Imp’s RAW Adventure
An actual RAW review thing two weeks in a row? Madness. This week I genuinely can’t believe I watched the whole thing, one of those episodes where I was just done half way through. Felt every minute of that final hour, which to its credit was ‘fine’.
There is context for my struggle though, as a heed of warning, last night was a long one for Imp. Till 3am I was guesting on Social Suplex’s NJPW podcast Keeping It Strong Style (which was tones of fun, their name is a link to said show – also be at the end of the column), I then spent the night with a big ass, creepy legged spider and was blissfully awoken at 8am by nearby builders having a ‘who could make the loudest clang with the skip’ competition. AKA my tolerance for BS today is very, very low.
So I’m pretty much in the perfect mood to review an episode of WWE television! Nothing can possibly go wrong with this idea, the precursor for a lovely day sat watching and writing about the American wrestles.
“Everything can piss off. Everything. Is. EVIL.”
Monday Night RAW
August 26th 2019
Baddie Blue Banks Bashes Becky
AKA I enjoyed this so let’s rant about continuity
I went into this fully expecting a continued run of ‘new heels don’t tell you why they did the bad thing’. But boy am I happy to have been proven wrong on that one, Blue Banks went full into the story of the world we last saw her in. With Becky main eventing WrestleMania, Purple Banks was in the mid-card defending her WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. A title that has hardly featured since April, but now Alexa Bliss is one half of said champions they can’t not at least have them on the Pre Show.
Seeing that is what caused her mental flip, her time away, planning her return to remind everyone what The Boss is all about. Can’t help there’s a bit of proving that to herself as well, somewhat losing sight of what she wanted to become.
With that, just like last week we’re immediately hit by one of the little titbits with how WWE is produced that grains on me over time. A prime example of the more you watch and get invested in WWE’s stories/characters, you’re increasingly punished for doing so. Like, I know it’s a lot to ask, but continuity wise we did see Sasha on television holding those Women’s Tag Team Championships half a year ago. The Boss looked chuffed to bits, she and Bayley went down to NXT to challenge folk down there and everything. So for her to come out tonight and declare that it was a title she didn’t care about… It’s a ‘gosh heel says bad thing’, but I have to actively ignore something I one hundred percent watched on their telly show.
Again, I’m aware most wrestling fans don’t watch and analyse the shows like I do. But continuity is a vital part of world building that WWE just constantly completely ignores. You want to know one of the reasons fans are struggling to get invested in the product? The WWE Universe’s rules mean nothing, are constantly broken and long term it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does. It’s not as bad as it was over the course of the Summer where you had no idea what would be cannon from week to week, I’m no longer talking short term continuity, I’m talking 6 months here… for WWE that’s par for the norm, but when comparing RAW to entertainment as a whole it really is shit.
Continuity is really important, if something happens on the show you can’t simply ignore it for plot convenience. If you do, literally anything can happen because your world has no rules. Leading to viewers asking why they would ever get invested in your stories? Watch Another Life on Netflix and tell me how great it is to have established narratives broken for plot convenience.
Rant over, it’s a major hurdle WWE are going to have to overcome at some point, but at least here with Banks/Natalya they’re absolutely nailing the short-term continuity. Building really nicely week to week, even Natalya’s character feels justified with a bit of fire in her. Cause and effect in action right before us, it makes all the sense in the world that after the past two weeks Nattie would be pissed off and run out to kick Sasha Banks’ ass.
Aside from that one continuity thing that led me on a production nerd tangent, Sasha’s reasoning for going after the Canadian and the Irish Lass is relatable and plays off of reality pretty damn well. People often say wrestling’s at its best when it blurs those lines, that promo from Banks was exactly that. Playing off of all the reports since WrestleMania, her trips round the world, certain commenters telling her off for ‘throwing a mardy and taking her ball’. It was all incorporated excellently and gives the time to build to Lynch through Natalya.
That last bit is probably the most positive for me, WWE can continue to build to Lynch/Banks without forcing them to interact every single week. Save the big match for a bigger date, great sign of finally showing a bit of patience.
EDIT: Says Imp at the start of the show before taking in that Sasha & Nattie would be facing off that same night. So I guess they’re not being that patient. Oh well!
