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Cup of coffee in the big time: Two up, two down from a surprisingly good Raw

The standards for what make for a “good Raw” have certainly slipped over the past months, but last night provided a show better than expected and certainly well above the recent average.

Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from the show.

Up: Finn Balor gets the win - There was a lot of Finn Balor on last night’s show, but that’s not a bad thing.

Coming off the enormous pop at NXT UK TakeOver, Balor’s run good kept going with exactly the right type of storytelling. He acknowledged to Vince McMahon the boss doesn’t respect him, Jinder Mahal had the chance to enter the four-way by picking any man involved to wrestle and take his spot and picked underdog Balor only to lose and then Balor made it happen in the main event before getting the post-match Cena endorsement.

Brock Lesnar’s best matches these days come against the scrappy, smaller underdogs, so there’s plenty of reason to think the Rumble match will be very good.

Also, it’s just nice to see something different in the Raw main event scene.

Down: That Alexa Bliss thing: There are a lot of things from the Attitude Era that should stay dead and buried. “Are we gonna see a boob?” is one of the leaders in that category.

The segment was so unnecessary and felt so out of step with what the promotion has spent years doing for women’s wrestling. And it was also completely unnecessary narratively.

There was plenty of pushback to people who said this exact thing on Twitter, the usual “stop being so PC” and the like. The problem is the pointlessness of the segment for pure sexualization purposes.

And, the ever present WWE narrative problem of “Why was there a camera there in the first place?”

You could have gotten to the Dozovic thing a million different (and better) ways than this.

Up: Building Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey - Sasha Banks has been missing for some time. I mean, yeah, she’s been on TV for months, but that wasn’t Sasha Banks.

Banks has an attitude and edge that has been missing for a long time.

Getting the shot at Rousey and the opportunity to get back to the top of the mountain seems to have brought the character’s fire back as indicated by finding the insult in all of Rousey’s words after they won while tagging together.

The little bit of fire in just a few minutes of work served to build the match incredibly well.

When WWE is clicking, they realize stories can be just as effectively told through minimalistic methods like this as through non-stop over-the-top wildness.

Down: Bobby Lashley, Intercontinental Champion - My issue isn’t necessarily with Lashley winning. He’s not my cup of tea by any means and I don’t think he’ll ever click and feel like a top star in WWE, but he’s a perfectly fine IC champ.

The issue is the further exposing of how pointless Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins was. This feud should have been red hot for months. Instead, after the initial perfect turn, it fell off a cliff.

Ambrose was getting shots in his ass and cutting promos that felt way less edgy than intended. Then they absolutely bombed the match at TLC and all the steam was gone.

There was a little life in the Falls Count Anywhere Match last week, but that wasn’t enough to save the program. And now Lashley has the belt that was central to the story. Ambrose wanted the belt because it meant he had taken the thing Rollins cared most about.

Along came a Lashley and ... what now?

This has been a good start to the week!

Also, PCO is a crazy old dude.

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