Before Monday Night Raw started, I had a feeling of frustration over how the WWE title storyline has been handled. And judging by the ratings drop in recent weeks, so did a lot of fans. But being the go home show before Extreme Rules, the show had to deliver something different in order to sell the main event as more than a one sided battle with Reigns coming out on top. And for the most part, it did. But the selling points of the pay per view are Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho, and the fatal 4-way match for the intercontinental title. So even if the main event turns out a bust, there will be plenty of action to make up for it. And while this episode of Raw delivered in the ring, and was far better than what WWE has given us in the past months for a go home show, there were a few issues with it that took it down a notch.
What I liked
There were a lot of great moments from last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Jericho, for example, stole the show with a promo so ridiculous it’s hard not to enjoy yourself while watching him ham it up a little. And although the segment went on for too long, and Ambrose came off less interesting on the mic than Jericho in this session, there’s no denying that the segment was an entertaining way for the story to set up a brand new match type for Extreme Rules. Jericho is a ridiculous heel. He knows how to pull heat from any situation. And even in his mid to late forties, he can still put on a show in the ring at the same level as his younger years. Jericho makes whomever he’s facing look like a million bucks with his mic and ring skills. And no one delivers the words “You stupid idiot” with as much conviction as Chris Jericho.
The rest of the show consisted of great moments such as Kevin Owen’s back and forward with The Miz, the tag team banter he had with Zayn in the match that followed, and even the action throughout the show was solid for the most part. But one of the most honest moments of the show was the exchange between Stephanie and Shane in a backstage segment. There was a moment between the two in which at the closing of the segment, Stephanie called Shane insane in a way that felt unscripted. It was a thrown out comment with a smile that felt like a little sister was commenting on her big brother’s actions honestly. As little and meaningless to the show as that moment was, it was a great moment that showed off their natural chemistry with each other that naturally exist from growing up together. In fact, I like the idea of a face bother and sister team running Raw together. It’s a change. But the great job they’re doing will eventually lead to an excellent storyline conclusion if this turns out to be just an act by Stephanie.
From the Darren Young segment, to even Roman Reigns on the mic against AJ Styles, the storytelling was pretty solid throughout the night. And while Roman Reigns once again found himself in the ring with The Club alone and successfully taking on the stable again, he finally got some sort of comeuppance that saved the ending from being frustratingly bad once again. Roman Reigns is overpowered. And while WWE still believes that booking him ridiculously strong will get him over, it has hurt the show week after week. I was honestly dreading watching the show because I wasn’t interested in seeing The Club wasted once again as fodder to one man. Because in the end, the way they’ve been treated since entering in to this feud is a prime example of how this “New Era” is just WWE finally using their neglected talent while their top stars are out with injuries. Because as much as things have changed on the show, the act of forcing one particular superstar down our throats continues and will probably never change. But seeing Styles hitting Reigns with the Styles Clash on a chair at least made this pill easier to swallow.
What I disliked
There’s a lot to like about the show, but there are still lingering issues that need to be addressed. What’s frustrating about these issues is that they’re recurring problems that are not being addressed. The first issue is the fact that Anderson and Gallows are on a losing streak. WWE constantly mentioning their time in NJPW along with their past accomplishments does nothing to help them look dominant after constantly taking a beating from one man on a weekly basis. And the team losing to The Usos was just another nail in the coffin of The Club. At this point, Anderson and Gallows are on their way to losing all of the momentum they had when debuting. And it’s a shame that such an interesting team is being completely wasted.
Another thing that I completely disliked, but will not spend a lot of time on, is the Golden Truth storyline. What else can I say about it that I haven’t already said for months? The only thing new that I could add to it is that I feel everyone involved, except Goldust, could join with any other member involved to create an interesting tag team. R-Truth with Tyler Breeze? Interesting. R-Truth with Fandango? Could work. Tyler Breeze with Fandango? Could probably prove to be the move to revitalize both their careers. But Goldust and R-Truth fails because their comedic timing and styles are totally different. R-Truth can work with anyone. He just needs a serious character to be the straight man to bounce his comedy off of. Goldust could stand on his own with his bizarre type of humor, but it doesn’t translate well in a tag team situation without the right person to add on to it. So as we sit through this bad storyline continuing week after week, I can only imagine how incredible Fandango and Tyler Breeze could be as a team if it wasn’t for their existence only serving this storyline’s purpose.
And the final thing I had an issue with is not something I disliked. In fact, it was something I had no reaction to at all. Whenever Roman Reigns hits the entrance to the ring, he’s showered in boos. Judging by the intensity of the jeers, I figured that it could not get any worse than that on a weekly basis. The Shining Stars proved me wrong when they debuted to no reaction at all. Dead on arrival, The Shining Stars were repackaged from a joke gimmick in to one that no one gets. It doesn’t make sense, it’s basic, and there is no longevity to it. The worst part about the gimmick is that their ring work was impressive, and didn’t fit their characters at all. The ball has been dropped hard by WWE with the team. Because their new gimmick should not make the audience miss their old one.
This episode of Monday Night Raw had issues, but they mostly seem to be problems that WWE are comfortable not addressing. But considering that most of their go home shows have been lackluster, we’ll have to take this as a win. Extreme Rules seems promising, and the show did an incredible job in selling it. So despite my complaints, it could be worse. My God, it could be worse.