By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. After a twelve year absence, Bill Goldberg returns to WWE to answer Brock Lesnar’s challenge from last week. What did Mr. 173-0 have to say? The answer to this pressing question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· First of all, the word Sparkle Crotch should be retired from this day forward. It’s not a phrase that exactly rolls off the tongue to describe Chris Jericho’s sparkly wrestling trunks.
· Second of all, Jericho dropped a major hint during the opening segment when he said that he could easily defeat Seth Rollins inside Hell in a Cell to win the WWE Universal Championship, but didn’t echo the same confidence when it came to beating Kevin Owens for the title. It was a small detail, but very significant when it comes to the burgeoning bromance between both men.
· The rest of the opening segment was fine as Owens, Jericho, and Rollins traded words, but it was nothing to write home about outside of Rollins getting a nice babyface ovation from the crowd. That was refreshing to see considering how his character has been presented on television as of late.
· For the third week in a row, Owens made Jericho take another one for the team as Rollins nailed Jericho with The Pedigree. Owens and Jericho had a good match that had an interesting finish as Owens defied his best friend’s order to stay backstage.
· He came out to provide emotional support, but decided to interfere when Y2J had Rollins locked in the Walls of Jericho. Rollins was close to the rope, but Owens pulled it away from him. The referee caught Owens which allowed Rollins to grab the rope in order to break the hold.
· Jericho and Rollins traded a series of counters as Jericho nailed him with an enziguri and tried to hit the Codebreaker. Rollins countered and hit the Pedigree for the win.
· Owens did his usual walk of shame as the segment came to an end. Rollins picked up another quality win heading into HIAC while Jericho will try to spin his latest loss as making a sacrifice for the greater good. I don’t know how long he will continue to buy into Owens’ line of reasoning, but their pending implosion should be grand.
· Charlotte cut a strong promo explaining why she is going to defeat Sasha Banks and win back the Raw Women’s Championship inside HIAC. She was confident as Lita did a nice job asking sensible questions that were not asinine in nature Charlotte made the point that she is undefeated in PPV Title matches because she is always at 100% in terms of her health while Sasha has been on the shelf several times this year due to injury. Therefore, The Queen is built for this moment because she is genetically superior and does not need the home field advantage to eke out a win.
· Sasha will get a chance to respond to Charlotte’s comments later in the show. The Boss is usually good in a laid-back setting when she is not given bad material to recite.
· The Golden Truth and Mark Henry made quick work of Titus O’Neil and The Shining Stars when Henry pinned O’Neil with the World’s Largest Slam. Henry earned one of the quickest paychecks of his career by finishing his opponent in thirty seconds or less. The Titus Brand remains in a slump. Thank goodness O’Neil’s faux company is not publicly traded on the stock market because he would be swimming in the red at this point.
· Jericho was this close from committing the carnal sin of calling Owens a stupid idiot. Owens and Jericho were having their first spat, but Stephanie McMahon intervened and reminded both men that Raw was in a brand war with SmackDown at Survivor Series next month and needed her top two generals at the top of their game. Being smarter and stronger was her closing mantra as JeriKO continued their spat about what happened earlier in the show. I guess the honeymoon is over. This was a good teaser for things to come because this friendship is not long for the world.
· Big E. rolled up Sheamus for the win as the Celtic Warrior wanted his fifteen minutes of fame on Facebook Live as he failed to deliver the greatest Brogue Kick of all time.
· Big E. and Sheamus had a solid big man match as they threw each other around while landing some stiff hits at the same time. Big E. was impressive as he delivered a series of sick belly-to-belly suplexes to Sheamus. His strength was also on full display as he countered Sheamus’ big boot in mid-air and laid him out with a powerbomb instead.
· However, the story of the match was Cesaro hamming it up on FB Live instead of supporting his tag team partner. I guess it’s only fair since Sheamus did the exact same thing during his match against Kofi Kingston last week. Let’s hope both men can put aside their differences and focus on winning the Tag Team Titles from The New Day at HIAC.
· Holy Crap! Bo Dallas picked up the win against Neville in a surprisingly competitive match. Their in-ring chemistry from their days in NXT was still apparent which reminded me of how good Dallas can be when he is given something meaningful to do. Neville eating a loss sucks, but it appears that Dallas is actually getting a push that might stick if he generates legit heel heat.
· Dallas took a nice step in that direction when he attacked Curtis Axel after his match. He tossed Axel into the barricade which is the universal sign that their friendship is on the rocks. Axel doesn’t need to Bo-lieve in Bo because Bo is doing enough Bo-lieving for himself.
· In what can only be described as The Upset Hour, Dana Brooke pinned Bayley after she slammed The Hugger into the ring post to gain the unfair advantage. The finish wasn’t pretty as the crowd died quicker than the inflatable men that complement Bayley’s entrance. It was an underwhelming way to end the match, but it makes sense if their feud is going to continue.
· Paul Heyman warned Goldberg that if he accepts Brock Lesnar’s challenge, an ass kicking would be in his immediate future. We shall hear Goldberg’s response soon enough.
· The Mile City Trio is about to get destroyed by Braun Strowman. Dare I say that he is getting the Ryback treatment when it comes to squashing multiple men at once?
· Does Sami Zayn have a death wish? I adore him, but he’s nuts for challenging Strowman to a match. On the plus side, he could carry the big man to a decent match. That would be a miracle to behold.
