Far be it from me to think a storyline on Monday Night Raw at the moment revolving around Heath Slater will end up being something that saves the show, but for some reason, this current story has me intrigued far more than it likely should.
For those who haven’t seen it or need a refresher, Baron Corbin flexed his power this past week by forcing Heath Slater and Rhyno to wrestle each other in a loser leaves town match. He claimed there was only enough room on Raw for one of them, so when Slater won, Rhyno got the boot.
However, Corbin followed that up with more bad news: Slater isn’t staying on Raw as an in-ring competitor. Instead, his new position is that of a referee.
That’s where we left this angle, and I have to say, somehow, I’m actually really interested in what WWE can do with this going forward.
The Initial Response
The logical progression is to show him struggling with being relegated to this job, as he wants to be a wrestler. But that struggle won’t mean a ton right out of the gate because Slater’s been missing in action for most of the weeks, as he’s so low on the totem pole that he only really pops up on Main Event.
Having him lament being a referee is necessary, but having us feel for him is another. We won’t miss him performing, because he wasn’t doing anything for us to miss, and if WWE tries too hard, it could just fail very quickly when people aren’t 100% on board.
Also, with TLC coming up in a few days, they can’t get much mileage out of him being sad if Baron Corbin loses his position of power, assuming he loses his match to Braun Strowman (or whatever the equivalent replacement match will be). The only way around that is for Alexa Bliss to take over and treat Slater just as poorly, or for Stephanie McMahon to show up and not care to reinstate him, forcing him to stick around in referee limbo.
If Corbin retains his power on Raw, though, this Slater thing could last a very long while, and I’d actually like to see it go on for a considerable amount of time. Which brings me to my next bit of interest…
Turning Things Around
What if, for something different, instead of Slater spending weeks or months frustrated at his new job, he actually grows to like it and he starts showing a real enthusiasm for the gig?
I think it would be a refreshing change of pace for Corbin to want to relish in his evil deeds, only to see that he just unknowingly gave Slater a blessing in disguise by showing The One Man Band a new passion.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember ever seeing a story where a jobber started to become super enthralled in being a referee since he wasn’t able to win many matches anyway. I can totally see Slater cheesing it with a giant smile and a peppy attitude, saying he used to lose all the time, but now, “hey, I’m the one who gets to decide who wins!”
And what if, instead of being a hopeless idiot who sucks at his job, he actually IS really good at it? Slater is able to catch heels like Jinder Mahal trying to cheat. He has a keen eye for outside interference or when someone’s foot is on the ropes, and he’s able to reel in tag teams better than most referees who let all hell break loose.
There can even be a silly backstage segment where other referees are asking him for advice and he’s giving a lecture of the rulebook and how to follow it better and such, as if he’s become a guru of the trade.
The End Game
Whether he’s sad or happy about his role as a referee, it will have to end at some point, unless Heath Miller himself actually does enjoy the gig enough to stick with it.
Ideally, I’d like to see it go all the way until WrestleMania where Slater is the special guest referee (although at this point, no longer all that special since he’ll have been doing the job for months) for some kind of match that could use a little bit of comedy, preferably involving Corbin.
If Corbin is still in power, he can coerce Slater into giving him preferential treatment. Slater can struggle with it and eventually decide to go with his morals and award the victory to the babyface, even out of fear of losing his job. Of course, the Superstar Shake-up would be happening soon after, so even if he got fired, SmackDown could just pick him right up.
If Corbin is no longer in power, then Slater could still be the referee of some match involving him, with a storyline leading up to that point wherein Slater’s been purposely screwing Corbin out of his matches that he referees.
But that’s getting way ahead of schedule and booking long term, as this angle may very well end as soon as December 16th, and if it is supposed to be as short as that, I’m hoping the payoff is Slater being the special guest referee for Corbin’s match and screwing him out of his spot as Raw General Manager before the new regime comes in.
It’s weird that this story was one of my biggest takeaways from Monday Night Raw this week, and I likely invested far more time in thinking about this for this post than WWE even has for their own plans, but that just goes to show you that there’s still a flicker of optimism for some decent entertainment alive, even in a time where there are lots of reasons to tune out.
Am I crazy? Is anyone else actually thinking this could go somewhere? What would YOU like to see them do with this storyline? Keep the discussion going in the comments below!