MGMT memorably sang about a certain “time to pretend”, though honestly, I just wish I had time to do anything else instead of sitting through 3 hours of Monday Night Raw. I’m Elliot and I do that so you don’t have to.
This week’s Raw heavily relied on the appearances of two legends, which is why the majority of the card was filler nonsense.
Shawn Michaels turned up after viewer interest had likely started waning. He began heavily playing into the rumours that he would be in this year’s Rumble, before dismissing them entirely. HBK promoted his new movie, which looks like it is definitely targeted towards the WWE audience… before Rusev interrupted him, because as we all know, Rusev is the directionless heel fed to returning legends for a cheap pop. Accompanied by Jinder Mahal and Lana, Rusev began incessantly demanding that his wife be put into Michaels’ movie, before criticising Star Wars because he’s a ruddy evil foreigner. While the concept of this skit was thin, it was still pretty enjoyable. Rusev and Michaels seemed like they were having a bit of fun ad-libbing with each other, although I feel I must point out that Rusev was a little quicker on his brain-feet, though in HBK’s defence, Shaun has survived more than his fair share of concussion-inducing chair shots and what nots. The best moment of this meandering promotional appearance was when, amidst the breaking, Rusev remembered his agenda, saying, “But anyways… [a very long pause] Put my wife in that movie.”
Obviously Enzo and Cass came out and ruined everything with their t-shirt sales pitch and they were terrible and I hate them so very, very much. This all climaxed (if it really can be considered a climax) with Big Cass facing Jinder Mahal and obviously winning after a ringside distraction in the form of a Sweet Chin Music from Michaels to Rusev.
The other heavily rumoured appearance was that of The Undertaker, the concept of which, like Chekov’s gun, was introduced in the first few minutes of the show, so you could be pretty confident on who would be showing up in a couple of hours.
For some odd, illogical, because-its-wrestling reason, Mick Foley’s entire performance review depended on him making The Undertaker appear on the show. Side note, Foley has shaved his head and we were treated to a few lovely close ups of his mangled ear. In the middle of being dressed down in the ring by Stephanie for his inability to deliver, The Undertaker made his appearance. Honestly, it wasn’t particularly thrilling. Here are the takeaways: ‘Taker decided he is free to shift around both brands as he so choses and he announced his entry into this year’s Royal Rumble. Now, that’s pretty interesting, as fans will be desparately trying to decipher a way in which one of the most protected performers on the roster will be eliminated, but wouldn’t it have been far cooler if ‘Taker just turned up at the Rumble unannounced? Perhaps ticket sales needed a boost.
Some of that sweet, sweet, other shit that happened:
– Charlotte entered a backstage segment with the most darling of lapsus linguaes: “She clearly couldn’t handle a candle to that performance, Banks.”
– Jack Gallagher beat Drew Gulak with a particularly stiff-looking head-butt and corner dropkick.
– Following his win, “The Extraordinary Gentleman” went all Jack Sparrow and invoked the right of parlay to his rival, Ariya Daivari. He then went on to say some hilarious and charming Britishisms like “fisticuffs”, “thrashing” and “rogered by mi uncle Bob round back of t’shed.”
– Neville made Lince Dorado tap out, then had a little scuffle with Rich Swann.
– Sheamus Brogue Kicked Luke Gallows into next week, fella.
– Titus O’Neil continued his pledge to become a member of The New Day and continued his losing streak to its members after a Trouble in Paradise from Kofi Kingston.
– Brock Lesnar will turn up next week and probably suplex someone. Probably Jinder Mahal.
– Nia Jax and Charlotte defeated Bayley and Sasha Banks, with the former latter taking the pin from the former former… Did that make sense?
The heavily publicised handicap match for the United States Championship was set to kick off the show, before being interrupted by Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins, thus relegating (promoting) the match to the main event. My big problem with this “spontaneity” is that there was absolutely no other match on that card capable of filling the main event slot. And they say wrestling is fake…
After a particularly dominating final 5 minutes, Chris Jericho hit Reigns with his second Codebreaker, comfortably picking up the 3 count and becoming the new United States Champion in process. The commentary team were quick to remind the viewers that this is “the one title that has eluded Jericho in his career,” but for some reason, this didn’t feel like the triumphant, glorious moment it should have been.
One thing that gnawed at me was the reason for the match in the first place. Reigns has successfully defended that title a handful of times in the past few weeks and there isn’t currently much of a storyline about the odds being stacked against Roman by the authority figures, so why did he find himself defending his belt in a handicap match?
The other concern with this result, particularly with the commanding style with which the heels won, is that we know how WWE books things and we’ve never known anything more certainly than how we know Roman Reigns is slated to be the face of the company for the foreseeable future (and WWE will try their darnedest to make that happen).
There are several ways this beat down on the “top guy” will come back to bite us on our beautiful arses and the most worrying of which is that WWE were clearing space on Roman’s shoulder for the Universal Championship – a title that he could very well win at the Royal Rumble and defend at Wrestlemania against, say, Goldberg… Please, dear readers, pray for your beloved Raw recapper that we aren’t forced to endure a 4 month build-up for “The Battle of The Spears”.