Here’s your shortest Raw recap ever:
“That does it! I’m going on a diet starting right this very moment! I’m changing everything and I’m gonna look like a million bucks!
There! A diet soda!”
I’m kidding, obviously...but that’s kind of close, right?
This show started with the McMahon family quartet out in the ring and they had a promo that basically sounded like a press release that I’d write for my day job: ‘We’ve not done very well but we’re working diligently to fix the issues at hand. We’d like to thank you for your patience and we promise that we’re shaking things up because the fans matter to us.’
It wasn’t the earth-shattering news that people were hoping for, nor did it give us any immediate ramifications. But if you squint a bit, you can see the barest glimmers of change.
The most obvious was the women’s gauntlet match to close the show. Ronda Rousey came out to cheers – which surprised me a bit, honestly – and talked about what makes a champion. The promo was fine, I guess, but the gist of it was that she wanted to prove that she was the absolute best that WWE has to offer. And to prove that, she wants to start a new tradition of defending her title after every PPV. That cause a justifiable commotion, and Stephanie McMahon allowed the women to work it out in a gauntlet match.
If you want change, there were a few items in this match. Bayley had her strongest outing in a long while by taking out two women before succumbing to Mickie James. Sasha Banks had the last spot in the gauntlet, interestingly enough. Corey Graves asserted the fact that she must have politicked for that spot; if true, that’d be a change in character for her.
And finally, Natalya continued her hot streak and won a match on Raw with Rousey next week. That’s a fresh match, and one that was a long time coming. Is it a sexy decision? Probably not, but we’re still six weeks or whatever until the Royal Rumble. I want to see Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon in particular get more run, but this is at least something we can work with.
Corbin gets crushed again
Back to that opening segment for a moment. Baron Corbin has been used as a scapegoat these past few weeks for Raw’s ratings recession, and he got another dose of it on this show. He came out to whine to the McMahon family about how he was treated at TLC, and Triple H responded by booking him in a match with Kurt Angle.
Was anyone else disappointed by the decision? I was hoping for a debut or some monumental moment and sadly, Angle’s just not that anymore. The match was okay and featured McMahons giving Corbin a taste of his own medicine, but this all just felt like a rerun of TLC. It didn’t add anything new.
It just felt like a wasted opportunity to me. If you meant what you said about shaking things up, that was your chance, even if Angle has a storyline reason to fight Corbin.
Finn Balor def. Dolph Ziggler via DQ – Hey guys, were you as shocked as I was that Drew McIntyre interfered in this fight?! Wow!!!!
...Okay you know what? I’m fine with it. These are three of the biggest names on Raw getting a chance to work a program with other prominent names. WWE needs to give us some sort of endgame with this moving forward, though. Hopefully, they’ll provide one before the triple threat next week.
Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze – Were you like me and desperately rooting for Tyler Breeze? That’s my guy, man. And honestly, the crowd reaction he got from not working regular TV matches was fantastic.
The story here was Ambrose gloated about getting into Rollins’ head and tried to steal his open challenge business to stick it to Rollins once again. After beating Breeze, Seth Rollins attacked by stealing a play from Ambrose’s old playbook. He dressed as one of Ambrose’s masked bodyguards and sent the champ scurrying away.
Rollins had an interview later in the show where he talked about how he let Ambrose get in his head and how he heard the crowd boo his match at TLC. He has to own those failures and figure out how to move forward. Nothing that happened tonight really excited me for this feud, but I’m still willing to give it a shot. These two are too talented to be down for long...right?
Coming soon to WWE – I am all in on Nikki Cross and Lars Sullivan. I know a lot of y’all are against Sullivan these days but I’m sorry. That guy’s my jam.
I’m concerned about Heavy Machinery since they seem to be the sort of tag team that loses luster on the main roster. EC3 could either hit or miss so I hope WWE really focuses on giving him a good debut, and Lacey Evans seems destined for the lower card – at least for a while. Would you agree with my assessment, Cageside?
The Revival def. AoP, B Team, Lucha House Party – With Corbin gone, Shane McMahon booked a fatal fourway tag match to determine the next #1 Contender. And the Revival finally got a win! I feel like we just had a multi-team tag match for contention recently, but I guess you could say the Revival winning was a fresh, new experience.
Elias hits Bobby Lashley with a guitar – I zoned out on this segment. I think that statement is its own review.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens return soon – My body is ready.
This is a weird show to grade because WWE basically redefined the success of this show. They swore to bring in a new era, right? Well on the surface, this looked like a lot of the same.
Still, there were moments and glimmers of something new. I think WWE really committed to telling stories tonight and advertising a clear next step for following week. Nattie vs. Rousey, for example. The Balor vs. Ziggler vs. McIntyre triple threat – that’s gonna be dope, by the way.
So with all that said, I don’t want to jump on WWE prematurely. These things do take time. But I was hoping we’d get more than what we got tonight.
What are you looking for in this “new era,” Cageside? What new goodies will get you to buy in?