British crowds are usually great, and British shows are usually great, but this show lacked a good crowd and lacked any good wrestling. This show had absolutely no direction, and the crowd looked bored for 90% of the show. It was a disappointing effort for a show I would usually be excited for.
Dean Ambrose Opens the Show
Usually the top hour of the show has a hot crowd, they are into the promos, they’re into the wrestling, and they’re usually chanting. It was tough to see a crowd who just wasn’t into anything. Dean comes out to announce that he is acting as the general manager of the show because Kurt Angle wasn’t there, then the Miz comes out to announce that Stephanie McMahon has announced him as the co-general manager. Finally, Braun Strowman came out, and the crowd woke up a little bit! They chanted “Thank You Strowman,” and popped loudly when he said he wanted to end Roman Reigns, then after Reigns he wants Brock Lesnar. This 3 line promo from Braun Strowman got the pop of the entire night, and we were only 7 minutes into the show. Next up, to bore the crowd even further, Kalisto arrived! He had no new music, and a new look, but no one cared, and no one understood what he was doing out there. He called out Strowman, said he almost ended his career, and he wanted another match tonight. Strowman says that he is injured, but could still win with one arm behind his back, so Deano makes the match. Its Braun Vs. Kalisto, then to open the show, Miz Vs. Finn Balor. Its tough to see three of Raw’s top stars get absolutely no reaction, no cheers, and barely any pops. This segment wasn’t great by any means, and it pretty much only served the purpose to make 2 pointless matches.
The Miz Vs. Finn Balor
You know its just not your night when the crowd isn’t even popping for the hometown guy. Balor made his entrance, which always looks great, but you could see him trying to get the crowd more engaged the entire time. All of Balor’s great moves during the match barely got any cheers, and he match wasn’t even that good. However, whenever pointing out negatives, theres generally a positive somewhere. Maryse is awesome. She knows her role, and does it perfectly. She is a big reason as to why The Miz is as great as he is today, she’s the perfect valet in the way that Sensational Sherri was perfect for Shawn Michaels. She gives him awesome heel heat, a way out to win matches, and antagonizes the babyface worker. Whenever the Miz shields himself with her, it is so cowardly, but it fits his character, and she doesn’t seem to mind. Anyway, this match was originally going to end when acting GM The Miz disqualified himself, then Deano came out, said the match will not end this way, restarted the match, then Balor made quick work in the ring picking up the win. More bad booking, the crowd looked confused, and there were lots of shenanigans when there didn’t need to be. Obviously neither man can suffer a clean loss, but there are other ways to go about this.
Alexa Bliss w/ Nia Jax Vs. Mickie James w/ Bayley
Prior to the match, Alexa Bliss got a new best friend. Nia confronted her in the back asking if all the nice things Alexa said about her last week were true. Bliss said of course, and now Nia and Bliss will be a pairing until Nia beats he for the title. This is very reminiscent of Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels back in 1995, very big valet, turned babyface, who then unseats the champion. I like where that story is going, and Nia will be a credible champion when her time comes.
The match is Bliss Vs. Mickie James, Nia comes out with Bliss, but to the surprise of the crowd, Bayley comes out with Mickie James. They have a pretty basic match, which Bliss won, but it is important to acknowledge how over Bayley was with this crowd. They could not stop chanting, cheering, or singing for Bayley. Bliss played it off perfectly, as a good heel does, and she ended up winning the match. Again, another pointless match, with little direction. Bliss has pinned Bayley clean twice, so after the next Raw PPV, it is likely that were going to find a new contender. Bayley’s run in the title picture is coming to an end for a little while.
Braun Strowman Vs. Kalisto
I didn’t think this match would even start, and I thought I was right after Braun took the mic and said he wouldn’t wrestle. As many of you may know, Braun is legitimately nursing a shoulder injury, a procedure was done, and hell be out for 4-8 weeks. I never even imagined this segment would take place as it did with the Wellness Policy being such a big deal. The match started, Braun was dominating, and then Roman Reigns’ music hit. The crowd woke up again! Roman is the guy, and he proves it every week, getting any reaction is better than no reaction, and he consistently gets the loudest reaction of the night.
I love when these two guys beat the absolute hell of out each other. Braun and Roman really know how to brawl, and Roman definitely got the upper hand here. He attacked Braun’s shoulder immediately, kicking it, driving it into the ring post, hitting it off the stairs, hitting it off the ring apron, and finally cracking him a few times with a steel chair. Braun retreated, Roman celebrated, and the segment was over. This was probably the high point of the night, and gives WWE an angle to get Braun off TV.
Tag Team Turmoil
I loved this entire segment, it might not have been the best tag team wrestling ever, but it accomplished its goal. Get Sheamus and Cesaro over as legitimate contenders, and legitimate heels. I still have a bone to pick with the way it was set up, Enzo and Cass are slowly being buried. They started tag team turmoil, and were also the first team to lose. Sheamus and Cesaro running the table, and beating every team is perfect booking, but the way the teams entered should have been structured differently. I guess backstage officials feel that Enzo and Cass will be fine forever, but eventually, wins and losses matter, and Enzo and Cass have suffered from far too many losses lately. Sheamus and Cesaro first beat Enzo and Cass, then Ryhno and Heath Slater, then the Club, then the Golden Truth to become the #1 contenders for The Hardy’s tag team championships. A brutal Brogue kick took out the Club, and it looked like Goldust suffered a legitimate injury which lead to R-Truth improvising, but he still lost via roll-up.
