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Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment

The RAW And The Cooked: On This Day I See Clearly

So now that we’re done with the Rumble we’re on The Road to WrestleMania, and like any good road trip when you first start off there is lots of anticipation and every little thing that happens early on seems fun and exciting which is what this episode of RAW was for the most part.

That was RAW, but a little cooked: Drew Is The Best Tag Team In The World?

Of course we’re going to get a bit of a victory lap of sorts from Drew McIntyre following his big win on Sunday and no doubt he’s earned it. The story of Drew McIntyre is custom-made for an event like WrestleMania. He came in as “The Chosen One” and seemingly had all the tools needed to be a major star, but he was missing something. He was missing a lot actually, which is why his first run didn’t work out and why by the end of it he was an unconvincing part of a three man air-band before he was Future Endeavoured.

So Drew went out and found himself, and it turns out that self ended up being an absolute Scottish beast who could play the part of a “psychopath.” But that robbed us of his personality and charm, which is why the first part of his second run seemed a bit underwhelming.

Now we get to see the personality. He can open up about his career path and take in the cheers and adoration and it doesn’t take away from the fact that we know he could go toe-to-toe with Brock Lesnar. If anything, Lesnar’s sneak attack and F-5 to Drew can be the spark needed to flick the switch from “oh my goodness I need to be pinched” to “oh my God I am going to destroy that beast.”

That said, there are 10 weeks between now and then for a build to happen and Brock isn’t going to be around all ten weeks, so I suspect they’ll continue to build Drew as they did tonight with Gallows and Anderson.

Which is where I do cringe a little bit with this segment.

I get it, you want to make Drew a big beast as well… But did it have to come at the expense of both of The O.C. at the same time, the night after Royal Rumble? Maybe they were going for “wow, he just beat the O.C. one-on-two, he must be ready!” But all I could think was “wow, this wouldn’t have happened if Uncle Allen was there…”

This wasn’t cooked, but it wasn’t RAW either: Meh Value Performer

Montell Vontavious Porter has always been one of those characters I felt WWE missed the boat on. Not that he was ever going to be a main-event guy, but I always felt like he was a strong mid-card talent and a character that could have tapped into the “self-entitled rich athlete” gimmick more than it ever did. Instead what he ended up being was a decent wrestler, but outside of a strong feud with Matt Hardy in the early 00’s, there was nothing overly memorable about him other than just those of us who remember him mostly with “Yeah, he was good I guess.”

So he makes his big return at Royal Rumble, but clearly wasn’t THE big return of the night, gets dumped out seconds later by Brock, comes out to RAW the next night and has a good match with Rey Mysterio, but loses. After all that, I just sit here, nod and think: “Yup, that’s the MVP I remember… Good to see him back, I guess.”

That was a declaration: Mr. Black Will Now Look For You

Old and busted: Superkicks.

New hotness: Roundhouse kicks.

There is just something oddly satisfying of seeing Aleister Black deliver a backwards spinning kick to some poor fool’s head and dimming his lights. It ranks right up there with popping bubbles on bubble wrap and watching a Zamboni slowly clean ice in an oval pattern. I’m not a fan of ten second jobber matches, but we get Black Mass and then a promo – and Black could use more of those – where he basically says that in hindsight, he made the mistake of thinking people would want to take on an occultist-looking death machine with a lethal backwards spinning kick that can dislocate a jaw in .4 seconds. He’s going to correct that mistake by now just going after people.

Hopefully he does it over the next three weeks with random backwards spinning kicks to random people – good and bad – backstage until he finds the one guy who takes exception to the free dental work being offered by Mr. Black and sets up a feud.

That was RAW: How Does Seth Not Have A Name For His Group?

Subtle and logical storytelling always brings a smile to my face, so the promo back and forth between Seth and the Samo-Can Connection at first seemed pretty typical until Joe and KO rightly point out that this whole tag-match feels like a set up and the thing that tipped them off was that Seth was actually wanting to fight this time. The way it was explained made sense. They alluded to the fact that it could be a trap in a couple of different ways, and once they essentially got Seth to reveal what his trap was going to be, sic’ed the Viking Raiders on the AOP.

Good, simple set up for a good, decent tag match.

Hard to tell what had happened to Joe as he was being taken away and I’m hoping his injury is more storyline than legit injury*, but it sets up a finish of where poor ol’ KO nearly gets the job done against the tag team champs, but the Numbers Game™ is too much to overcome.

See you next week fellas…

*At the time or writing it was still unclear whether or not the injury was a work, but it has been revealed by PW Insider that Samoa Joe did sustain a legitimate injury and the rest of the match was called in the ring.

That was RAW: The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Humberto Carrillo

Humberto vs Andrade… Sure, fine. It’s yet again another good match between these two and I rolled my eyes and just about checked out for good on anything involving Humberto when he – again – was the victim of Zelena Vega’s shenanigans.

But unlike every other time he’s lost a match due to someone else’s chicanery, this time Humberto has decided that he’s had enough and is going to make an example of a previously smirking Andrade who didn’t anticipate having to face consequences for his manager’s actions, because why would he? He hadn’t for weeks up until tonight.

If there is one thing that gets wrestling fans to pop, it’s a babyface delivering karma soaked justice to a villian which is what a Hammerlock DDT to the concrete is for Andrade on this night. It’s the first real viceral crowd reaction Humberto gets since he made his main roster debut and it’s something to build on going forward. It turns out those cute dimples belies a man who will crush your head in if pushed too far, and kudos to Zelena for selling the whole thing like Andrade was just killed.

