We start off with the announcers hyping up the show when suddenly The Fiend’s music starts playing and they’re all surprised… and then we cut to the ring and Alexa Bliss! is standing there in the middle of it. There was no lights on, lights off. We just cut to the ring. So why the hell were they so surprised? Didn’t they see her come out before the show started? It’s crap like this- stuff that would have been SOOOOOO easily fixable with an obvious pre-existing tool- that makes me wonder just how little the people in charge of this show understand emersion, which is an important concept to selling your story to your audience (and especially if it’s a fictional one).
Alexa tells us that “he’s here” and says that we should “let him in.” Then The Fiend’s music hit and he did his entrance. This entrance took f*cking forever, and during it, all I could think about is how much I despise this company for taking one of my favorite characters they have ever had and turning her into a harbinger for possibly my least favorite.
Once Bray’s entrance was done, Retribution’s music hit. I guess these rebels were polite enough to let the sound guy know in advance that they were going to do this, because this is an empty arena with these big screen in the way and they didn’t come down the ramp, so it’s not like the people at Gorilla could have seen them coming through and alerted the truck to play their music. They surrounded the ring, while Alexa and Bray just stood there, motionless. Five bucks says they teleport away before anything actually happens.
Called it. A tease like that which isn’t intended to lead anywhere (and this is actually the second time they’ve done this with The Fiend and Retribution) is a little something I like to call “cheap-ass bullsh*t by people who can’t put a story together so they just put things on TV they know people will think is cool but don’t deliver on them because instead of earning viewership with good storytelling, they have to trick people into paying attention.
Once Alexa and The Fiend were gone, Hurt Business came out. It turns out they have magical powers, too, because once they came out, Mia Yim disappeared, because a brawl between men is no place for a mere girl, I guess. And a rebellion and aggressive one like this (*checks her Wikipedia article for stupid Retribution ring-name) Reckoning lady seems to be.
They brawled. Everyone else was on the outside and Cedric Alexander did a dive where he got so high up that he accidentally pulled a commercial down with him. So on this “season premiere of Monday Night Raw,” in the entire first segment, the only thing that happened was ten seconds of brawling. I guess things must have calmed down during the commercial, because when the WWE bug reappeared on the bottom corner of the screen, we were watching a…
MATT RIDDLE VIDEO PACKAGE- This was… better than the one we were getting on Smackdown.
THE HURT BUSINESS vs. RETRIBUTION (Mace, T-Bar, Slapjack, & Mustafa Ali)- 5/10
I love how the other three are still using their goofball names. WWE knows who they are because they’ve signed contracts, so why aren’t they still using these silly codenames and wearing these masks? Also, those masks look like they are made of a material that is WAY too hard for them to be allowed to wear during a match. It’s like they come pre-armed with the loaded Lucha mask gimmick.
They wrestled for a while. We wound up with everyone staring each other down on the outside when The Fiend’s music played and he showed up on the screen, and then we went to a commercial because tease. Even better: NONE OF THE EIGHT WRESTLERS REACTED TO THIS AT ALL. Good. That’s the reaction that everyone should have to The Fiend. Especially fans.
After the commercial break, we were back to six guys on the apron and two in the ring, and there was no Fiend anywhere in sight. Soon afterwards, Lashley made T-Bar tap with the Hurt Lock. Yup. Retribution have already lost clean. And they haven’t even had a PPV match yet. This was a TV match with no stips. And it wasn’t even the little guy who did the job.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons
The Fiend magicked himself right onto the apron with Retribution. Like a cartoon, he waited for them to notice him before attacking. He beat them all up singlehandedly. At that point I thought “perfect! Now all I need is the Hurt Business to beat the sh*t out of The Fiend and we can say that all of these goofs are too scared of the beating they took to ever come back to WWE, and the show will be much better!”
The Fiend had a stare-down with the Hurt Business. His music played, and Alexa appeared on the screen and through the amazing cinematic magic understood by- well… any sixth grader with a lap top- The Fiend’s voice seemed to come out of Alexa’s mouth when she said “let me in.” The effect of this was that it sounded like Alexa was burping the words. Then The Fiend disappeared, and the people running the show were so ashamed that they went right to a commercial.
AJ STYLES PROMO- bad
He’s not a new pal named Jordan Omogbehin. He was the bouncer for Raw Underground. The announcers had no idea who he was, although the production truck did. Don’t they have a monitor to look at?
AJ didn’t acknowledge his new friend at all, either. Weird. He cut this terrible scripted promo about Raw not being “Monday Night Rollins” anymore. Also, he told us he was wrestling Matt Riddle right now, because that’s definitely not a match you would want to do some heavy advertising for.
MATT RIDDLE vs. AJ STYLES (w/Jordan Omogbehin)- 6.75/10
The referee ordered for the bell to be rung with Omogbehin still standing in the ring, not looking like he had any intention of moving. I guess the referee figured this would be a hint for him? Anyway, the ref asked him to leave and he wouldn’t. Unlike New Japan, the referees in WWE aren’t stupid (well… other than ordering the bell to be rung while a third party was still in the ring, but hey, no one’s perfect), so the referee told AJ I’m going to count to five, and if he doesn’t leave the ring by the time I get to five, you’re going to be disqualified.
He started counting and got to 2 before Omogbehin grabbed his wrist hard enough to hurt him. That should be at least a fine. The referee then started to pretty pathetically beg Omogbehin to leave. Where is Adam Pearce to lend a hand?
Omogbehin eventually did leave the ring. While he did so, Byron referred to him as “this large human being.” Are you telling me no one in Gorilla has called into their headsets to tell them this dude’s name yet?
