From the kick-off of the King of the Ring Tournament to the hinted retirement of a living legend, this week’s Monday Night Raw sought to continue the above-average quality we’ve seen recently from WWE’s flagship program.
Over the past few weeks, WWE has made major strides towards achieving a much-needed balance between captivating fans with storylines, while also showcasing the amazing level of in-ring talent they have at their disposal. Tonight, however, the company revealed that they’re less interested in mastering a balancing act as much as they are a juggling routine.
Sure, storyline and wrestling are great, but why not throw some nostalgia and long term writing in the mix to cover all the bases?! Let me be clear that this isn’t me immediately casting a negative light on this week’s episode. In all actuality, this is exactly the game plan any of us should expect from the biggest wrestling company in the world. As AEW’s television debut looms closer, and talks of the NWA striking their own TV deal grow louder, now is the time for WWE to establish themselves as the product to watch. With all that said, the question we gather weekly to answer becomes even more relevant than it’s ever been…
For those who may be new to this series of articles, every week I’m tasked with watching Monday Night Raw, making note of the pros/cons, and then wrapping everything up with an exact percentage of how invested we the fans truly were. So, with a more ambiguous introduction than usual out of the way, let’s jump right into the good and bad of tonight’s show!
Last week, I made a point of criticizing WWE for “overhyping” their champion versus champion main event between AJ Styles and Seth Rollins. So, imagine my shock when the exact same tactic got the King of the Ring tournament over for me tonight! Truth be told, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that pushing a classic tournament gets over better than promoting the hell out of a match most people saw three months prior, but this is just another shining example of how having no direct competition has resulted in WWE being slightly off their game. Even though they have all the pieces to the successful wrestling company puzzle, they’re still trying to remember how they all fit together. The return of the King of the Ring is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for the company, and with Samoa Joe and Cedric Alexander being the first men to advance, it’s safe to say that this variation of the tournament will focus heavily on in-ring performances.
Moving on, you know if “The Fiend” shows up on Raw, I’m highlighting him in the pros section! During the opening segment of tonight’s show, Michael Cole revealed that WWE Hall of Famer and “King of Memphis Wrestling” Jerry Lawler was joining him at the commentary table and would be featuring Sasha Banks in his famous “King’s Court” segment to address her recent attack of Becky Lynch.
After a recap of last week’s attack and a quick promo from Lynch, Lawler began holding court within the ring. Jerry started off discussing the King of the Ring tournament, and as he arrived at the subject of whom he picked to win, the lights throughout the venue began to flicker and a familiar eerie screech could be heard. Unwilling to become Bray Wyatt’s latest legendary victim, Lawler quickly exited the ring and started making his way up the entrance ramp. However, as Lawler stopped momentarily to look back at the attending crowd, “The Fiend” appeared from the darkness behind him and immediately locked on the Mandible Claw.
As the lights returned, Lawler was revealed laying near motionless with “The Fiend” nowhere to be seen. My theory is that this continued targeting of legends will eventually set up a confrontation between “The Fiend” and the Undertaker in the near future, with the metaphorical “Big Evil” torch finally being passed as it should have been years ago.
Finishing up the positive aspects of tonight’s episode, I’d like to touch on the kayfabe retirement angle we saw from Rey Mysterio tonight. Now, I’d be inhuman if I said that Rey’s promo didn’t come across as completely heartfelt, but I seriously doubt anyone was fooled into believing Rey might actually be done competing. The heart of the matter in this storyline is the forthcoming debut of Dominic Mysterio that was implied after he stopped his father from removing his iconic mask tonight. Not only does the debut of the heir to one of the most prestigious wrestling legacies in history spark interest, but there’s also a very decent possibility that we may see the return of the “Mask Match” stipulation before this angle is finished. Andrade against Rey will unquestionably sell seats, but adding Dominic and the chance of Mysterio losing his mask into the mix will definitely make this one to pay attention to.
Switching lanes to the negative points of tonight’s episode, what’s the deal with this new trend of Hall of Famers on Skype? Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the idea of getting opinions from former King of the Ring winners concerning this year’s tournament, but is Skype really the best format for this? Whatever happened to the old pre-taped or “via satellite” vignettes we used to get? Sure, the platform of Skype allows for presenters to push the fact that the interview is live, but this is one of those rare cases where being realistic as possible actually hurts the overall product. I don’t want to see Stone Cold sporting headphones in his home office, I want Austin having a beer in a bar talking about how he birthed Austin 3:16 but stomping a mudhole in Jake Roberts’ ass and walking it dry!
I only have one other con to highlight this week, but it’s a biggie. If the ultimate goal of the night was to have Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman beat The O.C. for the Raw Tag Team Championship, what was the point of the United States Championship match earlier in the night? I know that most casual viewers might say that the “Dusty Finish” match between Styles and Strowman served as the set up to tonight’s championship main event, but it’s my opinion that the close to last week’s show did that perfectly on its own.
Using the United States Title as the set up to tonight’s main event not only came across as redundant, but also made Strowman appear weak. You’re telling me the “Monster Among Men” can’t handle three guys, two of which being dramatically smaller than him? And I’m not even getting started on how much losing the Raw Tag Titles hurts the recent push of the O.C. It goes without saying that this is most likely another attempt from WWE at long term booking. It makes little to no sense and probably won’t matter in a month’s time.
In my opinion, this week’s episode fell somewhat flat of the recent improved quality we’ve started to expect from WWE programming. It was nice to see the King of the Ring being given proper coverage but in the end, tonight’s Raw felt very much like a typical filler episode. So, in the end, concerning this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw, I’ll say the fans were…
There you have it, folks. Another Raw in the books, and another exact percentage of how invested we were in it. With this week’s article drawing to a close, it’s time to send you fine readers off the only way I know-how.
So, until next week, may all your kicks be super, and every frog splash five stars!
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading.