So that was one of the worst RAW’s in a while. It was boring, bloated and so questionably stupid at points that everyone had to have been annoyed at some point during viewing. There were maybe two or three things to enjoy on the show and that’s probably being generous. With that rant over let’s see if the other two shows fared any better. Spoiler alert, they did.
Baron’s Bragging, Elias’ Opportunity
Bobby Lashley defeats Elias via Spear
Baron Corbin and his new goon squad started this show bragging about what had happened to Braun Strowman last week. Corbin wanted to remind the audience that his match with Strowman was going ahead at TLC and he was going to love being the full-time GM for RAW. We got a video from a hospitalised Braun promising to destroy Corbin when he gets back from injury and it looked like Corbin was going to brag some more when an unlikely hero emerged.
Elias appeared to give the trio of Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin a new song, though it was aimed directly at Bobby Lashley. He was called out by Corbin for a match and Elias obliged making his way to the ring. Oh and WWE are slowly catching up to popular insults for people as we had Bobby Lashley calling the audience beta males.
Originally this was meant to be a standard match but Bobby Lashley was disqualified because of Lio Rush interference. Baron couldn’t stand this and once again changed the rules of the match on the fly by making it a no DQ match. This restarted the match and basically meant that Elias was beaten down for a few minutes by Bobby and Drew. He was hit with a Reverse Alabama show onto the steps and was eventually finished by a Braun ring run Spear courtesy of Bobby Lashley.
This was basically a repeat of last week’s segment only it was done quicker. It seems that Corbin’s squad is currently set on destroying every face the crowd loves. This would be a lot better if it was more engaging.
The New Leader of the Women’s Division
One interesting thing that happened on RAW was that Corbin made Alexa Bliss the leader/manager of the women’s division. Whilst it didn’t quite go into the specifics of the role, Corbin basically asked Alexa to keep the division in order after she helped the RAW women win at Survivor Series. Whilst it’s easy to groan at another heel authority figure on RAW, at least it’s Alexa. She is charismatic enough and capable enough of making this work. She did flex this new authority on the show but we’ll get to that later.
Still a Joke
Lucha House Party defeat The Revival via Shooting Star Press
How are these matches even remotely fair? Lucha House Party rules seem like an excuse to break every rule in the book and take every advantage in the planet. This is not a good way to make faces as they not only have a numbers advantage but in this match didn’t even have to tag. They just kept jumping into the ring to replace each other as needed. Once again the Revival couldn’t cope with these rules and once again lost in similar fashion to last week. At least they didn’t get distracted by piñatas this week. These matches need to stop. They aren’t particularly fun to watch nor are they getting anyone over. They have made the Revival look stupid again and whilst it’s nice to see Lucha House Party show off, it isn’t getting them over.
Dean’s the New Elias
One of the few good segments of RAW came in the form of this unusual promo from Dean Ambrose. He was in a doctor’s office far away from where RAW was taking place. He was getting a series of shots ahead of travelling to the next RAW show. He has become the heel that insults places but is doing it with a degree of comedy but it isn’t quite as sinister as I’d want from Dean. It was entertaining but it doesn’t scream snapped lunatic. He eventually gets a hip shot too so I imagine some of the audience swooned as Dean partially dropped his trousers to get the shot. On the plus side WWE is promoting vaccinations. If it’s good enough for Dean Ambrose is good enough for you.
Pissing on the Tag Division
AOP defeat Gable and Roode via Powerbomb/Neckbreaker combo
What the actual hell was this? If this is what amounts to a RAW tag Team Championship match in 2018 then the division is doomed. AOP’s first title defence was literally pissed away on a juvenile angle where Drake Maverick either wets himself or urinates on people’s clothes. To explain Roode and Gable lost because Drake stole Bobby Roode’s robe and threw it in a toilet and Kayfabe urinated on it. That lasted a whole minute and Roode just stood there as it happened and allowed himself to be hit by the double team finish for the win. AOP have been reduced to the urine focused antics of their manager and Roode and Gable just look stupid. No one wins here, especially not the viewer.
So This Happened
Jinder Mahal defeats No Way Jose via Khallas
Can you tell I’m clutching at straws this week? First Kurt Hawkins is made the new partner for Ember Moon, groan. Then Ember Moon gets a quick win over Alicia Fox, groan. Then out of nowhere we get a match between No Way Jose and Jinder Mahal. There was very little explanation for this match but it happened and it was definitely a match. No Way Jose actually got quite a lot of offense in but he was dispatched by the Khallas after being thrown into the ropes. So this week saw Jinder Mahal get a win over someone most people probably forgot existed. It felt and looked like filler even if it wasn’t that bad of a match.
