It appears that WWE's weekly "Raw Underground" segment, which was not included in the last two episodes of Monday Night Raw, has quietly — and officially — been canceled.
Citing this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WrestlingNews.co wrote on Friday morning that WWE decided to pull the plug on its fight club project because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which affected several NXT performers and Performance Center trainees. These individuals were among those used as extras on "Raw Underground," where they appeared as cheering fans and occasionally took part in its shoot-style matches.
Earlier this week, two "Raw Underground" mainstays, Dabba-Kato and Arturo Ruas, were both drafted to the red brand, while the aforementioned extras -- who stood around the ring during the segment's weekly installments -- were all cleared to return to action. However, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer pointed out that officials were apparently afraid that bringing in several people from NXT and the Performance Center could result in another COVID-19 outbreak — one that could potentially affect main roster talents.
Although Meltzer's remark that "Raw Underground" is "'considered done' for right now" hints there's a chance it might eventually be back, Forbes opined that the project failed to deliver on one of its promises, which was to improve Raw's historically poor third-hour ratings on a long-term basis. The publication observed that its novelty faded quickly, and viewership figures continued to drop during the third hour a few weeks after its August debut.
Additionally, Forbes wrote that "Raw Underground" ultimately became a "laughingstock" among fans and insiders, who felt that it was a substandard imitation of the UFC and a failed attempt to make the otherwise scripted sport of professional wrestling feel more authentic.
Shortly before the segment was initially pulled, Shane McMahon — who made his return to television as its host and organizer — appeared on WWE announcer Corey Graves' After the Bell podcast and revealed that adjustments were constantly being made to the project.
"I think I'm trying different things. It's a work in progress and a different format," McMahon said, as quoted by Daily DDT.
"Changing things up of what's being going on thus far, especially in the third hour of what's coming up on Raw. It's a way to showcase new talent, get people more exposure, well, it's the faster pace you know, more intense. We are short and more intense. Thus far, people are seeming to like it, so, ah, we are rolling it."According to WrestlingNews.co, these comments suggest that McMahon was not expecting that his fight club would soon be pulled from Monday Night Raw and apparently canceled.