· Strowman had no respect for Zayn as he pushed him out of the ring with force. Zayn didn’t back down as he managed to get back in the ring while Strowman made his way to the back. This could be an interesting match if it is booked simplistically with a little bit of window dressing for good measure.
· Rusev and Lana used their interview time to show off their family photo album as fans got their first glimpse of Mama, Papa, Brother, and Grandma Rusev. Hell, we even met Rusev’s cute Bull Terrier whose name is too damn long and difficult to pronounce.
· Roman Reigns interrupted this touching moment and told The Bulgarian Brute that he needed to call 911 after he loses at HIAC. Lana stood by her man by slapping Reigns in the face which allowed Rusev to blindside him with a stiff kick to the head. Rusev took the fight to Reigns as he tossed the steel steps inside the ring. Reigns tried to get back on offense, but Rusev threw him against the steps and locked in The Accolade to send a message that he was ready for HIAC.
· The only setback in the segment was Reigns proclaiming that the Roman Empire had his back. That was such a tone-deaf thing to say as the fans were booing him out of the building until they got into the tail end of his promo. Outside of that faux pas, this segment was perfectly fine as Rusev did a great job getting heat on his relatives and dog while promoting his match against Reigns inside HIAC for the United States Championship. Mission accomplished.
· Big Cass defeated Karl Anderson with the East River Crossing. It was the first time Cass successfully hit the move since his botch against Bubba Ray Dudley a few months ago on an episode of SmackDown. It’s a great finisher when executed properly and Anderson did a nice job making it look good. However, it appears that the 50/50 rule is in full effect as Enzo & Cass and Anderson and Gallows will probably trade wins back and forth until something gives. It’s standard wrestling protocol in 2016. Sad, but true.
· Sasha did a good job explaining the importance of being in the first-ever women’s HIAC match. However, I wasn’t a fan of how cavalier she was when it came to treating this brutal match as a badge of honor. The cell has been neutered in recent years, but it should still be taken seriously because it takes a toll on the human body. The demonic structure should be feared, not revered until someone survives. The rest of the interview was fine as Sasha came off as a natural speaker who was not trying to memorize her lines word for word.
· If I had to choose who did a better job in terms of delivery and believability, Charlotte earns the gold star tonight.
· Brian Kendrick, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese vs. Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, and TJ Perkins were given the unenviable task of wrestling during the Third Hour Lull Period of Death. Fortunately, the high spots kept the crowd engaged as the match actually told a nice story as Kendrick let Nese do the yeoman’s work as he picked the bones after Nese had Swann beat with the 450 Splash.
· Kendrick made the blind tag and locked Swann in the Captain’s Hook. Perkins tried to make the save, but Gulak held his leg which prevented him from getting back in the ring. Swann had no choice but to tap out which gave Kendrick a bit of momentum heading into his Cruiserweight Championship match against TJP at HIAC in a couple of weeks.
· This spotlight bout could have been a dud, but it turned out okay as all four men did enough to keep the crowd invested in the action. I consider that a victory.
· After all these years, Goldberg’s entrance still gives me chills. It was such an awesome moment seeing Goldberg back in WWE. The Denver crowd showered him with “This is Awesome” and “Holy Shit” chants as he soaked in the moment.
· Goldberg appreciated the reception and cut a heartfelt and badass promo about being a hero to kids everywhere which explained why he wanted to be a part of WWE 2K17. Also, he wanted his wife and son to see him live for the first time which was a pretty sweet moment.
· Goldberg got down to business when it came to Paul Heyman being Brock Lesnar’s proxy as The Beast challenged him to a match. Goldberg thought that dream bout should be saved for the video game, but changed his mind when he felt that he had one more ass kicking in him. He had one more Spear and Jackhammer to dish out and declared that Lesnar would not only be next but last as well. The challenge was accepted and Raw went off the air with Goldberg hugging his son along with other people’s kids and random men. As my buddy Jon Ward mentioned to me on Facebook, let’s hope he knows these people because that was a little weird, yet heartwarming at the same time.
· This was a hot way to end the show. Goldberg came across as a legend that has not lost his edge. He was humble and made his match against Lesnar an instant box office draw. The Beast will be live in Minneapolis next week to respond to Goldberg’s comments. Heyman will do most of the talking, but Lesnar can throw a few verbal barbs that can cut through the bone. Figuratively speaking, of course. It should be a great atmosphere since Lesnar will be in his hometown. With the Minnesota Vikings on a roll, this might be one of the hottest crowds of the year.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. The closing segment ended things on a high note, but I thought the rest of the show was in cruise control for the most part. The in-ring action was okay, but questionable finishes killed the crowd at times.
· Once again, I wasn’t a fan of WWE jumping ahead to promote Survivor Series because they need to focus all of their attention on Hell in a Cell. It’s difficult to serve two masters at once, and I feel that the former is being underserved at the moment.
· Fortunately, WWE is trying to remedy the situation by announcing The New Day vs. Cesaro and Sheamus and Rollins vs. Jericho vs. Owens in a Triple Threat match for next week’s show. Both bouts are nontitle, but at least there is some semblance of synergy when it comes to making the go-home show feel important. Throw in Lesnar and Heyman and we have the recipe for success if everything else on Raw is booked properly. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!