Monday Night RAW, Jacksonville, FL 8/6/18

Monday Night RAW starts with a video package reviewing Brock Lesnar’s return to the WWE last week in Miami. Kurt Angle is escorted out by Baron Corbin to address Lesnar’s future. Roman Reigns interrupts by storming the ring determined to find out if Lesnar will still defend his Universal Championship at SummerSlam. Corbin pipes in with a soft stroke of Stephanie McMahon’s ego and tears down Angle who, according to Corbin, “only books matches.” Angle sees a potential match between the two men in the ring, so he orders the bell.

Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin

Before the bell rings, Corbin takes a cheap shot on Reigns. This angle only strengthens the build for a possible program following Reigns’ long-overdue coronation as Universal Champion. Commercials plague the match, but when they’re back on air Corbin sets up for a leapfrog that clearly wasn’t the planned spot. Reigns awkwardly kicks him instead. Corbin’s minute-long rest holds last week and botch this week begins a pattern of mistakes inconsistent with someone worthy of a title shot.

Reigns is a great worker and Corbin has gobs of potential. In theory, these two should put on the perfect match to get Corbin over. Instead, it felt like everyone was waiting for the match to end. That’s not exactly what you want when you book the first thirty minutes of a television show around this angle.

Corbin begins to walk out on Reigns, but Finn Balor comes out to trap the Lone Wolf on the entrance ramp. Reigns corrals Corbin back into the ring and gets the pin on him. He decides to leave Balor alone as he exits and nods in appreciation for the help. Balor gets down to the ring and delivers a Coup de Gras to Corbin, making him look weak in the ring two weeks from SummerSlam.

Roman Reigns def. Baron Corbin via pinfall

Seth Rollins meets with Angle backstage and tries to work out a plan to take care of both Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. Angle grants him an opportunity to find a tag partner for a match later in the evening. With Dean Ambrose’s return “imminent,” this seems like the perfect time to bring him back.

Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley

Bobby Roode and Mojo Rawley enter the ring for their match, and one can’t help but yawn given either man’s performance lately. Roode, a former TNA main eventer, has grown unthinkably stale and Rawley has floundered since his turn on Zack Ryder.

Roode wins the match after reversing Rawley’s fireman’s carry into a Glorious DDT. The decision to run a short match here is vital because any more time in the ring would have caused a drag during the match. Roode’s quick win can fuel a Rawley attack or a Rawley victory next week. Both of those options lead to a solid traditional mid-card pay-per-view match that ends in controversy. The in-ring work needs to pick up—and believe me; they are perfectly capable of performing better than this—for the match at SummerSlam to be any decent.

Bobby Roode def. Mojo Rawley via pinfalls

Elias, Tweener?

Elias cuts one of the best promos of his career and shows a glimpse of his superstar potential once again. There’s a comfortability in Elias’ delivery that I haven’t seen since the Attitude Era. Elias’ ribs casually join his usual promo p and provoke Lashley into interrupting the segment. Elias attacks but Lashley quickly reverses the momentum and has the camera crew filming a documentary tape the beatdown.

This feud has minimal heat and who’s supposed to be the heel at this point? With one show left before SummerSlam, those aren’t the kind of questions you want viewers asking.

Rezar Gets Revenge

AOP enters the ring before the camera cuts backstage to Tyler Breeze and Seth Rollins. Breeze is trying to convince Rollins to choose him for tonight’s tag match, but Reigns comes in to claim the spot. Earlier, the announce team said Ambrose’s name referring to his injury which almost guarantees an appearance in the next few weeks.

Rezar pins Titus O’Neill in another cookie-cutter, dry match. AOP will win this feud, and for a lower card tag program, things couldn’t be any more procedural.

Rezar def. Titus O’Neill via pinfall

The Kevin Owens Show

Jinder Mahal is the first guest on the Kevin Owens Show as Owens’ personal guru to help with stress caused by Braun Strowman. Owens is the best talker on RAW, and any segment without a microphone is almost disappointing when it comes to him. The gimmick is Mahal getting interrupted continuously by Owens making it truly the “KO Show.”

Owens says that Mahal must fight Strowman again tonight and the stage is promptly lifted off the ground and turned over. Strowman emerges and it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who couldn’t break a set of handcuffs at Extreme Rules.

Mahal and Strowman begin their match, but Owens interferes and nearly gets Strowman counted out. The Monster Among Men thinks twice and beats the count back in the ring, but Owens draws him out yet again. Strowman accidentally knocks Mahal with the briefcase and gets disqualified for it. Mahal’s involvement in this is puzzling, but I can’t imagine this turns into a three-way at SummerSlam.

Jinder Mahal def. Braun Strowman via disqualification

Are You There, Mr. Ambrose?

A considerable video package plays with a Reigns interview by Corey Graves as a voiceover. The package covers the entire three-year story of Roman Reigns’ journey to beat Brock Lesnar. The production team did their best to make it look like the match of the year, but it hardly got over.

