Despite a promising opening half hour, Monday night’s edition of RAW ultimately flattered to deceive. Here are the weekly sparse hits and myriad misses from this week’s Money in the Bank build-up show:
-- The Hits --
The comedy-laden opening segment
Given the scriptwriting standard we’re accustomed to, six men reciting lines at each other in the ring should have been a disaster. Instead, highlighted by Owens’ interruptions and Jericho’s obnoxiousness, Monday night’s opening segment was consistently amusing.
The other members of the MITB ladder match finally challenging Jericho on his record in the match he created was wonderful. Jericho maintaining that he won “the first one….the sixth one!” in “Apple…..Appleton…..Stupididiotville!” was hilarious, as was Chris responding to Cesaro’s “your hometown?” rejoindre with: I’m from Winnipeg, idiot!”. That of course led to the crowd chanting “stupid idiot” for the second consecutive week, to which Jericho delightfully responded: “I know you are, but what am I?”.
While I could do without wacky Dean Ambrose talking about fighting polar bears, at least we also had Owens’ “Ooh, Spanish!” as soon as Alberto Del Rio opened his mouth. It was nice to see Teddy Long too, despite his flubs, if only to hear the on-fire Jericho insult him. Great stuff.
Further credit must be directed towards the writing staff for the quality of this week’s backstage segments. From Del Rio cutting a strong heel promo on Zayn in the locker room to Long dancing along to his theme on his smartphone to Ambrose finally getting serious in response to Owens, they all worked really well.
Big Cass’ intensity
I wasn’t crazy about Enzo & Cass’ Ali-laden tribute promo, but I really liked the idea of using Aiden English’s attempt to repeat the events of Payback to fire up Cass. Cass showed signs of being able to exhibit believable aggression during his short-lived recent singles run, and that was on display here again as he dismantled the Vaudevillains. I didn’t even mind the cheap DQ finish for not responding to the referee’s instructions.
-- The Misses --
It was very difficult to care about any of the seven matches on this show, particularly the three matches involving the MITB participants. All six men are already in a key match at the PPV, and nothing is going to change regardless of the results of their singles bouts. Why, therefore, am I supposed to get invested? At least all three matches were fine, with those who most needed credibility picking up the victories.
Repetition, repetition, repetition
There was so much on this show that I’ve seen before, with much of it as recent as last week. Rusev’s match against Swagger was a repeat from last week’s Smackdown as was the Life Lessons promo. Enzo & Cass fought the Vaudevillains on last week’s Main Event too, while Ambrose vs. Owens is a match that I really never need to see again for a very long time. News of another Ambrose vs. Jericho bout on this week’s Smackdown only increases my jadedness.
Reigns/Rollins “History Revisited”
Although last week’s WWE 24 documentary on the returning Seth Rollins was a fantastic piece of television, airing clips of it here only underlines how utterly boneheaded it was to bring “The Future of the WWE” back as a heel. If this two-part video package was intended to get the crowd to boo him and cheer Roman, it failed as anyone who saw it would surely be inclined to get behind Seth.
Getting Rollins to call Reigns a “placeholder” and reminding us of his Wrestlemania cash-in is unlikely to build sympathy for a champion that few like.
The Cena/Styles follow-up
The feud that the company is billing as a “Wrestlemania match” did not have a great sophomore outing this week. Their promo was as meta as a bad episode of Community with Cena’s jorts self-awareness and AJ’s talk of getting the shovels. The explanation that Styles recruited the Club to help him best Cena out of fear of getting “buried” is weak sauce in the extreme. Very disappointing.
So apparently Stephanie McMahon is an all-out heel this week, in Shane’s absence, abusing the doddery Long and stealing his ideas. She did deliver one piece of big news however, informing us that she will be the head honcho of Smackdown when it goes live on Tuesday nights. Hands up who laughed heartily at the laundry list of the qualities she supposedly possesses: “intelligent, young, vivacious, smart, has business acumen, and can usher in the New Era!” That’s a no-hitter for you there Steph, I’m afraid.
The Golden Truth follow-up
One Smackdown repeat I would have liked to see was the karaoke version of R-Truth’s new song, complete with a bobbing Goldust head to help you sing along. If the company was willing to spend months filming vignettes for these two, it might be an idea to get out of the way and let them get themselves over. Not only were the lyrics not on-screen, but Michael Cole talked over the song for the second week running too!