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Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment

The RAW And The Cooked: A Wrestling Show That Talks About Wrestling

We’re on the road to “The Road to WrestleMania.” We’re on the on-ramp to the road to WrestleMania. I didn’t expect there to be so much talking on the on-ramp.

This was over-cooked: Are you guys just going to sit there and talk all night?

As I mentioned last week, I get that RAW typically starts off with a run of promos which most times acts as nothing more than a recap of what happened last week, but as long as it leads to something action-wise in relative short order, I am usually fine with it.

But this week it didn’t. Instead what we got was about eight minutes worth of promo and video package from Seth Rollins. Then Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens come out and we get three more minutes of talking and bickering back and forth before Joseph and Kevin bring out… The Viking Raiders?

Wait, how did they get involved in this?

Anyway we get 40 seconds of the good guys beating up on the bad guys about 13 minutes into the show without anything set up action-wise. From there we transition to another nearly two minute video package setting up the Rey Mysterio / Andrade Ladder match.

15 minutes into the show and we finally have Rey Rey coming out to the ring for his match. Not an ideal start, but at least we’ll now get to some actual wrestling on the show about wrestling…

This was… Holy crap more promos?!

We have our first TV break, and coming out of it we see… Seth Rollins again?

Oh NOW, we’re setting up an actual match for later in the night where the Viking Raiders will now face the tag team of Seth’s group for the tag titles… Seth and Buddy Murphy.

The Authors Of Pain meanwhile are the “this is fine…” meme quite literally in the background behind Seth and Buddy. I mean it’s not like AOP have spent half a year begging for fights in overly moody video promos or anything…

Also, by the time we finally get to our first match we’re a good 20 minutes into the show.

This is when Raw starts feeling like a very long three hour show.

That was RAW: Ladder-day saints.

Our reward for sitting through 20+ minutes of virtually nothing but talk and entrances is an early entry for Match Of The Year between Rey and Andrade.

Going into it we all knew it was going to be pretty good, but it’s kind of shocking how hard hitting and impactful this match was. If you’re the type to PVR the show and skim through it later, you’ll want to at least plan to watch this match in it’s full length.

Both Rey and Andrade take some dangerous looking bumps. Zelina gets involved by climbing the ladder herself to get between Rey and the title. The crowd is super into the whole thing which makes this feel like a PPV quality match on regular TV. Just fantastic stuff.

Of course Zelina getting involved costs Rey the title eventually and Andrade retains and post-match the dastardly duo pull back the ring padding with the idea of finishing of Rey once and for good, but an overly exuberant Mysterio fan hops over the rail to stop Andrade and… Holy crap the guy removed his Rey mask and it’s Humberto Carrillo for the save!

I’d also like to point out that Carrillo was in that corner spot from the start of the freakin show nearly 40 minutes earlier.

It would have been slightly better if they let that brief moment breathe where “a fan” hops over the wall to stop his hero from suffering a horrible fate. Announcers could have warned us of the dangers fans face when getting near the ring, officials could have tried to get between the “fan” and wrestler.. and THEN you do the reveal.

But whatever, this was pretty good too.

Now we get a second attempt at pushing Humberto? The first time didn’t go so well with fans, so maybe now with a little bit of backstory and a clear cut goal in front of him, fans can find a reason to get behind him.

That was… An appearance by Aleister Black.

Two minutes of Black entrance. 5 seconds of actual match where Black hits Black Mass and then.. That’s it.

Ok then. This is the equivalent of “creative has nothing for you, but you gotta be on TV anyway” which I don’t know really does anything for him. Why not recap the last few weeks where he took out Buddy Murphy three times and then have him cut a promo as he’s one of the better talkers on the roster?

Whatever. A roundhouse kick is always fun to watch as well.

This was cooked: More talk?!

We get another ten minutes or so of talk from Paul Heyman (who was escorted to the ring by Brock Lesnar? Hey, that’s three weeks in a row! One more week in a row on the punch card and his next sub is free!) and then Ricochet who really just sounds all kinds of awkward on the mic telling us all that he doesn’t fear anything – and he says it often enough that it makes me wonder if he’s trying to convince himself – and that it’s Brock who might be scared to fight him!

One kick to the lil Ricochets later and Brock delivering yet another one-liner to close out the segment.

The talk-to-wrestling ratio at this point is getting quite high which I get is to be expected for a go-home show, but even this is ridiculous.

This was RAW, but then they cooked it: We can’t have too much good wrestling now…

Remember a few weeks ago when it looked like Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton had something going on and it looked like they’d be feuding and then nothing really came of that?

