Here’s this week’s review of Monday Night Raw. As a reminder, I’ll detail each hour with the good, the bad and the ugly, give each hour a grade and finish up with an overall show grade. Here we go:
I would have never guessed that the rematch of the snore-fest between Bobby Lashley and Kevin Owens would have been the highlight of the show tonight. The WWE pulled one of the most organic double turns in recent memory. Lashley was absolutely floundering and Lio Rush as a whiny heel mouthpiece is PERFECT. He could legitimately be the top heel on Raw TODAY. In turn, fans have been dying to cheer for Kevin Owens, and now there’s FINALLY a real reason to do so. This was awesome. This angle instantly revitalizes both careers.
I enjoy Elias every week. I don’t even care that he doesn’t seem to ever be involved in a story of any substance. He entertains me whenever he’s on my television. Standard fare from him here – but excellent cheap shot on the Chicago Cubs fan base.
I don’t know how the WWE made HBK’s in-ring return the second banana in the story to open Raw. What an opportunity missed. Instead of hyping up the fact that Shawn was coming out of retirement, they shifted the promotion to the return of DX. What? Why was that necessary? Unbelievably anticlimactic.
Nothing to see here.
Hour 1 Grade:
A+. You don’t pull off such a diesel double turn the way that the WWE did and get anything less than a pristine grade from yours truly.
The WWE is two for two on amazing heel turns tonight. Although much more expected than the Lashley turn, Nikki and Brie turning on Ronda was executed flawlessly. After a rock solid six woman tag match, the Bella heel turn was eaten up with a spoon by the live crowd. I’m intrigued. The rumors seem to indicate that Rousey would be facing Nikki Bella at Evolution, but that attack felt more like the setup to a tag match. Could Rousey be enlisting a name from the past to do battle with her?
The mixed tag match between Balor/Bayley and Jinder/Fox really impressed me again. I can’t help but feel like Finn Balor and Jinder Mahal have better in-ring chemistry with each other than they do with any other wrestlers on the roster. Finn has never impressed me and Jinder doesn’t really set the world on fire with his in-ring work, but man, they really work well together.
I’m not sure how I feel about The Dogs of War, but they had a strong backstage segment. Both Drew and Braun are showing verbal chops that I didn’t know they had. I liked the tease of tension between McIntyre and ZIggler, and I enjoyed Strowman acting the way a leader should. I feel that this angle is going to leave Braun worse off than he was, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Corbin continues to impress me with his character development. He came off as such a prick when he told poor Heath Slater that he’s just not any good. Corbin is a natural in this role and I think this is going to eventually lead him to Universal Title gold.
Holy crap is the WWE firing on all cylinders tonight. I was laughing out loud at the shenanigans of the Battle Royal even before Angle made a surprise return as The Conquistador. Angle being part of the World Cup tournament is a good fit. The Saudis loving their aging legends, and he fits the bill.
Nothing in the “bad” range per se.
What was the heck was the point of Nia Jax v Ember Moon? The “spirit of competition”? Come on. Having Nia roll Ember like a joint for five minutes only for Ember to win by a fluke countdown does Ember no favors. Having Nia come in the ring and hug her like they just finished the match of the year makes them both look stupid. This was god awful.
Hour 2 Grade:
A+. Another awesome heel turn and a surprise return from Kurt Angle? Sign me up.
The WWE wisely reversed course on the involvement of Trish and Lita at Evolution. The prior plan was to each wrestle in a one on one match. That was never going to be a good idea, as neither is really capable of carrying that type of a load. Combining those two matches into a tag match against Alexa and Mickie solves all kinds of problems. It allows the fans to see their two favorite legends without stinking up the joint and taking up far too much time on the show. Excellent job WWE.
Really good main event to close the show. I think we take for granted just how good the in-ring product really is these days. Roman Reigns, the wrestler who has been derided by the WWE Universe for being a terrible in ring wrestler, is out there doing suicide dives over the top rope and onto the floor. A great way to end the show.
For the 6th week in a row, we had to suffer through Roode & Gable v The Ascension. I would rarely advocate for the annoying “CM Punk” chants from the crowd, but it was warranted here. The match wasn’t terrible and AoP showing up to destroy team Rable seems to have signified the end of this nightmare. Good riddance.
It’s time to Old Yeller Paul Heyman. I hate that I have to say this, but I want to turn off my television every time he appears. It’s not that he isn’t one of the all time great mic workers. He surely is. However, he’s given the same tired promo over and over and over and over and over again. It’s just white noise at this point and beyond stale. I never thought he’d be a guy to rest on his laurels and live off his reputation, but that’s exactly what he’s doing. I’d like to see Heyman either step up his creative game or go home. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Hour 3 Grade:
A-. Not quite on the level of the first two hours, but still plenty good. A really good main event and smart booking to make Evolution a more watchable PPV are never problems.
A+. With shocking heel and face turns, a big return and some excellent in-ring action, this was far and away the best Monday Night Raw in a really long time.
That’s a wrap kids. Thank you for reading.