Open Challenge, Open Disappointment
Seth Rollins defeats Dolph Ziggler via Superplex/Falcon Arrow combo
You know what the good thing about open challenges is? That anyone can and should make an attempt to answer the challenge and get a spotlight they wouldn’t normally get. Who answered Seth’s challenge this week? Dolph Ziggler. Not someone new or exciting. Dolph. Now I do not doubt Dolph’s quality but this is getting ridiculously repetitive at this point. Dolph and Seth have fought each other that many times they deserve their own bingo cards. The match was fine and the finish was a surprise as it did not require the Stomp instead it was the Superplex/Falcon Arrow combo he does that put away Dolph. This is just another example of how RAW creative seems to prefer repetition over giving other members of their roster a chance.
Waste of the Women
There were two women’s segments on the show that felt like both a waste of time and talent. The first was the awful promo from Nia Jax. It was poorly written and unfortunately for Nia, awfully performed. The crowd was dead for her too. It would appear that the Becky injury heat is dying down and audience just doesn’t care anymore. Ronda came out to try and make the segment bearable and the audience seemed to appreciate her. Her and Nia look like they’re gonna throw down but instead Nia stalls for time, it looks like Nia and Tamina are going to gang up on her so Natalya comes out to try and even the numbers. She doesn’t even make it down the ramp as she is ambushed by the Riott Squad and laid out. Ronda fights off the Squad and the segment ends. Apparently Nia was happy to watch from the sidelines as this happened and did not take advantage.
The other wasted segment was the open “forum” Alexa Bliss held for Sasha Banks and Bayley. This was Alexa’s first appearance as the women’s authority figure and it was not the best. She got some good barbs in on the crowd but even she couldn’t boost the morale of the audience. There was one question from the audience where they asked what they would change about the women’s division. Sasha said she’d change nothing and Bayley said she’d get rid of Alexa. First saying she’d send her back to Smackdown then in more cringe inducing fashion, hell. Alexa took over the segment trying to stir tensions between the two but was getting nowhere. In the end her goons attack the pair and are driven off in standard face fashion. This was another segment that benefitted no one, did nothing and was basic filler.
Ending as we Started
Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre defeat Finn Balor via Claymore
Speaking of repetition, who wanted another chapter in the Balor/Corbin saga? If the answer was anybody I’d be bloody surprised. This once again became a Corbin rules change match as he turned the match into a handicap match after taking some punishment. This meant Drew could come in and destroy Finn. We got another beatdown segment that the audience didn’t care about nor did it do anything other than bury Finn. I love seeing Drew be a menacing, destructive psychopath but I want him to do it for himself not Corbin. Right now he is nothing more than a henchman. It might be keeping him in a dominant spot but he could be doing so much more.
The Man is Back
Asuka Wins the Women’s Battle Royal
Becky Lynch returned to Smackdown this week. She came out with a new titan tron video and a massive pop. She was joined by Charlotte and Paige in the ring and the verbal sparring began. She ripped into Charlotte for stealing her attitude whilst she was away and Charlotte tried to fight back. Paige interjected and set their next match up. Becky and Charlotte will be fighting in a TLC match at the PPV of the same name. This match announcement brought out the rest of the Smackdown women’s roster who were not happy to be left out of the title picture. In response to this Paige made a battle royal wherein the winner will be added to the title match making it a triple threat.
Asuka won that battle royal and has been added to the title match. This is an excellent choice as it continues the road to redemption for Asuka and gives us a new dynamic to the Becky and Charlotte feud. Asuka was once dominant and should still have a bone to pick with Charlotte after her first loss. Not to mention the fact we now have the possibility that Asuka could win the Smackdown women’s title. She deserves it after all the crap WWE gave her during the Carmella feud.
Bar Going to the Uso Penitentiary?
The Usos defeat the Bar via Uso Splash
Big Show turned again. The honorary third member of the Bar punched Cesaro in the face and disbanded from the group. This meant that the Bar may have been at a slight disadvantage heading into their match. Once again we got an amazing match as these teams don’t know how to put on a bad match. Cesaro ate the finish after eating a bunch of Superkicks and a Splash. It was a solid and fun little match that saw the Usos get the win over the champions potentially earning themselves a title shot.
As much as I may have wanted a Nakamura vs Rusev match, I was happy with what we saw. Before the match could actually begin, Nakamura struck. He hit Rusev with two Kinshasas one in the ring, one out of the ring. Whilst some may be annoyed at the lack of Nakamura matches to enjoy on Smackdown, it’s hard not to enjoy the raw aggression from the US Champ. Plus it means Rusev never got a proper title match and has a reason to either challenge again or get some payback. This could be a pretty hot feud as Rusev is incredibly over and Nakamura needs a decent opponent to challenge him for the belt. Plus the two are accomplished wrestlers meaning we’d get a quality match.
Dude, have you seen my Shane?
Kofi Kingston defeats The Miz via Trouble in Paradise
This match was set up after the New Day clowned the Miz in an amazing backstage segment. Miz walked in on the New Day watching something on their phone and laughing. He confuses this for the Marine 6 and tries to imply the New Day are Mariners. New Day rebut this and tell him they’re laughing at his loss to the jobber team last week. Miz takes offense and sets up a match. After he leaves it is later revealed that Big E is actually a Mariner and the whole team freak out.
