By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from The Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the last show before Payback and with the Superstar Shakeup blurring the brand split lines, it’s a tricky PPV to figure out because some wrestlers are trying to hype their matches alone while their opponents are on another show doing the same thing.
It’s awkward, but this should be a one-shot deal to wrap up outstanding storylines dating back to WrestleMania. Did WWE work out the kinks in terms of logic or was this a case of the blind leading the blind heading into the PPV in San Jose? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· The Highlight Reel/Miz TV/Ambrose Asylum hybrid featuring Chris Jericho, The Miz, Maryse, and Dean Ambrose was a fun way to start the show.
· The segment dragged at times, but I appreciate WWE remembering the Jericho-Ambrose feud from last year as Ambrose brought up how Jericho smashed Mitch the Plant over his head and how he returned the favor by ripping up Y2J’s Light Up Jacket. Jericho reminded Ambrose that he still owed him $15,000. Ambrose didn’t have any cash on hand, but he gave Jericho a jacket adorned with Christmas Lights as a peace offering.
· Jericho put the Jacket on and struck a few poses while Miz whined about not getting a gift. Ambrose responded by nailed Miz with Dirty Deeds while Jericho put Maryse on LIST for marrying a stupid idiot as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a long talking segment, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Jericho’s material was so-so as his jokes about Kevin Owens were a little flat which did little to hype their United States Championship match at Payback. Things got better once Miz and Ambrose came out which ended the opener on a high note.
· Matt Hardy defeated Sheamus with the Twist of Fate, but it wasn’t without controversy. Sheamus nailed Hardy in the face with a sick high knee. Hardy tried to counter with his finisher on the floor, but Sheamus laid him out with a rolling senton instead. Jeff tried to check on his brother, but Sheamus pushed him out of the way.
· Jeff climbed on the ring apron to confront the Celtic Warrior, but Cesaro yanked him off the apron which led to the finish.
· The Mutual Admiration Society between both teams was about to hit the skids, but cooler heads prevailed as everyone shook hands which kept the babyface vs. babyface dynamic intact heading into their Raw Tag Team Championship match on Sunday.
· Jack Gallagher and Austin Aries defeated Neville and TJ Perkins when Aries nailed Perkins with the Discus Five Arm for the win. The match was short, but Aries maximized his minutes when he made the hot tag midway through the match.
· Aries put on a one-man show when he took out Neville and TJP with a suicide dive. Aries was about to make TJP tap out to The Last Chancery, but Neville broke the hold in the nick of time. Gentleman Jack evened the odds when he nailed Neville with a head butt. TJP tried to capitalize on Gallagher knocking himself loopy, but Gallagher was alert enough to steer Perkins in Aries’ direction which set up the finishing sequence. Overall, this was a fine way to hype the Cruiserweight Championship match between Aries and Neville at Payback.
· Did Kalisto use Kane’s old masks to create his new Lucha mask? Hmm…
· The record will always show that Kalisto defeated Braun Strowman in a Dumpster Match. However, the victory became mute when Strowman destroyed Kalisto when he dropped him with a series of one-handed slams before tossing him against the barricade.
· Strowman put Kalisto in the dumpster and pushed it up the ramp. WWE officials tried to stop Strowman as he strapped the dumpster shut. He pretended to head backstage only to push the dumpster off the stage as the segment came to an end.
· The spot was nice, but it wasn’t spectacular because the drop wasn’t that steep. In comparison to Strowman’s recent feats of strength, The Dumpster spot was more meh than wow.
· Strowman’s promo before the match was good as he tried to generate heel heat by calling the fans trash. At least the creative team is trying to get him over as a badass heel who should be jeered instead of cheered.
· Bray Wyatt cut another rambling promo about Randy Orton leading up to their House of Horrors match at Payback. Yawn…
· Dana Brooke defeated Alicia Fox when she dropped Fox with an ugly version of the Michinoku Driver for the win. The match was short, but it was still rough in spots.
· After the match was over, Emma got in the ring and gave Brooke a half-hearted hug before heading backstage. That was odd…
· Before the six-man tag team match featuring Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and Seth Rollins vs. Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Samoa Joe got underway, Anderson, Gallows, and Joe ambushed Enzo and Big Cass during their in-ring introductions. Cass went flying over the barricade while Anderson and Gallows took out Enzo with The Magic Killer onto the floor.
· Seth Rollins ran out to make the save, but he was tripled teamed until Big Cass evened the odds.
· After the commercial break, Kurt Angle announced that Enzo wasn’t medically cleared to compete. Angle added Finn Bálor to the match as the six man tag officially got underway.
· Big Cass, Finn Bálor, and Seth Rollins defeated Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Samoa Joe when Rollins nailed Anderson with a knee to the face for the win.
