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Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment

The RAW and The Cooked: Hey Buddy!

I will never not like that Raw is a three hour show. It’s entirely too long and given how much other wrestling there is produced by WWE alone let alone by any other wrestling company on the planet, I feel like producing a weekly three hour show is going too far.

That said, I still sit down to watch it every week, partly because sitting down to watch Raw is what I’ve always done for nearly 30 years now. I’ve also come to realize that the three hour length is actually a pretty good gauge for whether or not I enjoyed the show because at the end of it (or near the end of it) if I am looking at the time and going “wait, it’s over already?” then I know it was a pretty darn good show.

Last week felt like it dragged a bit – not in an awful way but it did feel every bit the three hour run time and lost interest near the end. This week, by the time we got to the main event I was as interested and engaged as I was when the show opened.

That’s the sign of a good three hour show.

That was Raw: My Claymore Is Bigger

I’ll admit, when Randy Orton came out, said things, was followed by AJ Styles who also said things, and then followed by Drew mcIntyre who started saying things, I was ready to dismiss the whole opening segment as a promo-fest that would lead to nothing. Fortunately Drew was there to say a couple of funny things and then challenge both Randal and Allen to a triple threat match which was quickly agreed to and got underway within 10 minutes of the opening of the show.

I understand it’s a necessary evil to have shows open with one or a series of promos from one or a series of different superstars, but it’s much better if it’s short and sweet and leads directly into a match which it does here.

That match itself was ok enough for an opening bout on a Monday night show and did really well to set up all three guys going into the Rumble. Drew looks like a beast against both AJ and Orton and it takes a concerted effort by both guys working somewhat together to try and take the Scottish beast out of the equation. Then the gamesmanship between AJ and Orton continues with the former hitting the second rope DDT on the latter who later hits a Styles Clash on its namesake.

And in the end nothing gets solved because while Orton hits an RKO on Styles after AJ failed to connect with it in three attempts, Drew comes outtanowhere™ to hit Randy with the Claymore to eliminate him from the picture and pick up the pinfall scraps on AJ.

AJ and Randy can continue their “RKO measuring contest” as Drew so eloquently put it, and the rise of McIntyre continues as well.

Suddenly I’m starting to think that I’d love to see Brock vs Drew at Mania. I won’t hope for it, because this is WWE afterall and I aint about to trust a company that booked Snookie in a feature match at Wrestlemania, but a guy can dream right?

 

That was Raw-ish: Enhance. Enhance Again.

I always think back to an interview Rob Van Dam had a handful of years ago when he suggested that WWE should have more “enhancement matches” (superstar that the company wishes to establish against lesser-superstar/jobber) to help build some of the mid-card talent with a handful of wins so that if they do lose a match, it doesn’t hurt their status quite as much. It’s sound thinking but I feel like there is a fine line to it and I also think there is a way to do it while still making the enhancement talent look at least somewhat competent as well so that in the future if you want to elevate those guys or gals, you can do so without fans automatically assuming they’re outright losers.

Ricochet’s match against Mojo Rawley is an example of how it can be done right. Ric looks really good out there and hits all his spots in a win, but Rawley got to showcase a little bit of what could make him a star in the future. He has speed, he has power and athleticism, but the story here can be Ricochet is on another level.

Charlotte Flair’s match against Sarah Logan is an example of how it’s done wrong. Right from the opening kick that Charlotte blasts her with, Sarah winds up just taking a beating save for a few punches landed and Flair never looks to be in any real trouble. Of course Charlotte should win going away, but that match does nothing to make me believe Sarah Logan is worth giving a second thought over.

And then on another level all on it’s own we have what the Viking Raiders did to the Singh Brothers which is what anyone expected to happen the moment the Bollywood Boys came out to accept the open challenge, but it also feels like it’s a perfect summation of the Raw tag team division right now. With the OC now relegated back to AJ’s sidekicks and the Street Profits relegated back to Monday Night Raw hosts, there is no one else to challenge the current champs which is fine if the story is the Raiders are dominant, but it doesn’t feel like there is anywhere for them or the rest of the division to go.

Raw should spend the next few weeks building up other teams to establish worth challengers. Heck, they can do it with a series of enhancement matches…

Ahh crap.

