The Itsy Bitsy Bálor

Hey, kids, it’s the Botching One with another “Spot” for your enjoyment.  This is also the “go-home” (on the “Raw” side of things) for “Extreme Rules –  a PPV that wasn’t all that exciting until the last couple of weeks of “Raw”.  Now, I’m looking forward to seeing it.  Let’s dive into this episode, shall we?

 

In-ring segment – Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley, Kurt Angle, and most of the WWE roster

The talking parts of this were kept quite short (never a bad thing for anyone who isn’t Paul Heyman).  In fact, I think Heyman would be the nearly-perfect foil for Lashley if it could be.  Of course, it can’t as Lesnar will likely face Lashley and Lashley will be the guy who finally gets the strap off of Lesnar.

Either way, this was all attempted brawl between Reigns & Lashley.  Much of the locker room emptied in an incredibly feeble attempt to keep them apart.  For whatever reason, Bálor briefly went after Corbin and as it wasn’t spoken of again, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t supposed to happen. Anyway, while I like the idea of this and most of its execution, the segment went on a bit too long but the effect was achieved.

 

Backstage segment – Alexa Bliss & Mickie James

Alexa, as usual, nailed this but Mickie looks completely silly in this role.  James, while not old by any stretch, is quite a bit older than Alexa, and she looks entirely ridiculous being the friend of the mean girl.  I was hoping that was over but, sadly, we’re still being treated to it.  In the words of our Queen, “UGH!”

 

Nia Jax & Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James

The era we have entered with the “women’s revolution” is a welcome one.  Gone are the days when pretty girls pose and preen.  Now, we get to see them actually work – all of them.  They did exactly that here.  All of these ladies can work their faces off and they did it here.  It’s a rare bird to see a headbutt in a women’s match but Nia does them believably.

At the close of the match, we also got a preview of what Extreme looks like.  Bliss was not easy on Nia with the kendo stick.  Of course, Nia didn’t get to retaliate which will only make Sunday that much more delicious when she finally does get her come-muffins!

 

Backstage segment – Nia Jax

Nia was not happy and we got an earful of it here.  This was, of course, über-scripted, but it worked pretty well.  I would love to have just heard her ad-lib here.  She was stuck very tightly to what was written and, while it wasn’t bad at all, it was really obvious.

 

Backstage segment – Kurt Angle & Kevin Owens

Kevin is so good at being the cowardly heel.  Few have ever been better.  Kurt has become a very credible straight man too – playing off of whoever’s with him.  Very nice segment.

 

Mojo Rawley vs. No Way Jose

Mojo, meet glass ceiling.  He has charisma for days and works well but he just can’t get ahead.  He’s been stuck in low-card matches for as long as I can remember.  It was during his feud with Zack Ryder that we saw that more was possible than just the “hype guy”.  He showed great darkness and, for whatever reason, it hasn’t been capitalized on.  He’s continued to show that same intensity right up until now.

No Way Jose is a victim of his gimmick.  Heck, he got a “jobber entrance” here – his first since debuting on “Raw”.  Manny Garcia (as we knew him on the indies) is capable of far more than he is permitted to show here.  The gimmick that was fun in NXT was destined to tank on “Raw” and it completely has.  It’s really little more than an “Adam Rose-lite” approach that, because Vince doesn’t seem to take a shine to gimmicks like this, no one would be able to make successful.

The match was decent, honestly.  They both told a decent story and, as both are big guys, they work together quite credibly.  Mojo’s Alabama Slam looked absolutely vicious and it ended the match.  Why the ref decided to worry about shoulders being exactly down on the mat was silly but whatever.  Mojo took this and I’m interested to see where this goes.

