WWE hit Minneapolis, Minnesota for Monday Night Raw this week, and it was all about the return of Brock Lesnar to answer Goldberg while also sending us home to the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) this coming Sunday night in Boston. They failed to do anything interesting in all three hours.
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What's the point?
Let's try to keep this straight: Seth Rollins stole THE LIST from Chris Jericho, so that he could both taunt Jericho with it and further drive a wedge between Jericho and Kevin Owens. It looked like he may have made some headway with that, but then he didn't really accomplish his goal before heading backstage and passing THE LIST off.
Jericho said he wouldn't wrestle in the triple threat match planned for the main event unless THE LIST was returned to him. So he went on a quest to find it, running into The Shining Stars, Titus O'Neil, Jinder Mahal, and, finally, the guy who was ultimately in possession of it, Braun Strowman.
He asked for it back, Strowman told him to say "please," he did, Braun gave it back, Jericho put him on THE LIST, and that was that.
That was the payoff.
The triple threat went off as planned, with Rollins pinning both Owens and Jericho at the same time before they attacked him. Jericho then walked backstage, never to be seen again, before Rollins attacked Owens from behind and KO responded by hitting an apron powerbomb to close the show with commentary asking if Seth will be ready for their match this Sunday night.
There was no point to any of this that I can see. Just a lame show long story without a proper climax. The weeks long story of Jericho and Owens maybe not being on the same page also didn't get a climax. They could have simply booked the pull apart brawl with the apron powerbomb and been done with it. Then again, THE LIST is more over than any star on the roster right now, so maybe WWE was right to give it so much play.
LOOK AT ME
On paper, the segment they had planned out for the Sasha Banks-Charlotte contract signing for their historic Hell in a Cell match makes a lot of sense. Something was lost in the execution of it, though.
The idea was simple: Banks and Charlotte hate each other and are ready to tear each other apart over the Raw women's championship. It's that important. Raw General Manager Mick Foley was there with the contract but wouldn't come off it before delivering an impassioned speech to both women about the horrors of the match they were about to sign a contract to participate in.
Even when they said they were ready for it, Foley shouted at them that they do not, in fact, have any idea what they're in for. He went full Foley here, nearly breaking down in tears while describing the nightmares he still gets over the destruction visited upon him in each of his Hell in a Cell encounters. To this day, his body is a broken shell of what it once was.
He has such great respect and admiration for both of these women that he needed them to look him dead in the eye and promise they understood what they were about to do before signing the contract and going ahead with it.
That sounds good, right? Reading it out, it makes a great deal of sense and Foley, in many ways, wasn't all that bad in his delivery. He was good, even. But I'll be damned if it didn't feel like Sasha and Charlotte were going at each other and Foley kept weirdly inserting himself into the argument talking about how messed up he is. Every time they brought it back around to the women, Foley was right there yelling about how he still has trouble walking.
The idea was sound but the scripting of it was off and by the end it felt too much like Foley making it about what he went through instead of what the women are about to go through.
I think WWE believed that Goldberg's babyface promo last week, coupled with Paul Heyman not so subtly nudging the crowd in that direction, would lead to Brock Lesnar getting overwhelmed with "Goldberg" chants during Heyman's promo. The stuttering Heyman was doing, I think, was supposed to be his being shook that fans in Minneapolis, Brock's hometown as Heyman said, were supporting a guy who was going against him. My assumption is they would use this as a way to get Lesnar upset before naming the time and place the fight would go down.
But that's not what happened.
Instead, the crowd cheered Lesnar, chanted "Suplex City" and then chanted "Goldberg sucks." Heyman tried to push them in the other direction, it didn't work, and because it didn't work they never got to the payoff and basically just walked off.
This might be one of the worst segments of the year. Here, we can't even say the idea was good on paper because it relied on the idea that Lesnar would get booed in his hometown, that the good will for Goldberg would be enough to get them to turn on Brock. The reaction here was enough to wonder how Toronto might react to him.
Either way, this didn't work, and it's clear we need to move away from "Brock looks tough while Heyman talks" as the standard Lesnar segment.
All the best to all the rest
Enzo def. Karl Anderson: I guess it's okay to be a cheating cheater if you're the good guy doing it to a bad guy who has cheated before? Whatever, that's fine. I quite liked the cheesy intro before the match, however, when Enzo and Cass foiled Anderson and Luke Gallows' plan to mess up their schtick by using the mic tattooed on Enzo's hand. Super cheesy wrestling stuff, but fun when you let it be.
Sheamus & Cesaro def. The New Day: The idea here was to show that once these two actually worked together, even if they didn't even mean to do so, they're an elite level team that is absolutely capable of winning the tag team titles. They did that here with a few really good spots. That said, the endless bickering is beyond annoying and incredibly difficult to watch for any length of time.
Arm wrestling: We're not far enough into the "Bayley on the main roster" experience to know how well it may or may not work but they booked a segment here, having her arm wrestle Dana Brooke, that had the crowd literally chanting "this is stupid" and "boring." That's almost an accomplishment, it just sucks for fans who want to care more than the writing is allowing right now. Brooke doesn't belong in this role, at least not yet, and that's never been more clear than on this show. That would be fine if she was working with anyone else but it's only going to hurt Bayley to be the babyface in the equation.
Believe in Bo: Curtis Axel got to cut a hometown promo, and he had some fire. He got the crowd behind him. Then he got beat in a short match. Something is up with Bo and no one knows what it is, just that he's really, really angry.
Rusev & Roman Reigns: They did pre-taped promos and Rusev came across like the clear babyface while Reigns came across like the clear heel. This was the first night I wasn't sure if we were being ribbed or not.
Golden Truth def. Shining Stars: Mark Henry helped out by dealing with Titus O'Neil, who was causing problems on the outside. No one cared, and they were right not to.
RAWR: Braun Strowman laughed off Sami Zayn as actual competition, took some of his best shots, and threw the former NXT champion into the barricade before walking out like he had better things to do. Zayn tried to stand up to him again but Strowman made his point. This was amazing. Really well done in pretty much every way, and basically the only segment they got right on the entire show.
The Brian Kendrick: I did appreciate that Kendrick has now resorted to just asking TJ Perkins to lose the cruiserweight title to him because he needs this. I'm an advocate for fresh tactics.
This was a horrible episode of Raw.