Hi, kids. This is the Botching One with another “Spot” commentary on “Monday Night Raw”. My apologies for being very late with this but my week has been nuts and I didn’t think it’d be right to just “dash this off”. I wanted this to get the best of my attention. That’s what you deserve, not some quickly-written thing.
In-ring segment – Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) & Roman Reigns
The best thing about Paul, maybe even better than what he actually says, is his incredible sense of timing. No one else in the WWE can claim a better sense of it. He knows when to speak, he understands the rhythm, and he knows when to stand there and soak in the reaction. Still, Heyman’s content is awfully good and he’s very nearly talked me into this in spite of the fact that the overall premise is one I’m having tremendous trouble swallowing.
I did like Roman coming out through the audience. Cole & Graves did what he could to tell the story too. Coachman was as he usually is: boring and superfluous. This was another beatdown for Roman which, of course, means that Roman will win at WrestleMania. You have to love that when Roman took the F-5 to the steps, the first thing he did was move his hair out of his face so we could see the pain etched on it. I understand why he did it but it was completely unrealistic and took me right out of it.
At this point, I’m only happy that this “feud” will result in the removal of the title from Brock’s waist. I’m all for that – however it happens.
Nia Jax vs. Mickie James (w/ Alexa Bliss)
The feud between Nia and Alexa has done wonders for Nia. I wasn’t totally buying into Nia until this feud. Alexa and Nia have incredible acting skills and both are telling a great story and when Nia triumphs, it’ll be a great story for all the little girls who feel trapped. Bullies can be overcome and that’s why I’m in favor of this story.
Mickie James has been utterly superfluous here. As I’ve said often, she’s totally unbelievable as Alexa’s “mean girl” friend. Of course, Nia won the nothing match. They also tried to bleep out Jax’s expletive (she almost uttered two others) but they missed when she finally did it. Still, Nia was in character and feeling it so it’s hard to fault her for it.
I have to slide this in. During the commentary break, Coach began by mentioning that he called WrestleMania ten years prior and how happy he was to be calling it with Cole and Graves. Without missing a beat, Graves chimed in with “I could not be less excited to work with you” and he continued talking. It was brilliant and both Cole and Coachman completely cracked. Graves is really quick and this is one of the things that makes him as good as he is.
Cinéma de Authority – Triple H. & Stephanie McMahon
There are definite plot holes here – big time. Why is Kurt Angle still employed after what he did to Trips & Stephanie? It makes no sense. His insubordination would have gotten him fired by anyone else…yet, Kurt is allowed to stay.
As for the segment, Trips and Stephanie are great at what they do so they nail this. The added stuff with the trainer was a nice touch. They wanted it known that Trips and Steph aren’t athletic pushovers. They tried to make Ronda look like an underdog and, of course, that fell flat because it would never be believable. No one will ever take Ronda for an underdog – no matter what Stephanie says or how well she says it…and she did say extremely well – hence the grade. I loved Trips dismissive attitude of Kurt. He treated him like he was nothing and I loved that.
Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak & TJP (w/ Drake Maverick on commentary)
Nice seeing the “205 Live” guys on “Raw” again. Drake did a great job on commentary here – pushing the brand as best he could. The guys in the ring are, quite literally, some of the best in the world. The problem is as it has always been with “205 Live”: they don’t connect. This match got almost no reaction. The worker that got the most reaction was Cedric and he fought to get it. If Cedric does not walk out of WrestleMania as the champ, they will have a big problem getting the brand over. I like Mustafa Ali a lot but he’s not over to the extent Cedric is – not even close.
I do like the ending story told here. They needed to add some conflict and it was done really well. Mustafa sneakily tagging himself in without Cedric realizing it was a nice touch. They both played it really well at the end of the match too.
I can’t downgrade the match that hard for the crowd. I just can’t make myself do it. Bias? Maybe…
In-ring segment (MizTV) – The Miz & The Miztourage (Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel), Seth Rollins, & Finn Bálor (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson for the save)
Of course, Miz is the hometown boy here so they were gonna love him. That can’t happen for Miz so he had to kill it…and he did. His brief, unaffected tossed-off “I live in L.A.” was sheer perfection. This was all about messing with Seth & Finn and it was great. Of course, all conflict is fake but Miz knows how to create fake-fake conflict. The “I’m gonna die” face on Miz was all kinds of fun and it was quite obviously fake. It’s all in nuance and Miz knows how to work it. Until the reveal, Seth and Finn were both a lot of fun – stoking what turned out to be fake flames.
I also love that The Miztourage is actually over. Seth lead a “Miztourage” chant and they went with it. That makes me happy. Bo and Curtis have worked for a long time to be over and now they are. When they finally turn on Miz (has to happen), WWE now knows the crowd will get behind it. I only hope it doesn’t turn out like it did for Damien Mizdown. WWE completely screwed that up. Here’s hoping they do better for the incredibly-deserving Bo and Curtis.
I love that Finn and Seth got a few moments each with the IC title. I haven’t figured out who I feel should walk out with it but at this point, I wouldn’t be mad at whoever wins.