 

That was Raw: Paul Heman And R-Truth Are National Treasures

Brock Lesnar two weeks in a row on Raw? But it’s too late for a Festivus miracle…

This segment served less as a promo for Brock’s upcoming Royal Rumble work and more as a good reminder that Paul Heyman and R-Truth are masters at their craft.

The thing with catchphrases is that even if you’re a bad guy, people still like saying them with you and while audience participation is a good thing, you also have to work on reminding the people that you’re still kind of an ass and that they shouldn’t be shouting back your most popular sayings at you. So with that in mind Paul Heyman lays the groundwork by insulting the fans of Kentucky (which is easy enough), then calls out those same fans for being stupid enough to still want to recite his popular intro, THEN gets upset by the booing of the fans to the point where both he and Brock threaten to walk out a minute into the whole proceedings, THEN goes into his trademark promo intro but now he has to do it in a shouting contest with about ten thousand fans who suddenly want to drown him out.

Masterful. And let’s be honest, the fans in Lexington once they got that little reminder – which sometimes we fans in attendance at these shows need – played their role perfectly as well.

So Paul goes into what is a bit of a generic Paul Heyman promo which is to say that it’s still better than what 90% of the entire wrestling world can do and drops a “the truth shall set you free” line which brings out R-Truth.

R-Truth is a master on the mic but in a different way from Paul of course. One would think people would be tired of how he acts the fools by constantly getting names and locations wrong while mis-hearing those around him, but much like Paul there is always a slight twist to whatever he does on a weekly basis that makes his usual shtick feel fresh. This week he declares he’s entering the Royal Rumble and is more than prepared to throw Paul Heyman over the top rope, but once he learns that it’s actually Brock in the Rumble, truth bows out (or rather “un-declares” for the Rumble) because while he’s an idiot, he knows Brock may kill him and there is nothing wrong with another superstar – especially one like Truth – to admit that.

Brock for his part does what he does best, look menacing – if not amused at both the work of Paul and Truth – and then tags Truth with an F5 because Brock doesn’t mind laughing, but much rather would prefer to just throw people around.

The whole thing ends with Mojo Rawley taking the 24/7 championship from a clearly beaten R-Truth which is fine enough and again helps Rawley not be a complete afterthought when he goes into matches. If anything, it’s about time other low-card talent had runs with the title.

 

This was… Meh

This week is where things were supposed to get serious between Bobby Lashley and Rusev who promised no more fun loving stuff, just the Bulgarian Brute. Problem is I remember the Bulgarian Brute as more of a wrecking machine than he was in this fight and the Bulgarian Brute certainly wouldn’t have been distracted by Lana and Liv Morgan leading up to a loss against the All Mighty.

A few weeks ago I said I was all in on this angle being goofy and over-the-top and now that it’s trying to pull itself in the other direction it just doesn’t work for me and just adding Liv to this mix makes it even more convoluted. Like, shouldn’t Rusev also be upset with Liv for having relations with Lana let alone for kind of costing him the match? It doesn’t matter anyway because Lana went and challenged Rusev and Liv to a mixed tag match for next week which they accepted and so we continue on with this whole thing, not as ridiculous as I’d like and wondering if this is all because someone dared creative to find a way to have the crowd sick of seeing Rusev

 

That was Raw: A Different Kind Of Contract Signing

Contract signings are a easy way to get two people schedule for a big match to fight each other without actually booking a match for them to fight each other before they are scheduled to fight each other and so that’s what I expected to see between Becky Lynch and Asuka only we didn’t get that, we got something even better.

I love that Asuka doesn’t really speak English now. Why should she be bothered to speak it since she doesn’t really have any care for the fans or or fellow competitors. Not only does she speak in a foreign language, but she does so in rapid fire and in a menacing fashion that only adds to her dangerous and overly confident persona. She also doesn’t say much and when Becky sets up to talk Asuka sprays the green mist at Becky who proceeds to sell it like it’s only slightly better than death to her eyes.

Asuka leaves because he work is already done and much like her speaking, why should she be bothered to do any more just to appease others? Lynch gets the mic and fires off a fiery promo that still underlines the theme of Becky not knowing if she can actually beat Asuka, but at least now knowing she is at least ready to go down swinging with vengeance.

