Six short days from Money in the Bank, Monday Night Raw finds itself in London, England.
After last week’s disappointing show, I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan hoping that a taped episode might give WWE the opportunity to correct some of their recent missteps. In my opinion, the red brand did just that with tonight’s go home show.
Granted, when the fans are expecting the usual level of mediocre programming they’ve been presented with lately, it’s not truly hard to exceed expectations. However, this certainly felt like a course correction in the right direction for WWE’s flagship. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my weekly task to give you fine readers five things we learned from Monday Night Raw, so without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
1. Roman Reigns May Be Over
Trust me, I’m as surprised as everyone else about this one! After years of WWE force feeding us Roman Reigns as the next Hogan/Cena figure, it would seem fans are finally starting to embrace the “Big Dog”. Tonight’s opening segment featured Roman as a supporting role in the Miz and Shane McMahon’s continuing feud, with a “MizTV” promo leading to Reigns and Miz teaming to face Shane’s hired guns Bobby Lashley and Elias. Honestly, I wouldn’t have paid much attention to all this if it wasn’t for the fact I couldn’t help but notice a distinct lack of boos occurring during any Roman spot. Now, as I said, this was a taped show, so the chance of WWE actually editing out boos is very possible, but I personally hope this wasn’t the case for once. Reigns seems more comfortable slightly out of the spotlight, and this gives him the chance to get over with the fans more organically.
2. Nikki Cross Is Back
Okay, I know that she technically never left, but a lack of presence on any weekly product certainly made it seem like Nikki Cross had completely vanished. Well, with Raw across the pond, it’s par for the course that we’d be treated with as many U.K. stars as WWE could produce. Luckily for us, someone noticed the Scottish spitfire backstage and decided they finally had something for Nikki. Cross debuted a more somber, beaten down persona in a backstage promo where she confided with Alexa Bliss before being offered Bliss’ spot in a Women’s fatal 4-way later in the night. The match would see Cross taking the victory, utilizing her usual erratic in-ring style. The final moments of this segment seemed to secure Cross as Alexa’s newest lackey, but after months of Nikki being absent, I’m sure I’m not the only one happy she’s at least being used.
3. We Finally See Bray Wyatt’s Dark Side
Let me start off by saying I fully support the direction Bray Wyatt’s character has taken in recent weeks. Like the “Broken” gimmick Matt Hardy worked in Impact Wrestling, Bray’s Firefly Funhouse persona has proven to be the perfect amount of different that die hard fans crave. Tonight’s Funhouse vignette saw Bray debut a clown masked variation of himself, referred to as his “dark side”. It’s safe to assume this will be the version of Wyatt that we’ll see working in the ring once he makes his re-debut, but the more important takeaway here is that it would seem WWE is finally starting to get the idea of working the wrestling fan communities. For weeks now, the WWE has offered a little taste of what this gimmick is all about, then they’ve sat back and let the internet debate, criticize, and question it for a few days just to repeat the process the following Monday. They’re even letting Bray in on the fun by offering clues via his social media accounts! The fact is, this very well could be the start of WWE figuring out how to blur the lines between kayfabe and real life once again.
4. Braun Is Out, Sami Is In
Well, this was slightly unexpected. Tonight’s main event featured Braun Strowman facing Sami Zayn in a Falls Count Anywhere match to determine which man would go on to compete in Sunday’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Braun’s previous victory in the Money in the Bank match certainly made him the odds on favorite going into Sunday, but we all know pro wrestling is everything but predictable! Both Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin made their presences known throughout the closing match, eventually assisting Zayn in pinning Braun. With Braun out of Sunday’s ladder match, the field has seemingly been leveled. This seems like another attempt by WWE to seem less predictable, or perhaps creative saw the potential corner they were writing themselves into by having a top babyface become the eventual rival to Universal Champion Seth Rollins. Either way, this certainly builds more anticipation going into Sunday.
5. Taped Is Better Than Live
There is no denying whatsoever that tonight’s show was superior to the past few weeks’ editions of Raw. With that being said, it’s a foregone conclusion that most people will chalk this performance spike up to the fact that tonight’s show was one of those rare times that Raw wasn’t live. With a few hours separating the live event and the broadcast time here in the States, WWE had ample time this week to perfectly polish the turd they were preparing to hand us. This very well could be what WWE needs to properly refocus attention on their product for the time being. Now, I’m not saying this is a cure all, but it is fairly interesting to consider that Raw was live bi-weekly during what is still referred to as the most recent golden age of WWE’s history; the Attitude Era. Perhaps WWE needs to learn from their past to ensure their future.
There we have it, folks! Five things we learned from what ended up being a fairly above average Monday Night Raw. As always, the pleasure has been all mine, and until next week… may all your kicks be super, and all your frog splashes five stars!
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading!