Going into Monday’s RAW, we were still a little under three weeks away until Royal Rumble which meant tonight’s episode was going to be all about progressing storylines and giving a little in the way of action, but not too much.
That was RAW: Brock Versus All
The first RAW of the new decade starts with our beloved WWE Champion Brock Lesnar who arrives to do what he does best: Jog in place while making one of his three facial expressions while his “advocate” Paul Heyman talks for him. At this point it’s kind of comical that WWE money is going to this man to do the same thing a cardboard cutout could just as easily do and if I was a shareholder in WWE I’d probably wonder what he was being paid for. The answer to that of course is to be a special attraction on the pay-per-view events and draw attention from eyes that normally wouldn’t watch the product, although at this point I don’t know how many now-WWE fans are that interested in “former UFC fighter” Brock Lesnar.
Nonetheless, Paul says he’s authorized to say that Brock is entering the Royal Rumble and that he’s going in as the number one entrant meaning that conceivably, he could end up taking on all 29 other competitors from Raw, SmackDown and NXT. No mention if the title is on the line, but I have to imagine it is? Otherwise, what’s the point?
It certainly adds an interesting twist to the whole deal. Two other guys have entered at the first spot and won the Rumble – Shawn Michaels in 1995 and some other guy in 2004. In 2016, Roman Reigns entered the Rumble in the #1 spot as the WWE champ, but that was by order of a vindictive Vince McMahon (which remains the best Vince McMahon) but he didn’t win. The “unprecedented” part in all of this is that Brock is voluntarily entering because why he doesn’t feel anyone on any roster is worthy of a one-on-one match, Brock in 2020 is about conquering the unconquered.
That was RAW but then over-cooked : Apathetic Andrade
Fantastic but, dare I say, slightly overbooked match between Rey Mysterio and Andrade for the U.S. title. I’m not sure what the point is of having Rey earn a pinfall only to have Zelena Vega pull Andrade’s foot to the rope, especially when as Jerry Lawler pointed out that it was kind of heading over that way anyway. The actual finish of the match is kind of clumsy as well when Rey is thrown into Vega, Andrade jumps Rey from behind, gets him back into the ring and goes for the Hammerlock DDT, only to have the ref break it up so Rey can go back and check on Vega on the floor.
There had to be a blown spot in there somewhere.
Rey gets told to come back into the ring, which he does, and gets hit with the Hammerlock DDT anyway by Andrade, who simply doesn’t seem to care about Vega but does care enough to snatch Rey’s mask off his head, before finally going to Vega and walking away with the title.
Did this match really need all of that happening? I get the sense that the storyline here going forward is Vega is still all about the partnership but Andrade is all about himself which would be fine, but then what’s with the whole mask thing and giving that to Vega as some sort of trophy only to lose it later in the night in a backstage interview..
Fine match that had a very confusing finish.
That was RAW, but now it’s cooked: Triple Tag Team Mayhem
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a good tag team triple threat match and even though I felt how they got there was kind of lazy, it at least ended up in a fairly entertaining match. My only question is… Now what?
It feels like this should be the end of this whole thing and that the Viking Raiders move on to a new challenge, but what other teams are there to step up against them? The answer to that of course is just The OC and the Street Profits who they beat in this match. I suppose if you want to stretch out logic, you can have the Stree Profits claim that they weren’t the team that suffered a pinfall, while Gallows and Anderson can dismiss their loss by stating it wasn’t a proper tag match (we’ll ignore that the two times The OC pinned the Raw Tag Team champions, neither were during a traditional tag match, but that’s where wrestling likes to ignore logic and we can let it pass I suppose)
This was… something: Is Auska A Lock?
At first I didn’t really care for a brief little segment in the ring where Becky Lynch does her ring entrance only to express doubt about asking for a match with Auska, then rolling out a video package showing the multiple times over the last year where she’s lost to Auska… But then Auska showed up.
Auska coming down the ramp cocky as ever, excitedly speaking in Japanese but with odd bits of english thrown in just to make sure we’re paying attention (“He knows!! He knows!!” as she points to a random fan who likely didn’t). She’s smiling, she’s dancing, she’s filled with all sorts of bravado and it’s in that moment that it feels like Becky realizes just why she asked for this match and punches out Auska before she has to hear another word yelled at her.
