Welcome everyone to another week of Monday Night Raw coverage! I’m your host this evening—or whenever you’re reading—and Claire has you covered on her blog.
Let’s talk Raw!
Dance, Puppet. Dance.
KO is a smart dude. Props to the Canadian for playing Gepetto to Seth Rollins’ Pinocchio. Seth is so easy to wind up and it’s so obvious where the strings are, all KO needed was to lightly pull and watch his puppet play. Owens told the number one contender that a win over Big E this week would grant him an entry into the WWE Championship match at Day 1 (ish), turning Rollins’ one-on-one title match into a triple threat affair.
So what did Rollins do? Walk right into Adam Pearce’s office—like KO told him to—and questioned the WWE official about the lies of a liar. Pearce and Sonya didn’t plan that initially, but after hearing the idea from Seth—who of course heard it from KO—decided it was a pretty good idea and added the stipulation to that match.
Seth’s paranoia and penchant for snitching potentially complicated the one match he looked forward to since he stepped foot into a Raw arena.
KO’s manipulation continued because he knows Seth oh too well. Of course Seth planned to sit ringside during Raw’s main event with so much at stake. And of course Seth was just waiting for the right time to interfere and make sure Big E walked out of Long Island with his hand in the air.
Yeah, about all that.
KO goaded Seth during the match just like he goaded him all throughout the show. Owens messed with Seth just enough at ringside to cause the Visionary to lose his cool and get Big E disqualified.
And just like that, we’re getting a triple threat match for the WWE Championship at WWE’s next pay per view.
It was great storytelling, relying on character, backstory, and letting everyone be true to who we know they are along with providing legitimate stakes. If Raw did more of this on the regular basis, the grades at the bottom of these recaps would look a lot different.
Becky Lynch believes Liv Morgan doesn’t truly deserve a title shot, but she’s willing to give her one out of sheer kindness. At least that’s the story she tells us and definitely one she tells herself. This week, we got the necessary contract signing—because it’s wrestling and we know how this goes—and what we got was Liv finally getting to have her say in Becky’s narrative. I’m not a big fan of Liv trying to be a vicious person, calling out Becky for crying after her latest match with Charlotte Flair and for her greediness being the reason her friends are no longer in WWE.
Not because it’s not fair game for a promo. But because it doesn’t ring true to Liv. I’m not really sure what her character is but trying to out Becky Becky doesn’t work for her. Liv needed her time to shine, yes, but this felt more like a candle than a sun ray.
There is something interesting though of painting Becky as just another Charlotte, illustrating that she’s now the thing she hates most. But with their championship match happening next week, we don’t have a lot of time to flesh that out.
But enough of my philosophical musings. Becky and Liv’s showdown gave birth to a 10-woman tag match. Team Becky (Becky, Doudrop, Queen Zelina, Carmella, Tamina) on one side and Team Liv (Liv, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H., Dana Brooke) on the other.
To keep it real, the match didn’t do anything for me in the first few minutes. But once the respective rivalries started showing themselves and different stories were highlighted, my interest piqued like Everest. Liv needed to prove to Becky—but mostly herself—that she can deliver in a big spot. Liv picked her spot in the end, nailing Tamina with an Oblivion to pick up a W for the babyfaces.
Becky wasn’t feeling that. She wants Liv to get no props, not even a handful of them. The champ took her frustration out on her challenger and fell victim to an Oblivion herself. Liv needed that moment to sell the fact she might win next week. Becky doesn’t take her seriously yet, but she should.
I just wish they had more time to make this story really pop and serve both women well when it’s over.
Ruthless Tag Teaming
Here’s the thing: I need RK-Bro to shift to another gear. Not in the ring, but for their story. We’re several months into their tag team saga and we’re still hitting the same notes. Randy is constantly beleaguered by Riddle’s antics. Riddle, blissfully unaware, takes it all in stride, insults and all, with a smile on his face and continues his hero worship. They fuss—well, Randy fusses—they go into matches seemingly on the precipice of destruction, only to pull victories out of their hats like magicians and rabbits. It’s a neat trick, but it was neater the first dozen times we saw it.
That said, RK-Bro defended their titles and title defenses, in theory, are always a good thing. Especially when there’s four cats going at it who are really good at they do. WWE logic here doesn’t quite make sense though because the Dirty Dawgz didn’t show they were on the level of the tag champs on any level.
