Welcome to my instant review of Monday Night Raw. As a reminder, here’s the format:
I’ll be reviewing each hour of the show as its own entity. For each hour, I’ll tell you what I liked, what I didn’t like and provide an overall letter grade for the hour. I’ll wrap up with my overall thoughts on the show including a letter grade. Without further ado:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: An INSTANT review of Monday Night Raw (09-17-18)
What I liked:
I thought the opening in-ring interview took a fascinating turn when The Dogs of War hinted at a Dean Ambrose heel turn. Their hard sell to Ambrose planted the seeds for what we’d all like to see. I couldn’t help but feel like Ambrose looked out of sorts as the only wrestler in The Shield without a title belt. I don’t actually believe that Ambrose is going to join The Dogs of War, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this leads to the heel turn that everyone wants to see. Even if it doesn’t, I like that the WWE chose to add some intrigue to what has been a largely dull story.
I never thought I’d enjoy a match that only existed to promote the Mixed Match Challenge, but I was really into Jinder Mahal v Finn Balor. Although Jinder is extremely limited in the ring and although Balor hasn’t impressed since he came to the WWE, I thought the outside interference from Bailey and Alicia Fox worked on every level. I was entertained, and that’s all that i ask for. I also found Jinder’s attack on Singh post-match to be a good change for his character. Could this be the rebirth of Mahal? I’m in.
Rock solid six-woman tag between Natalya/Bellas/Riot Squad. Outside of the injury to Liv Morgan, there wasn’t much not to like. I loved that the Riot squad emerged victorious. All that I ask for is logical consistency and we got it here. If we’re supposed to buy into Rousey and The Bellas v The Riot Squad, a team missing Rousey couldn’t have been victorious against The Riot Squad. This may seem obvious, but what’s obvious isn’t always what happens. Good work here.
What I didn’t like:
Stupid opening segment with Stephanie berating Baron Corbin backstage. How could she be upset at Corbin inserting himself into a world title match with one breath and encourage him to challenge The Shield in a six man tag in the next? There was absolutely no continuity on this. It just made Corbin look like a chump.
Overall Hour 1 Grade:
A. There wasn’t much not to like. I was entertained by the in-ring promo and I thought we got two matches that were far better than I expected them to be. Lets hope that the WWE can keep the ball rolling in hour number two.
What I liked:
Triple H cut a strong promo on The Undertaker from outside of his limo. I think it was smart for Triple H to continue to play up to the idea that Taker just doesn’t have it anymore. I can’t say that I’m excited for Triple H v Undertaker, but I’m very interested in seeing how the transition is made to DX v The Brothers of Destruction. That’s a match that I’m dying to see.
Anything Elias does continues to be one of the main reasons that I want to tune in every week. He’s such a natural with a microphone in his hand. I thought he used a great cheap heel tactic in refusing to do a concert for the live audience. He and KO showed tremendous chemistry together with their back and forth banter. I’d love to see them as a permanent team. Both are incredibly talented and it doesn’t seem like the WWE has an idea as to what to do with either one at the moment. KO pulling out the children’s seat for Lio Rush had me rolling on the floor. I was entertained.
What I didn’t like:
I would rather rip my fingernails off than have to watch Gable v Konnor again. No wait, I’d rather rip my fingernails off and systematically pierce my nipples with their edges. Good god make it stop.
I thought the WWE missed the mark by having Ziggler and McIntyre defending the title against The Revival. The match was fine from a technical standpoint. The problem is that heel v heel matches simply don’t work in today’s WWE. I was bored. The crowd was bored. There was nothing for anyone to get behind. This was a complete waste of time.
Overall Hour 2 Grade:
C-. Too much flash, not enough substance here. The tag title match dominated the hour and I couldn’t have been less interested in it. If that wasn’t bad enough, we also had to sit through the 4th straight week of the “mega-feud” between Gable, Roode and The Ascension. Woof.
What I liked:
We ended up with a borderline PPV quality match between Bobby Lashley and Elias. The WWE was smart to play up to Lashley being a hometown guy. I felt that the crowd reaction really carried the two through what could have easily been viewed as a match with dull spots. I’m enjoying the Lio Rush/Bobby Lashley pairing. I watch Lio and he comes off as a cowardly heel trying to escape the clutches of the good guys. The fact that the roles are reversed makes for an odd but interesting dynamic.
I thought the backstage segment between Rollins and McIntyre was top notch. I thought they did a nice job of adding an additional layer to the story that they started to weave earlier in the night. My thoughts on a McIntyre face turn mirror my thoughts on an Ambrose heel turn – it sounds like a good idea but is unlikely to happen. Either way, segments like this highlight that McIntyre is special and should be treated as such.
The segment between Dean and McIntyre served its purpose as well. I thought McIntyre showed verbal chops that I didn’t know he had. Again, logic was in full force. It made sense for McIntyre to point out to Ambrose that Rollins had turned his back on him before. Simple yet effective. No complaints.
I thought the six man tag match to close the show was a worthy main event for an episode of Raw. I loved the choice of AoP as Corbin’s partners. They are a physically dominant team without a direction at the current time. Filling the role of Corbin’s henchmen could do nothing but help their careers. I particularly enjoyed the action between Ambrose & Rollins and the Authors of Pain. That feels like a tag title feud that needs to happen sooner rather than later. No complaints on the finish – I thought everyone involved did an excellent job of moving the story line forward.
What I didn’t like:
Nia Jax v Alicia Fox was an absolute train wreck. One of my biggest problems with Nia is that she is someone with believable size whose power moves don’t come off as either believable or intimidating. I am bored by the lion’s share of her matches. Alicia Fox is the wrong dance partner for her. Fox has shown signs of flashy athleticism in the past, but it’s largely a botch-fest when she gets in the ring. This was a glorified squash match that didn’t do anything to advance any storyline.
Overall Hour 3 Grade:
B+. I thought both the six man tag and the Lashley/Elias match were worth the watch. This hour was a bit light on story lines, but the in-ring action more than made up for it.
Final Show Grade:
B+. The show dragged in the middle for a stretch of time, but the first and last hour were both quite enjoyable for me. Overall, an improvement from the inconsistent show that the WWE gave us last Monday.
That’s a wrap kids. Agree or disagree with my Raw review? You can follow me @The Eternal Optimist