After a pay per view filled with great matches and a convoluted main event, the Monday Night Raw following Payback continued to deliver solid ring work while avoiding reliance on the McMahons to move things forward. The opening segment was entertaining once Kevin Owens joined in to the conversation, the matches were top notch in performance, and the show ended plausibly as far as its handling of Roman Reigns is concerned. This week’s episode effortlessly jumped back in to the groove previous episodes before Payback were in to continue consistency in an overall improving product. And while not without its flaws, the show continued down the path of change for WWE.
What I liked
There was a lot to like about this episode. Stephanie McMahon, the person that I thought for certain would be the weakest link on the show, actually delivered with an interesting story. Seemingly turning a new leaf, Stephanie comes off as both an ally and enemy to Shane. While she seems sincere on the surface with her now being a team player, it’s obvious that she’s pretending in order to gain something in the end. As a performer, Stephanie has been able to throw out heelish comments towards Shane while simultaneously appearing to be on his side. She agreed to join Ambrose on the Ambrose Asylum, but left the show its final guest as she cancelled it out of spite. Those small touches to her character has made her instantly entertaining. We’re all aware that her character hasn’t changed at all, but it’s fun to see where this charade will lead to.
Another outstanding moment of the show is how it took an awful finish to the women’s title the night before and turned it in to gold. Reaching back to WCW, Charlotte was able to capitalize off of referee Charles Robinson’s past relationship with Ric Flair to place the odds of winning in her favor. Viewed for what transpired the night before, it seemed like another attempt to cash in on a controversial event that happened almost twenty years ago. But with the brilliant acknowledgement of Robinson’s WCW past with Flair, it made what was seemingly unoriginal in to a perfect blend of storytelling that mixed the past with the present. Natalya vs Charlotte is turning out to be a decent feud between the two with more thought put in to the writing than expected, which is very interesting to see play out.
WWE was also able to turn lemons in to lemonade with how Enzo was injured the night before. The Vaudevillains were vicious with their comments on Enzo’s injury. With so many fans concerned about his health, and with New Day paying respect to him, the Vaudevillains went out of their way to draw as much heat from it as possible. This only helped Big Cass get over when his music hit. Able to hold down the fort on his own, Cass insulted them in retaliation before joining in to a four on four match with The New Day, The Dudley Boys, and The Vaudevillains. It was a great segment that showed off how talented Big Cass is on his own, and it still managed to put Enzo over even though he was absent from the show.
What I disliked
There was a lot to like about the show. Far more than what was to dislike about it. But there were a few things that stood out. One was the crowd manipulation for Roman Reigns. The crowd was once again muted a little during Reigns and The Usos’ entrance to the ring. It’s beginning to become pointless for WWE to continue to mute the audience since their reaction towards him remains the same throughout the night regardless of when they decide to alter it. Gallows and Anderson held the “babyface” still as they egged Styles on to attack him with a chair. Styles refused to, and the arena booed. Reigns eventually got the upper hand and dismantled Styles to an arena filled with boos. At this point, WWE censoring Reigns making his way to the ring does nothing to hide their disdain for him.
The other thing that left a stain on the show is the continued storyline between Goldust and R-Truth. When will this awful storyline end? R-Truth is currently teaming with Tyler Breeze, and it is the most interesting thing to come out of this mess of a story. I’d like to see more of them in the future since it might turn out to be gold if handled right. But the Goldust/R-Truth storyline needs to die a quick death and allow the men involved to move on to bigger and better things.
With more to praise than to condemn, this episode of Monday Night Raw continued the roll the show has been on since it’s rebranding as a new era. It’s safe to say that Raw is finally consistent with its quality week by week. And while there will always be a few gripes to be had, mostly still dealing with how Reigns is being handled, Monday Night Raw has finally reached the status of being once again entertaining enough to sit through the entire duration of it on a weekly basis. Raw is consistently entertaining, and that is all we ever wanted.