September 25, 2001
What about Raven?
Now I'm enjoying Kurt Angle's recent push as much as the next guy (and he's certainly earned it), but couldn't help but be depressed to see Raven job to Angle backstage on RAW a few weeks ago.
First, there doesn't seem to be any place for gothic-flavored gimmicks circa 2001. Edge and Christian, the Acolytes/APA, and Undertaker have long since had their characters refined of any references to arcane black magic. Given this, it seems unlikely the WWF would have endorsed Raven stepping up to the ring in one of his Sandman t-shirts in an angle about his using hypnotic powers to gather a new "Raven's Flock". Besides, is Vince going to put a logo like Sandman on RAW is WAR without collecting his due from DC Comics? Not very likely.
But the strength of Raven's pre-WWF gimmick was less about mysticism than it was a commentary on the wrestling performance itself. Where wrestlers constantly jockey for heat while cutting promos from the ring constantly watching and gauging the crowd, the image of Raven slumped in the corner of the ring droning out his monologue before spitting out his "Nevermore" tagline and tossing the mic aside still seems fresh. Raven's seeming indifference to the crowd and the mere practice of promos showed a far deeper and thorough contempt than trying to whip the crowd in a frenzy by insulting the local sports team. In WWF, where the stakes are much higher for getting over with the crowd, Raven's gimmick of indifference would seem an even bigger slap in the face.
Still, he's a far better talker and has more going on upstairs than many on the roster, and when the Invasion angle winds down (and he can stop being one of Austin's underlings), perhaps he'll be due for a slight push -- a feud over a mop with Saturn notwithstanding.
Raven is no HHH, and he won't be angling for the top heel job any time soon (if at all), but there's a rich talent for character, and he has a sense of drama and creativity that goes beyond the typical melodrama of most wrestlers. In interviews, he talks about Shakespeare (who had a penchant for staging plays full of sex and violence for everyday people) and how great stories and struggles are played out again and again in different variations and forms. Considering all the pushes to wrestlers who (by their own admission) aren't great talkers, the under use of Raven is -- to say the least -- a confusing waste of potential.
Jim Harvey is from Wolfville, Nova Scotia and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.