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WWE Raw preview (May 6, 2019): Do the work

WWE is getting the whole gang together in Cincinnati.

The Headliner(s)

At the risk of sounding too negative (again), I don’t have a ton of faith good writing is coming to change our perception of WWE’s Monday night flagship - at least any time soon.

We’ll see if my - and plenty of other people’s - guess that Roman Reigns feuding with the McMahon family is the creative team’s short-term solution to Raw’s critical and ratings woes. But even if they have something more inventive up their sleeve, we still have issues like their habit of announcing who’s assigned to which brand, or who gets to compete in the Money in the Bank ladder matches, by decree instead of any other more interesting mechanism. So while I’m with folks hoping it will get better, I can’t get on board with hoping it will become by better by being a different show starting tonight. Big changes, and probably more pain, await before that’s gonna happen, I’m afraid.

The thing which could be emphasized immediately, especially given the current feud at the top of the card, is good wrestling.

After some posturing about who built this and who burned down that, the contract signing last week between Universal champion Seth Rollins and #1 contender AJ Styles literally and figuratively took off when the two generations of workrate studs stopped talking and starting flying around the ring. It felt like a ‘go home’ show segment, and WWE’s schedule (they’ll be on tape delay from England for the actual Money in the Bank ‘go home’ shows) means it might as well have been.

If they’re gonna continue to rely on the old reliable, stakes-free storytelling tools, why not some Beat The Clock challenges for the Beastslayer and the Phenomenal One? And instead of jamokes they can quickly polish off, let Rollins go 30 minutes with Eric Young while Styles goes 25 with Cedric Alexander.

In-ring performances may not be the key to ratings success, but as we’ve already covered, I don’t think there’s a quick fix. Give the fans you know tune in every week something to enjoy. It can also work as proof of concept for the more “sports-like presentation” Fox is said to want from WWE.

It can’t hurt while we’re waiting for real change to come along.

The title scene

Another highlight of the April 29 episode came from the Women’s title feud where champ champ Becky Lynch and challenger Lacey Evans have convinced us they genuinely dislike each other. And, lo and behold, it made for good wrestling television when they tried to kick each other’s asses! More of that please.

There was nothing wrong with Rey Mysterio’s win over United States champion Samoa Joe last week, other than the typical champ-loses-non-title-match booking. It was probably part of the old beat-the-champ-get-a-title-shot routine, too. Which is fine. Just go ahead and make the match for the pay-per-view (PPV) in Hartford before Dominick gets any bigger.

Hey! This week I remembered who the Raw Tag Team titleholders are! Sure, it’s only because they were extras in the meta-drama which is the humiliation of Dash & Dawson. But it’s progress. Will Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder get something to do tonight? May they can declare themselves as contenders for the SmackDown belts?

The Women’s Tag straps are already cross brand, which seems to mean The IIconics can lose on either Monday or Tuesday. Last week, they didn’t appear on either night, so... no loses! Their next challengers look likely to come from Team Blue, so Peyton Royce & Billie Kay may be done on Raw for a while.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- The SmackDown stars who will likely be our screen tonight are the men and women who will be in the ladder matches on May 19. This is the last chance WWE will have to put Braun Strowman, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, Ali, Andrade, Finn Bálor & Randy Orton, and Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke, Natalya, Naomi, Mandy Rose, Bayley, Carmella & Ember Moon, in a ring together before they get to Hartford, Connecticut in just under a fortnight. Here’s hoping they sit on top of ladders and promo on each other like this classic segment.

- As mentioned above - and confirmed by the Big Dog himself, Romey will be here. Even though WWE doesn’t want him to be. That’s probably a sign he’ll run afoul of some McMahons, which could mean teaming with Miz against their mutual foe Shane. Or might have Seth’s back for some reason. Maybe both. The thing with the A-Lister makes more sense, though. Our money is on a Lashley/Elias vs. Miz/Roman, playas.

- When they’re not losing to Hawkins & Ryder, Dash & Dawson have been busy dealing with The Usos. I wonder what “unmanly” thing Jimmy & Jey will film the Top Guys doing this week?

- Two weeks ago, Robert Roode debuted with his new-old name, a sweet stache, and a win over the One And Only. Then he wasn’t on TV. Weird how WWE can’t seem to get midcard acts over...

- Sami Zayn still hates us, and the Viking Raiders have had the same name for over a week now!

Two weeks until Money in the Bank!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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