I’m Not Used to Performing in Front of a Bunch of Arkansas Hillbillies

Hey, kids.  It’s the Botching One once again here to wax markingly about all things “Monday Night Raw”.  Let’s get down to business, shall we?

 

Cinéma de Ladder – Ember Moon, Kevin Owens, Braun Strowman, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Natalya, Finn Bálor, & Bobby Roode w/ Kurt Angle & Baron Corbin

Well, this is one way to start things off.  This was actually somewhat fun.  There was a tremendous amount of back and forth and it ran a little long but it accomplished its goal.  I did love Kevin’s “Hard Times” reference for Dusty.  We paid tribute to him too.  Everyone should…every chance they get.

I’m now noticing that Braun’s face really doesn’t show much.  He yells properly and it sounds great but his face doesn’t go with his bellowing very well.  Notice how his brown never furrows.  It’s interesting and I never noticed it until tonight.  He’d be more effective if it did.

 

Natalya vs. Sasha Banks vs. Ember Moon vs. Alexa Bliss

This was a really good match.  Lots of great back and forth.  It’s still almost hard to believe that WWE is finally allowing these incredible women to show what they can really do in there.  Matches with four participants can become rather confusing but this one had a solid narrative throughout and looked great from beginning to end.

 

Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)

What a yawn!  Drew & Dolph have yet to give me a reason to care and I don’t have a reason to care about Breezango anymore…even though I want to.  This wasn’t a badly-worked match; I just didn’t care about it.  At least it didn’t last too long.

 

Backstage segment – Kevin Owens & Finn Bálor

This makes total sense.  He has to make this pitch in order for them to survive.  Nicely done.

 

In-ring segment – Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil Singh)
Sunil Singh vs. Roman Reigns

This left a lot to be desired.  Jinder’s promo style – slow and methodical – is somewhat successful at times but it wasn’t here.  It just felt off.  Once Roman got in the ring, Jinder actually got better.  He became more enthusiastic.  He also gave us a nice swerve when he introduced Sunil as Roman’s challenger.

Sunil, in reality, can work his face off but that’s not what was required here.  He was supposed to be fish food and he did a great job of being just that.  ‘Course, Jinder was going to get his pound of flesh after the match ended and that happened too.

 

The B-Team (Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno

Gee, wonder how this’ll turn out.  I’m all about the B Team.  The unlikeliness of this is great.  I especially like the fact that we’re gonna get the B-Team vs. Deleters of World.  The two brothers are going to be in the ring together and I cannot wait for that reason and that reason only.

 

Promo – The Deleters of Worlds (w/ B-Team looking on)

Bray’s promo here was particularly good.  He was more cohesive than he’s been in ages.  Hardy is always good to so this was fun.

 

Segment – Elias

This started backstage and continued in the ring.  Elias is one of the best heels we’ve had in ages.    He operates in grey area.  We love the way he comes across and we listen happily but he has little use for us.  I love the whole thing.  The custom Fender acoustic/electric was a nice touch – especially given the way Seth teased its inevitable destruction.  This was a really good segment.

Fun fact:  The guitar that Elias uses every week is a Mitchell MX420QAB Grand Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar.  I’ve even linked to it for you if you want to see it up close.  It retails for about $450 bucks at Guitar Center.  There are definitely better instruments but this isn’t a bad one by any stretch.

Jonathan Coachman is a complete dolt.  No, really.  He referred to John Mayer as a hip-hop artist.  He then stupefyingly said “John Mayer/Jay-Z/same thing.  What?  Dre mentioned that “Coach about to lose his black card”.  My thinking is that card is long gone.

 

Backstage segment – Kevin Owens & Bobby Roode

Kevin, of course, has to continue to plot and he did it well.  It wasn’t long but it got Kevin’s desperation across.