 

Cinéma de Head Shrinking – Bayley & Sasha

It’s like they’re doing their level best to take all the air out of this feud.  Ever since Bayley’s delicious attack on Sasha a couple of weeks ago, WWE has seemingly turned off the gas and gone to the incredibly-inept counseling approach in order to keep telling the story.  I couldn’t care less about Dr. Shelby and I don’t care about the others that were used this week either.  None of this matters and, thankfully, it was over quickly.  There was more of the later in the show but this is all I’ll bother saying about it.  Next…

 

Backstage segment – Jinder Mahal, Sunil Singh, & Seth Rollins

They are tweaking Jinder’s character and it could be fun.  I’m not against it in any way.  This was short but fun.  Seth’s reaction as Jinder & Sunil started chanting was just perfection.

 

In-ring segment – Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, & Drew McIntyre

Seth is a pro on the mic and he showed it again here like he always does.  I’m not much on the “overgrown Scottish wookie” line but that’s WWE writing for you.  The Iron Man match between Rollins & Ziggler could very well end up being the match of the night at Extreme Rules if it’s given time.  It’s one I’m looking forward to with great anticipation.

Dolph is a total pro too.  I like the idea of him being the IC champion.  I wouldn’t be mad if he had a long run with it.  Drew, too, seemed to wake up a bit here.  He exuded more personality here than he has in the past.  Dolph botched a line pretty badly and Boston showed no mercy when he did it.  Dolph didn’t let it get to him though.  He took a second, go it together, and pushed forward.  The mark of a pro is not whether you blow it; it’s what you do when you do blow it.

Seth tried to build animosity here between Dolph & Drew and it was interesting.  He went the “why is Drew listening to Dolph” route and it was…um.  Seth definitely took this to a “non-PG” place and none of us in DD saw it coming.  It perfectly set up a match between Drew & Seth later in the evening.

 

Backstage segment – The B-Team

The two of them impersonating the Deleter of Worlds has been the most fun thing on “Raw” lately and I’ll miss it when it ends after “Extreme Rules”.  Bo, in particular, has been absolutely eerie in his impersonation of his brother.  Believe it or not, this is the match I’m most looking forward to.  The idea of Bray & Bo standing across from each other is going to be tremendous amounts of fun.

 

Bo Dallas (w/ Curtis Axel) vs. Woken Matt Hardy (w/ Bray Wyatt)

The promo segments between both teams has been incredible.  What we got here was great too.

Matt wasted no time in going after Bo.  Matt was nothing short of vicious here.  Bo hit is face hard on the bottom rope when he failed to duck low enough and I hope that didn’t do too much damage.  Given the way the rest of the match went, he’s likely okay.  Matt got most of the offense in here but the B-Team remains undefeated and Bo took this one.  The end-of-match attack from the Deleters of Worlds leaves me comforted, though, as the team that gets the upper hand during the “go home” usually loses the match at the PPV.  Yes, I really want Bo & Curtis to take the titles.  I can’t even quite believe they’re in contention but much to my surprise, they are and I love it.

 

Backstage segment – Bobby Lashley

He’s awake!  This is the Lashley we needed to see.  Marie didn’t like the last “believe that” and now that I’m watching it again, I don’t either.  It was delivered in the most Cheez Whiz-y way possible.  Still, the rest of this promo was good so I’m okay with it.

 

Backstage segment – Sarah Logan & Livv Morgan & Tyler Breeze

I’m glad they found something to do with Tyler this week.  As we already know, Fandango’s shoulder is injured so he’ll be out of action for a long while.  Here’s hoping they can keep finding things for him to do until Fandango returns.  Sarah & Livv are still doing the same stupid “let’s destroy everything” gimmick.  I don’t know whose idea it was but it was a bad one and undeniable proof that apparently alcohol is legal in the writing room.

 

Ember Moon vs. Livv Morgan (w/ Sarah Logan)

Ember is my queen.  I’m so glad they haven’t sunk her like Vince seems to like to do with most NXT talent that comes up.  What I don’t know is why we’re getting the match yet again.  It makes no real sense.  They appear to have Ember in a holding pattern and hopefully, after Extreme Rules, they’ll start moving on her a little.