Technically they didn’t even touch each other and it was maybe the best and most to the point contract signing I’ve seen in years.

 

This was cooked: Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid

Really didn’t care much from the promo battle that Andrade and Zelina had with Rey Mysterio because hitting on the topics of Rey somehow being an “embarrassment” to the Latino community as well as to his son feels lazy on multiple levels. Accusing Rey of “stealing” the US title which is still on Andrade’s shoulder comes off as super lame. I don’t know that we needed any of those promos and if we did, maybe they could have waited for next week leading up to their ladder match for the title.

 

That was Raw but for a moment I thought it was cooked: I’m Not Your Buddy Black

Of course Black vs Murphy Part 3 wasn’t going to disappoint, but going into it, part of me kind of wished they had waited a couple of weeks and maybe had the third match happen at the Rumble. Still they had a nice video package recapping the first two matches and how everything had gone down so this in a way kind of felt like a bit of a pay per view build. That video package is exactly what we should see before the Andrade/Mysterio match next week.

Also while I know last week was the part where Murphy got the jump on Black and stood tall, it didn’t come without Murphy being underhanded which I know is what a heel should do, but it would have been nice to give Murphy a cleaner boost then and it would have been nice to give Murphy a win on this night because while he’s had three outstanding matches against Black that have helped elevate him up the card, at least giving him one win out of three would probably put him over the top.

As it is post-match we see Murphy slumped on the floor against the wall presumably contemplating life, the universe and if 205 Live might take him back which carries all through the next match and to the main event where suddenly the finish of this match suddenly becomes more than ok…

 

This is… a cool-down match? Wow, they really did treat Black/Murphy like a PPV match huh?

I ad damn near forgotten about Eric Rowan as a weekly thing on Raw until he showed up to squash a guy and end up getting bit by whatever it was in his mystery cage.

I swear, if the evil demonic brother of Ramblin Rabbit isn’t in that cage, I am going to be very disappointed.

They literally put a cool-down match between what ended up being the match of the night and the main event. I’m not mad about it, I’m just… Have they done this before? Has it ever been this blatantly obvious?

And as mentioned, nice touch by having Buddy Murphy still sitting ringside, still with that far away look in his eyes. As I watched it I actually started feeling a bit better about the idea that they had a plan for Murphy, but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it turned out…

 

This was cooked but then it got Raw: Last Men Stand… Err.. The “Fist Fight”

Before Raw hit the air, the rules to tonight’s main event hit the social medias…

First of all, including “no-holds-barred” and “no disqualifications” is redundant and you only need to say one or the other. Second, this is a Last Man Standing match… Or since it’s a six man tag-ish match, then it’s a Last Men Standing match.

Whatever. It’s an excuse for chaos. Call it a Chaos Match or something better next time.

The match itself is disjoined and while it has some cool spots, doesn’t offer much in the way of overly great action.

But those cool spots were *really* cool. Kevin Owens turning the raw stage into a half-pipe is something I watched on a loop for a good hour after the show.

Wheeee! *ahem* Sorry…

While Kev and Joe take on the Authors Of Pain at the stage, Seth is having issues with Big Show in the ring and that’s when Seth calls out to a still distraught Murphy for his help.

And suddenly Seth’s promo from earlier in the night where it felt like a really useless throwaway bit means a little more. He states that people are either with them, or against them, which is such a tired cliche, but it works here. Seth is the “Monday Night Messiah” after all and there is Buddy Murphy, a lost soul who literally just lost…

Buddy Murphy hitting a low blow on Big Show a moment later may have been my favorite low blow since Shinsuke popped AJ in the pills two Wrestlemania’s ago. I also breathed a sigh of relief.

Buddy Murphy was going from a great run with Alistair Black to what essentially becomes the main angle of Raw involving guys like Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe. And almost right under our noses, WWE in the last month has elevated the status to main event scene of not just Murphy, but AOP as well and maybe even Alistair Black if he decides he’s not done with Murphy which at first I thought he was, and now really hoping he isn’t.

If nothing else, the WWE seemingly heard my cry for more factions that I made as I watched Undisputed Era and Impirum fight at NXTUK Takeover…

Seth, AOP & Buddy… Just gotta give ’em a cool name and we’re off and running!