You know, I really liked how WWE started the show with a Roman Reigns match. With Lesnar missing, it seemed like a great opportunity to give other storylines some love.
By my count, Regins was in 6 different segments of this show. Two video packages, three talking segments, and a long match. And throughout it all, I felt like WWE tried to shoehorn a bunch of different things into how he’s being portrayed. Let me show you what I mean.
The show started with Reigns being portrayed as a protector. A brother. A locker room leader. He interrupted Constable Corbin and Kurt Angle at the start of the show to talk about protecting the business from Lesnar, who apparently hates everyone and everything nowadays. Reigns called Corbin out for being a coward when Lesnar stared him down – a fair point, to be sure! - and they had a very good match. I feel like we often forget that Corbin’s a great wrestler. Balor intervened to get revenge on Corbin and he shared a moment with Reigns that reminded me of Otto and Twister from Rocket Power. Anyway, everything up until this point in the show was totally fine.
When Seth Rollins suddenly needed a tag partner, Reigns appeared again. Again, this was fine. He’s always got his Shield brothers’ backs and this is honestly when I enjoy Reigns the most.
Here’s where it gets sketchy. WWE put a video package in the middle of the show to overview the “epic” 3-year feud between Lesnar and Reigns. Firstly, I think calling it such is a blatant attempt to rewrite history. I doubt you could find a consensus opinion on this feud at all, to be honest. Secondly, WWE tried to use this package to frame Reigns as the guy who gets up where others didn’t. Again, that’s a narrative I wouldn’t agree with. And finally, Reigns said the thing again that he should be champion already.
Stop doing that, WWE! Who does that help? Is it supposed to make Reigns look good? The cage match was a dumb result then and it’s still dumb; stop talking about it!
It also drags up this hypermasculine streak of Reigns’ that was prominent in the Bobby Lashley feud. It complicates what should be a simple story. It makes me hate the guy. And when you mutilate an easy story by shoehorning in lines and added bits and pieces to make people like him, you’re doing the exact opposite.
WWE, don’t you remember that that’s what got Reigns his hate in the first place?
I’m so sick of writing about my complicated feelings about Reigns each week. I think he’s a fantastic wrestler working with a shoddy script. I liked some of these segments and loathed the rest. Fight me.
Paul Heyman is a Wrestling God
I ripped WWE above for the context surrounding the Reigns vs. Lesnar feud. Here’s one thing I can’t criticize at all: Paul Heyman.
Red-eyed and slumped before Renee Young, Heyman gave a tormented interview backstage. He was rocking back and forth and fighting tears as Young pursued the truth surrounding Lesnar. Heyman had no answers.
And then, when Young gave him a moment to get his emotions together, he dropped the line that blew my mind: “Just do your job.”
You know, like Heyman had been doing for 16 years behind Lesnar. Like he tried to do last week before his friend betrayed him. WWE, if I could give you any advice at all...give this entire story to Heyman and do precisely what he says. He gets it.
Lesnar apparently changed his phone number. He won’t communicate with Heyman at all. Their kids were apparently friends, but Lesnar snapped that tether connecting the two men as well. He’s removed all traces of Heyman’s presence in his life, and he did it seemingly without any remorse at all.
And when Young asked him if Reigns could beat Lesnar, Heyman used himself as an example. If Lesnar’s that merciless, that cruel...how could Reigns stand a chance?
This might have been one of the best promos I’ve ever seen. I’m not kidding, nor am I hyperbolizing. You’re a god, Paul Heyman.
Rousey’s Raw Debut
It was a squash. Of course it was a squash.
WWE tried to pass off Alicia Fox as if she were some formidable opponent which was hysterical to me. Do you really think you can heat people up in one week, WWE?
Alexa Bliss and Fox came out to do a long-winded promo before the main event that was just more of the same. Anyway, none of that matters. This story’s Rousey. It’s always been Rousey. She threw Fox around like the Hulk slammed Loki around in The Avengers.
And it was great!
That’s always been my perception of this feud and this did nothing to change that. Alexa Bliss is extremely talented, but she’s done the same thing for months and months and months. Talk, talk, talk.
It’s time for Judo throws and broken elbows. This felt a lot like Rousey’s UFC appearances and I’m sure that was by design. She was the main event, had a quick, electrifying match, and a short interview to end.
I enjoyed it.
Best of the Rest
A Wild Balor Appears – Finn Balor kept Constable Corbin from scurrying away during the Reigns match. And that was the end of his night. Distinctly disappointing.
Bobby Roode def. Mojo Rawley – This was a fun little match that could have used more time or more...anything to develop the story, really. Rawley’s been a punk in the locker room, Roode defeated him, and WWE did nothing to say if this feud’s continuing or not. I’d imagine they fight again on Summerslam’s pre-show?
Kevin Owens Strikes Again – Owens is low-key killing it once again. He called Jinder Mahal his “personal guru” before calling his meditative methods crap, which was hilarious. He shouted “SHANTI!” at Mahal to persuade the Maharaja to fight in a match that Owens goaded him into. Even more hilarious.
Here’s the truth: Owens is enacting the revenge on Strowman that he promised. He’s cost the big guy two wins and he’s proven that his ability to get under Strowman’s skin might end up winning him the briefcase.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Elias – Apparently Elias’ documentary last week wasn’t good enough. They got it wrong and portrayed him as egotistical and self-centered. How dare they?!
Anyway, he tried to direct his own documentary until Bobby Lashley screwed it up. Lashley got a brief chant, but this isn’t working. I don’t even remember how this feud started.
Rezar def. Titus O’Neil - This was your usual status quo of boring tag team booking. A short match that led to the opposite result of last week.
Seth Rollins needs help – Reigns was banned by Corbin from tagging with Rollins, and Rollins lost his handicap match against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Gee, if only there were a third man...
...B Team is the Spirit Squad? - Good grief. B Team‘s new music is the worst thing ever, isn’t it? Please drop it immediately. I was hoping that the Revival would defeat them for their auditory sins, but the Deleters of Worlds showed up to play mind games. Ho hum. This tag division needs life so badly.
Ruby Riott’s back, Riott Squad def. Bayley and Sasha Banks – I laughed when Michael Cole had to inject the fact that Riott had been hurt. This match was entertaining, but I’m in no way excited about any of this. It’s just a staple of Raw nowadays: Riotts vs. Hug-a-Boss-whatever-their-name-is.
The best part of this show – by far- was Paul Heyman’s interview. Rousey was great as well and Owens’ work was brilliant. But man, the rest of this show really struggled to grab my attention at all.
How do you grade a show with brief, fantastic moments and long stints of boredom? Par for the course, I guess. Thoughts, Cageside?