It’s Monday! Time to get back to work, and time for Monday Night Raw! This week comes live from the home of some of the greatest Blues of all time, Memphis, Tennessee.
Claire’s got you covered on her blog for every nook and cranny this week, while I’m here telling you what it all means. Hopefully.
Let’s talk Raw!
For a minute, WWE made me believe Liv Morgan was walking out of Memphis with a championship in her hand. Okay, for longer than a minute. They were practically skywriting it. Look at how hard Becky went at her this week and weeks prior. Then there was the video package establishing backstory, motivation, desire, and a “girlhood dream” narrative that Vince eats up. Oh, and they let the girl come to the ring after the champion!
Color me shocked that Becky is still the Raw Women’s Champion. Did I expect a long reign from Liv? No. In my head, she gets the big moment here and then loses at Day 1. But as Vince keeps telling us, expect the unexpected.
Liv did, however, beat back the narrative that she comes up short in big spots. Becky beating her the same way she beat Charlotte Flair and the same way she won her last title defense, with a hand full of rope in a rollup, gives Liv an out. Becky’s story is one of desperation. Like Charlotte, she is wiling to do anything to hold onto that title. While she may truly believe the championship doesn’t define her, her actions say otherwise. That makes Becky a hypocrite and, yeah, the thing she hates the most.
Liv was right.
When all else fails and Becky feels that belt slipping out of her grasps, she uses the other hand to grab tights, hold ropes, or distract refs. Liv never stood a chance against someone like that. No matter how many human interest portraits they paint of Liv, it’s impossible to prepare for someone willing to get in the mud in the cheapest way possible. Especially when that same someone realizes they can’t win fairly.
There was a moment in the match when Becky questioned what else was Liv going to survive. Liv surprised Becky for going the distance with her and her usual tricks just weren’t working. Liv has every right to a rematch and she might get it. But until someone finds a way to either outsmart Becky or play as dirty as her, it’s moot.
The match itself was fine, nothing to write home about—even though I’m writing about it now—and it didn’t really click until Liv turned on the aggression towards the end. But it did serve to add another layer to Becky’s story.
Going into every match, the question is always “whose story are we telling?” For weeks, I thought this was Liv’s story. Tonight, it turns out it’s still Becky’s and we probably have a long way to go until someone else pens their own narrative on top of hers.
One more thing: Props to WWE’s camera for catching this:
The All Mighty Cage
Okay, here’s the thing: I don’t understand why this match was conjured into existence. Do I get it from the standpoint that Big E and Kevin Owens are dope wrestlers who can put on a show? Of course. Put them in a cage and you’ll get more “ahhs” than a dentist. But from a story standpoint, which is a pretty important piece of the puzzle, it makes no sense.
Besides the fact they just wrestled last week, they’re scheduled to battle in a triple threat match with Seth Rollins in a few weeks. If I squint, I can see Big E agreeing to it because he’s down for whatever when it comes to putting boots to asses. It’s not always bright but that’s his character. KO though? Why?
After getting what he wanted last week, there was no legitimate reason for him to want this match. To wit, KO tried to end the match as soon as it started. He made his way for the cage door several times, tried to climb out, went for a quick stunner, and did everything to tell the world he didn’t want the smoke.
Big E wanted to punish Owens while Owens eventually realized he was in a fight. Eventually, E remembered he can’t be here for a long time, but a good time. E made his way to the door and was this close to ending the match until, surprise, Seth Rollins appeared and slammed said door in E’s face.
With all three main players on the field now, the match played out with more urgency. And more urgency means more risks. After Owens hit a Pop Up Powerbomb on the champ, he headed to the cage and started his ascent. E got just enough time to recover, caught KO on the cage, and finished him off with a top rope Big Ending that looked both awkward and painful. E exited the cage and got his hand raised in victory.
But Seth was ringside so you know what happened. But Rollins didn’t get the job done. E stood tall after hammering Rollins and giving another Big Ending to KO.
You know who did get the job done? The All Mighty Bobby Lashley. During the commercial break, he wrecked everyone, leaving them all dismayed and discombobulated.