Reigns and Rollins are walking towards the ring, but Corbin and Angle stop them from making an entrance. Corbin relays Stephanie McMahon’s order that Reigns could not compete in fear of ruining the main event of SummerSlam. Reigns argues but is told he’ll forfeit his title match if he goes out there tonight. Rollins says he’ll handle it and they leave.

Rollins enters the ring for his handicap match and the crowd instantly erupts with “WE WANT AMBROSE” chants. Rollins plays it off as if to say, “me too” and that’s part of what makes him the top wrestler in WWE. Ziggler and McIntyre put the boots to Rollins who does his best to beat the numbers disadvantage. The possibility of Ambrose loomed over the match, but the return never materialized.

Rollins took the pin by Ziggler following a superkick, but McIntyre was technically the legal man. The announce team painted the finish as controversial, but it sounds like a setup for a repeat match featuring an Ambrose return at SummerSlam.

Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre def. Seth Rollins via pinfall

The B-Team vs. The Revival

The B-Team enters to new music and it’s tough to tell if this will be another case of WWE overbranding. Too often WWE finds a gimmick that works and overproduces it into a failure. Hopefully, that’s not the future for the Dallas and Axel.

The Revival and the B-Team are going at each other when the Deleters of Worlds teleport into the ring and ruin the match through interference. This feud still has no heat, and its best outcome is a surprise Revival title win in a multi-team match at SummerSlam.

No Contest due to interference

Paul Heyman Interview

Renee Young interviews Paul Heyman who looks like a wreck. His face is complete with unshaved stubble, red eyes, and bags. Heyman is irritable and reveals that he can’t contact Lesnar. He becomes sappy and begins sobbing at what could have been a happy ending for him and his client. When asked if he thinks Lesnar still needs him, Heyman choked up. And when asked who he thinks will win at SummerSlam, Heyman wholeheartedly predicts Lesnar building up Reigns as the underdog Vince wants him to be.

Heyman delivers quality performances everytime he is at RAW, but this was a level we haven’t seen in quite some time. It will be interesting to see what happens if Lesnar truly leaves for the UFC. Will they put Heyman with young talent, have him work with NXT, or go with a superstar like Reigns. It’s always possible he stays with Lesnar because, with Lesnar, you can’t trust anything until it’s happened.

WWE Superstar Returns!

Bayley and Sasha Banks face off against the Riott Squad again. When they’re together, Banks and Bayley are an elite team that makes a women’s tag team belt seem worth it. If that’s the plan for the Evolution pay-per-view, then we’ll see these two in good segments weekly. Seeing them with some direction is more than enough to make things work.

Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan appear to be losing, but a hooded stranger aids them in taking the momentum during the match. Ruby Riott removes her hood and returns from her MCL injury. It’s likely she could be in a non-contact role over the next few weeks.

Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan def. Bayley and Sasha Banks via pinfall

Ronda Rousey’s First Singles Match on RAW

Alexa Bliss accompanies Alicia Fox to the ring. Charly asks her a question regarding Ronda Rousey and Bliss orders that she ask a question about Fox. Fox receives the same question, “how did you prepare for Rousey?” Fox begins listing the accomplishments made by Rousey and comparing them to her captainship of the Survivor Series RAW team last year. Bliss takes the mic and begins thanking Fox for her tenure and trailblazing for the women’s evolution. The irony here is that without Ronda’s UFC numbers, WWE would never have considered moving away from the Divas brand. “Total Divas” was only three years old when the revolution/evolution began, so they had a long-term plan to continue the Divas championship.

Ronda enters the ring and Fox taunts her. While Fox prances around the ring, Bliss tries to create an opportunity by distracting Rousey. Natalya takes care of Bliss, but Fox gets to beat down Rousey in the ring. Rousey recovers while fox celebrates and glares at her opponent. Rousey gives a few hip tosses before she locks in the armbar and defeats Fox. Bliss attacks Rousey during the post-match interview, but Rousey flips her over and out of the ring.

Part of me felt like this was a swan song for Alicia Fox, but that could be a coincidence. Rousey’s first match on RAW was against the same woman who got in a public screaming match with her husband over ‘Mania weekend. Maybe it’s not a coincidence?

Ronda Rousey def. Alicia Fox via submission

Wrap-Up/Analysis

Having Rousey in the main event was an obvious ploy to get viewers to stay until the end of the show. Judging by the ratings the show drew, it worked. Strowman begin kept out of meaningful segments is concerning because he should have at least one title reign in the next year.

The return of Dean Ambrose did not (as many predicted) happen on this show, but it sure looks likely that the Lunatic Fringe will be back in action next week or at SummerSlam. There’s a chance he comes back and turns heel on Rollins, but that is only one of many options they’ll consider over the next week.

The show was a disappointment, but the go-home event in Greensborough next week should be better. Brock Lesnar is supposed to  be there, so something “big” will happen leading into SummerSlam

 

 

 

 

 

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David Rosenberg

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