Note: I still haven’t watched Extreme Rules so if I say anything that I should have known from Sunday, please tell us on Twitter at @SteelChairMag. Really, we definitely want to know and care.
We all know why you’re reading this, you can’t be bothered to actually watch Monday Night RAW and you want to know if they had the testicular fortitude to go through with stripping Brock Lesnar of the WWE Universal Championship because he’s fucked off to the UFCs and returning it to its rightful and best former Champion, Vacant. Well, I’m going to give you a spoiler now, they don’t. If you want to see Brock possibly lose his title, well, you’re just going to have to watch Summerslam as Paul Heyman and Kurt Angle have come to an agreement on that being his next defence and on RAW, there were two Triple Threats to determine who gets to be in the Number One Contender’s Match next week. I’m Joe, I’m dreamt of Brock losing the title so much it feels more like a memory and this is the Monday Night RAW review.
Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre & Finn Bálor via Pinfall.
Dolph Ziggler def. Bobby Roode via Pinfall.
Mojo Rawley def. Tyler Breeze via Pinfall.
Alicia Fox & Dana Brooke def. Sasha Banks & Bayley via DQ
RAW Tag-Team Championship: The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) (c) def. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) via Pinfall.
Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) def. Titus Worldwide (Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neill) via Pinfall.
Sarah Logan w/ Liv Morgan def. Ember Moon via Pinfall.
Bobby Lashley def. Seth Rollins & Elias via Pinfall.
The Good Bits
So those two Triple Threats were pretty fun, huh? Especially that first one, in fact, that’s probably the worst thing about this show, the first match and to an extent, the opening promo (even if it did have the standard ‘all the challengers come out and interrupt each other trying to get their point across’ tedium) had momentum and a hot crowd and then, the entire crowd fell asleep till Elias came back for the Main Event. But that opening match, this was what Extreme Rules needed to be but wasn’t, or at least that’s the sort of thing I’d say if I’d watched it. Regardless of some peoples’ feelings, Bálor, Reigns, and McIntyre are three of the best workers on RAW and just giving them 20 minutes to hit each other in the face is enough reason for this match but the thought of being one step away from getting to fight the Blonde Golem of Jimmy John’s himself, Brock Lesnar, earnt this an extra intensity as you felt all three men not only wanted to but had a chance of winning this. The only thing that let this down for me was that Bálor had to be the one to take the pin, too often he seems to be the current multi-man, big match fall guy. Also, after their dreadful series of matches earlier this year, I hope Roman doesn’t go on to face Lesnar at Summerslam.
The second of the two Triple Threats wasn’t quite as compelling an encounter, especially because it never once felt like Elias especially could win and did little to make me think that Rollins was going to be a threat to Lashley either, though he was to an extent protected by having fought for over half an hour the night before. Mostly it’s that the first of this evening’s Threesomes featured all the big spots you wanted to see so this really didn’t want much left to provide. That said, it was still pretty fun and I can imagine that Lashley vs Lesnar would be a strong match-up, especially considering both men’s actual combat sport experience.
Also, a refreshing surprise was Ember Moon vs Sarah Logan. Even though it had a crowd who visibly was refusing to give a shit even though a genuinely good TV match was happening in front of them, these two worked a hard-fought and hard-hitting match-up with some strong chemistry, especially considering these two were facing off in singles for only the second time with moon making Logan look incredible, taking offense like a beautiful bridging Ballsplex as good as any I’ve seen not by Candice LeRae. Sure, they had the standard uninspired distraction heel victory bullshit but that shouldn’t detract from what was a good match up until then. That said, when are they going to give me my goddamn Ember vs Sasha match. Yeah, I get it, Bayley and Sasha but when that’s done, make it happen Vince.
The Bad Bits
Pretty much everything else. So let’s start with the fact that the Tag belts no longer matter enough for them to even wait until after an ad-break to start a championship match. Now, considering they only had about 5 minutes post-break to work, The B Team and The Ascension actually did some pretty solid in what is the first time I’ve noticed them getting a match since Viktor and Konnor were moved to RAW but it felt like such an afterthought, beyond to establish that there is a mandated rematch next week with the Deletors of Worlds and that The Revival were watching backstage. See also, Authors of Pain vs Titus Worldwide, in itself not a terrible match but when you have someone like Titus O’Neill who arrived over the hill and not even in his peak yet, Apollo Crews, is Crews still taking all the pins just because he’s not as tall as Titus?
Moving on from Tag Teams to the mid-card, does anyone care about Dolph Ziggler or Mojo Rawley? Both men picked up wins this week and I honestly had to remind myself that either match happened. Dolph’s current gimmick seems very confused as he still has the record scratch but plays his full theme afterwards, he’s still got the ‘I don’t care about you’ attitude but at the same time, the first thing he says is mentioning he “put on an absolute clinic” the previous night, he seems to both not care and want to be told he’s good. It’s sad seeing how far Bobby Roode has fallen and I don’t think that necessarily the problem is that he’s a good guy now, it’s that as a good guy who is he beyond your uncle in his sparkly dressing gown shouting catchphrases? Finally Mojo Rawley, we know he’s a bad guy because he’s rude to other people but who is he? The personality they’ve given him seems to be practically Baron Corbin but we already have a Baron Corbin and he’s called Baron Corbin. At least we know who Baron Corbin is and he’s the Constable. Now that they’ve moved Seth back up to the main eventers, who’s left in the mid-card for anyone to give a single shit about?
Finally, what is going on with Bayley and Sasha Banks and why did that match end in a disqualification? So in the middle of their tag match with Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke (welcome back to both of them, by the way) Bayley was pulled outside and being double-teamed when in came Sasha to even the odds and seemingly Sasha got herself disqualified for kicking too much ass when not tagged in. If they’d ruled it a double count-out, that would have made sense but the disqualification seemed to be because the referee was shocked that there was fighting, in a women’s wrestling match! So with that in mind, if they didn’t win this week, Angle declared that one of Bayley and Sasha would be sent to Smackdown which is apparently a threat now but just before that Sasha told Bayley that she hates having to express emotion but she does love Bayley. So is this a feud? What is going on? Why should I care? Is the aim to use Russian misinformation tactics to trick me into thinking I care? Also, are they going to finally give us these two tete á tete at Summerslam or is this all just wheel spinning because no one has a fucking clue what they’re doing?
If you were to watch the first and last sections of this show, you might be somehow tricked into believing this was a successful episode of television. Sadly, while most of the in-ring action delivered, the storytelling at play was at best, inevitable and at worst, just really the worst. It’s almost impressive that they have so much talent here and it feels like almost all of it is being wasted for the sake of appeasing a large hunk of swollen, homophobic white meat that refuses to actually turn up. Maybe just watch the YouTube highlights for this one if you really care but then, if you actually cared you would have probably already watched it anyway so what do I care anyway? Oh, I almost forgot Ronda Rousey turned up and tried to murder Alexa Bliss so Kurt Angle punished her by giving her a title shot at Summerslam and he nicked Baron Corbin’s phone. Hilarious.