Monday night’s edition of RAW had its moments without exactly firing on all cylinders. Here’s where it went right...and where it went very, very wrong.
-- The Hits --
Tag team main events are usually throwaway affairs in the WWE universe. As such, those backstage huddles featuring all six Money in the Bank ladder match entrants were very welcome. Recycling the “Sami is Canadian too” joke from last week worked well, as did Jericho’s continued brilliant use of the word “idiot”. That, of course, led to a wonderful “stupid idiot” chant during the main event, directed at the Fozzy frontman. The match itself was merely fine, but featured a hot finish and a much-needed attempt to rehab a cooled-off Dean Ambrose.
Cena’s return and AJ’s turn
While I’m not entirely sold on AJ’s full-fledged heel turn, it must be acknowledged that its execution was excellent here. Further, the company is quite light on the heel side at the moment. While I could have done without the cringeworthy, jingoistic intro, John Cena’s comeback promo was one of his strongest in some time. Delivered with fantastic fire, it underlined the veteran’s new role as the gatekeeper of the WWE: “The future must go through me”.
The Golden Truth shine
I’m as surprised as you are, believe me, but Monday night’s first hour segment involving the Golden Truth actually worked. Key to its success was allowing two of the most naturally amusing men on the roster to be themselves, free from the writers’ awful input. Truth and Goldust’s contributions on commentary during The Usos’ quick win over Breezango were often hilarious with Truth reprising his inability to distinguish Byron Saxton from Jonathan Coachman - despite the fact that “Coach has talent” as JBL helpfully pointed out.
I must admit I’m also a big fan of Truth’s remixed rap, heard in its full form on Smackdown, but sadly cut off here by a commercial break. Credit also to Tyler Breeze for his inset promo (“The Ewww-sos”) for showing how his mastery over his character has been shamefully wasted on the main roster.
Enzo & Cass
They seem to be featured here every week but even though their promo ostensibly just listed cheeses at one point, everything this team touches turns to gold at the moment. Although, I could do without that double team Rocket Launcher finish as they never seem to execute it convincingly.
Using The New Day to distract from the brand split fiasco
Last week’s news that the debut of live Tuesday night Smackdown would usher in another brand split conjured up many appalling vistas. Chief among them was the prospect of having to watch nine hours of WWE programming in three days on PPV weeks, closely followed by the harebrained possible reintroduction of two world titles. Worries about the potential for tag teams to be forcibly separated weren’t exactly high on folks' lists of concerns.
But that’s the draft-related horror that New Day asked us to consider in RAW’s overlong opening segment in which their comedy was used to distract from the fact that company is figuring the detail of this guaranteed failure out as it goes. The idea that the Vaudevillains denying us the “pleasure” of Stephanie’s dancing is supposed to generate heel heat was where the real humour lay, however, as was that team’s failure to upbraid The Club for getting them disqualified from what was effectively a number one contendership opportunity.
Rollins The Mute
Following on from the abrupt ending to his in-ring promo on Smackdown, the returning Seth Rollins went one better on Monday night by saying absolutely nothing - for a very, very long time. I’d love to tell you what Rollins’ fakeouts were supposed to achieve, but sadly I’m not one of the 28 typewriter-armed monkeys that this company employs. On that note, every time I hear Roman’s “I’m not a good guy….” catchphrase or JBL parroting Vince’s “polarising figure” nonsense, I want to scream. Nails on a chalkboard, every time.
Dolph and Baron play Roshambo
Dolph Ziggler baiting Baron Corbin into a “technical wrestling match” (translation: a match) only to kick him in the cojones was extremely dumb. Not only did Dolph cost himself a third loss to Corbin, he also made himself look like a coward. Wouldn’t a real babyface pour everything he had into besting the balding one in a fair fight?
Titus confronts the “Bulgarian Blowhard”
Speaking of poor writing, is anyone getting tired of Zack Ryder cutting pre-match promos about overcoming the odds only to lose comprehensively? What is the point of that exactly? US Champion Rusev crushed Ryder in short order before being confronted by proud American Titus O’Neil. O’Neil nervously delivered his scripted verbiage, including the embarrassing insult transcribed above, to a relatively underwhelming response. Still, at least this means the Bulgarian won’t be dropping the strap to the returning Cena any time soon as many predicted. Finally, what was up with Lana’s accent in her pre-match introduction?
The Charlotte follow-up
Where do I start with this one? I could talk about how Stephanie felt it necessarily to once again verbally tear strips off one of her major champions. I could talk about the lameness of the talking heads’ contribution in the preceding video package. I could discuss how little sense it makes that Charlotte throwing off the yolk of her cheating father is being portrayed as a heelish progression for her character.
Whichever way you look at it, Monday’s follow-up to what was a disastrous promo from the Women’s champion last week was just as crummy as the distraction finish she caused in Dana Brooke’s match against Natalya. Apparently it’s important that all these women are made to look dumb, face or heel. Dreadful.