· The match started off slow as Bálor was in sell mode early on, but things picked up down the stretch. It appears that Rollins is retiring his Pedigree finisher because it’s a reminder of who he used to be before getting his much-needed epiphany a few weeks ago. Bálor’s interaction with Gallows and Anderson was nice and I hope WWE plays into their history in New Japan because the possibilities are endless in terms of storytelling and future feuds. *Cough* The Balor Club vs. The Shield *Cough*
· Alexa Bliss powered through the “What?” chants and delivered a solid promo as she vowed to put an end to Bayley’s Cinderella Story at Payback. Bliss wanted to embarrass Bayley in her hometown by winning the Raw Women’s Championship while her father was sitting in the front row.
· Sasha Banks came to her best friend’s defense and challenged Bliss to match. Bliss tried to dodge The Boss, but Banks clocked Bliss in the face to signal that the match was still on.
· Banks defeated Bliss via count-out when Bliss decided to save her energy until Sunday.
· Bayley tried to drag Bliss back in the ring, but Bliss ran for the hills. However, Bliss attacked Bayley from behind which added some heat leading up to their Women’s Championship match at Payback.
· Banks chased Bliss away before checking on Bayley as the segment came to an end.
· The promo exchange leading up Banks vs. Bliss was good. The creative team had to build up the Women’s Title match between Bayley and Bliss in one night. Considering the tight deadline, they managed to make it work. However, Bliss’ lines were recycled from her feud with Becky Lynch as the Cinderella comparison was a direct lift from a segment on SD Live last fall. Outside of that, the promo work was solid for the most part.
· Apollo Crews pinned Curt Hawkins with the Spinout Powerbomb in a decent match. I guess Crews will be elevated to the main event next week after passing through Curt Hawkins’ Star Factory.
· Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho vs. The Miz and his mystery partner ended with no clear winner as Bray Wyatt showed up to save Miz from getting dropped with Dirty Deeds on the announce table. Wyatt attacked Ambrose and nailed him with Sister Abigail which sent The Lunatic Fringe head first into the LED board.
· Jericho tried to make the save, but he was double teamed by Miz and Wyatt.
· Miz threw Jericho back in the ring only for Jericho to nail him with the Codebreaker. Wyatt laid out Jericho with Sister Abigail as Miz smiled like a Cheshire Cat.
· Miz’s cockiness got the best of him as Wyatt took him out with Sister Abigail to complete the trifecta as Raw went off the air with Wyatt telling everyone to “Follow The Buzzards.”
· The Good News: Bray Wyatt is not a Hollywood Elitist because the mere thought of him teaming up with The Miz would have been a classic case of character assassination.
· The Bad News: The ending of the match was lame. This was such a weak way to end the show. The main event was pretty one-sided with Miz getting his ass kicked for 95% of the match. Wyatt being the last man standing was fine, but it was counterproductive for a number of reasons.
· Ambrose gets beat up which means he should want a piece of Wyatt next week even though he’s been feuding with Miz since the Superstar Shakeup.
· Jericho looks weak heading into his United States Title rematch against Owens because he hasn’t picked up any key wins to build momentum. With Y2J going on tour with Fozzy next month, he should’ve been built up as a legit contender instead of a lame duck opponent who has one foot out the door.
· Miz looks like a chump without a clear sense of direction. Instead of Ambrose and Miz facing off for the IC Title, The Hollywood A-Lister is probably going to be on the receiving end of another ass whopping courtesy of Bálor at the Payback Kickoff Show. Coup de Grace, anyone?
· As for Wyatt, he looks strong heading into his House of Horrors match against Randy Orton. However, the WWE Championship is not on the line which makes this camp fest extravaganza pointless outside of Wyatt picking up a moral victory to avenge the spirit of Sister Abigail. Regardless of the outcome, I’m glad the Wyatt-Orton saga is coming to an end because it’s way past its expiration date.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was pedestrian at best. The opening segment was entertaining, but the in-ring action was hit and miss. The go-home show didn’t give me added incentive to watch Payback on Sunday. The card looks solid, but it’s a show that is very skippable based on the so-so build.
· On the bright side, WWE played it smart by keeping Roman Reigns off the show for another week. Braun Strowman has been built up like an indestructible monster in recent weeks. It is imperative that Strowman beats Reigns on Sunday. If not, it’s another questionable booking decision that puts his push into a state of flux once again. We shall see how it all plays out on Sunday.
· The Payback PPV should be a good show, but the buildup leaves a lot to be desired terms of excitement and anticipation. Here’s hoping the wrestlers have their working boots on because they have to over deliver in order to make up for the uneven booking decisions over the past couple of weeks. 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 another installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!