The match itself was incredibly fun. Miz tried to resort to his usual heel tactics but would always be thwarted by the New Day at every turn. He tried to remove the turnbuckle pad only for Big E to cover it with a stack of pancakes. When he went to grab a chair Xavier grabbed it back and admonished Miz. This would prove distraction enough for Miz as he ate a Trouble in Paradise for the three count. There was no Shane in sight to help him during the match. The “best team in the world” do not appear to be on the same page and Miz was sure to bring this up with Shane later when he came across him whilst polishing the trophy. Miz is going full face mode as he continuously tries to convince Shane to buy in to his team.
Don’t Prod a Viper
Randy Orton doesn’t care about Lucha culture. That was the gist of the promo he dropped on Smackdown this week. He was holding the match he stole from Rey last week and explaining it was not an act of disrespect. Randy’s words bring out Rey who wants to get some revenge for the attack last week. He starts out strong but eventually gets cut down by Orton and hit with the Draping DDT. Orton demolishes Rey further and then ends it by once again attacking Rey’s throat with a chair. It wasn’t the biggest segment on the show but it was certainly fun to watch,
20th Anniversary Blues
Another fun promo segment here as Jeff Hardy was celebrating his 20th anniversary in WWE when the celebrations were gate crashed by Samoa Joe. Joe rips into Hardy’s past demons and takes some very sharp barbs at Hardy’s expense. Shane McMahon tries to get involved and get rid of Joe but Hardy isn’t fazed. He lets Joe speak and then offers to fight Joe. Joe isn’t interested in fighting and walks off. He definitely had some of the lines of the night as the insults he levelled at Hardy were quite vicious and very personal.
Not so High and Mighty
Lorcan and Burch defeat The Mighty via Roll Up
NXT started with some awesome tag team action between everyone’s favourite hard-hitting team and the Mighty. Lorcan and Burch started strong but were soon stalled and ground down by the Mighty who worked over Lorcan. Burch was hot tag and he started to take it to the Mighty but once again took advantage. There’s some more back and forth for a couple more minutes with some highflying and finisher reversing until Lorcan manages a roll up after countering the Mighty’s finisher attempts. It was an exciting match that didn’t make the Mighty look like a joke and gave Lorcan and Burch another win on their road back to the top.
Barthel Brought to the Top 1%
EC3 defeats Marcel Barthel via One Percenter
EC3 was looking to gain back some momentum after an attack from Bobby Fish left him side lined. His first match back was against Marcel Barthel. The former Axel Dieter junior was last seen on NXT TV fighting Keith Lee. Once again Barthel was the stand out as he kept control of EC3 and hit an amazing drop on EC3. He was eventually stopped by EC3 but once again he looked incredibly strong in defeat. Also it should be mentioned that since WWE have signed Walter we may see a Ringkampf reunion on NXT. Wouldn’t that be something special, especially for WWE fans who may not have had the chance to experience them on the independent circuit.
Be Seeing You, Vision
Mia Yim defeats Vanessa Borne via Sole Food
This was a nice little match that saw Mia Yim rebound after her loss to Bianca Belair. Her opponent this week was “the Vision” Vanessa Borne. Yim started out strong but was stalled by Borne and dominated for the next part of the match. After a while Yim made a comeback and finished off Borne with a trash talking Sole Food or Eat Defeat depending on your naming preference. It wasn’t an outstanding match but once again was enjoyable enough and keeps Yim relevant in the women’s division.
The NXT Kaiju Battle
Lars Sullivan defeats Keith Lee via Freak Accident
What a battle of the monsters. After last week’s altercation, Keith Lee and Lars Sullivan went to war in the ring. Both men took it in turns to either one up the others offense or borderline no sell it. There was no give at first with Lee flattening Sullivan with Crossbody Blocks but Sullivan would keep getting back up. Lars took control of the match trapping Lee in a submission hold and reapplying it when Lee would try to get free. Eventually Lee would mount a bit of a comeback, hitting a springboard crossbody and a Corkscrew senton to the outside. He then missed a Moonsault and got hit by the Freak Accident for the loss. I imagine a lot of people expect Lee to go over here as Sullivan is being promoted to main roster. However it appears that NXT creative want to turn this into a fully-fledged feud or they plan on sending Lars Sullivan up to main roster without him losing to someone first.
So two out of three shows were fun but my god did RAW leave a foul stain on the week. It was a three-hour drag that featured very little in the way of fun matches and story progression whilst being full of filler and repetition. Smackdown and NXT by comparison were ten times better both feeling lighter and more fulfilling. NXT also released a promo package for Dominik Dijakovic, the former Chris Dijack in NXT or Donovan Dijack on the indies. It’ll be fun to see what they do with him as he has always been used similarly to Marcel Barthel. My one hope for RAW next week is that the writers finally get their act together and give us something enjoyable to watch. I guess we’ll find out next week.
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