Monday Night RAW 6/11/18

With Money in the Bank (MITB) coming up on Sunday, the Monday Night RAW roster added their finishing touches on the storylines for the pay-per-view. Two fatal four ways and some tag team action round out the card. We’ll break down an interesting episode of RAW and give our thoughts on what this means for MITB.

High Altitude Arguing

This week’s Monday Night RAW kicks off with every qualified member for the MITB matches perched on top of their own ladder. While it makes for a good camera shot, it just looks silly to have a bunch of wrestlers smiling on top of ladders.

Kurt Angle enters and warns the participants of the grueling match they’ll take part in on Sunday. As he advises the RAW roster, Baron Corbin comes out on behalf of Stephanie McMahon. Corbin seems to have embraced his receding hairline and shaved his head. He looks much better and prevents himself from being constantly ridiculed on social media with this move.

The female participants begin to bicker after Sasha Banks exposes Alexa Bliss’ fake injury. Natalya is noticeably quiet until Angle asks if she feels ready to compete. She reassures the General Manager that she is not only ready to compete but will win the contract and face the new RAW Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey.

Kevin Owens interrupts the women to talk about “something actually important”, which is the unfairness of Braun Strowman’s height. He sweet talks Corbin and asks him to do something about raising the height of the briefcase when Strowman climbs for it. If this plan comes to fruition on Sunday and screws Strowman out of a title opportunity the fans will be once again unhappy with the creative team.

Bliss screams to stop all conversation and flirts with Braun by saying she thinks he will win. Banks comes to the defense of her Mixed Match Challenge partner, Finn Balor, and claims he’ll be victorious instead. The Strowman-Bliss romance angle clearly got over well enough during that tournament that they’re deciding to do more with it. Whether or not this is a good idea will only be revealed over time.

Fatal Four Way: Alexa Bliss vs. Ember Moon vs. Natalya vs. Sasha Banks

Bliss begins the match strong, but as soon as she gets into trouble she fakes her hamstring injury. Natalya attacks her outside of the ring and begins a series of great technical spots with Banks and Moon. My biggest takeaway from this match is that any combination of those three women in the ring would make for some excellent wrestling. Moon, especially, shows signs that she can be one of the best female superstars in the WWE.

Once Bliss is back in the ring, she targets Nat’s injured knee. There’s some actual good storytelling here by pitting two blondes with leg injuries against each other. If it morphs into a full-fledged feud, WWE will have (for once) used in-ring action to tell a story rather than backstage skits.

A series of near falls leads to “This is Awesome” chants, and rightfully so. Eventually, Bliss taps to the Sharpshooter to end the match, but it was by no means a predictable finish. Good matches keep your interest because you’re not quite sure what will happen. This was a good match, in that respect, and the only improvement that could be made is if they work on hiding their calling of spots a little more. Based on this, the Women’s MITB match will be much better than last year’s that saw Carmella win with help from James Ellsworth.

Natalya wins the Fatal Four Way via submission on Alexa Bliss

Every Man vs. Monster

Backstage, Owens finds Balor and devises a plan to team up against Strowman. Little segments like these do so much for Owens because his manipulative mic work comes off naturally. Balor, a fan-favorite babyface, reluctantly buys into the plan, but whether or not it’ll play out is still up in the air.

Breezango vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler

After being eliminated first from the tag-team battle royale last week, Ziggler and McIntyre demolish Tyler Breeze and Fandango. If you watch Drew McIntyre and aren’t absolutely terrified by his stature, your name is Braun Strowman. Months ago, Ziggler appeared complacent and on his way out of the business. Teaming up with McIntyre has revitalized him and given him a whole new heel persona.

McIntyre and Ziggler def. Breezango

Jinder Mahal Challenges Roman Reigns

Despite facing each other at MITB, Mahal decides to risk his body by challenging Roman Reigns. As Reigns enters the ring prepared to fight, Mahal reveals that the challenge was actually to face Sunil Singh. A single spear later and Reigns’ music plays in victory.

This was all a ploy to give Mahal the chance to hit Reigns with the Khallas. WWE loves to have the winner of a pay-per-view match look bad on the go-home show before the event. This segment was booked with that line of thinking but did little to build interest in what should be a match put in the “death spot” of MITB.

Roman Reigns def. Sunil Singh via pinfall

The B-Team vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno

We are reminded in the Golden Corral “sizzling moment”, that the B-Team earned the #1 contender’s spot by winning the tag team battle royale last week. I mention this because WWE feels the need to brand a replay of something everyone remembers despite signing television deals that will pay $2.35 billion over the next half-decade. I’m probably overreacting, but it always astounds me on how much the WWE will sell out just for some money.

The B-Team run through Rhyno and Heath Slater to maintain their undefeated streak. The Deleter of Worlds come out and cut an intimidating promo on the B-Team. Dallas and Axel look scared, but they’ll go into their first championship opportunity confidently. Keep in mind that Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt are real-life brothers, so anytime they are working together there is some chemistry that can’t be found elsewhere.

The B-Team def. Heath Slater and Rhyno via pinfall

Elias Gets a New Guitar

Elias plays his usual song bashing the town he’s in and his upcoming opponent, but he was able to finish the melody instead of getting interrupted. After completing his song, Elias debuts a new guitar given to him (in kayfabe) by John Mayer.

