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Cup of coffee in the big time: Raw has heavy lifting to do before TLC

There isn’t much time left for WWE to build to Sunday’s TLC event. With Raw being in a brutal down period, featuring some truly awful TV, there’s some heavy lifting to be done tonight.

First, there’s still the big question of if Braun Strowman will be good to go on Sunday. If not, there is a former family member waiting in the wings for a big return. The way Strowman was written off TV was a decent enough attempt at building heat for his TLC match with Baron Corbin, but Corbin has been floundering since.

If all we get tonight is a promo from Corbin about Strowman not showing up, that’s not exactly exciting. Any sign of Wyatt would get instant buzz, though. But we could be in a holding pattern until Sunday.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose should have the hottest feud in the company, but the bizarre approach to things after the red-hot turn on the night of Roman Reigns’ leukemia announcement cooled things off. Burning vests, rambling promos, literal shots in the ass, none of that was the stuff of two men with monster heat.

But their physical confrontations have been ramping up and we’re finally getting some Ambrose out-thinking Rollins, which is an interesting dynamic based on the histories of their characters.

Letting these two go is the best play. Now that they’re picking up steam, it’s mostly on WWE to not send Ambrose back to the doctor or any other goofy thing.

Speaking of goofy: WWE insisting on a “press conference” segment for Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax is just that. Rousey and Jax are much better storytellers using physicality than words, we’ve seen that enough with some awful promos both directions.

This being pro wrestling, the press conference will break down into a fight, but everything before could just bring more cringe.

Elias needs to continue building momentum for his match with Bobby Lashley. It’s a true clash of someone who is over with the fans against someone fans just don’t care about. So, I assume that means Elias is ultimately doomed.

Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre is fine. Everything about it is fine and the match will be good. Balor picked up the kind of momentum they need to find for Elias simply by being the catalyst for the faces finally having a good week against the heels. And McIntyre is doing a phenomenal job in his role. This one is in the same “just don’t screw it up” place as Ambrose vs. Rollins.

It’s a lot to ask for an episode of Raw to hit all the right notes to build feuds and not ruin the ones that are already clicking. But the show has to break its awful cycle at some point ... right?

Another Monday and the weekend is gone far too fast.

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