Asuka vs. Jamie Frost
Jamie actually did a really good promo. It was short but it was confident and it felt very natural. This was her very first match and it ended awfully quickly. I’d actually like to see what Jamie’s really capable of. She’s got promos down – that’s for sure. I liked Jamie. That’s what the grade reflects.
Cole is continuing to go after “The Ultimate Deletion”. At this point, I’m almost certain this is a work and I got completely and totally worked. There, I said it and I feel better. I love it when that happens. Will Cole be the next person…DELETED!? What about the evil MEEKMAHAN?!? We’ll see. This isn’t a gradable thing; I just had to throw this in.
The “Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal” is nothing more than a WrestleMania bonus for the workers involved and I’m glad they’re getting it. As for the match itself…thank you very next…
Backstage segment – Bayley & Sasha Banks
I love that both of them are hanging out by lockers a la “Saved by the Bell”. This segment felt just like that. It was like Kelly Kapowski and Jessie Spano going at it. I really did like it, though.
The word on this is that it shows Sasha turning heel and I don’t see that, honestly. Our Queen doesn’t see it either. I see them turning on each other but no one is the clear heel. I would love if it was Bayley who was heel. Our Queen and I really believe she needs to be heel.
The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) and Braun Strowman
The only thing better then Sheamus & Cesaro being bullies is Braun’s gift for articulation. He’s not just some mean monster. The man can really talk and speak clearly. Not that I expect him to be dumb or anything, but Vince only cares about big monsters. Braun is big but he’s also much more than that. He really knows how to tell a story. Of course, Sheamus and Cesaro can too so this was really good.
The match itself was good too. There was all this talk about Sheamus’ neck and I just don’t see the problem. He’s got an exercise show on YouTube and he hasn’t missed a beat on “Raw” either. Sheamus started picking apart the arm and Strowman sold it very well. He really made it look good. Of course, Strowman came away the winner.
In-ring segment – Kurt Angle, Ronda Rousey, and Absolution (Paige, Sonya Deville, & Mandy Rose)
Ronda really has a “Daniel Bryan” thing about her. She’s a bad, bad woman but she’s just so thrilled to be there and her enthusiasm and joy are palpable when she’s out there.
Paige is a winner at mic…always. I hate that she can’t work anymore. She has it all and would be HOF-bound at some point if she were still in there. I love the way Ronda Rousey politely rejected Paige’s offer of help from Absolution. “I got an olympic medalist watchin’ my 6 o’clock”. Nice line and it almost became the title of the blog this week. Paige told one heck of a story out there. He encapsulated the entire Angle/Rousey/Trips/Stephanie feud in just a few well-chosen sentences.
The physical action between Rousey and Absolution was as fake as a three-dollar bill, botch-filled, and the timing was off on all of it. I know what it was supposed to do but what it really did was show that Rousey does not have timing down. This wasn’t good and hopefully, Rousey can get it together. She desperately needs to. The grade is an average between how good the talking was and how bad the action was.
The Miztourage (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. The Good Brothers (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson)
This was a good match! The action was relatively fast-paced throughout and I enjoyed it for what it was. There was really little point to it (other than the previous save that Gallows & Karl made during MizTV.
In-ring segment – Elias
Ah, the familiar strains of A-minor. It must be Elias time! He is just incredible at heeling it up. “I am truly embarrassed to be here tonight”. I was DEAD. I think his playing might also be getting a bit better too!
Elias vs. Rhyno (w/ Heath Slater)
“WWE stands for We Want Earplugs”. Nice, Corey. We, of course, knew who’d win here and this was just a way to keep Elias on our screen for a little longer. It also further sold his “heel-ness” as he went after Heath Slater afterwards…just because he could. My, how far down have Heath and Rhyno fallen.
John Cena vs. Kane
Cena/Undertaker is another “feud” I really don’t care about too much. It came out of thin air, really, and it’s based on nothing. Cena has done everything he can to put some substance into it but I’m fairly “meh” on it. I’m assuming the ABA version of Undertaker will be at WrestleMania (Kid Rock being inducted this year is likely no accident) and I’m all for that. They’ll make a show of it so I’m fine with it; I’m just not as invested as I am in other things.
This was a decent match. The premise is that Cena has been saying awful things about Undertaker and Kane is out to defend his brother. Kane brought damage! That was fun. I also liked the fact that Cena did the “deadman sit-up”. He also gave us the “take throat cut” and choke slam. The mocking was perfect. He wants in Taker’s head. Cena took some damage when he went into the table in the corner of the ring. It looked just vicious!
Kane is a 50 year-old man and has no need to be involved in matches like this. Yet, here is is, really going for it. Much respect.
‘Course, Cena can’t lose and he didn’t, but this match was better than it needed to be.
In-ring segment – John Cena
…and after a match like that, he can still cut a promo. What a beast! He didn’t even sound winded. He tried to put more air into this feud and, again, he’s doing all he can. Undertaker’s inaction is driving Cena mad and I really like it. I kinda hope Taker doesn’t show up the way Cena wants him to as to mess with his head even further.
“Raw” has been on quite the roll lately. It had to be so to sell “WrestleMania”. I’m sure we’ll see Taker next week to solidify the Cena/Undertaker match (we have to see something) and next week and the week after should be both be very memorable episodes of “Raw”.