Livv & Sarah are absolutely nowhere and without Ruby, they’re nowhere near as interesting.  This was a decent match but there was no conceivable reason Ember should lose this match.  She’s one heck of a worker and has a great personality.  Better yet, her Eclipse is the most devastating finisher in WWE.  We talked a bit last night in DD about this and the Lumbar Check was brought up as a better finisher.  At the time, I agreed.  I don’t now.  I love the Lumbar Check (from Cedric Alexander) but the Eclipse is just so much more vicious-looking.  Anyway, we didn’t get that here (we got a jackknife cover after some confusion due to Sarah) but this ended just as it should have.

 

Backstage segment – Finn Bálor & Bobby Roode

Fun interview.  Renee is a gem and the very best interviewer on WWE TV.  She’s the only one who reacts to and plays with those she’s interviewing.  Poor Roode.  He’s stuck in nowhere-ville. He really needs to be a heel and the rumor is that his turn is coming.  It would have been nice had it happened on this show but it didn’t.

 

Backstage segment – Kevin Owens, Kurt Angle, Dolph Ziggler, & Drew McIntyre

Another fun one.  They all played off of each other really well and it set up the stipulation that makes the Drew/Seth match worth watching.

 

In-ring segment – Elias & Baron Corbin

Goodbye Mitchell guitars, hello Fender.  When most think of Fender, they think of the Telecaster or the Stratocaster.  Of course, they’ve had other models but those are the first people think of.  Few think of their acoustic line – a line that is actually very good.  When acoustics come into play, most think of Takamine, Maton, Taylor, or even Goudin (acoustics that are built like electrics).  All of that said, Fender acoustics could definitely use the exposure so this is a good arrangement for them.  Okay, enough of my musical nerd-isms.  On with Elias…

He is making his debut album – the one we’ve been promised since Elias’ “Ride A Long”.  I can’t wait for it.  It’s gonna be so much fun.

Elias is such a fantastic face and heel – all at the same time.  The crowd loves him…until they don’t but the love returns as quickly as it fades.  This is the sign of a pro.  That he speaks in the third person makes him even more fun.

“The Itsy Bitsy Bálor”  NAILED!  Baron can’t sing to save his life but that’s part of the humor.  It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as funny if he’d tried to really sing.  Also, his delivery was just perfect.  The way he kind of threw it away was just a riot.  As this was on the air, I was literally crying from laughter.  It took me the entire match to recover so I had to re-watch the match.  Thankfully, these things record while they’re on the air so I can do that.

 

Elias & Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode & Finn Bálor

All of these guys can work so, of course, this was a very good match.  Marie mentioned last night how sick she is of the Sling Blade and I agree with her.  It’s so overused as is the Blockbuster.  After some fun back and forth, this one finished with Corbin’s End of Days.

 

Backstage segment – Kevin Owens, Braun Strowman, & Kurt Angle

Braun and Kevin are golden together.  I’ll miss this feud…even though I have no idea what it’s built on. Dre commented on that last night and he’s not wrong.  This feud has been built on absolutely nothing but because of how good Braun & Kevin are, they’ve made it pay off handsomely.

 

Backstage segment – Roman Reigns

This was good.  Roman did this really well.  “Bob’s gonna be the guy…somewhere else”.  Nice touch.

 

Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre

Drew and Seth did really well here.  Seth never puts on a bad match and Drew has gotten far better since his time in 3MB.  He may finally be turning into the star that Shawn Michaels thought he was all these years ago.  I loved watching Drew get himself out of the Tree of Woe and make Seth pay.  Very innovative.  I also loved that Dolph stayed facially involved throughout the match.  Even when he wasn’t the center of attention, he continued to react.  Drew took out Seth in a match he kinda needed to win so they could continue to build him.  It also casts doubt on Seth’s ability to win as Drew will now be at ringside on Sunday during Dolph’s and Seth’s match.

 

Really solid episode of “Raw”!  Best of all, I’m excited for Extreme Rules.  We’ve still got “Smackdown Live” to watch this week too and that’ll hopefully get me even more interested.  See you all next week right here at the “Spot”!