2019 King of the Ring
Ricochet vs Drew McIntyre | The Miz vs Baron Corbin
Trust us, it’s still prestigious!
Last week we opened the tournament with a hype package, Cole in prestige build mode, a preview tag match and everything. This week? We’re already into one of the lads getting a jobber entrance territory, hey at least they traded entrances in for 90s direct to camera promos and a tad of evil throne sitting.
This week there were once again two 1st Round matches, Ricochet vs Drew McIntyre was first and bloomin’ ‘eck was it bloody brilliant. There’s something I love about little lad vs big lad matches in WWE, the David vs Goliath story is one they tell a lot, but do ever so well. The showcasing of McIntyre’s strength versus Ricochet’s speed and athleticism was done amazingly. Multiple great moments, wincing spots delivered by the Scott and awe inspiring flippy doos by the Kentucky man.
Match of the Night by a country margin, if you watch anything from this week’s RAW make sure it’s this.
With Baron Corbin vs The Miz it really highlighted to me that this week’s King of the Ring affairs were very similar to the last, featuring an exciting as hell first match and perfectly fine TV bout second. This match did everything it needed to, getting Corbin over as both a massive prick and a competitor that you really shouldn’t be underestimating.
Folk are out there pessimistically predicting Elias to win the whole thing, then I’m sat here like, “I know I’m nowhere near as invested as you, but did you not see Corbin kick out of Miz’s finisher and then cut an evil king promo?”
Evil King all the way, versus a Ricochet trying to win his indie name back.
So here we are, the point where I note down the exact moment I started to drift away from the episode. Where I stopped paying attention, got tired or went onto Twitter. This week’s ‘Fatigue Period’ felt way, way longer than last week’s. Maybe it was the Tag Turmoil with WWE showcasing a division they clearly don’t care that much about, or the fact that long ride followed Wildcard Bayley and Nikki Cross wrestling in near silence.
Quick first note on Strowman & Rollins’ promo: bottom left it read ‘Last Week’ and then Strowman said, “We only just won these tag titles last week!” With Rollins away this was indeed pre-recorded… mate, just do another take.
With WWE it really is just the little things that grain, but it’s A LOT of little things. Building a castle on sand an’ all that.
Anyway, once again for the second week in a row the fatigue hits me in the 2nd hour, right when we’re introduced to the Wildcards. It’s my same point from last week, these segments feel separate from the rest of the flow of the show. Even if they’re relevant to SmackDown stories, what is their relevance that they needed to be featured on RAW?
What’s the reason I’m meant to care about these segments again?
“Because it’s Bayley! From SmackDown! And she’s on RAW!”
Yeah I get that, but why is she? What’s the story here?
“That is the story! That a SmackDown superstar is on RAW! Isn’t it amazing that we get to see that?”
I mean… no, not really. I don’t even know who’s on which brand. It turns out Andrade was on SmackDown this whole time? Who knew?? He’s been wrestling Rey Mysterio every Monday after getting drafted to RAW in the Shake Up and was apparently switched back to SD Live the week after. I literally have no idea which non-main event talent is on which show. You can tell it breaks the flow as well, the crowd seems to die at this exact point every week. So why would I perk up when a SmackDown’s on RAW? If that’s the reason I’m meant to care about this segment, then colour me… ‘don’t care-ing’. Can you tell I’m tired? It’s also 30°C/86°F outside, it’s bloody boiling. My brain can’t, it just… can’t… take… the nonsense.
Perfectly fun match though, it’s just that neither I nor the crowd particularly cared.
Tag Team Turmoil
8 Teams and a Bobby
Had me for a second, thought WWE actually cared for the tag lads for a minute.
I keep forgetting it’s tradition in WWE for thrown together tag teams to work ten times more efficiently than those who’ve been teaming their entire careers.
Note on The Viking Blokes, really rated them in ROH/NJPW, thought highly of their NXT run that really just hitting steam, but damn their main roster run has gone even worse than I ever thought. They’ve gone from tough lads who have a Viking essence and kind of play off it, to literally just being Vikings and that’s it. There’s nothing else to their act, even all their moves have to either contain the word ‘Viking’ in it or something related. Kinda sad, but if you’re a tag team that signs for WWE you surely have to know what you’re expecting.
