There's a bit of a narrative disconnect in the main storyline from Monday Night Raw this week.
On the one hand we have Brock Lesnar, with Paul Heyman, confronting Raw General Manager Kurt Angle to expose what amounts to a plot by the higher powers to get the Universal championship off Lesnar at SummerSlam. Their charge is that Angle booked the match in such a way that Lesnar is basically certain to lose.
And if he does, they're both leaving WWE.
What's strange is how they came to this conclusion -- though they later made clear they don't intend to lose anyway. Their idea is Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns will all team up, take Lesnar out of the picture, and then square off against each other. That way Lesnar loses without even being pinned.
Considering the UFC's want to book Jon Jones vs. Brock Lesnar later this year, that may have been a spoiler.
But it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to go with that angle, and our dear General Manager not even bother to refute it, while those very three men were scheduled for a triple threat match, sans Brock, later in the night. And, for reasons I'm still unclear of, all three worked that match like their contendership depended on it.
So, they all weakened each other in a brutal battle while Lesnar sat on the sidelines accusing everyone of collusion to get the belt off him.
That's a big whiff.
As for the aforementioned triple threat, it was a fun enough match it just never should have happened. WWE has a real issue with booking matches like this, where they're essentially giving a match away as a way to build to something very close to the same match while giving no reason for any of the wrestlers to actually participate in it.
The match was good. So there's that. The story just doesn't support it, and that takes a great deal away from it.
The saga of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose got even better this week, with WWE showing they can actually write a story with real depth to it where both characters are sympathetic for just how human they are in their interactions.
Ambrose still doesn't trust Rollins, because of course he doesn't, but Seth's repeated efforts at reconciliation have put a dent in that distrust. There's a very thin line between love and hate, and sometimes they're the same emotion. There has never been a point when Dean didn't love Seth -- it just became hate for a time, then he simply buried it down deep.
This entire angle is the process of bringing it back to the surface.
How they're getting there is great.
This week, Ambrose admitted there's appeal to getting back together with his old friend but he still feels the effects of Rollins' prior deception. They demonstrated this by having Seth, a forlorn figure dealing with repeated rejection despite his best efforts, getting himself into a fight with the Raw tag team champions. He won a singles match against Sheamus but paid dearly for it in the form of a post-match beatdown.
This, of course, led to Ambrose rushing out to help him only to get beatdown himself. Perhaps, then, the two are getting closer to the middle?
Ambrose, as noted, feels the effects of that prior deception so deeply that he believed this to be a setup, that Rollins more or less orchestrated this scenario so that Dean would look like a dick if he didn't help him. This isn't true, of course; Rollins was simply being painfully human in his response to Ambrose's inability to forgive his past transgressions. But Dean has every reason to think otherwise.
This is the excruciating process of mending a badly broken relationship.
That WWE managed to play this so both sides looked sympathetic is incredible. We rarely get writing this good from this company anymore. Let's hope it continues, because we're headed for what could be an amazing moment, when Rollins' hard work pays off and Ambrose fully embraces him once more.
SEAN WRITES ABOUT THE CRUISERWEIGHTS SO GENO DOESN'T HAVE TO
In exchange for a pre-announced 205 Live main event (with stakes and everything!) the cruisers got the old throw-all-the-feuds-in-one-tag-match treatment this week. Which, if the show is jam-packed with other stuff, is a decent enough way to keep several stories in our minds. But on a night where the third hour was 45 minutes of recaps and a couple of schmoz-y feud extenders, the six-man featuring Akira Tozawa, Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander beating Ariya Daivari, TJP and Tony Nese felt pretty lazy.
The big story remained Tozawa's desire to fight his way through a shoulder injury despite manager Titus O'Neil's efforts to protect him for a big payday down the line. Or I guess that was the big story, because after some tension during the match, Titus Worldwide's founder was cheering Akira on as he launched a senton that won the match and caused him to land on his bad arm, so...
Still not really buying Daivari's sudden ascension from enhancement talent to potential Kingslayer (sorry Seth, and also Jaime Lannister), but they're doing everything they can to sell it and it's a decent way to extend the Tozawa/Neville feud, so I'll give them some leeway. Otherwise, the cruisers had a fun match with their only time on Raw, but the crowd wasn't into it except for the ...DIVEs and I'm not sure it helped TJP and Swann's feud or Alexander and Nese - who I guess are also beefing now, unless they're just sidekicks for TJ and Rich? Anyway...
GENO... MEATLOAF'S READY!
All the best to all the rest
Miz TV: Jason Jordan was the guest on Miz TV, which is exactly what WWE should be doing with an up-and-coming babyface because Miz can get anyone over. This segment made clear it's going to be difficult, however, because Jordan just isn't comfortable on the mic yet and he didn't come off like even half the star Miz has become. In fact, it's such that Miz looks right offering him a spot in the Miztourage and Jordan just looks lame for only getting physical when Miz started running down his dad (you know, Kurt Angle, because LOL). That said, Jordan throwing dudes into other dudes is always a fun time.
Mind games: Bray Wyatt said some words, as Bray Wyatt is wont to do, and they were real fancy like. Really made you think. Then Finn Balor, who promised he can play mind games too, magically appeared and showed us he posseses the power of great timing. It's still early in the program but it looks like every Wyatt program you've ever seen except now Balor is there.
Tag team scene: The Hardy Men are interesting right now if only for those moments when Jeff Hardy just does something crazy for the sake of it. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are just sort of hanging around while The Revival are attempting their takeover of the division. I don't know, it's fine, but there doesn't feel like a lot to it outside of that.
Elias def. Kalisto: Sometimes the bad guy has to win some matches over some good guys so he becomes even more of a bad guy before putting over an even bigger good guy. This.
Bayley def. Nia Jax: It should be pointed out that Bayley did such a good sell job in this match, I was convinced she legitimately injured her shoulder. That said, the fact that run-ins like Alexa's don't lead to obvious disqualifications here when they do at other times hurts matches like this. How do the heels get heat if they can break the rules in plain sight of the referee and nothing happens? It's normalized. Anyway, the best part of all this was the pre-match promo where Alexa ran down Sasha Banks. I'm not sure what that says about the title program they chose for SummerSlam.
Main event: A Big Cass vs. Big Show match! What a ride! The story, really, was that Enzo Amore never wins, even when he recruits a giant as big as the giant who just beat him down before. It's almost become my favorite part of Raw each week, when Enzo gets destroyed. It has become a certainty, and I love it. Even his "victory" here was that Show knocked Cass out only because Cass was celebrating over him. Then Show had to carry him out. That's a "win" for Enzo. Amazing.
This was a big step down from last week.