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Raw recap & reactions (Jan. 8, 2024): WWE’s streets of rage problem

The women tag champs defend, Drew McIntyre declares, and the main event halfway takes it to the streets on this edition of Monday Night Raw.

Lithium

Thank whatever deity you pray to for this fact: Cody Rhodes’ & Shinsuke Nakamura’s boiled over into a street fight. While the match itself left me wanting for a few reasons, I appreciate the fact they didn’t pay lip service to the fact these two can’t stand each other.

I sometimes criticize WWE for painting intense feuds and normal matches with the same brush. They tell us how much two or more people hate each other but the match disagrees. I can’t count the number of times these type of feuds contain matches that start with a collar and elbow tie up.

The match evolved into a street fight because Shinsuke attacked Cody hours before their match. This thing is so “on sight” that a simple main event match might feel underwhelming.

It’s also fitting for what it meant for Cody. Shinsuke was, essentially, his crucible. Or, if you’re a fan of The Inferno, one of his circles of hell. For some, there is no paradise without traversing through hades. So why not put him in a grueling Street Fight with a vicious man who can’t spell remorse, much less possess any?

All that said said, the match felt funny. They didn’t wrestle a typical street fight, or at least not one I expected. This was more of a wrestling match that flirted with plunder every now and then. We got two table spots, including one that spelled Shinsuke’s fate, a broom, a pair of nunchucks, and the standard kendo stick beatdowns. But it never truly veered into something worthy of their feud. I’m not asking for blood either, but I wanted less wrestling in a controlled environment. Like I said last week, I appreciate when WWE is less predictable; this match, for as fun as it was a times, felt very predictable outside of one moment.

That moment came when Shinsuke accidentally spit mist at the timekeeper instead of Cody. For a moment, it looked like Cody’s good heart might cost him the match. He briefly had an advantage and stopped his prowl to check on the timekeeper and call for help. Shinsuke took the opening, as he should, but still didn’t take it to 11. I wanted that moment to mean more to the final outcome or push the match into another gear.

These two battled in the backstage area during the show so why not let them do that during the match? This was less of a street fight and more of a no disqualification match. Which, again, is completely fine and we got a nice match from the stipulation. In totality, we got a nice side story where Cody dealt with adversity before entering the Royal Rumble in one piece fully focused.

I just wish the match truly conveyed the reason why it’s a street fight. As it stands, giving the crowd tables was the only reason for the stipulation. I love tables as much as the next cat, but in the end, that’s not enough.


B-Sides

151 Rum

Keeping this short and sweet: Drew McIntyre & CM Punk killed their opening segment.

The only reason it’s not leading the recap is because I don’t have a lot to say about it. Plus I think it’s better experienced than written about. Drew really held his own and showed how dope he is now as this iteration.

One Shot Deal

Realizing that Damian Priest & Finn Balor hold championships that DIY wants made picking a winner here relatively easy. Of course Ciampa defeated Finn; besides the aforementioned reason, there’s also the fact that R-Truth hustled Finn into taking this match. Who knew that unraveling Judgment Day just took a little R-Truth chicanery and wordplay?

Fantastic match that kept the momentum from the opening mic fight between Drew & Punk. It had its violent moments as anything with Ciampa does, but they stuck to the athleticism for the most part. Ciampi’s gift is that he looks as good wrestling someone like Finn as he does wrestling Miz or an IMPERIUM member. The Project Ciampa looked particularly brutal but incredibly quick.

On the other side, we had Damian and Johnny lurking outside. And it’s their drama that got the match over the finish line. Like I said, DIY want their shot, so getting Ciampa a W while protecting Finn felt necessary. I like Johnny getting involved a bit and getting his boy a cheap-ish win. Turnabout is fair play, so he didn’t act out of character. And Finn (or Damian) now get the excuse to demand a match with Johnny, while moving forward their R-Truth foolishness.

How I’m Coming

Well, we all see how Ludwig Kaiser is coming. Ludwig wanted revenge on his partner’s behalf for what happened the last time IMPERIUM met Kofi Kingston in the ring. As he told Jackie Redmond later, he blames Kofi for being the only IMPERIUM member left on the show. “He took Vinci’s head, so tonight, I took his.”

The video says enough, but I liked all of this. The interview with Jackie cemented it for me. This is a different side from Ludwig and I hope it does wonders for his character.

Dumb

That’s for Piper Niven & Chelsea Green. The girls got outsmarted and looked, well, dumb. It’s a fitting end to Katana Chance & Kayden Carter’s tag title defense against the former champs. They kept them off their game for most of the match until they imploded with their usual tricks.

Piper & Chelsea tried mimicking the champs and took their eye off one opponent. That led to Chelsea getting pulled down while a clueless Piper hit her with a Vader Bomb instead of who she intended. Hilarious and exactly what they deserved.

I do like these four women working together although I can’t justify another match. It’s just such an example of styles clashing. Katana & Kayden are agile and all fast break offense. Piper is the powerhouse while Chelsea is quick but, well, a cheater. It’s two women who cut corners whenever possible against two women who work hard for everything. The match’s ending showcased that beautifully, if not perfectly.

Yoke the Joker

R-Truth is hilarious. If you missed the video package about his version of the Judgment Day story, then watch it now. And go congratulate Rey Mysterio on having two other sons, Tom and Nick.

His antics continued during JD McDonagh’s match against Miz. Obviously JD lost because he’s comic relief, but the match featured Truth ringside. He cheered on JD but also celebrated with Miz. And then didn’t know whether to leave the ring with JD & Dirty Dom or stay with Miz.

An entertaining match made more interesting with Truth ringside since his character feels chaotic and messy but in the best ways.

Fresh Meat

DO NOT LOOK UP “MEAT PARTY” ON THE INTERNET. I REPEAT, DO NOT LOOK THAT UP.

I’m not speaking from experience either. I just know how the internet works and that’s the last thing you want showing up in your search history. If you take the plunge, you can thank Bray Wyatt for those nightmares.

Speaking of nightmares, Otis might have a few this week. He and Ivar certainly slapped meat but they got agile too. These are two big men who move like cruiserweights at time, and who both owe a debt to Bam Bam Bigelow and the man with one of the illest themes in wrestling history, Big Van Vader.

I’m not mad at Ivar picking up the win here either. Otis loses nothing with the loss because he’s bulletproof while Ivar keeps picking up momentum for...something. My one issue is I don’t know the plans for Ivar right now. Otis & Chad are probably going after tag gold soon while Ivar wanders like Caine in Kung Fu. If it’s just him throwing meat parties with other men, I suppose that’s cool for a time. But there’s only but so much meat to go around in their locker room. And slapping said meat only takes you but so far in this business.


Despite my mixed feelings on the main event, this Raw delivered the goods for three hours. We finished a story, set up a few others for the Rumble, and set up some potential WrestleMania goods as well. The three hours moved and I never once felt bored or looked at my watch.

What say you, Cagsiders? Do you agree or disagree on the street fight? And did any of you google “meat party”? I really hope not.

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