Last week JBL defended WWE’s flagship programme Monday Night Raw – saying that for WWE it makes financial sense to keep the show at three hours. I do hope JBL was watching somewhere this week, as he got a fairly good taste of what three hours of tepid Raw looks like. With Shawn Michaels and Undertaker on the slate, things had the potential to be good, but in the end they ended up somehow bland. How bland? Check out our Boom or Bust list for this weeks Monday Night Raw.
BOOM: Seth and Braun brawl
A nice opening that carried on the momentum from last weeks closing segment. Braun wanted Reigns, but Rollins stepped up and took the challenge instead. It’s always fun when Raw opens with something unexpected, Braun getting a nice elevation up the card is a positive step. Strong opening, even if the Stephanie and Mick saga made me want to throw a planted pot at Mick’s head.
BOOM: Braun interferes in US Title match
Proving that he’s not just a man of words, Braun came out and interfered in the opening United States Championship match – leading to it being thrown out by Stephanie McMahon. I liked this if nothing else because it proves that Braun isn’t afraid to do monster heel tactics to get the man he’s after. Heels that are all talk and no action frustrate me no end – so it cool to see him going out there and challenging Reigns head on – even if Reigns ended up getting the better of him/Owens/Jericho.
BUST: Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman
After two strong Braun segments, WWE opted to push the pause button where it really mattered. The match itself was perfectly fine, but not giving Braun the victory felt like a cop out for the Creative team on Raw – who seemed unwilling to have Rollins eat the pin. Heck, Braun was dragging Rollins back to the ring when the countout happened – yet acted like he’d been surprised by it. What a way to stagger that exciting opening to protect a guy that could have easily eaten the defeat.
BOOM: Nia attacks everyone
Speaking of monsters, it was nice to see Nia plant her flag firmly in everyone’s crosshairs. Sasha and Bayley were interrupted by Charlotte, who seemed quite happy to use Nia as her lapdog in beating the two up. It backfired quite spectacularly though as Charlotte got pinned against a luggage box and Nia reminded Charlotte that she really doesn’t care. Loved it.
BOOM: Jack Gallagher vs. Drew Gulak
The more entertaining of the Cruiserweight matches by considerable distance. Gallagher has the potential to breakout of this division hard – and cross into the main roster when he’s finally outgrown all things purple. The crowd reacted well to him, so he’s getting himself over. Nice little match, if slightly forgettable.
BOOM: HBK/Rusev Segment
Any HBK segment can be gold and this one was no different. Rusev came out and began throwing barbs at Shawn Michaels, holding his own really well. Things de-railed slightly when Enzo and Cass showed up and started throwing out penis jokes, but it’s HBK and I can’t give him a bust – even if a good minute of this was Enzo and HBK discussing how pianist and penis sound similar.
BUST: Big Cass vs. Mahal
No offence but this match was hugely forgettable. Neither of these guys shone, with most of the excitement coming from the outside of the ring where Rusev and HBK continued to exchange words. Big Cass won, but I dare anyone to remember anything from the match itself. Well done to WWE for wasting a HBK appearance on a Jinder Mahal match.
BUST: Emmalina Tease
Is she paddling from Australia on a peddle boat?
BUST: Neville vs. Lince Dorado
I still don’t know who most of these Cruiserweights are, so Neville running through them like this isn’t going to do anything for my opinion of them. Hell, I had to google this guys name to check I was spelling it right. Not a memorable match and sadly a bit too reflective of the Cruiserweights on the whole whenever they show up on Raw.
BUST: Heel Stephanie
I have a problem with Stephanie as a heel – she’s almost always terrible at it. Like an awkwardly cheap copy of 1999 Vince McMahon, she goes shockingly over the top. She rained heavily on Mick for no real reason then berated Sasha and Bayley, putting herself over the two and really rolling home that she’s not afraid to make Bayley look like a complete wuss in the process. I get what they’re doing, but the heel turn in recent weeks has been so awkward and jarring that I’m amazed she hasn’t gained whiplash. They need to tone it down or fans will go back to hating her again, and not in the way WWE want.
BUST: Sheamus vs. Anderson
Passable. That’s all I can say about this match, which I honestly forgot happened. It wasn’t bad by any means, but the match had Gallows on commentary bizarrely recounting all of his successes in Japanese wrestling. Maybe he should send WWE Creative the tapes to remind them?
BOOM: Undertaker’s announcement
It’s Undertaker. On Raw. Delivering a promo. Declaring he’s in the Royal Rumble. And putting Stephanie in her place. Tick, tick, tick in my books! Small aside, why did WWE Creative have Mick Foley behave like a love sick puppy for Undertaker? As though Mick’s current physical ills weren’t caused by Undertaker throwing him from the top of the Cell, Mick might as well held a boombox up in the ring and played songs to serenade Undertaker. How very odd.
BOOM: Sasha & Bayley vs. Charlotte & Nia
Re-enforced the established story that Sasha and Bayley were weak from their earlier beat down, and continued to hover Nia over Charlottes head like a cloud. Match was passable – a running theme for this weeks Raw it seems.
BUST: New Day Segment
Remember when NXT was awful? Remember those hour long shows filled with awful segments where the NXT hopefuls were treated like cannon fodder for WWE Creatives amusement? Well good news, you can relive that on a live edition of Monday Night Raw – as The New Day decided to make Titus relive his NXT faux-pas in excruciating detail. I hated every second of it, but it was better than the match that followed. Tell me again why are WWE making these guys feud?
BOOM: Reigns vs. Owens vs. Jericho (United States Championship)
I like that they teased locking Jericho in the cage prior to the match – a nice little nod to his Royal Rumble fate. Wasn’t so much a fan of Reigns looking so strong throughout the match. The whole point of this match was to prove that Reigns needs Jericho locked up to get a fair match out of Owens – and he almost didn’t need that here. It was a powerbomb on the apron that really sealed Reigns fate though, and Owens gladly stood aside to let Jericho claim his first United States Championship.
Overall: BOOM (Just)
Part of the problem with Raw these days isn’t that the matches are bad, they’re just forgettable. Every match has some kind of gimmick underpinning it, someone has to interfere or there has to be something going on that undermines everything. Sometimes it would be nice if matches just ended as they should. Another problem Raw has is that it’s got so many naff storylines on the line right now that it really devalues the overall product. I’m tired of seeing Reigns line up against Jericho/Owens – it’s every week. I’m tired of seeing New Day feud with Titus.
But it is getting better. As much as I complain – WWE is trying to give its Superstars direction and purpose (Except for Emmaline, Christ knows what she’ll do when she arrives). The pieces are there and sooner or later, WWE will find a way to make them all click into place. For now we can enjoy the Jericho victory, safe in the knowledge Reigns will soon tower over Raw like a titan.
Not a terrible Raw, just a very dull and forgettable one. With several major headlines to raise the standard ever so slightly.