While the Wednesday Night Wars are reportedly to be no more in the near future, WWE and All Elite Wrestling are certainly still competitors no matter how much either promotion tries to deny that at least one of their proverbial linear eyeballs aren’t on the other at all times. With AEW coming off of their Revolution pay-per-view last night, there was certainly pressure on RAW to deliver a better-than-average show this evening.
So, how do you counter the shocking AEW debuts of Christian Cage and Ethan Page?
REMATCH CITY, BABY!
Yes, our weekly episodic programming looked very similar to last week’s come six pm Mountain Standard Time, beginning with Bobby Lashley’s first-ever defence of the WWE Championship being met with a sigh when announced to be facing The Miz prior to tonight’s edition of the flagship show. Definitely-not-the-first-time-ever was a theme throughout the show, as every bout on the card saw a rematch of some sort, which certainly can be frustrating to some, yours truly included.
Let’s not dwell on the negative, however. There was a lot of good on this week’s edition of the red brand (says Spencer, writing this portion of the introduction later than his previous paragraphs), which will be recapped in an informal fashion below.
Let’s kick off this recap by talking about Rhea Ripley for a moment.
My god, am I excited for The Nightmare to make her way to RAW. While thus far she’s yet to appear outside of vignettes – two of which we received tonight – her prior history as NXT Championship and her meteoric rise to winning the title should have near every fan excited about her impending debut. Yes, I know that there’s the stigma that a promotion to the main roster doesn’t mean quite what it used to, but I’m still of the belief that gaining a wider audience on national television is a good thing, for some reason. In the case of Ripley, the hope is that Vince McMahon’s already-evident faith in her has continued throughout this pandemic and her absence since the Royal Rumble.
Yeah, yeah – she lost to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. Is there really any shame to losing to someone who’s already an all-time great in a lot of eyes? While her post-‘Mania booking is certainly questionable to some, the fact that she was even in the position (hopefully) speaks volumes about WWE’s faith in Ripley and her now-impending debut on the main roster. There’s a wide-open slot in the RAW Women’s title picture heading into the Show of Shows – one that Ripley would fill more than adequately.
While the RAW women’s division certainly needs an injection of new blood, there’s no lack of talent on Monday nights for The Nightmare to challenge. Put a title on ‘er and let her take on all comers.
Drew Mac is Back
I have a grievance about how this match was set up in my Coffee Talk section later, but as far as the match itself went, boy was I delighted. As they did last week, both Drew and Sheamus delivered a barnburner. Two big dudes beating the ever-loving hell outta each other is the best kind of professional wrestling in this writer’s book of preferences, and this more than delivered.
And let’s get real, so many more matches should end via stair-jousting-ten-count. I loved it, not going to lie. Devastating and entertaining. Devastaining, to coin a phrase. Just as pro wrestling should be.
Can we please start talking about how good Xavier Woods is?
Of course, we all know that he’s one of the most entertaining individuals in wresting today. His work both on-screen and with UpUpDownDown has proven him to be one of the most charismatic individuals in not only wrestling, but entertainment if you ask me.
However, when compared to both Kofi Kingston and Big E, Woods is occasionally overlooked for just how great he is inside the ropes. His history in both singles and tag team action is littered with in-ring classics and match-of-the-year candidates, and though his match tonight against Shelton Benjamin was shorter than expected, it certainly delivered.
Whether he’s on the giving or receiving end of any offensive maneuver, he makes himself and his opponent look great. Now, by no means do I think that anyone critiques him as a ‘bad’ wrestler for lack of a better phrase, but I’ve got no issues saying that he’s as underrated as they come for their abilities inside the ring. Personally, I think it speaks to his abilities as an entertainer that some are able to overlook his wrasslin’ skill, but let’s give credit EVERYWHERE it’s due.
Wrestling needs more people like Xavier Woods, and it’s about time that he’s recognized for his talent in all aspects of sports entertainment, with an emphasis on sports.
Quick hits and conversation starters based on tonight’s Monday Night RAW programming
- Miz shouting out everyone who interviewed Bobby Lashley, which marks another week I didn’t get a shout-out on RAW.
- I really like Bobby Lashley’s new intro, but I most certainly hope it shortens up on a weekly basis. More champions beating chumps, less thunder and lightning in this instance.
- Look, if we can let the Miz cut an excellent promo earlier in the night, can we not just let ol’ Drew Mac deliver the promo of his life in peace? I love me some Celtic Warrior, but these repetitive segments don’t just shame one wrestling fan, they Sheamus all.
- I like R-Truth a lot. I quite genuinely can’t remember he failed to entertain me in a segment he had a speaking role in.
- Randy Orton is roughly six-foot-six and he still looked like a pygmy of sorts when standing next to Omos. Of course, I say that in the most complimentary and respectful way possible because Randy Orton is a Mount Rushmore-level talent, but Omos is quite literally Mount Rushmore sized.
- This is a site based on what we loved in professional wrestling, so here is my obligatory of Shane McMahon as a person and entity. However, I will not be mentioning tonight’s segment with Braun Strowman, as it was not something I particularly loved in professional wrestling.
- Unlike many of the matches on the card, Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles hasn’t been done to death, and it had been long enough between tonight’s tilt and their previous that I was more than excited for tonight’s main event. As expected, Alexa Fiend played her part in the conclusion of tonight’s tilt, appearing on the Titantron® before lighting the ring on fire and causing Orton to cough up black goop. Yep, that’s a sentence.
Bags o’ Popcorn
Y’know, had a lot of tonight’s matches been taking place for the first time, I likely would have bumped this up to a four-bagger, and maybe even thrown some butter on that bad boy as a little extra. However, with quite literally every match on tonight’s card representing some form of rematch, I can’t help but wish there were some developments to begin new feuds with the in-ring action, not rely on what is, yes, excellent wrasslin’, but perhaps has been watched once or twice before.
That being said, a neat ol’ episode!
Whether you agree, disagree or datagree, tweet me @SpennyLove and give me your thoughts on tonight’s show or anything else in pro wrestling!