After the bell, Sheamus and Cesaro continued their attack, and then The Hardy’s came out for the save. I have a couple takeaways from this segment. For one, Sheamus and Cesaro look better than ever, and for two, its only a matter of time before the Hardy’s become broken. This crowd was on fire with the “DELETE” chants, and Matt was doing his “DELETE” taunt like crazy. I think in a perfect booking scenario, Sheamus and Cesaro win at Extreme Rules, and The Hardy’s undergo a character change because it would be their only loss in WWE since returning. It would be the perfect time to do it, but it all depends of if WWE have bought the rights to the gimmick.
Samoa Joe Vs. Seth Rollins
Giving this match away on free TV may be the result of Braun getting injured, but the DQ finish says this feud still has one match left.
Samoa Joe was on Talk is Jericho the other day, and one important part of the podcast was talking about image, and how to portray yourself. He mentioned like the likes of Kobashi and Misawa, talking about how they were nice guys, but in the ring was a different story. Since 2004, Samoa Joe has wrestled like a cold-blooded killer, and the chant “Joe is Gonna Kill You” was made famous. 13 years later, he still portrays himself as a killer in the ring, and a menace. The aura and allure of Samoa Joe is that, and it is what is making his feud with Rollins a good one. No one has in-ring psychology quite like Samoa Joe, he is truly one of the greatest wrestlers of our time.
Joe and Rollins had a great match tonight, and even though the crowd wasn’t into it, I was in it from home because of how good the wrestling was. This match rivalled their Payback match, but the DQ finish was a bit disappointing. Towards the climax of the match, Seth took off the turnbuckle pad, but it was to his own demise. Joe cracked Seth’s head off of it, and the ref DQ’d him. Joe locked him in the coquina clutch after the bell, looked like a maniac, and thats where the segment ended. I really hope their match at Extreme Rules steals the show, I was a little underwhelmed by their Payback match, but adding a stipulation may give their match an extra boost.
TJ Perkins Vs. Jack Gallagher
This was pretty confusing. Earlier in the night TJ wanted a title shot, Neville said in order to get one he had to beat Gallagher in a match. TJ won the won the match by pulling Gallagher’s tights, but now the cruiserweight division is back in a state of confusion. Austin Aries should be the number one contender, which I’m sure he will be, but then that would render this segment as a waste of time.
Sasha Banks Vs. Alicia Fox
Please god do not let this be a start to a feud. This match was pretty terrible, and the end didn’t help at all. Sasha hit a meteora off the top rope, the ref counted the 1-2-3, but it looked as though Alicia kicked out. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were making a huge deal about how Sasha stole a win, and the how the match should still be going. Relegating Sasha to a bottom of the card feud is a huge mistake, but she currently has nowhere to go. Clearly her heel turn on Bayley is off, and she is behind Nia for a chance in line for the title. I expect Bliss to be holding onto the belt at least until Summerslam, but even after, the future looks partly cloudy for Sasha Banks.
Bray Wyatt Vs. Dean Ambrose
As an act of revenge for Dean’s actions earlier in the night, The Miz put Dean in a match with Bray Wyatt. Yet another match on this show serving absolutely no purpose. The match was slow, and something that we’ve seen a thousand times over. Bray and Dean have had countless matches, and none of them really set the world on fire. As a Raw main event, it kind of failed, and the Raw brand is in some trouble.
One positive takeaway here was the Miz on commentary, reminding me of a CM Punk/Kevin Owens hybrid. Yes I just compared the Miz to those two guys. He was berating the other guys on commentary, also while putting his wife and himself over. Finally, he had enough on commentary, went and cost Dean Ambrose his match by hitting him with the IC title, and the Miz stood tall to end the show. This is now 2 straight weeks which the Miz has looked really strong. I said after the shakeup, The Miz needs a push to be successful on Raw, and he’s getting a big one. I anticipate a Miz victory at Extreme Rules, and restored prestige to the IC title. However, other than the Miz, this match was boring, long, and the crowd clearly wasn’t into it.
Monday Night Raw is in a state of flux. Braun Strowman’s injury very obviously changed the way this show was written. This show lacked any sort of direction, and any sense of purpose. The only thing the felt fine was the tag team turmoil match.
Raw’s main event level talents are currently being wasted, even though Finn and Wyatt won their matches, they are left without direction. Joe and Rollins having a match on free TV means their feud is coming to an abrupt halt, Brock not being their is really hurting the product, and Braun’s injury is unfortunate news for a struggling Raw brand.
The UK crowd deserves better than this kind of Raw show, usually a raucous crowd was treated to a bad episode of Raw with little direction, and average wrestling.
Show Grade: D+
How did you feel about the show? How could they have done it better? How would you have done it? Leave a comment below, and watch out for The Wrestling Fanatics next review.