And that pretty much sums up this turmoil. I’m not going to lie, this format makes for entertaining television, even if it has such a strong aura of ‘don’t care too much about this’ surrounding it. The rotating competition/success and failings of each team keeps the thing fresh and fun to watch throughout, so this was a damn easy match to blast through.
I could sit here and go ‘eh’ at Roode & Ziggler winning, 100% fitting into the anything can happen bracket but you don’t really care because continuity doesn’t exist. And the crowd aren’t stupid, there’s a reason they were pretty quiet for this in spite of the drama. It’s like week to week whether we’re told to invest in the tag division or not. Last week was a firm yes, this week a hell no.
Yes they got plenty of time, but what did they do with it? How does the tag division feel after this lengthy match? Can you truly say the division is better for it? For me it was certainly perfectly entertaining, but also felt like it was informing that this doesn’t matter that much.
United States Championship
AJ Styles vs Brauny the Strowman
How did Montez & Angelo not see… where was Braun hiding? Did he walk out the cupboard? Why did I decide to review RAW?
The O. C. is such a great stable, especially as I’m a massive fan of heel AJ Styles. Mostly because he actually has character when he’s in that role, not his fault, can we argue WWE knows how to write good guys with character? It’s pretty much either/or nowadays, “You’re a babyface? Great! You’re a family man who prides himself on honour and being the best you can be.”
I’m not saying that character is inherently bad, but I am saying it comes across as lazy if every face champion is that exact character. Just compare the SummerSlam WWE Championship matches from the past two years, the both of them are nearly identical.
That said, Strowman is a character you simply cannot paint with that brush. He’s a monster, taking what he wants and beating the crap out of his opponents in the process. This main event not only succeeded in showing us the sublime power of the Monster Among Men, but also in tow with AJ Styles’ brain smarts. I fully expected Braun to lose thanks to Rollins’ absence, whilst that might have been the case, the real reason was a face being stupid honourable.
It wasn’t until AJ actually won the match, via the referee deciding he can make calls by ear now, that Braun went wild and destroyed The O. C. in rage. He did relatively well to keep his focus on Styles before that point, but boy oh boy did The Official Club That’s The Only Club That’s The Original Club learn not to anger The Strowman after that.
A fun RAW main event that moved things along nicely in spite of the champions’ absence (like Sasha’s night in that way), it’s just a shame I was knackered and waiting for the show to end by that point.
Imp’s Final RAW Grade – YouTube It
This week’s show had such a long period of ‘eh’. From the start of the second hour all the way to the main event I was just kind of semi paying attention, even Sasha vs Natalya didn’t really grab me and probably could have been better served waiting a week to play out. I was fatigued and just waiting for the show to end by the closing moments of the tag turmoil, for me that really sucked the life out of my possible enjoyment for the rest of the show.
Yes I am absolutely bloody knackered, but I just had nothing left for that final hour. I was done, nada, didn’t care. How WWE does their 2nd hour really needs to be looked at, especially if they’re going to be insistent on keeping the Wildcard Rule in play. That’s really the biggest reason behind this show not being worth watching properly, everything you will want from it will be available on YouTube.
Unless you’re invested in the King of the Ring, then check out those matches, but I’d be hard pressed to recommend checking out the rest of the show along with them in the process. So for this week, just pick what you want from WWE’s YouTube channel. You’ll be fine.
But now to hear from you, what did you think? What did you make of this week’s RAW? Is the King of the Ring chugging along nicely? What about Sasha Banks’ feud with Natalya? Did you feel the heat? Did it move things along nicely for The Boss in the absence of Becky Lynch?
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too if you’re that way inclined. I’m not sure it matters which one, engagement is engagement!
Imp’s LOP Radio Adventure – The State of WWE, AEW & NJPW Ahead of August 31st
Imp’s most recent columns:
Imp’s RAW Adventure – Seth Rollins & The Brown Straw Man | Aug 19th 2019
NJPW G1 Climax Finals Review – Top 5 Matches & MVP feat. Imp & Sam
Imp’s AEW Adventure – Fyter Fest MEGA Review
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 1: Becoming The Ace