I didn’t hate it. But I don’t know if we needed it either.
This is still cooked, but at least we have progress: Rowan’s Pet
This week Rowan doesn’t seem to have an issue with people wanting to look into his covered cage to take a peek at what he’s been hiding, only based on the reaction of Mojo Rawley and then a 17-year-old looking jobber who also had some red fluid sprayed in his face, it is apparently the stuff of nightmares.
The unfortunate part is that this means we’re all going to be let down by this evental reveal when it’s not some sort of mutated kitten or Hornswoggle. It also means we’re now going to get at least three more weeks of Rowan squash matches in reverse of what we’ve been seeing where he now threatens to show off his pet before Iron Claw Slamming them into oblivion.
That was RAW-ish: Anyone Ready For Servings of Squash?
Lots of one-sided affairs throughout the night beyond Rowan’s 10-second contest.
Charlotte and Sarah Logan brawl to the point where they don’t even have an actual match, but Charlotte comes out on top anyway which makes me wonder what the point of any of that was.
Drew McIntyre makes short work of No Way Jose and four of his conga line people and then gets on the mic to cut another promo that I swear will get him over as a face more than as a heel.
Aleister Black takes out Shelton Benjamin in the most competitive of squash matches (which isn’t saying a whole lot) but the real point of this is to give Buddy Murphy a chance to attack Black from behind which is all any of us really wanted and it played out exactly how I thought it should:
“Here is hoping Mr. Murphy not only knocks again on Black’s door next week, but kicks in the door with a cheap shot of some sort to keep his attention because I still want to see more of this.”
We also had AJ Styles dummy Akira Tozawa using a couple of Randy Orton’s ‘vintage’ moves – clearly a sign that The Viper is well in the head of AJ.
Squash matches really aren’t that great for TV viewing in at least two of the three cases listed above. It helps advance storylines and I’m not against “enhancement matches” when we’re still a few weeks away from a major event like Royal Rumble.
That was RAW: Shut Up Lana
I feel like we’re starting to finally get somewhere with this whole angle. First off, we get over the formality of actually having Lana and Lashley married before they complain and cry about what happened to them last week. This brings us Rusev on the Titantron (do we even still call it that?) in front of a hilariously bad green screen (again, leaning into how bad all of this is, is the only way to go) and shares pictures from last week’s wedding.
I’d honestly pan this whole thing, but two things have me interested… First, we get a clearly “over it all” Bobby telling Lana to ‘shut up’ so he can address the man himself. I still don’t know what Lashley is supposed to get out of this whole situation but my assumption is this entire time Lashley has been nothing but subservient to Lana and based on her reaction, this is the first time she’s heard any kind of anger directed at her by “her Bobby”
Second, we get Rusev discarding his funny Hawaiian shirt when challenged to reveal more serious side Rusev where he promises “the Bulgarian Brute will return” … Wait, does Rusev have multiple personalities as well? Is he a frosted mini-wheat with a fun loving Rusev Day side and a destroy your spine Brute side?
I said last week that I am all for the fun and ridiculousness, but if we can get a hard hitting match or series of matches between these two as things get serious now, I won’t be bothered by that at all.
That was RAW: It’s The Big Show
I liked that we almost right away earlier in the show establish that Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe are shady guys and they know it just as well as anyone and that their partnership is a matter of convenience to face a common foe. It all probably could have gone without saying because it seems obvious, but it’s nice when wrestling just confirms obvious stuff because sometimes wrestling just outright ignores logic and goes against what is obvious to most people.
Seth has now taken to full-level “I am the chosen one” mode which I feel is a slight jab at the Internet Wrestling Community who dubbed him that long before, even though WWE has never really given the impression that Seth Rollins is the so-called ‘face’ of WWE in the same vein as a Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, John Cena or even Roman Reigns.
We get to our six-man match and, surprise, Joe and Kevin’s partner is Big Show! First time on RAW in two years, which doesn’t seem quite right, but sure.
The match itself is fine and of course ends in a shmoz with Seth trying to take Show out with a chair only to get eventually KO’ed by Show’s right hand. Just like everything else in the show, the main event just pushes the storyline along further towards Royal Rumble – with an apparent “Fist Fight” set for next week… Whatever that is.