Seth Rollins sprints down to the ring only to switch spots with Elias as the Drifter scurries outside of the ring.  Rollins expresses that he likes Elias and has faith in his ability to become an elite superstar, but he never rises to the occasion when it’s in front of him. His speech is interrupted when he notices the guitar still in the corner of the ring. With some egging on by the WWE Universe, Rollins decides to smash the guitar thus building heat for their Intercontinental Championship match at MITB.

Owens Continues Planning

Kevin Owens is still backstage trying to recruit the other members of the Fatal Four Way to plot against Strowman. Bobby Roode reluctantly begins to agree with Owens and it seems like Strowman will have to be careful as all three men could focus on him.

Bayley vs. Ruby Riott

There’s not a lot to talk about here. Riott and Bayley are both average workers who can put on great matches when given the right opponent and story. This match lacked both of those crucial qualities and felt like a time-filler. Bayley misses the diving elbow and Riott gets the pin for the victory.

There was a noticeable botch early on where Bayley mistimed her slide through the corner of the ring, but it felt as if she did so on purpose. She could have been unsure if Riott was legitimately injured as a red spot did appear on her arm, but either way, it was sloppy. After the match, the Riott Squad holds down Bayley as Riott draws a letter “R” with black lipstick on her. This smells like the beginning of a feud, but at this point, it seems like no one is invested in it.

Ruby Riott def. Bayley via pinfall

Face to Face: Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax

Johnathon Coachman is in the ring and announces that Rousey and Jax will be in a face to face interview in the ring. Jax quickly goes after Rousey for being green in the ring, but Rousey laughs in her face. Rousey rattles off a list of her accomplishments that people said “she wasn’t ready” for. She screams in the face of Jax that “[she] is Ronda Rousey and [she] is ready for anything”. As things get heated, the two stand up and confront one another. Rousey locks up Jax’s arm, but a headbutt by the giant sends the soon to be UFC Hall of Famer to the ground. Jax is flipped into an armbar by Rousey and is forced to tap.

Jax is not great on the mic and this segment proved she has a lot of work to do. Rousey, on the other hand, gave me goosebumps while she fired up. No longer is she afraid to hold the mic between the ropes. The quivers in her voice are replaced by fierce confidence, and that’s likely because she was telling the truth. Rousey knew how to brand herself in the UFC and she should have the same creative control in WWE. If this segment is any indication of the type of superstar Rousey can be then the women’s division is in good hands.

0-201?

Kurt Hawkins is set to face No-Way Jose after losing his 200th consecutive match, but when his music hits he doesn’t come out. The ref and Jose stare at each other in confusion until they decide to ring the bell and count out Hawkins. Hawkins, who was hiding in Jose’s Conga Line, runs in from the back of the ring and rolls up Jose. Jose kicks out and foils Hawkins’ plan by giving him the Fastball Punch and subsequent pin.

No-Way Jose def. Kurt Hawkins via pinfall

Obstacle Course Challenge

Renee Young introduces Sami Zayn as the ring area is set up as an obstacle course. Michael Cole notes that “this rivalry has been very strange” which is the absolute truth. If you polled 100 WWE fans I would venture to say that all of them would say this is the worst program of the year.

Zayn cuts a promo on his reasoning behind this obstacle course challenge. He is still not convinced that Lashley served in the army, so he runs us through every obstacle and why Lashley shouldn’t be able to complete each one. Zayn draws spectacular heat in these segments, but the content is inappropriate. Lashley isn’t getting over because of this and Zayn has not become a better heel. Zayn’s heelwork is the only redeeming quality in this program and it won’t be long until it’s not enough.

Lashley completed the course in a little over 30 seconds.

Last Minute Planning

Owens is laying out a strategy for how they’ll attack Strowman when Balor and Roode inform him they aren’t 100% on board. Owens is frustrated by this, but Braun comes in to support his plan. That’s right, Braun Strowman wants them to team up against him so he can win and GIVE THESE HANDS.

Fatal Four Way: Bobby Roode vs. Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens

Strowman immediately rams Owens into the corner and takes over the ring. The three men plot to get Strowman in the corner and it works for a moment. The second Owens thinks he’s safe enough to gloat, Strowman sends him, Balor, and Roode outside of the ring. The action moves to the stage entrance and ladders come into play. Strowman is set up on the announce table as Owens climbs the ladder. Owens dives and lands a Frog Splash on Strowman destroying the table in the process.

With Strowman and Owens down for the count, Balor and Roode face off in the middle of the ring. Balor gains the upper hand and looks for the Coup de Gras only for Owens to come back in time to stop him. Strowman too rises from the rubble and marches towards the ring. In clear pain, he takes out Roode and Balor so he can confront Owens in the ring. Owens tries to run away through the crowd, but Strowman drags him back into the ring. By this time the other men have recovered and it is once again a team effort to stop Strowman. The plan almost works, but Owens rolls up Roode instead. Roode kicks out and now it’s every man for himself.

Balor gets a chance to end things after hitting the Coup de Gras on Strowman, but Roode breaks it up. Roode tries his hand at a Glorious DDT and pin, but Owens comes back to interrupt the pin attempt. Owens lands a Frog Splash but Braun won’t stay down. With no other choice, Owens uses a ladder to attack Strowman, but Strowman steals the weapon and uses it to end the match. With Strowman winning this match there’s cause for concern that he won’t win on Sunday. The WWE Universe has been demanding a push for Braun for months so let’s hope that Creative doesn’t follow their usual booking pattern.

Braun Strowman wins the Fatal Four Way

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David Rosenberg

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