Live from London, Monday Night Raw emanates (on time-delay) to an eager worldwide audience – at least that’s what WWE want you to believe. The reality is these Raw’s from the UK usually aren’t all that good – what with all the extensive travelling and the crowd being slightly more unpredictable. With no PPV’s and a show in need of momentum, how did things pan out?
Finn Balor def. The Miz
Alexa Bliss def. Mickie James
Braun Strowman & Kalisto fought to a no contest (Reigns interference)
Sheamus & Cesaro won the Tag Team Turmoil
Seth Rollins def. Samoa Joe
TJ Perkins def. Jack Gallagher
Sasha Banks def. Alicia Fox
Bray Wyatt def. Dean Ambrose
GOOD: Double Trouble
I’m not a fan of authority figures in WWE – but I did enjoy the back and forth between Miz and Ambrose. With Stephanie off TV (But well enough to make the rounds on UK Daytime TV programmes….) and Kurt Angle seemingly not at the show – the decision was made to hand Dean Ambrose and The Miz control of the show. The opening segment was strong as the two fought for control, Ambrose eventually booking Miz in a match against Finn Balor. Braun’s arrival also added some interest – as he talked himself (“I can beat Kalisto with one arm”) into a match. Surprised we didn’t see the pair abusing their power more, I guess that they didn’t want to really explore that dynamic.
GOOD: Miz vs. Finn Balor
Proof if anything that Finn Balor doesn’t have bad TV matches. To be fair, the two worked well together, and made a strong case for some kind of program down the line between the pair. After a fairly interesting match, Miz used his GM powers to call for a DQ finish. Ambrose reversed this and Balor got the win. Good for Balor, good for Miz, arguably the most fun thing to happen on Raw.
BAD: Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James
You have to feel a tiny bit bad for Mickie James. When she returned on Smackdown Live, it seemed like she was in for a strong run. Yet here we are not five months later and the live London audience couldn’t have cared less about her. In fairness, they didn’t seem to care about any of the women around this match (Bayley rather bizarrely paired up with Mickie, while Nia has aligned with Alexa). Nia’s presence should hopefully protect Alexa’s run for a while – and give WWE reasons to avoid putting the belt back on Bayley. This match though wasn’t all that memorable – typical fare that didn’t have the audience into it at all. Real shame.
BAD: Braun Strowman vs. Kalisto
So WWE had a problem here – Braun couldn’t compete in a proper match but they needed to get him off TV for several weeks. The way they went about it though almost undid all the good work they’ve done with Braun – who comes off from Roman Reign’s post match assault all the worse for the experience. Reigns decimated him – forcing Braun to run away – and giving Reigns his yard back. Huzzah or whatever. The live crowd hated every second of it, muted microphones and all. It’s a really odd booking choice that serves no man and made Reigns awkwardly heel in his assault. I don’t know anymore with Reigns.
BAD: Sheamus & Cesaro Winning the Tag Team Turmoil
I feel like WWE has missed a trick here. They were building up Golden Truth for one final run at the Hardy’s belts – which the fans seemed really into. Yet we got Sheamus and Cesaro running through the entire division with almost no difficulty. I mean sure, they almost lost in the final match, but they came back hard and de-railed Golden Truth in the process. The live crowd seemed indifferent to all this – hard to blame them when they’re given nothing new or exciting to cheer about. The only thing they did get excited for was the Hardy Boyz rushing the ring at the end – which led to nothing. Real shame, missed chance.
GOOD: Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe fight to an awkward finish
When I say these London Raw’s have odd booking – this is what I mean. A great match ruined by an ending that didn’t really serve it any justice. The crowd got into this one with some real excitement – which washed away when the ref went for the DQ finish. Cue disappointment as these two relegated a great match to somewhat passable in the process.
BAD: TJP vs. Jack Gallagher
At the very least, the crowd seemed into Jack Gallagher. Sadly the match didn’t do much to elevate either man – with the post-match beat down achieving only the mildest of boo’s from the London crowd. It’s a frustrating situation to see Jack Gallagher being wasted like this. Along with Aires and Neville, he’s arguably the best thing in the division right now – yet WWE don’t seem to have an answer in what to do with him.
BAD: Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox
What’s the deal with Sasha Banks right now. She won this match, but she seems to be drifting like crazy post-Wrestlemania – with no direction or sense of purpose. That long muted heel turn hasn’t materialized – and with so long until the next PPV – I wouldn’t bank on it happening for a while yet. She’s seemingly stuck behind the main women in the division – unable to elevate herself.
GOOD: Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose
The match itself wasn’t all that memorable, but in terms of setting up the IC title match next week – it at least did its job. Miz’s interference puts heat on him, and sets the stage for what should be a good encounter.
Raw From London – Overview
As seems to be the standard for London Raw’s, this show was largely dull and forgettable. A lot of what happened didn’t seem to matter, or was so predictable that it didn’t translate into entertaining programming.
The Miz and Ambrose were the best things about the show – creating some sense of drama. But without anything else to work off, their antics felt somewhat out-of-place with the rest of the show – which didn’t seem all that different. It would have been fun to see Miz abusing his power a bit more, with Ambrose bringing him back in.
The Tag Team turmoil wasn’t awful, but again suffered from predictability. It was obvious after the second elimination that Sheamus and Cesaro were winning – which hurt the rest of the entrants. The London crowd didn’t seem to care – and it’s hard to blame them.
Again, this wasn’t a bad episode of Raw – but oh my days if it wasn’t forgettable. Sorry London, maybe next time.