It’s been a while since yours truly has been in the business of recapping WWE television offerings but for this week alone, I’m stepping in to take a look at what we got from Monday Night Raw. WWE managed to hit that lull period after WrestleMania just as fast as 2020, with the Raw After Mania, traditionally the biggest episode of the year, looking every bit like a forgettable mid-summer offering leading to some B pay-per-view no one will watch.
This week felt like more of the same.
We did get some new directions, some questions were answered, some went unanswered, and the WWE traditional of false advertising continued.
Hit up the always fantastic Rev. Claire Elizabeth for the detailed live blog if you fancy that. Otherwise, let’s get to it.
I really enjoyed Charlotte Flair’s promo in her return last week, to the point I called it her best work ever. I was told how incredibly wrong I was for this, and I do appreciate being disagreed with on that. Maybe I was caught up in the fire of the promo itself. I stand by my argument but some of y’all made me sway.
She was back at it again on this show and now she’s shooting!
One of the things her boyfriend, Andrade, mentioned in an interview after he was released by WWE was that Charlotte isn’t well liked by her co-workers out of what he claimed was jealousy and issues with how stiff she works, among other things. So, naturally, she made that a part of her on-screen persona here.
She called them “rats” while saying “they don’t like each other as much as they don’t like me” and how they’re all lame and fake to each other. They’re just pissed because she’s the big star and they don’t like that.
What makes this really great is it’s less reality era and more taking something rooted in reality and just turning it up a bit. It’s fitting this comes one night after the A&E Biography on Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the biggest stars in the history of the industry, who became as much by basically being himself and just cranking that dial up to 11.
Flair’s a great heel in this way because she’s so easy to hate when she’s being like this that you can go ahead and admit you absolutely loved it when Asuka finally shouted her down with “Charlotte, tonight I’ll beat you, BITCH!”
And then she did beat her, with an assist from Raw Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley, who was paying Charlotte back for last week, and Flair absolutely lost her shit and attacked the referee a couple times as the show was going off the air.
I’m all the way in on this.
What a strange story
You know, it’s amazing how easily triggered people get these days, according to beloved babyface Drew McIntyre, who threw that line into his promo putting himself over as the guy who won a triple threat last week to earn another shot at Bobby Lashley and the WWE championship. Seemed strange!
Also strange: T-BAR and MACE being asked about their affiliation with MVP and The Hurt Business and responding by listing off random animals before the latter mentioned a saber-toothed tiger and the former used that to say they would make McIntyre extinct in a match later.
More strange for ya: During said match, which started as a 2-on-1 Handicap, Braun Strowman — one of the easily triggered mentioned by McIntyre earlier — coming out and deciding to team up with McIntyre. He was a great teammate to him! What a swell, triggered guy!
By the way, MVP swore earlier these guys aren’t affiliated with The Hurt Business at all. I want to believe that’s just a story beat and, actually, they absolutely are but literally everything WWE has ever done tells me it’s entirely possible they’re just big dumb idiots attacking some guys and the two stories will never actually connect.
They were both unmasked here, which wasn’t really played up all that much but did lead to a great spot where both got slapped upside the head with their masks. RETRIBUTION is dead and gone but they’re still acting like they did while they were in the group and going by the tremendously stupid names they were given by Ali, who they kicked out. Why would they still be doing that?
This is all supposed to be building to another McIntyre vs. Lashley match, by the way. Bobby did not appear on this show.
All the rest
False advertisement: WWE spent the week promoting Randy Orton vs. Braun Strowman, up to the day of the show, and then completely ditched that idea without a word in favor of the aforementioned inexplicable team up with Drew McIntyre. This is an incredibly lame thing that WWE really needs to get out of the habit of doing. Orton was left getting pissed off at Riddle for interrupting him during an interview, then went out and lost a match to him. They played this up like a huge win for Riddle, but I’m left wondering how this best serves anyone considering Orton’s win at WrestleMania.
Naomi & Lana def. Jax & Baszler: There’s a talk to be had about the women’s tag team division and how it’s an absolute mess that shouldn’t exist at all if WWE isn’t actually going to dedicate real time for it but the best example of why it sucks is that there aren’t any actual tag teams just singles wrestlers deciding to hang out together, which is really just WWE’s way of cramming as many women onto the show as possible without actually dedicating real TV time to them. The women’s division is generally just “top singles program” and “everyone else thrown into the tag scene.” It’s very bad. Now, the main story of that scene is Shayna Baszler getting fed up with Nia Jax costing her and maybe a breakup coming. Which, that will probably happen right around when they need a new challenger for the top singles program.
Lilly and Alexa: I suppose I should mention Alexa Bliss here, seeing as she sort of fits outside what I just mentioned. Then again, she’s now taking a backseat to a literal doll named Lilly. I guess we’re to believe she’s going to run through the women’s division thanks to the newfound powers she has courtesy of said doll. This might work for certain segments of the audience but I am not in any of those segments, and I have zero patience for this kind of nonsense at this point in my life. I’m here to see conflict rooted in legitimacy solved via simulated violence rooted in reality. This just isn’t for me.
Open challenge: I quite enjoyed Sheamus on this show. Adam Pearce tried to goad him into doing the old John Cena open challenge gimmick now that he’s United States champion and Sheamus went out and just made a mockery of the whole thing. Then he savagely beat up Humberto Carrillo. I’d love if this was a weekly recurring segment, where he issues a challenge and then never lets the match actually get started, instead just beating people up before they ever get a chance.
Elias def. Kofi Kingston: This was a surprise. Elias played some guitar, Xavier Woods interrupted him and got to flex his bass playing skills (he’s been learning in his spare time), and then a match happened that saw Elias beat Kingston fair and square, right there in the middle of the ring. It was such a surprise to see that kind of straight forward booking, I didn’t know how to react to it. Still don’t.
Jake Paul: WWE really wanted to get a reference in to the guy who just did pro wrestling better than WWE does pro wrestling, so they had Damian Priest call The Miz as delusional as Paul is for thinking he’s a real fighter. Cute. Priest beat Miz in a match later that wasn’t terribly interesting.
Viking Raiders def. Alexander & Benjamin: The breakup of The Hurt Business sucked, and now the talented duo who were booted out are doing jobs for the team who just returned from injury. That wouldn’t be so bad if it was for a story but it definitely feels like they’re just there to heat up Erik & Ivar. That feels bad.
This show wasn’t terrible but it also wasn’t all that good.