With Summerslam drawing ever closer, this week’s Monday Night Raw sought to regain some momentum following the sub-par reception of the Raw Reunion.
After last week’s nostalgia overdose, tonight’s Raw focused heavily on in-ring performances and re-establishing the storylines that’ll be showcased during this year’s “Biggest Party of the Summer”.
Talents that were noticeably absent from last week’s episode returned to their respective places within the red brand’s spotlight, new Raw Tag Team Champions were crowned, and history was made when Maria Kanellis became the WWE’s first-ever pregnant champion.
Tonight’s Raw seemingly tapped into the unique ridiculousness that once made Extreme Championship Wrestling the cult favourite wrestling promotion of the late ’90s. In my opinion, this sense of controlled chaos made tonight’s show more enjoyable than your run of the mill Raw.
However, you all know that enjoyment isn’t our weekly subject of discussion. For those new to this series of articles, every week I’m tasked with watching Monday Night Raw, making note of the pros and cons of the episode, then finishing up by calculating an exact percentage of our investment in the show. With the introduction out of the way, it’s time to move right into the positives and negatives!
As I mentioned in the intro, tonight’s Raw featured some of the best in-ring work the WWE currently has to offer. Not only are great performers the likes of Ricochet and Cesaro finally being properly utilized, but they’re also being given unique match types to shine in! Tonight’s Gauntlet Match was the best booking WWE has delivered in what could be years. Rey Mysterio was given his proper legend nod by burning through Cesaro and Sami Zayn early in the match, with Cesaro falling after putting the masked icon through his paces and Zayn losing in classic overconfident heel fashion.
Mysterio then fell to Andrade, with a heavy Lucha libre rivalry implied, leading to a showdown between the former “La Sombra” and multi-time Best of the Super Juniors; Ricochet. Truthfully, there was never any doubt that Ricochet wouldn’t come out victorious, thus gaining a rematch with AJ Styles, but for a very small moment, you may have thought WWE was going to swerve us.
Keeping with the great match motif, our next positive has to be the tag team triple threat match for Raw’s Tag Team Championship. It has been a very long time since we’ve seen the tag team division handled this well on Raw, and knowing the brilliant mind Paul Heyman has concerning tag team wrestling, it should really come as no surprise that he’s quickly course-correcting an aspect of professional wrestling WWE is infamously known for failing in.
The reason most fans will bestow the “best tag team” moniker on the Young Bucks or Lucha Brothers is that those guys have had the luxury of only having to get themselves over. Teams like the Usos, The Revival, and The O.C. have to keep the entire division looking strong while also getting themselves over. Tonight’s championship match was the perfect example of how you do just that! All three teams worked extremely well off of each other, with no team truly getting the upper hand until the very end. I’ve said it before, content like this is what keeps eyes on current WWE programming.
Let’s wrap the positives up with, ironically enough, the closing segment of the show. Admittedly, the prospect of a “Samoan Summit” to finish Raw didn’t do much in the hype department for yours truly. So, imagine my shock when we the viewers were instead treated to two separate backstage altercations eventually becoming one massive brawl at ringside!
This is what I meant when I mentioned controlled chaos. Every participant in this confrontation had a legitimate reason for being involved, but even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered because it was just awesome to see this multitude of talent exchanging the upper hand every few seconds. This is exactly how you end a Raw two weeks removed from a pay per view! Nothing really established or pushed, just a high spot heavy reminder that none of these guys get along.
Jumping into the negatives, can you believe I gave that much praise to an episode that I nearly turned off two minutes into watching?! How in the hell is a 24/7 Mixed Mosh Pit Tag Match the opening segment that the “powers that be” decided would hook fans? How can the 24/7 stipulation be suspended? The opening moments of your flagship show should not leave a weekly viewer with this many questions!
Sure, the rest of the show made up for this overall debacle, but no one is interested in something that tastes awful in the beginning only to vastly improve by the time you’re finished.
Moving on to…Mike and Maria. The Kanellis Conundrum seems to be nearing its confounding conclusion. Following the 24/7 train wreck of an opener, Mike Kanellis found himself as the newest holder of the 24/7 Championship. However, in a backstage segment that made the “finger poke of doom” look like a five-star match, Maria would demand that her husband lay down allowing her to become WWE’s first-ever pregnant Champion.
Honestly, this may not be all that bad. The aspect of Maria’s pregnancy will add a new level of complication to getting the belt away from her, and the involvement of a championship gives the Mike and Maria angle more validity. However, we still had to suffer a major cringe-fest to get to this point, so the Kanellis’ stay in the negatives!
This week’s episode earned high personal praise from me, while also subjecting me to pregnant champions and another Brock Lesnar beatdown (we get it, you’re big and scary). So, with the good and bad presented and examined, it’s time to put an exact number on our investment in this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw.
Another Raw in the books and another investment rate expertly calculated! Tonight’s show started off rough but definitely finished stronger than expected. I might even say there’s a small amount of anticipation for me going into next week’s show.
After that astounding revelation, perhaps it’s best I bid you fine readers farewell as I always do.
Until next time, may all your kicks be super, and every frog splash five stars!
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading.