Venue: Rabobank Arena (Bakersfield, CA)
The show begins with a recap video of last week’s rather graphic unveiling of the affair between Bobby Lashley and Lana.
Following the intro video package, the action begins in the ring with a 2-on-1 beat down of Rusev by Team Flair members Randy Orton and Baron Corbin. It’s interrupted, however, by the appearance of Lashley on the screen. Bobby let’s Rusev know that he’s wearing his robe, in his bedroom with his wife. Some snuggling and suggestive teasing by a scantily clad Lana managed to up the level of awkwardness even further.
Loud boos from the crowd following the feed cut. This angle definitely isn’t coming out of the gates hot. Seeing as how they’ve treated Rusev/Lana love triangle storylines in the past, it will probably only get worse from here. It also doesn’t help that Lashley has the charisma of a lamppost.
Instead of just standing around and looking dead on the inside like he did at the end of last week’s show, Rusev did at least get the chance to show off his anger this time by taking out both Orton and Corbin.
Natalya defeats Lacey Evans
Jerry Lawler: “This rivalry has reached a boiling point.”
Vic Joseph: “King, what makes two superstars want to compete in this sort of matchup?”
Lawler: “Because they’ve had enough of each other. I guess it’s reached a boiling point:”
-Had to double check I didn’t accidentally hit the slow motion button on the remote after seeing Natalya’s spinning clothesline.
-Impressive strength shown by Lacey in that spinning throw into the barricade spot.
-The Last Woman Standing stipulation for this match means someone in the back must have watched all the matches these two have had in recent weeks, and thought, you know that these matches are missing: more shots of Natalya laying around and not doing anything.
-This one was probably the most entertaining match these two have had yet, which admittedly isn’t saying a lot. Hopefully, this is the end of the feud, which if it is, that makes Evans 0-2 in her two notable feuds since being called up to the main roster.
-Credit goes to Natalya. She took some big bumps in this one: on the table, on the ramp, onto the curved screen multiple times and onto the chair in the timekeeper’s area. That was on top of getting smashed with a trash can and beaten with a kendo stick. She’ll be sore tomorrow.
Aleister Black Promo
“Knock on my door. And pick a fight with me!”
I won’t venture a guess as to who will knock on Aleister’s door, but I sure know who won’t be: The Saudi Arabia officials in charge of booking the Crown Jewel show. Black was kindly not invited to the last show there reportedly due to the fact that he has too many religious tattoos.
Street Profits Backstage Promo
The usual Profits promo here: Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins excitedly tell us things that we’ve already been told before. Then for some reason we get a draft prospect spotlight on the random trio of Apollo Crews, Buddy Murphy and Drake Maverick.
Dawkins’ Drake Maverick 40-year-old virgin joke didn’t quite land with the live crowd.
Tyson Fury Backstage Interview
Not very intimidating sounding but at least Fury was able to get through the few lines they gave him to deliver without stumbling. Oh, and they fit a “Get These Hands” catchphrase in there as well, so that makes it worth it I guess. Audible boos from the crowd already, which doesn’t bode well for his in-ring segment later in the show.
The Viking Raiders defeat Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
-All four competitors were putting in a good effort, but the crowd was just not invested at all early on. It’s a bummer to see an up-and-coming team like The Viking Raiders get the cricket treatment for a second week in a row.
-Ivar’s hot tag woke up the fans a bit. He’s got such a unique move set for a man his size.
-The Spinebuster into a Zig Zag was a pretty innovative combo move.
-The finishing maneuver looked a little sloppy as it seemed Erik had a some trouble hoisting Ziggler up for Ivar to grab. Overall, though, it was another impressive showing for the Raiders and another important win to add to their growing resume.
Aleister Black defeats The Singh Brothers
-A quick squash for Black against two of the lowest guys on the WWE roster totem pole.
-Some nice looking kicks and elbows by Aleister, but this simply felt like a wasted appearance that didn’t accomplish anything of note. It would’ve been better to see him face a worthy opponent in a full match. But it’s good he’s at least doing something again.
