The “Road to WrestleMania” got much clearer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Multiple matches were booked for WrestleMania 34 and several others seem to be taking shape.
Let’s discuss it!
This show started with Kurt Angle calling out Triple H.
We all had fun with the Angle memes last week, but it makes sense that he’d be a bit miffed about getting punched in the face – especially since he was still recovering from DOUBLE PNEUMONIA at the time. Stephanie was the one to answer the call, however.
Steph said that Triple H wasn’t in the arena yet – which is a hilariously empty excuse, considering their positions in the company – and she laid on the false platitudes thick and heavy. Stephanie would go on to not-so-vaguely threaten Angle’s job by naming his children and alimony payments.
It was funny enough, despite being a well that WWE’s gone to in the past. Heath Slater and Mick Foley come to mind. In the end, she essentially ordered Angle to know his role and book the matches.
Ronda Rousey took that moment to interrupt, grinning ear-to-ear and giving out high fives to the crowd. She followed up with a hug for Angle and a handshake for Stephanie before giving a promo of her own.
Rousey’s still a bit awkward, frankly. She’s rushing through her lines and missed the drumroll when she picked Stephanie as her WrestleMania opponent. Still, the crowd’s reacting much better than I might have expected. HHH came out immediately to defend his wife, showing what a farce the “he ain’t here” bit was. Angle took Triple H’s presence as an opportunity to book a tag match between the four of them.
And I’ve got to go back to the awkward thing. Angle’s lines were slurred, the brawl at the end was sluggish, and Rousey’s movements in grabbing Stephanie looked extremely unnatural. I was also disappointed that she merely did a Samoan Drop instead of a fancy Judo throw.
But with all of that said, this was still a success. The crowd reacted well and despite some greenness, Rousey’s clearly got potential. It flags at times, but her mean mug and physical charisma make up for a lot of it.
This could have been better, but you can’t argue with the response from the crowd.
I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying
Nia Jax is one hell of a babyface.
This show confirmed to me that she’s going to have a very big year ahead of her. Firstly, her rematch against Asuka was fantastic. The two of them present a stellar juxtaposition of speed and strength; I’ve enjoyed all of their interactions in the past few weeks.
They got the crowd oohing and ahhing at some of Jax’s feats of strength. She hit a cool Airplane Spin variation in the match as well as a Military Press that had the crowd gasping. The match would end as Asuka desperately clung to a triangle choke as Jax Powerbombed her multiple times. She eventually rolled it into her usual arm bar and made Jax submit.
The story here though, is how Alexa Bliss is the most despicable friend of all time.
Bliss sat down beside a distraught Jax backstage and plucked at all of Jax’s insecurities. She’s too big, she’s a quitter, she’s an embarrassment…and she did it all under the guise of a friend.
Her verbal barrage caused Jax to genuinely weep. My eyes literally stung watching this and I just wanted to give Nia a hug and tell her she’s awesome.
Ooooh man. I want Bliss to be destroyed so thoroughly that she thinks she’s still teaming with Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy. The suddenly-mute-and-also-heel Mickie James situation is still weird in all of this, but I was emotionally affected by this storyline in a way I haven’t been by WWE in quite some time.
THE MIZZIES ARE AWESOME
THE COMEDIC TIMING OF THIS SEGMENT WAS BRILLIANT IN EVERY WAY. I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS SEGMENT AND YOU CAN SHUT UP BECAUSE YOU’RE WRONG IF YOU THINK DIFFERENTLY.
So! The Mizzies are freaking stellar. The awards served as a way to mock Seth Rollins, Kurt Angle, and Finn Balor. And not only that, but the segment gave the Miz the perfect structure to go out and roast people. That led to Rollins coming out to massive cheers to shut the Miz up.
…But guess who came out to steal the spotlight just as Rollins got going? Balor.
“That’s two weeks now. Why are you following me?” Rollins complained.
Balor did what he always does: grin. “Follow you? I’m here to do you one better.”
