The last Raw before Survivor Series this Sunday saw the invasion angle kicked up a notch, with NXT and SmackDown superstars ruining/saving almost every segment on the show.
Seth Rollins and Andrade put on an outstanding, if not overly long, battle that ended in a disappointing disqualification. Rey Mysterio’s WWE Championship Match with Brock got made a No Holds Barred contest. And The Viking Raiders defended the Raw Tag Team Titles against Ricochet and Randy Orton because why not?
Here’s the lowdown from Monday Night Raw.
We will start with the night’s main event which saw Randy Orton & Ricochet challenge for the Raw Tag Team Championship after AOP had returned to wipe out the original challengers Hawkins & Ryder. It was an odd choice to headline, and only happened to further the invasion angle as all three locker rooms emptied for an end of show war of attrition.
As the brawl continued, Triple H appeared on the screen, laying down an open invitation to any Raw or Smackdown superstar who wants to show up at NXT Wednesday night. He really wants to win this ratings war with AEW. On a side note, I’d be absolutely amazed if The King Of Kings is not on Team NXT come Sunday.
Did any of this work? Having Orton in the tweener role with Ricochet is a bit of an odd choice, but sharing a ring with The Viper will only help WWE’s resident superhero (sorry Rey). The invasion was fun, but we had already seen it so much throughout the night that it had lost its lustre. I’d have had Kevin Owens turn on Raw here as NXT needs some star power for Survivor Series and their weekly TV battle with AEW.
Paul Heyman was on hand to reveal that Brock Lesnar’s WWE Championship defence against Rey Mysterio will now be No Holds Barred. For the record, I’d have gone with a Steel Cage stipulation as then at least we could fathom Rey could escape with the title, but all this match type does is give Brock weapons.
To his credit, Rey cut another good promo, dedicating the Survivor Series showdown to his son, Dominic. I suppose, making it a No Holds Barred bout opens up the possibility of seeing someone interfere on behalf of Mysterio.
I can’t see Brock dropping the gold anytime soon, especially to Mysterio, who is in the twilight of his career. The match itself should be fun, but don’t expect anyone other than Drew McIntyre to end the reign of The Beast.
Raw opened with their Women’s Champion Becky Lynch speaking on behalf of all of us when she said she doesn’t care about brand supremacy. Never a truer word spoken. Her tag affair alongside Charlotte opposite The IIconics was okay, but the former Tag Team Champions were over matched from the start. On a side note, the surprise inclusion of Samoa Joe on commentary for the night was excellent. If you haven’t caught it, he’s basically a smoother, cooler version of Tazz.
Of course, we got some NXT women invading here, but sadly no real pull apart brawl between Lynch and Shayna Baszler which would’ve really helped sell this Sunday’s Triple Threat Match. I’m backing Bayley to win that one because she needs it more than the other two.
Becky Lynch remains the most over talent in WWE today. Why? Because she is playing a version of herself with the volume turned way up. Just like Austin, just like The Rock, just like The Undertaker…. Okay, maybe not that last one. I hope not anyway.
Asuka and Natayla failed to deliver anything remotely entertaining with their first time ever clash. Natayla really is the female Kane, in that she’s never had anything resembling a great match unless she’s been literally carried through the entire thing. She’s never been any good, she can’t act, and she can’t put together a decent encounter, not even with Asuka.
Asuka winning was the only choice, but did she really need Kairi Sane to help her? I think that hindered The Empress Of Tomorrow more than anything, especially considering she’s supposedly next in line for Becky Lynch’s Women’s Championship.
The best match of the night saw Seth Rollins clash with Andrade. It may have been too long of a bout without a clean finish, but it was still very well done. However, this is the problem with WWE right now and why their ratings are rapidly dwindling. There’s too many matches and not enough story development. Why should we care about watching two talented guys throw each other about? We need context and meaning otherwise the whole stack of cards collapses.
Having The Lucha House Party invade may also have been the most random thing on Raw since Sami Zayn bizarrely mentioned AEW live on air. Nobody, absolutely nobody, cares about brand supremacy, and it will all be forgotten about again after Sunday. There’s enough rivalries on each brand to promote Survivor Series without having to force this ridiculous notion of hating each other because of what colour T-Shirt they happen to be wearing.
The Bobby Lashley and Lana saga unfortunately continued but it got even worse, believe it or not. Now, Lana wants a divorce from Rusev. At least that’s what I think happened, but it was hard to make any sense of it as she fumbled over her lines so often. You know promos isn’t your thing when you’re relying on Bobby “zero charisma” Lashley to help you out. His utter destruction of No Way Jose was much better and got The All Mighty over as a dominant force. More of this, less of the ridiculous angle that is getting worse by the week.
My favourite match of the night saw Kevin Owens and Drew McIntyre clash in a PPV worthy effort filled with near falls and “This Is Awesome” chants from the WWE Universe. It was outstanding, topped off with a sublime promo from Triple H, who did his best to convince KO to join him on NXT. That would be wise for all involved.
Elsewhere, AJ Styles refused to defend his US Championship against Humberto Carrillo due to a perceived lack of respect. Instead, Karl Anderson stepped up to represent The OC, and subsequently lost. The Street Profits getting involved furthered their angle, and I can see them with the Raw Tag Titles before the year is out. I just don’t see much of an upside with them, personally. Buddy Murphy knocked off Akira Tozawa in a passable encounter. And Erick Rowan dismantled a local competitior.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3. Thanks for reading!