Well WWE finally got around to this match and it’s pretty good and again features a pretty live crowd – Wichita, Kansas was the start of the night for being as lively as they were despite all the promo work they had to sit through – and it concludes with The O.C. running in, presumably because this much wrestling is unsettling to them.

I honestly don’t understand run-ins like this. Was AJ concerned that they’d both beat each other into oblivion before Sunday? What was the point here?

Randy chases them off with a chair, then RKO’s Drew because that’s vintage Randy. Drew then swears vengeance upon Randy Keith Orton (love it when his full name gets used for some reason) and swears to win the Rumble and main event WrestleMania.

(All of this means he probably won’t, but Randy vs Drew at ‘Mania should be ok)

That was RAW: Becky’s straight fire

Even more talk, but this time it feels like it has a purpose. Becky explains that now she realizes that maybe with all the sneak attacks and sprays that maybe it’s Asuka who should be doubting herself going into their match on Sunday. She also seemed to have an epiphany of sorts realizing that while she went on to main event WrestleMania 35, win both belts and so on and so on, Asuka’s biggest moment of the year has been working on her YouTube channel.

(That really feels like more of an indictment on how badly WWE has screwed up with Asuka, but ok.)

That leads to a match between Lynch and Sane that while predictable in its finish, serves as a good reminder that Kairi Sane is pretty darn good in her own right.

Asuka perching herself on the ring post for the entire match is also unique and adds to her rather delightfully eccentric character. After the match of course comes the Asuka sneak attack that gives her a leg up on Becky going into Sunday.

All of this is good if not a bit “paint by numbers” match building for Sunday, but it’s better than 15 minute long promos.

That was RAW: We have new tag team champions

Colour me shocked on this one. The loss doesn’t hurt The Viking Raiders all that much because they look really good here and they drop the titles due to shenanigans happening all around them. Of course Buddy and Seth are two of the most fun to watch on the Raw roster so it’s fine that they have the tag titles as well. This also probably sets up a run of Kevin and Joe challenging for the Raw Tag titles and winning them at ‘Mania or something like that.

All of this is ok, but again it’s hard not to see AOP standing right there as the established team and think this is a little messed up. I also don’t see how this is any good for the Raw tag division, but there isn’t much of a division anyway since The OC is busy being AJ’s sidekick and the Street Profits are doing skits in the back.

It’s almost like WWE is just begging fans of tag team wrestling to go watch AEW.

By the way, we still don’t have a name for this faction of four? C’mon WWE, how do you expect to sell merch if you can’t have a name and t-shirts ready to sell a week after forming this four man group?

This was all cooked: Filler and more filler

Did we really need two minutes of The Street Profits doing an knock-off SNL Weekend Report bit? Not really.

Did we really need Erick Rowan in a bit of a squash match over Matt Hardy? Not really. (And as Mike mentioned in his PVRaw Recap, this is WWE basically admitting they are done with Matt and probably Jeff as well)

That was RAW: Mojo rising!

The 24/7 title is a dumb gimmick that fit a dumb persona like the one R-Truth and the parade of jobbers that usually chased after him week after week, but it was very refreshing to see Mojo Rawley declare that he’s going to take it in a different direction. No more run and hide BS with it, no more goofy sneak attacks… And to prove his point, he completely decimates The Bollywood Boys who clearly didn’t get the memo as they tried to do some dumb “hey look over here while the other guy sneaks up behind you..” BS that fails miserably.

WWE is going to use the 24/7 title to help raise the status of one of it’s low-tier wrestlers? We’re actually going to have the 24/7 title mean something a little more than it has meant? I’m all for it!

But please change the look of that belt. It’s still really bad.

This was cooked: At least it’s over?

Of course on a show that is three parts talking and one part wrestling, we’d get Lana to cut a three minute promo no one asks for. Lana’s ranting goes almost as long as the actual mixed tag match does which ends with Bobby Lashley getting the best of Rusev – again – and hopefully the end of this whole ordeal. The match being as short as it was almost feels like WWE fully admitting that they’re done with this whole thing as well which I guess we should all be happy about because no one really seemed to care about it.

That said, the decision to make this the last thing we’ll see on Raw before Royal Rumble this Sunday seems like a heck of a choice. It almost makes me long for the days when the final Raw before Royal Rumble almost always ended in a multi-man brawl that was a sort of preview for the actual Rumble match where guys would take turns throwing each other over the top rope as practice for when it actually matters to do such a thing on Sunday.