Finn Balor openly admitted on this show that he’s trying to show up Rollins. That’s incredible. This three all dislike each other and the bad blood is palpable. The Miz wants to preserve his title reign. Rollins wants to become the headliner of the show once more. Balor wants to stop the jokes at his expense and become Universal Champion once more.
The following handicap match of the Miztourage vs. Balor and Rollins was excellent as well. And guess what happened again? Rollins was rolling, so Balor tagged himself in. Boy, the look Rollins gave him…
MAN THIS IS AWESOME.
Rollins got him back as Balor went for the Coup de Grace by tagging in and hitting a Blackout on the Miz for the victory.
After the match, a triple threat match was announced between the three for WrestleMania. WOOOOOOOOOO!
Best of the Rest
John the Beggar Returns to Raw - Welcome to WWE, folks; where even the advertisements for SmackDown suck.
Okay, I’m being harsh. John Cena’s promo was very good. In short, he’s delusional at best and intentionally petty at worst. He came to Raw because he wanted to run his mouth and didn’t want his adversaries on SmackDown coming to interrupt him.
Cena said that he’s going to win the WWE Title for the 17th time at Fastlane, thereby completely undermining his whole story right now. Dude. You’re in a match for the WWE Championship next week when WrestleMania’s a mere month away. You aren’t slipping away into the sunset just yet.
Cena’s readily given these opportunities because he’s John frickin’ Cena. How many times do we need to go over this? He’s self-aware though, claiming he doesn’t want to take spots before throwing out the thought of a Nakamura/Styles match with him thrown in the middle. That was a great touch.
Anyway, this part was neat until Goldust interrupted and then it was lame. Hence the SmackDown advertisement. Welp.
The Bar def. The Revival – Ah yes. The ol’ “beat the champ to earn a championship match” trope. It feels like the Revival have been caught in the undertow a bit as WWE scrambled to set up their WrestleMania stories. Part of it is that WWE lacks any real babyface tag teams at the moment on Raw. Either way, they still aren’t catching on in the way I’d hoped and losing won’t help much. I imagine we’ll get a multi-team match at WrestleMania.
No Hug for You – Bayley’s story right now is that she’s essentially maturing into an adult and no longer blindly trusting people. That’s pretty cool, especially when they frame it as well as they did on this show with Paige’s promo at the beginning and Bayley turning down a hug from Sasha Banks at the end. Much better than last week.
The Strowman We Love Returned – Let me break down this “Symphony of Destruction” match: Elias wore this flimsy robe-like floral shirt, played multiple instruments, and talked a lot. Strowman lifted a car, chased Elias, and destroyed half an orchestra’s worth of instruments.
Pro Wrestling at its finest.
Hardy Compound Time – Wyatt and Hardy did their usual thing, but this time they revealed that their next encounter would be at the Hardy Compound. The crowd cheered loudly for it, but there was very little explanation on what that will entail. I feel bad for the folks new to the Woken Hardy stuff.
Reigns Showed up. Brock Didn’t. – Paul Heyman got clearance to say a four-letter word and the crowd gasped. He talked a bit about the UFC while shooting down the criticism that Lesnar doesn’t wrestle enough. He claimed that no one would ever say that about the Undertaker last year.
In the end, Heyman called the Universal Championship Lesnar’s bitch and said that Roman Reigns can’t have her. He then talked about how the Universal Championship lusts for him or something. That was weird.
Roman Reigns emerged afterwards to get in Heyman’s face and demand him to pick the title up off the ground and “show some respect.” Reigns essentially teased a confrontation next week, but it was good for what it was.
Coming into this show, the only feud I felt confident in was the Intercontinental Championship feud. After the show, I was impressed with all three women’s storylines – especially Nia Jax – and even intrigued by Reigns vs. Lesnar.
This was a fun show, y’all. I may be a bit overly generous with this grade, but you know what? Sue me.
They need to do better with the Wyatt/Hardy feud and the tag team division, but I don’t have much to complain about here. What did you think of the show?