WWE tells us all the time that these two are an odd couple just one bad day away from a breakup. But we never see that manifest itself in matches. Nor are we seeing them go against opponents who can truly make them sweat and test their bond. Along with putting Randy’s belief that they need to “be ruthless” and “10 steps ahead” to defend their belts. I’m sorry, but you don’t need any of those two things to beat Big Bob and Dolph.
Hopefully we’re building to that because there’s a dope story to tell if WWE ever gets around to writing it down.
Edge Over the Competition
If you’re a fan of AEW, then you know CM Punk ruffled MJF’s feathers last week when he called the Long Islander a “less famous Miz.” The Chicago crowd ate it up and yeah, it was a pretty apt line.
Well, as fate would have it, Miz made his return to Raw this week and stepped to a returning Edge. Much like lesser Miz, WWE’s A-lister took all sorts of umbrage with Edge not mentioning Miz as someone he’s eager to compete against. With WWE copying AEW here, it was only a matter of time before someone mentioned the elephant in the room.
I’ll just let Edge’s words do the work for me: “You have people on other shows saying your name just to get a cheap reaction. You live rent free in a lot of heads.”
While the idea of Edge and Miz going one-on-one doesn’t really do much for me, I have full faith that they both, if allowed, can sell me. Or, and this was foreshadowed a bit with the way Miz gave Maryse the spotlight, maybe we get Maryse, Miz, Edge, and Beth Phoenix! That has some potential, right?
Blind Man’s Bluff
Guess who said he was blind this week after getting sprayed with a fire extinguisher last week? AJ Styles. Guess who really wasn’t blind? AJ Styles! Gasp! AJ’s ruse was uncovered when he took time away from his very entertaining commentary to interfere in the Street Profits match against Alpha Academy.
It didn’t work.
And now, Styles is beefing with his personal colossus because Omos didn’t have his back? Or didn’t catch him? OR, and this is legitimately what I believe: AJ didn’t let Omos in on the gag. Omos really thought AJ was blinded and the big man was stunned, shocked, and any other adjective you can think of when he found out his partner has full 20/20 vision.
Omos just looked at him for a while in disbelief. You know who else didn’t like AJ’s plan? Vincent Kennedy McMahon, as he said as much immediately after the match. He called it “freaking horrible.”
Same, Vince. Same.
The Dark Side of the Force
Damian Priest and Apollo Crews are two cats who can put on a compelling match. This wasn’t it. Even with the United States Championship on the line. Championship matches need some build rather than just happening for basketball reasons.
And since the story with any Priest match as of late is his Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde routine, until there’s a story behind the actual matches, then it’s just a character quirk without any true meaning or impact.
The Hurt Business hurts me. My soul is anguished over the constant state of purgatory Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander are in at the moment. Especially since they’re former tag team champs! And they’re treated like bums. To say nothing of the fact there’s no MVP, no Bobby Lashley, and no Hurt Business pageantry. If not for commentary referring to them as the Hurt Business, nothing Raw shows me says that’s even a thing.
After getting decimated by the All Mighty last week in a handicap match, the Mysterios were victorious over Lashley’s “teammates.” Quotations around that because they’re a team just for show at this point. It’s like Cats. Those aren’t actual walking, talking cats. Just people playing dress up and putting on a show.
The Artist Formerly Known As...
Remember when Finn Bálor was a thing? I sure do. WWE might remember that as well, but they clearly have no intention of reliving the past. This is the second week in a row where Finn is here merely to get Seth Rollins over. Which is weird considering Rollins was the men’s team’s sole survivor at Survivor Series.
Unlike last week, we got an actual match between the two. And it was a fun match! But like any narrative, the storyline needs a reason to exist. For all the money in my pocket, I can’t fathom why these two need to fight right now. Especially when the outcome is never in question.
Oh, and Seth announced he gets his shot at the WWE Championship at (down since) Day 1 (ish) on New Year’s Day.
Stop me if you heard this before, but Raw is average. The 10 woman tag match papered over some of the missteps in the Raw Women’s Championship story, while everything with KO x Seth was on point this week. We also got this weird running story of Vince McMahon and Austin Theory watching the show so the former could school the latter on expecting the unexpected. It was obvious from jump the whole thing was leading to Austin getting assaulted by the Chairman, yet apparently Austin doesn’t watch WWE programing and hasn’t watched it for the past 25 years.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.