presented by Raw Underground saw Dabba-Kato, Dolph Ziggler, and Erik of The Viking Raiders winning their respective fights. Also appearing on Raw Underground were the group known as The Hurt Business, consisting of MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Shelton Benjamin. "Until further notice, Raw Underground is under new management," MVP told viewers after his stable crashed the show. All three members of The Hurt Business then took turns wailing on a few unfortunate souls in the rope-less ring, teasing the carnage that is yet to come on future installments of the show.
We can presume that WWE is looking to bring up their weekly ratings, and time will tell if Raw Underground manages to get more viewers tuning in as the weeks progress. These kinds of matches certainly do feel very different to the other brawls we see on normal WWE programming on Raw or Smackdown, so it could provide an interesting alternative to wrestling fans beginning to grow bored with what WWE has had to offer lately. You can take a look at what Raw Underground is like in the clip below, courtesy of WWE on YouTube.