Raw recap & reactions: Who’s to blame?

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Wrestling fans are so quick to debate work rate or microphone prowess, but here’s a claim that I think you’ll be hard-pressed to challenge:

There is no better actor in the WWE than Dean Ambrose.

After falling victim to a brutal attack last week, Seth Rollins came out to the ring to talk about what happened. He blamed himself, in part; perhaps his own betrayal four years ago is partly what caused Ambrose to do what he did. And maybe this is just me assuming things, but I doubt that was ever the main issue.

Do you remember the Dogs of War’s argument when they were trying to get Ambrose to turn? He was always being asked to sacrifice for Rollins and Reigns. I believe it was Drew McIntyre that claimed that the Shield needed Ambrose more than Ambrose needed the Shield.

And this is really the difference between Rollins and Ambrose. When Rollins stabbed Ambrose in the back, Ambrose called him out. He called Rollins scum, sure, but more than anything he wanted to listen to what Rollins had to say for himself.

Rollins didn’t exactly take that approach on this show, did he? Sure, he called Ambrose out – and Ambrose appeared! He stood at the top of the Shield’s entrance steps and looked on guardedly. Rollins kept demanding answers and Ambrose looked for a moment like he was willing to give them.

…But then Rollins started putting words into his mouth. And the more Rollins talked, the more closed off Ambrose became. And once Rollins called him a lunatic, Ambrose’s anger took over. He wasn’t willing to give Rollins the time of day, at that point.

Again, maybe I’m assuming things. This feud’s got a long way to go. But the transition of Ambrose’s emotions throughout the segment were absolutely brilliant.

The women’s division rolls on

After a successful show Sunday night, Trish Stratus and Lita suited up one more time to team with Natalya, Sasha Banks, and Bayley.

And that was really cool! Liv Morgan got a chance to work with Trish and Lita back-to-back – that’s got to be incredible. The quintet hit a bunch of tandem moves as well with Trish and Sasha dropping elbows and Bayley and Lita hitting matching Twists of Fate.

In the end, Natalya got to cap off the night with a Hart Attack and a Sharpshooter. And on a show where the women were basically an afterthought, that was a nice touch.

Now with that said, WWE didn’t exactly follow up well on the momentum from Evolution – and they we never really going to be able to with Friday’s show coming up. But this division needs more of a storyline focus once Crown Jewel is over. After Evolution, to return to the status quo and feature the same match week after week would be a colossal disappointment.

The Rest

Braun Strowman is dumb – I was mildly intrigued to see how WWE would present Strowman in the main event. Turns out he’s still a complete idiot. Brock Lesnar showed up and made him look like a damn fool. I thought this segment was pretty awful in terms of selling a match.

Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley via DQ, gets destroyed post-match – Were you like me and expecting some classic 50/50 booking? WWE surprised me by avoiding the trope. Instead, they let Lio Rush get some quality heat from the Charlotte crowd with his grating “LASH-LEY!” chant as Balor got the upper hand on Lashley once again. Just as Balor went to the top rope for his finisher, however, Rush shoved him to the floor and the beatdown began.

And get this – Lashley got rewarded for losing. Corbin’s the freaking worst, man. I said this about The God Becky Lynch before she snapped, but Balor’s got to be near his breaking point, right? This dude just can’t ever catch a break.

Ronda Rousey vs. The God Becky Lynch announced for Survivor Series – Well Ronda…I hope you enjoyed the cheers while they lasted!

Elias def. Jinder Mahal, serenades Corbin – I swear to goodness that Elias gives me Rock vibes sometimes. He’s so charismatic when he’s strumming his guitar and cracking jokes. Of course, it’s hard to look like a star when you’re wrestling Mahal in a clumsily put together match, but whatever. I just enjoy people calling Corbin a bitch, okay?

Bobby Roode and Chad Gable def. The Ascension, AoP – Okay don’t get me wrong. I love Gable and Roode. They’re great and I’m happy that they’re getting a title shot.

…But this was freaking weird, wasn’t it? And by AoP standards, it really didn’t take much to get them out of the way, did it? The AoP beat everyone up afterwards but still. Puzzling. Roode and Gable’s combined finisher was sick though.

Nia Jax def. Ember Moon – I was so psyched for this. Moon and Jax have such a history that I felt confident that WWE could put together a really compelling secondary story in the women’s division.

Welp. Scratch that. I wanted Jax and Tamina to form a tag team, WWE, not feud!

Lucha House Party def. The Revival – I’m a huuuuge fan of Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik and anything that gets them on Raw wrestling is fine by me! Dorado’s dive in this match was awesome. There’s not much depth to this beyond “give these guys Mexican things to carry to the ring,” but hopefully WWE will invest some time and effort into it.

Also, I’m sorry Revival. Y’all still rock. I have no answers either.

Dolph Ziggler def. Apollo Crews – Promoting his match against Kurt Angle in the World Cup, Ziggler said he was the best in the world and barely sneaked out a victory against a game Apollo Crews. Really liked the finish.

The Brother of Destruction call out DX – This was a better go-home segment than I expected, honestly. Undertaker and Kane called out DX and those two hooligans laid a trap. Triple H came out spitting water and throwing glow sticks which lured Kane out of the ring. Shawn Michaels appeared behind the Undertaker to hit Sweet Chin Music.

DX retreated, grinning ear-to-ear before the Undertaker sat up, scowling in fury. So yeah, that sounds good on paper, right? And yet my heart’s not into it. I wonder why.

This show felt weird to me, and I think it shows in the review. Some parts were good – Elias, Ambrose/Rollins, Balor/Lashley, the 10-woman tag – but much of the show is in a holding pattern. That’s why I only featured two things; it’s all I felt strongly about, to be honest.

We’ve all got to get past this albatross of a show on Friday before anything fun can happen.

Grade: C+

There’s a lot to look forward to, I’d say. But man…Friday is going to be sad.

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