It was then revealed by WWE that Andrade has been suspended for 30 days for a Violation of the Company’s Wellness Policy, so if we’re going to go a month without Andrade, does this mean we’ll get a US Championship tournament? I kinda hope so. We haven’t had a title tournament in a long while and there is another Blood Money show coming up in February which seems like an ideal time for a tournament final…

Make it happen WWE.

That was RAW, but you also have the cooked: Both Ends Of The Women’s Spectrum

On one end you have Becky Lynch with the epiphany that “Holy crap, I’m actually really good here. Better than all those other dopes” which feels like it’s something an egotistical heel would say, but at this point who are any of us to question? She gets reminded that her old friend Charlotte Flair just won the Royal Rumble and could challenge her, but it’s no longer a big deal to Lynch. She’s already proven she could beat her, so why sweat it or complain that Flair’s just going to claim her spotlight?

At this point, Becky knows she is the division and everyone else will now just come to her.

We also have Charlotte and Asuka and while Becky would like to think she’s well ahead of both of them, the truth is of course they are still right there with the champ and able to beat her on any given night. Ms. Flair has the Rumble bragging rights, but Asuka appears and points out that if she was in the Rumble, she would have won. Being that she won it the only other time she was in it, it’s hard to argue that point.

Asuka and Charlotte then have another solid match, as they always seem to have, and even though it ends with Kari Sane getting involved, it’s fine. We’re now back to building towards another PPV, so this kind of stuff is expected as long as we get some solid action before the run-ins and end of match gimmicks, it’s fine.

So Lynch and Asuka and Charlotte and even Kari are all at one beautiful end of the spectrum and on the other we have Liv Morgan and Lana Lashley.

Liv is better than this. I’ve seen her work in NXT and she’s good. Maybe this keeps her on TV and that’s a minor win for her I suppose, but Lana is the opposite of good in the ring and the whole match feels awful and clunky.

Just keep Lana to the outside of the ring. Better yet, have someone fight Lana’s battles for her… Someone like Liv’s former Riott Squad teammate Sarah Logan who also could use a good storyline to be involved in beyond being the girl Charlotte beats the crap out of every week.

I’m all for multiple women’s storylines in a three hour show, but can we not have them be such a contrast of what is good and what is awful about the women’s division? They can both be good.

That was RAW: In Related News, The XFL Is Two Weeks Away…

Mojo Rawley comes out and calls himself the franchise QB, which would be like Kirk Cousins calling himself the franchise QB of the Minnesota Vikings. Technically it could be true I suppose, but no one with a working set of eyes would ever mistake him for that. Mojo brings out NXT’er Riddick Moss as his “offensive lineman” which maybe in the CFL he would be, but the NFL? Moss by the way was a legit player for the University of Minnesota, but as a linebacker. Linebackers don’t protect QBs, linemen do, and Mojo himself was also a defensive player with Maryland…

It’s ok Mojo, when I played as a defensive tackle, I too wished I could have been the QB.

Anyway, I can see that this is setting up a thing with Mojo’s real life football pal Rob Gronkowski at ‘Mania from a mile away and if it isn’t that, then it’s a variation of it with some other football star. Either way I am very much down with all of this. He makes short work of No Way Jose in an actual match and then we get R-Truth getting in one more 24/7 victory before Mojo re-establishes himself as champ.

The Truth reveal is fun of course, but Mojo doesn’t have time for that which again feels like a perfect set up to go against someone like Gronk who was last seen spiking a Lego Steve Harvey on New Years Eve.

I like Mojo and have since his time on that WWE Network doc “Breaking Ground” where he and Dana Brooke were seen literally cruising for chicks, so anything that keeps Mojo on my TV on a weekly basis, I am here for.

That was… OH MY GOD RANDY NOOOOOOOOO!!

Edge is back and all feels right with the world.  We still don’t know how often he’s going to be doing this thing for and even he himself seemed to genuinely admit that he didn’t know how long this was going to last, so while he listed off a handful of wrestlers that we ourselves all listed off as dream matchups for Edge going forward (AJ… Owens… Black… Roman… Seth…) it was also with the caveat of “hopefully, see you all soon”

The list of potentials is why I was for a brief moment disappointed to see Randy Orton come down because we’ve already seen Randy vs Edge, but even with so many years behind them and with 2020 Orton being a different guy than 2010 Orton, even that match-up seems fresh while still being something familiar to work Edge back in with.

Also, no one can put over someone as a sympathetic face like Orton can. Randy was masterful here as someone who couldn’t help but to lash out at Edge even though he had a second earlier offered to team up with him. Was his attack premeditated? Who knows. Much like Edge was a blast from his past, did a voice compel Randy to attack? Randy did have Edge set up for the always brutal looking neck spot with the chair in the corner, but backed off that… Why? Is he fighting a battle within himself?

So many questions left unanswered and we can get all those answers in the weeks to come as Edge “recovers” for what ultimately will be his second return from the return and get just as big a pop and fanfare as he got this past weekend.

Edge of course shows off the acting chops he’s gained over the last nine years of doing TV shows like Haven and Vikings and sells the beatdown incredibly well.

Orton will get some grief for flipping from heel to face at Big Show-like levels, but that’s honestly just how good he is. Fun, silly, give no eff’s Randy is easy to cheer for, but sinister serial killer Randy is even easier to hate and nothing could turn a Universe faster than taking out the one guy we just got back after nine long years.

Sure it’s a sad end to the show, but it fills me with so much anticipation as I can’t wait to see Edge come back and kick his ass a few weeks (months?) from now. But, I also can’t wait to see evil Randy now have to fight off the people who will fight for Edge’s honour, which is something you know will happen as early as next week.

 

 

Oh right. Erik Rowan was a thing that happened on this show too.

Nobody cares any more.