Rey Mysterio Backstage Promo
-It was basically just a Dominic health update and a promise that Cain Velasquez will be the one to achieve vengeance for the Mysterio family. I get the Velasquez-Lesnar stuff from a media exposure standpoint, but I’d much rather see Rey as the one fighting Brock for the title.
AOP Video Promo
“We have the will. The will to take your food.”
These guys are billed as 620 pounds combined, so that’s certainly believable.
The O.C. defeat The Lucha House Party
-Triple Moonsault by the House Party onto the outside was the highlight spot of this one. Gran Metalik had a nice little flurry and Kalisto showed some good energy.
-I’d save that Styles Clash from the second rope for bigger moments. Doing it to a guy like Lince Dorado following a rather forgettable six-man tag in the middle of a Raw diminishes the special feeling a move like that should have.
The Miz TV Featuring Becky Lynch and Charlotte
-Almost two hours into the broadcast, and that Sasha Banks-Becky Lynch match recap was the first real mention of last night’s Hell In a Cell show. That’s pretty telling. The WWE folks know they messed up big time with the main event ending.
-Crowd is hot as usual for Lynch. The Miz cools them off by announcing that there’s one more guest on the show, new Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, which leads to audible ohs and groans from the crowd.
“The draft can change careers. It can change the direction of everything. You can end up on either brand, or you both could end up on the same brand.” The phrasing of that sounds odd.
The Kabuki Warriors defeat Becky Lynch and Charlotte
-Good intensity between Asuka and Becky Lynch. I like the acknowledgement that Becky still has payback on her mind following her losses to Asuka at TLC and at The Royal Rumble.
-This was a pretty basic bout that never really kicked into the next gear.
-Charlotte’s Moonsault to the outside looked good, although I didn’t love the sudden switch of camera angles midway through the move.
-The Green Mist ending makes sense. It keeps everybody involved protected and it keeps The Kabuki Warriors trending more towards the heelish side. Giving Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross the chance to come down and get some of their heat back following last night’s loss also helps to keep them in the tag title conversation.
Apollo Crews and Ricochet Backstage Interviews
-A duel to see which of them could have the more dull delivery while not saying anything even remotely threatening or interesting. I’ve heard Ricochet utter the “Superheroes can be real” line a few times by now. It’s been a few times too many.
Ricochet defeats Apollo Crews
-Impressive athleticism and timing on the acrobatic stuff. early on
-This is what I would envision a Ricochet-Apollo Crews Raw match to be. Some impressive sequences early, a few power moves by Crews in the middle and then Ricochet does his usual finishing sequence (sans the 630) for the win.
-It feels like Ricochet’s cooled off a lot since the height of his US Title feud with AJ Styles. A switch over to SmackDown for a fresh start on the blue brand could be best for him.
Seth Rollins/The Fiend Hell In a Cell Video Recap Package
I remember a few more boos when watching that match live. The magic of editing I guess. That highlight package did at least make all the action that transpired probably look as passable as it possibly could, especially considering how ill-received it all was.
Tyson Fury Demands An Apology From Braun Strowman
-A few verbal jabs from each before everything dissolves into a predictable pull apart brawl.
-Fury’s punches did not look good – overly cautious Ronda Rousey-esque level striking.
-After seeing everything that just unfolded, Charlie asking Braun about whether or not he’s planning on giving Fury an apology in the future was the height of stupidity.
-Nothing about this interaction made me want to see these two face off in the squared circle. That match is going to either be short or filled with high jinks. I don’t have high hopes for Fury.
After that debacle of an ending to last night’s Hell In a Cell main event, which led to the show going off the air to a chorus of thunderous boos, it felt like WWE needed to produce something special feeling with this Raw to get that bad taste out of everyone’s mouths.
Unfortunately, tonight’s show didn’t come close to producing anything at all that had a special feeling whatsoever. Showcase was seemingly the buzz word they were using throughout the night, but outside of Becky Lynch, there just wasn’t a lot of star power on display. Three of the four competitors — Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and Sasha Banks — from the two big Cell matches weren’t even on the show at all.
The draft should luckily provide a desperately needed shakeup to the current status quo.