So, a funny thing happened on Monday Night Raw. The show was stripped down, which was understandable and expected with the Brand draft coming on Friday. Some superstars like Bray Wyatt and Sasha Banks were listed as “injured” so they didn’t appear (convenient) and the show itself felt odd, like walking on egg shells and trying not to bring up the pay-per-view.
Given the mess McMahon created at the end of Hell in a Cell, it was probably for the best. As was not having Rollins there to walk into the bloodbath McMahon created. In short, he sought to give us a week to calm down and delivered a Raw that was a more bad than good.
Without further ado, onto the continued WCW booking we go…
- The Viking Raiders versus Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. This was a pretty decent match as Roode and Ziggler pushed the Viking Raiders harder than they’ve been so far, and the fans reacted accordingly when the Raiders finally won. It wasn’t as good a reaction as they’ve gotten previously, but still a positive step considering they’re going for the Raw tag team titles next week. It may be too soon, but they beat Ryder and Hawkins when they were champions in their second WWE match, so maybe not?
- The OC. In recent weeks, the OC has been the go-to group used to put over younger talent. In one way or another, they’ve put over several teams from Heavy Machinery to the Viking Raiders, and this time it was Lucha House Party. Previously, Lucha House Party were treated more as jobbers than not for Lars Sullivan, so it’s good to see them hold their own against a higher card team.
And now, onto the bad. Better grab some popcorn
- Opening the show with a replay of last week’s Rusev events. Seriously? Sure, they’re pushing Rusev. That’s obvious, but to open the show with a video replay of Booby Lashley and Rusev’s wife, Lana, making out on the stage instead of a Hell in a Cell recap like usual. Guess we gotta give them credit for pretending it didn’t exist for the first part of the show, or until they thought we wouldn’t switch the channel to show anything.
- Rusev beatdown. Opening with Rusev already in the ring and Randy Orton and King Corbin already working him over when there was supposed to be a match between Rusev and Orton was just… strange. It shifted into a bit with Lashley and Lana on the titantron, with Lashley wearing Rusev’s robe and climbing into bed with Lana. The only good part of this bit was Rusev beating Orton and Corbin for laughing at him. Oh, anyone else notice how Brazzers mocked the HIAC finish by offering to show the WWE how to accomplish Happy Ending? Good times.
- Lacey Evans and Natalya’s Last Woman Standing was limited. On a smaller scale to HITC’s DG (the company changed it to no contest Monday morning following the backlash, but we all know is was a DG), the referee stopped Lacey Evans from pulling a table out from under the ring. I guess McMahon is putting limitations on all matches that don’t have a disqualification now.
- When they finally got around to mentioning the debacle of the HIAC main event, it was in the last fifteen minutes of the show and they muffled the boos Rollins received, eliminating them all together when they showed the part where the match ended. For those that hadn’t seen it and been told about it, it would’ve appear as though it was simply a brutal match between Rollins and the Fiend that the Fiend prevailed. Not a surprise given the WWE’s penchant for rewriting their own history despite claiming they honor their past. It was continued damage control. Plain and simple.
- Strowman and Fury. As predictable as it was unnecessary, this bit ended in a brawl with every mid card superstar and a couple of top tier talent trying to separate the two. They will apparently have a match in the future, probably on next week’s Raw or Crown Jewels. Gotta get on those sports talk shows to bring in fans to replace the one’s that were chased away.
As rough and off as this episode felt, McMahon should get some props for being smart enough to keep Rollins out of the arena and limit discussion on the previous night’s pay-per-view to mainly Lynch and Flair’s victories. There’s little doubt he’s trying to diffuse the situation by, as mentioned above, giving us a week to cool off and not sending Rollins out to try to explain things, which would’ve resulted in a Niagara Falls cascade of boos toward his golden boy.
Still, after declaring war on AEW, it may be hard for him to convince many of us from switching to that promotion if we haven’t already.
Oh, the NWA is starting a weekly broadcast tonight on their youtube channel, so there’s that to worry about, too.
Overall, this is a pretty awesome time to be a fan.