Time once again for RAW vs SmackDown! The folks on Monday night are starting to set up for the upcoming Hell in a Cell PPV. The Blue brand sends us home for No Mercy. How’d they do? Let’s take a look.
Monday Night RAW
Pros of the Show
- The Main Event- It’s actually quite sad that I have to include the women main eventing as a pro of the episode but considering it’s the first time it has happened in 12 years, it’s a big deal. I don’t agree with Sasha winning but I’m not going to let my personal preferences make the outcome a con. They did a good job giving the match a big fight feel and while the ring work was a bit sloppy at times, the psychology of the match was done well. Sincerely hope this means we won’t have to wait another 12 years for it to happen again.
- Less Is More- While they didn’t go as far as SmackDown last week, it was definitely nice that both Stephanie and Mick were only in a segment each. RAW has been overloaded with them as of late so this was a nice change of pace.
- Save Next Week!- This felt like the natural culmination of Braun Strowman’s squashes. He even worked the match a little differently. Toying with his opponent and mocking him as the best that could be offered. After the match we got Braun on the mic for the first time. He kept it short and simple but the important thing is I believed every word that was coming out of his mouth. Demanding better competition is good story advancement and the ominous threat towards Mick Foley if he failed to deliver said competition did not sound idle at all. I fully believe this man could actually destroy a period of time such as “next week.”
- You’re On The List- Y2J is becoming my favorite part of Monday nights. His sincerity in everything he does is on point. A viewer can firmly believe that Jericho actually thinks he’s KO’s best friend and that KO cares about him. It sets up for a nice face turn for Y2J when he finally realized it. They teased that nicely here when he referenced going after Owens’ Universal Title.
- Still Fresh- We’ll see if WWE will keep this up when Seth’s ribs are better but I appreciate them finding ways to keep Kevin Owens active on the show while not interacting to heavily with Rollins. Him and Jericho deciding to go after New Day was the perfect mini angle to give him something to do and provide and opportunity for Seth to screw with him.
- The Odd Couple- I know I’m in the minority here but I love Cesaro and Sheamus as a team. Maybe I’m a little more open to it because I was never huge on Cesaro as a character and also I don’t think either man fits into either of the singles title scenes.
- Cruiserweights Help- There have been a lot of complaints about the cruiserweight division’s rollout but I haven’t had much problem with it. I never expected the division to be much more than the title program and then some fun exhibitions. The fact is the Cruiserweights are definitely helping the flow of the show. It’s made the 3 hours a lot easier to get through for me.
Cons of the Show
- The Turn That Won’t Happen- This is sort of a soft con. There was nothing wrong with what happened in the Rusev/Reigns program today. I even enjoyed Lana getting to stand toe to toe with Roman on the mic. My problem with this program is that they really have a perfect set up for a double turn here and it kills me that I know WWE won’t pull the trigger on it and they’ll keep Roman as at least what’s supposed to be considered the face. Hope they prove me wrong, but I’m convinced that’s not where this program is headed.
- Ashton Kutchner & Danny Dumbface- Why did these guys have to be on commentary? They were so damn annoying. The backstage interaction wasn’t enough? No of course not, have to give them time to plug their show, which after Ashton described it as a show for the red states and for people with a more conservative view, it was basically assured that I would never watch it. I know WWE has a celebrity obsession but keep them off the damn table.
- Unneeded Repackaged Characters- I can kind of see the need for Titus’s character getting repackaged but at the same time I’m left wondering about his unresolved beef with Darren Young and Bob Backlund. I do not understand the need at all to repackage Emma. I’ll withhold full judgment until we actually see the new Emmalina (awful name) but I rather liked her Evil Emma incarnation and was hoping she would go right back to that, preferably on Tuesday nights so they could reignite Emma vs Becky.
Pros of the Show
- Wrestling On A Wrestling Show- RAW did it last week. This week was SmackDown’s turn to start the show with a match. No one will ever convince me that a show should start with anything but a match. As for the match itself, it was alright. Would have preferred Bray get his win back from Kane rather than walk out to pursue Orton but still it was a match to start the show.
- How Sweet It Is- With the exception of Daniel Bryan coming out for the Breast Cancer Awareness segment (which doesn’t really count), both Daniel and Shane were not present in this week’s episode. Loving this.
- An Awesome Documentary- This was just amazing. The fake WWE 24 documentary Miz put together to mock Ziggler’s career was such a scathing burn I’m surprised they didn’t cut back to Dolph as a pile of ashes on the ring. Then two members of the Spirit Squad came out just to remind everyone of the most embarrassing part of Dolph’s career. The whole segment hit home the idea that if Dolph’s career ended now, he’d only be remembered for failure. Really hope this is used as an impetus for a Ziggler heel turn.
- Delivering Strong For The Gold- I was nervous about the face to face to face segment at the end of the show. Generally it’s all stuff we’ve heard before that degenerates into a brawl. They didn’t really deviate from that much but it was written in a way that made it feel fresh and special. The biggest thing about it is that John Cena, who routinely goes over people on the mic was cut off from talking not once but twice to the point that when Dean and AJ finished running him down his only response was to throw hands. Well done segment that did its job to get me hyped for the match at No Mercy.
Cons of the Show
- What Is This World?- I’m still fairly uninterested in Bray Wyatt. They continued to tell a story throughout the episode and I hope that’s a trend that continues with other programs but I just can’t get into this one. I think the main issue is WWE trying to do the supernatural, it rings false with them in the reality era, not that they couldn’t reestablish it as a part of their programming but they need to take the time to establish the world in which someone like Bray Wyatt exists. It’s clear WWE is trying to capitalize on the interest generated by Broken Matt Hardy but the difference is that TNA took the time over many weeks to set up the world that Broken Matt lives in. We don’t have that with Wyatt. We just have cryptic promos and shadowy backstage locations.
- Following The Formula- The women’s division suffered on this episode. They stuck to tired WWE formulas such as a heel (Carmella) being on the announce table while their rival (Nikki) is in a match then interfering causing a DQ after an altercation outside the ring. Then they made it even more formulaic because Nikki was facing Alexa Bliss who is of course the number 1 contender to Becky Lynch. Predictably the heels started beating up Nikki after the DQ which lead to Becky running down for the save which of course resulted in a tag match. Ugh. Hate this for a couple of reasons. One, you’re giving away the PPV matches. Two, you’re cramming two separate programs together. In a show that featured a pointless match between the Hype Bros and The Vaudevillains, it’s boggling to me that they couldn’t give the two women’s programs their own time. Finally Becky got pinned and I hate seeing champs get pinned on TV.
- Pinning Usos- Wish they would have just gone with Jey Usos taking out Jason Jordan’s leg and maybe getting DQed for continuing to attack against ref instructions and then that lead to Slater and Rhyno making the save. I hate seeing one of the contender’s for the tag title take a clean pin like that.
Winner: Monday Night RAW
Well there you have it. RAW has picked up another victory at last. What it came down to is that RAW was pretty much enjoyable throughout and there was nothing I disliked too heavily. SmackDown delivered big on the World and Intercontinental title programs but the rest of the show fell flat. It’s good to see that RAW is apparently going to bring the fight to SmackDown, I was getting worried.