Lashley felt disrespected not getting an invitation to the Day 1 championship match. I’m sure someone will tell him it was lost in the mail and that triple threat match will all of a sudden become a 4-way dance.
RK-BRONAMENT ROUND ONE!
The Street Profits survived round one of the number one contenders tag tournament by simply outsmarting Omos. The big man tagged himself in, shocking Styles, then either forgot the referee was counting as he went to attack Angelo Dawkins outside of the ring, or, to quote Geno, he’s as dumb as he is big. The Profits move on while AJ and Omos look like they’re at a breaking point.
The Mysterios surprised everyone—me especially—with a win over the Alpha Academy. Chad Gable looked primed to beat Dominik after wrenching his knee with a Dragon Screw and using a Moonsault as the final touch. But the young Mysterio wasn’t as hurt as he let on, moved out of the way at the last minute and beat the Full Sail Valedictorian with a roll up.
Oh, and Riddle, playing the role of Howard Cosell, caught Otis’ wrath. Now Riddle is a little banged up because he was on joke time, exactly what Randy Orton feared. And all because he wanted to play journalist. Tsk Tsk.
Curiouser and Curiouser
Bianca Belair and Doudrop put on a pretty good match. Bianca’s power and athleticism was nullified by Doudrop. Belair couldn’t quite solve her. But then the ending happened and I’m confused what we’re doing here. Doudrop wanted this beef because she felt Bianca kept getting things she didn’t deserve. So, she walks out of a match after almost getting hit with a KOD? Bianca was nowhere close to hitting it either, so Doudrop’s reaction is puzzling.
Beating You at January 1
Miz’s slip of the tongue aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this segment. I thought they were heading into the same territory their distinguished competition is doing with Punk and MJF. Then they turned it into something more personal. Miz holds grudges so hard he practically bear hugs them. Wondering why Edge wasn’t kind and compassionate with him 15 years ago adds humanity to a guy who, at times, has more in common with a thinly drawn cartoon character.
Edge rebutting him and giving his side of the story highlights another Miz character trait: He’s incredibly self-absorbed and is always the hero/victim of his story.
I said I wasn’t looking forward to this last week but figured they could talk me into it. That’s exactly what happened. A+ job, gents.
Nobody Likes Me
Queen Zelina pinned Nikki A.S.H. in an extremely short affair designed to emphasize the narrative that homegirl is the weakest link. Only no British woman or Jane Lynch isn’t around to tell her.
They added insult to injury when Nikki believed a young woman, who somehow made her way backstage, was asking for her autograph. Even though she clearly wasn’t making eye contact with Nikki nor talking in her direction. But plot twist, she was talking to Jerry Lawler, Memphis’ favorite son. I think he’s their favorite son. Maybe he’s not? Either way, the real story here is the young woman.
There’s not enough alcohol in the world to convince me she’s a fan of Jerry Lawler. And definitely not enough to fool me into thinking she’s willing to risk it all and go backstage to get his autograph.
Big Bob Roode didn’t even get a televised entrance for this United States Open Challenge match. So you tell me if there was any suspense who was going to win? The ending makes it seem like the whole point was to get us to Dolph Ziggler taking on Damian Priest. They need to find something to do with Damian and his run because right now, this ain’t it. Call me crazy, but Ziggler having that belt interests me more at this point.
Raising The Bar
Finn Balor, former NXT Champion, the first Universal Champion, wrestled T-BAR on live television. No words for that.
After it was over, Austin Theory attacked him in an effort to “do something unexpected” and impress Vince McMahon. Keep in mind Austin’s first idea to impress the boss was to workout with his chest and stomach showing. To which I say, “WWE, I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
But yes, Balor is now, apparently, entering a program with Theory. Cain was right.
Raw is solid this week. I don’t know what WWE is doing with Vince and Austin Theory, besides putting Mr. McMahon in the same room as an Austin and seeing if they make magic again. But it ain’t working for me. The show moved this week, which is great because
January 1 Day 1 is in three weeks and I’m not sure they can sustain that type of build.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.