 

Bayley vs. Ruby Riott (w/ Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan)

So now the Riott Squad are going to tear up backstage and…riot?  How completely clever…and completely useless.  That was so choreographed and corny.  On with the match…

I mean…I guess.  I don’t care about this at all.  Bayley’s botching strikes again.  Bayley’s attempt to skin the cat and bring feet to the faces of the Riott Squad on the apron completely failed.  Bayley has lost every ounce of what made her compelling.  Few falls from grace have been this dramatic.  What a total shame.  Ruby, on the other hand, is great – even though the Riott Squad has been a complete bust.  I couldn’t care less about Sarah and Liv.  Ruby’s the one to watch and I can’t wait for her to really catch fire.

The after-match stuff was nonsense.  Ruby will now be drawing on her foes.  This appears to be a poor attempt to accentuate the stable-ness of the Riott Squad.  Yeah, ok.

 

Backstage segment – Natalya & Ronda Rousey

Nice and quick.  Ronda’s face is still pretty ineffectual.  Same old problem there with no easy solution.

 

In-ring segment – Nia Jax, Ronda Rousey, & Jonathan Coachman

Ronda always looks happy to be there.  She came out smiling and touching hands all the way down to the ring.  Apparently, Nia is now face again.  I know what they were trying to do here but it was off.  Nia, while selling every word with her face and did all she could, felt very scripted.  We know she is, of course, but it really felt like it this time.  Perhaps the heavy scripting was to make things easier for Ronda so she’d always know what was coming.  Hard to know.

Ronda, as usual, was stiff as a board.  Her reactions were very plastic.  When she rose to her feet and made her speech about all that she did that she wasn’t supposed to do, she all of a sudden got loud but it was better for sure.  Her anger ramped up unnaturally and things broke down as they always do.  This was done to show off the the idea that Ronda could get the armbar on Nia.

 

No Way Jose vs. Curt Hawkins

It’s pretty hard to believe that Curt has made a career out of jobbing horrifically.  He has though.  He even has merch! This could be seen rather clearly but Curt blended in as one of No Way Jose’s dancers in an attempt to win this match.  Of course, it didn’t work and now we’re at 0-201.  There, there, Curt.

No Way Jose is nowhere at this point and only time will tell if he can become something over time.

 

Backstage segment – Finn Bálor & Bobby Roode

The story continues.  Kevin’s plan to work together makes perfect sense and they gave voice to that here…while still selling the idea that they have to keep an eye on each other.

 

Exercises in Futility Part 4:  The Obstacle Course Chronicles – Sami Zayn & Bobby Lashley

 

Yet another horrible segment.  It’s also another instance where Sami Zayn does all he can at the service of a completely flopping feud.  He deserves a gigantic main event feud that culminate with a Hall of Fame induction for all of the nonsense he’s had to deal with lately.  This was done to show what an athletic beast Lashley is (and he most certainly is) while leading to an attack from Sami to create more vitriol for Sunday.  The audience cared so little, I thought I was watching an episode of “205 Live” for most of this.  I can’t wait for this match and not because of the match itself.  I can’t wait for this match so that it can be over and Sami can get out of this and on to other things that actually matter.

 

Backstage segment – Kevin Owens, Bobby Roode, Braun Strowman & Finn Bálor

HA!  This was funny.  Loved watching Kevin backing off heavily when Strowman yelled.  Reaction is everything and all of them showed it there.  Nice.

 

Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor vs. Bobby Roode vs. Braun Strowman

Another well-orchestrated four-way.  This was every bit as good as the opener with the women.  The spot on the table was great.  This was ¾ about making Braun look even more like a monster – although we already know that he is.  The problem will be not making Braun’s winning not look like a foregone conclusion.

 

This was a pretty decent show with only a couple of dogs on it and one complete disaster.  Thankfully, the disasters are likely over as the Zayn/Lashley feud will be blown off at “Money in the Bank”.  This PPV going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it.  See you all right here for our Dignified Discussion beginning at 6pm!  I’ll also be right back here next week to cover the fallout from “Money in the Bank”!