Okay, Seth. You beat the Beast at WrestleMania and your reward was a few relaxing months where your only concern (ha!) was Baron Corbin.
Now do it again.
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar opened the show with the announcement that we’d be getting an inter-branded, star-studded 10-man Battle Royal to determine Lesnar’s first challenger. Cool! The field even included some guys like Big E, Sami Zayn, and Cesaro.
The match went by pretty quickly and was action-packed. Cesaro went out first - which sucked - but then I forgot how much that sucked when Big E started talking smack to Braun Strowman. Zayn eliminated Big E with giggling glee, and Corbin died for his own sins.
...There’s really not much else to say. Roman Reigns and Strowman eliminated each other and Rollins overcame Randy Orton to get one more shot at the Universal Championship. All of this is fine.
Here’s the thing: this is a sequel. And while it’s only been one show, this is the same feud we had from January to April. And I don’t need to pull up my old reviews to remember that I felt weary of it by the end and was just begging for Rollins to win for it all to be over.
So that should be the focus moving forward, especially with Heyman in charge of creative. Make this one different. Make this unique. Whether Lesnar loses the title or not, this needs to feel like something new, not a continuation Lesnar’s previous reign.
The Man vs. The...Who?
So if there’s one thing that I noticed watching this Fatal Fourway to crown Becky Lynch’s #1 Contender, it’s the fact that the Raw women’s division is thin as hell. And it’s not because there’s a lack of talent, exactly; it’s because nothing has been done with said talent in quite a while.
Take Naomi and Natalya, for example. The two had a segment a few weeks back trying to talk some sense into Nikki Cross. I literally cannot remember the last time I saw them do anything meaningful otherwise. Carmella? I vaguely remember her being in a match recently, but I couldn’t tell you why or how.
Compare that to the men’s rumble I recapped above. Cesaro? He picked a fight with Aleister Black. Lashley and Strowman tried to murder each other. Big E was working towards tag team gold and supporting his brother. And that’s just the dudes who got eliminated first.
And that’s why when Natalya won, vanquishing the exceedingly annoying Alexa Bliss, it didn’t really resonate. There’s such a huge gulf between where she’s at and where Lynch is at – and it was so vividly apparent when they started speaking.
Natalya did her usual “thank you so much I’ve been on such a journey” sort of speech until Lynch got in her face and made it something entirely different. And the reason that’s possible is because we know where Lynch has been. And Natalya took the first steps with that “bitch” line in trying to follow her there.
Will she be successful? Who knows. But that’s what they need to work on. For so long, Natalya could be summed up as Ronda Rousey’s training buddy. She has to become more than that in quite a hurry.
Finn Balor’s got a huge problem
And no, it’s not losing the Intercontinental Championship. It’s not Samoa Joe, the opponent he lost to on this show. It’s not even his quickly accumulating losing streak, nor his desire to “push forward” as he mentioned in a backstage promo.
The Fiend is here, Finn. And its grisly yellow eyes are focused solely upon you.
...That was a hell of a re-debut for Bray Wyatt, wasn’t it? His Firefly Fun House segments were absolutely incredible, laden with symbolism and creepy oddities that were such a joy to watch. But that’s a filmed skit; it was always going to be interesting to see if they could keep the eerie feel once he returned to the ring.
For the most part, I think it was wildly successful and the picked the perfect adversary for a return. Wyatt’s mask is delightfully horrifying. The wailing, screeching siren song of it all? Terrifying. Wyatt’s a slasher movie in wrestling form, and Balor is the perfect first kill, so to speak.
Balor’s clearly on the precipice of...something, here. He’s been a good guy for WWE since 2014. He’s been a workhorse for the company and an incredible opening act or steady hand, but he’s never gotten back to original presentation of being a main event player. I think it’s well-beyond time for some sort of change.
Who better to spark a change than Bray?
Ricochet and AJ Styles will now brawl forever, thanks
I’m so down for Ricochet and Usos as a faction. I can just mentally picture the Usos talking trash and Ricochet wincing in the background. “C’mon guys, take it easy...”
With that said, those three opened the show in a six-man tag team match against Robert Roode and The Revival. It was an extremely fun opening match with a bunch of quality talent in the ring. The Revival looked great and this was all set up for Ricochet to be the difference – until The Club and AJ Styles appeared after the match to put him back down.
Ricochet didn’t go away meekly, though. The Club fought the Lucha House Party later in the show, and Ricochet made a point to come out to get some revenge. He was eventually pulled off of Styles, but his interference incensed the new US Champ who made an example of Kalisto by keeping him in the Calf Crusher for a long, long time.
This feud’s got some bad blood going for it now. Nice! Let’s see if they can keep escalating things.
24/7 Championship Highlights -
- Drake Maverick is checking into hotels as “Mr. 24/7 Champion,” citing the need for anonymity.
- R-Truth tried to bribe the hotel receptionist with a dollar bill, claiming that it was “still crispy.”
- Maverick tried to wear the belt to bed.
- Maverick also weaponized a boquet of roses
- The referee had way too much fun taking off the valet gear.
- Maverick did not, in fact, consummate his marriage. He also lost via a small package.
The Viking Raiders def. Local Talent – I really like the Raiders in terms of their talent, but man...I got big-time Ascension vibes from their promo. Not sure that’s a good thing. Plundering is their birthright? I’m a big fan of Norse mythology and culture, so I’m not going to act like this can’t work. I just feel like the way they’re being portrayed at the moment isn’t getting the reaction they’d want.
Cedric Alexander def. Drew McIntyre - Cedric was incredible in his backstage promo with Drew, and even better in the damn ring with him. Why did it take so long to feature Alexander in a meaningful position on Raw?
Zack Ryder def. Mike Kanellis – What do I even say about this storyline?!
Miz and Dolph Ziggler have a mid-life crisis together – They’re both unhappy with how things are currently going. Ziggler insulted Miz for becoming a shill, said something about his wife, and it got physical in a hurry. I’m intrigued to see what they can do with this...but I don’t exactly expect much if it’s going to be a traditional lower card feud. Does that make sense?
This show felt long to me, but they usually do on the heels of a PPV. With that said, I think it was a fairly enjoyable show. The mid card really delivered with the likes of Styles, Ricochet, Wyatt, and Alexander, but there’s a lot of work to be done at the top of the card.
Here’s to hoping they can make it happen for SummerSlam.