On the latest episode of the WWE After The Bell podcast, Corey Graves sat down with WWE minority owner and producer Shane McMahon to discuss RAW Underground. McMahon introduced the RAW Underground that has featured many Superstars competing in MMA-style fights. McMahon talked about the vibe that RAW Underground is trying to bring.
"What I think is going on is you have talent that note, OK, it's short, it's intense and let me let it rip and it's more reacting. And they're just going with their instinct, and it's fast-paced and it's high energy," McMahon described. "That's what it's designed to do. So you don't have time, really, to think about things. You just go for it. It's exhausting [for] anybody who gets in there, and those that have never experienced... even 60 seconds of going full out.
"What that feels like, you have to be in shape. It's a whole new appreciation of why people have to be in shape because once you get tired, people don't realize, your muscles and your oxygen are burning and you're just banging like just end it. Put me out of my misery right now."
McMahon highlighted two Superstars that have gotten the spotlight on RAW Underground in Riddick Moss and Dabba-Kato. He said that Moss has the "It Factor", and he awed at Dabba-Kato's size.
"But again, high energy is really what we're trying to have come across," McMahon stated. "Thus far, it is, and we've been able to introduce new talent, Riddick Moss is really doing well. He's super impressive to me, just has that 'It Factor' plus coupled with this style, very excited. Dabba-Kato that guy is huge. We got re-introduced to him. He's a big guy."
Many Superstars have made a stop in RAW Underground including The Hurt Business. McMahon also commented on their appearances as well as the women that have competed like Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke.
"That's another thing, we took the ropes. We just wanted to make it different, and I'm having a lot of fun with it," McMahon admitted. "You go back and start looking at Shelton Benjamin. I mean, wow he can go. You see that in Bobby Lashley, MVP, all that jiu-jitsu background and that's more of, again, we're trying to mix all different types of styles. Arturo Ruas, we haven't even started getting into him a little, and again, it's another way to showcase a lot of what he can do. And there's so many other guys and women, specifically. Look at Marina, what she was able to accomplish. Jessamyn Duke just last week, I mean those strikes."
Since the introduction of RAW Underground, McMahon has hyped it up on social media. He admitted that he sometimes forgets his mic is still live during the fights, but he encouraged fans to express their opinions on not only his live mic but also on RAW Underground in general.
"I forget a lot of times they keep my mic live," McMahon admitted. "So I'm like, 'oh, wow.' I'm just calling it. My sons told me like, 'dad, why are you always like oh, ah,' and I was like, 'I didn't even realize I was doing it.' I was reacting like, 'oh, ooh.' So next week, I'll try to be more mindful, or I don't know, maybe people like it. I don't know.
"Again, everything's so fresh and new. We're just trying it all, and for anybody watching this, it's important to get feedback because we want to improve it. Again, this is conceptual, and we're throwing it out there. And it's important to get feedback on what people like, what people, more importantly, don't like and hone it and make it better. So that's the whole goal of it, and we have a great platform to do it."
When asked by Graves if an in-ring return would happen, McMahon took the "never say never" approach. He noted that the story would have to be right for him to make a comeback to in-ring action.
"Never say never. I'll say that," Shane stated. "It's not about me right now. It's about developing new talent or talent that is here and giving them a platform. If I can help out and have a good showcase with an up-and-coming talent, I'd love to be able to do that, or an existing one (talent) or what-have-you. It just needs to be, again, follow a good story and an emotional story then how would you pull it off physically. I still got a few left in me."
Other than the RAW Underground stars, McMahon was asked which other Superstars have caught his eye recently. He talked about The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Dominik Mysterio. He spoke more on Wyatt talking about the interesting stories he is telling, and he praised Mysterio for being able to get people to care about him so quickly.
"I'm really enjoying The Fiend. I think he's taking it to another level because he entertains, and he gets it done," McMahon said. "So again, the emotional and the physical nature. He entertains you with the struggles because they're very thoughtful. You listen. You're like, 'oh deep. He's into it.' He takes you on a ride, storytelling and as he does also physically, and he can get it done. Talk about some of the guys that are deceptively big, he's not three, but he's the high twos. He can move.
"Other guys, I like Braun. I just like that nature. Talk about a guy that can move. I like that. I think Seth Rollins has really upped his game specifically. He's taking much more of that leadership role, and you can see the difference in his work specifically. I was very impressed and a lot of us were thinking like, let's see what happens with Dominik Mysterio. I think he's surprised a lot of people because obviously his dad, Rey is amazing. You're like, 'oh, this is going to be like Rey lite, but it's different, and he makes it different. You care about him.
"There's very few guys that can pull it off, and that is really a secret to getting over is you want people to care one way or the other. Ether they love you or love to hate you. There still needs to be that love in there, but when they're ambivalent, they don't care, you're just having a match. Then your match is vanilla, and there's no emotional. There may be great physical which helps a bit, but they don't have the emotional connection, which is very important."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.