I know it’s not just me, but Monday Night Raw has been on a roll over the last few weeks, and tonight, with one exception has been no different. Let’s get into it.
The show starts off with a predictable chorus of boos as Roman Reigns comes into the ring to give credit to Samoa Joe for choking him out last week, and just as he’s talking about his upcoming ambulance match against Braun Strowman at Great Balls of Fire, an ambulance shows up, and Reigns goes to investigate. Reigns gets completely decimated by Strowman, who continues to get better.
Strowman puts a real exclamation point on this whole segment, when he throws Reigns into the side of the ambulance. Every time I see Braun Strowman, I am always amazed at what he can do. And this was no different. Reigns was thrown into that ambulance the way that Kevin Nash threw Rey Mystery Jr. into that truck on Nitro. Everything about it was perfect, and their ambulance match can’t come soon enough.
The strange thing about this week’s episode was lack of matches. Most episodes will give us 8 or 9 episodes, but tonight, we got four. The first of which was an amazing six man tag between The Hardy Boyz with Finn Balor versus Ceasro and Sheamus with Elias Samson. There is nothing not to love about Elias Samson. I love how last week before he sang his song he had to tune his guitar, this the whole team had microphones and were ready to sing. I will never forgive The Hardy Boyz for not allowing me to hear the sweet, sweet vocal stylings of Sheamus.
The match itself was a real barn burner. From the Hardyz synchronizing their poses with Balor’s turnbuckle ritual was delightful. This was a great match. Everything made sense, everything had a purpose. I don’t think there is anyway that a match with both Finn Balor and Cesaro know how to be involved in a bad match. There was a point where Cesaro, who was the legal man, just kicked Balor who was standing on the apron, for seemingly no reason other than he just could. The match ended with with a Coupe De Grace from Balor to Cesaro, and the good guys get the three count. This was about as good a match as you can hope for to start off a show.
Before the commercial break, we got a Goldust promo. Ever since the Bizarre One broke up the Golden Truth, and gone back to quoting movies, I’ve completely adored him, and tonight was no different.
Goldust is filming a movie, is planning on putting R-Truth in it. We’re getting the Golden Truth facing each other tonight! Goldust comes down first, and he has his own camera man, which I love. R-Truth comes out, all business. No rapping or anything. He’s here for a fight. That’s exactly what he gets. Goldust just beats the tar out of him. The match doesn’t even get started. The camera man won’t even get out of the ring, as Goldust needs those closeups. It looks like we’ll be getting a proper match at Great Balls of Fire.
I don’t even know what to say about the next bit of the show. Mia and Maryse came out, and they continued to sow the seeds of separation. There was no kiss at on the ramp. Maryse doesn’t seem to want anything to do with The Miz. It was great storytelling. Then, Lavar Ball showed up. It was awful. They wanted Miz to berate Lavar Ball, and for Dean Ambrose to come out and stand up for him. That wasn’t what happened, and you can’t blame anybody except Lavar Ball himself.
He just yelled incoherently for what felt like an eternity, and the youngId’er of the Ball children didn’t seem to care. Lonzo Ball seemed to be the only one who wanted to make a good impression the people who will, presumably be playing in front of for years. At some point in the nonsense, Dean Ambrose came out, and did his damnedest to save the whole thing, but it wasn’t enough. We saw a second six man tag match with The Miz and his new entourage (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) against Dean Ambrose with Heath Slater and Rhyno.
I don’t know why Slater and Rhyno were there. We came back from commercial, and they were just there. In a six man tag. If that’s what you want to do, to portray Heath Slater and Rhyno as good dudes who just like to help, you can do that. When Ambrose is out there, trying to tell a story in between Lavar Ball’s gibberish, have Axel and Dallas blindside Ambrose, and get Beauty and the Man-Beast to save him. Or, better yet, don’t, and give me a one on one or a handicap match! But we got the six man tag, and the match was fine, for what it was. Dallas rolled up Rhyno for the win.
The breakup of Enzo and Cass is some of the best story telling WWE has done in years. And this was the most heartbreaking segment since The Festival of Friendship. Enzo comes out, and all he wants is his best friend back. Everything was perfect. Enzo wearing an Enzo and Cass shirt, and Cass wearing a black shirt. Big Cass really seemed conflicted in this whole segment. It’s playing like he wants to hang out and be with his goof around buddy, but knows he just can’t do it anymore. This is the barbershop window for the kids. Cass was everything in this segment. The apology, and the spelling of SAWFT got me teary eyed, and when it was revealed that it was all a ruse, and Cass practically decapitated Enzo with a lariat opened the floodgates. The Realest Guys are no more.
It was a blast seeing Curt Hawkins wrestle. It was a bigger blast seeing him dominate Seth Rollins for half the match. But, eventually, Hawkins inevitably was slayed by the Kinglsayer.
The real story of this match was the post-match promo from Wyatt, who was insinuating that Rollins was a corporate tool from his time in the Authority, and now being on the WWE 2k18 cover. I hope they find something else in this feud other than the video game, because I’m fairly certain that Bray Wyatt is in the game as well. This will also conclude the trio of SHIELD rivalries for Bray Wyatt, so that’s fun.
Samoa Joe has been the real MVP of RAW the last several weeks, and ditto for this week. Paul Heyman comes out, and just lets everybody know that Joe is nothing but a “Samoan Dumbass” and he should be terrified of Brock Lesnar. He introduces Lesnar, who is immediately attacked, and choked out by Samoa Joe. Lester’s face was redder than the Universal Title around his waist. Lesnar wasn’t to go down without a fight. He fought back and almost smashed Joe through the stage, but the Coquina Clutch was clutched in to to hard.
The Beast fell, and the it took the locker room to pull Samoa Joe off Lesnar. This is how you book a main event. Samoa Joe comes out looking, and more importantly feeling like a champion, and Lesnar for the first time in a long time, is going into a match looking like he’s in real danger.
Titus O’Neill courting Akira Tozawa to sign with the Titus Brand is the most entertaining aspect of the cruiserweight. The match tonight was Lince Dorado vs Neville. The match was not important. It didn’t need to happen. It was only there to give us a showdown between Neville, and Tozawa, who was watching from the Titus Brand VIP section. After the match, Tozawa would climb into the ring, and before he and the victorious Neville could touch each other, O’Neill came out to announce their match for the Cruiserweight Title at Great Balls of Fire.
Next, the main event. A Women’s Division Gauntlet match. The winner was to be named the Number One contender for Alexa Bliss’s RAW Women’s Title.
Throughout the whole show, we saw Kurt Angle with various members of the division pulling numbers out of a raffle drum. The match started with Bayley up against Nia Jax. Jax made quick work out of her, finishing her off with a samoan drop. She ran through Mickie James the way a freight train would run through a pane of glass. She practically killed Dana Brooke with a leg drop, and gave Emma another samoan drop, for good measure.
Then out came The Boss. Sasha Banks and Nia Jax put on an outstanding match. It was completely logical from beginning to end. Banks seemed like she had learned how to handle Jax from her numerous encounters with her over the last year. It was 100% a slobberknocker from bell to bell. After a few interesting attempts at getting the Bank Statement locked in, Sasha Banks got a tap out victory over Nia Jax. Therefore, Sasha Banks is your new Number One Contender.
All in all, this was an excellent show for Monday Night Raw. Except for a few weird celebrity kerfuffles, it was a show that felt big, and advanced every angle in the proper ways. Next week’s go home show for Great Balls of Fire feels important, and I can hardly wait for it.