Omogbehin caused a distraction to help AJ win, but they way it was done made it not feel like the usual distraction. Omogbehin was excellent in his role as the silent, terrifying giant, doing everything he does very deliberately. He comes off as different than any other bodyguards. His silence and the way he moves feels like it gives him a personality.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS DREW MCINTYRE- good
He cuts a good go-home promo for HIAC, then tells us that he’s going to interrupt Randy’s promo with a ridiculous marketing name tonight.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Asuka(c) vs. Lana- 1.5/10
This was fine for the short time it lasted.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- didn’t like it
Nia Jax’s music played, but then she came from the other direction to attack Asuka. I’m fine believing the told someone in the truck to play her music after the match and that person didn’t know she was going to attack from behind. Shayna Baszler came out, too. Nia put Lana through the announcers’ table for the fifth time (again… is this leading anywhere, or are they just making Rusev’s wife take table bumps because he left the company? Oh, who am I kidding? We all know the answer to that). Shayna tried to attack Asuka but Asuka hit her with a superkick and escaped. There is a whole roster full of women out there, but apparently they just have to feud the women’s tag champs with one of the singles champs.
WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE SEGMENT-
We just got done with Sasha and Bayley, and now the next champions are already two heels who you know are going to turn on each other sooner or later. Nia Jax used the word “refute” incorrectly. They dared other to come out, so Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose did. Also, Lacey Evans did. Then Peyton Royce came out and I was about to say “well… at least it’s not yet another blonde,” but I forgot Peyton had dyed her hair.
Peyton and Lacey trying to shove in front of each other was funny. Lacey doing her pose on the apron and right in front of where Peyton was doing her pose in the ropes and so Peyton kicked Lacey had me rolling. I know I just complained about them going back to the well with a pair of heels who we all know are going to turn on each other, but I unlike the Sasha/Bayley and Nia/Baszler pairings, who were annoying, these two seem to have the timing and instincts to actually be entertaining with the gimmick. The referee was about to call for the bell because apparently this is now a title match, but then the Riott Squad came out.
On the one hand, it makes perfect sense that if the Smackdown people get a “farewell” show, then the Raw wrestlers should, too. I stand by my assertion from my Smackdown review that the whole idea is stupid, but if they’re doing it for one, it’s only fair to do it for the other. On the other hand, if you’re going to do something like this, you need to both make it feel important and also make it feel like it’s not something you’re just throwing out there. On Smackdown, they pretty much promoted the whole show around farewell matches. They didn’t just have one for Xavier and Kofi (and thus for New Day as a trio) but also promoted such matches for Braun Strowman and Jeff Hardy. Conversely, the big hype point at the beginning of tonight’s Raw was about all of the new faces that we’ll see. We’ve already seen three of the big ones in Fiend, AJ, and Riddle, and AJ named-dropped Jeff Hardy during his promo. Including the Riott Squad here feels like something they did just to add yet one more team in.
FATAL FOUR-WAY MATCH
There are six challengers in this match, and FIVE of them are blonde. The announcers initially said that the titles were on the line, but then said that they weren’t. The match was decent, but whoever decided it was a good idea to have the champs win instead of starting to build up their next challengers should be flogged.
THE DRIFTER SINGS (BUT THIS TIME WITH A BAND)- Yeah… I’m just going to fast forward through this to see if Goldberg comes out at the end.
Jeff Hardy infiltrated the band and hit Elias with a guitar.
Why is this feud even happening? Does Elias not realize that it was Sheamus that hit him with the car? Wasn’t that the storyline?
MIZ, MORRISON, & TUCKER BACKSTAGE- I guess I should be happy that they’re doing the logical thing by having Tucker continue to go after Miz & Morrison on Otis’ behalf, but this whole MITB lawsuit thing is so dumb that I just don’t care.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS ELIAS- fine
He wants a match with Jeff Hardy at the PPV on Sunday.
SHEAMUS vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier Woods)- 7.25/10
So Sheamus just blew off his feud with Big E., and the first thing they do with him on his new show is booking against New Day? It’s after the draft! Things are supposed to be NEW!
They engaged in a completely pointless talking segment before the match that dragged on for way too long. Kofi won clean in the best thing we’ve seen so far tonight by leaps and bounds.
MUSTAFA ALI PROMO- This was very good, but the gimmick is already dead.
In a totally random revelation, Ali told us that he was the hacker from Smackdown earlier this year. Okay… so how did anything in that Sonya/Mandy/Otis/Dolph storyline fit into anything Ali was talking about here?
TITUS O’NEIL WANTS TO JOIN THE HURT BUSINESS- Titus came off like a goof so they beat him up. Can we please pick babyface or heel with these guys?
JOHN MORRISON & THE MIZ vs. TUCKER KNIGHT & EL GRAN GORDO- 4/10
It’s Otis in a mask. Why is Adam Pearce allowing this?
Before the match, Miz cut an AWESOME promo on Otis.
The heel Miz was about to hit the babyface Otis with his finisher when he was distracted by the 24/7 goofs wandering through the ring, allowing Otis to win. Your hero, everyone: A guy who needs to be saved by the circus wandering through his match.
NEW DAY, HEAVY MACHINERY, & MANDY ROSE BACKSTAGE- Vince likes seeing fat guys and hot chicks dance, and he got Otis, Tucker, and Mandy here.
FIREFLY FUNHOUSE- stupid and pointless as always
BRAUN STROWMAN vs. KEITH LEE- no rating, fine segment
This was very short and disappointing for a main event. That being said, as an angle, it was fine. Braun got the win after headbutting Lee in the nuts, and Lee kicked out at about 3.001, and punted Braun in the nuts, so they did pretty much everything they could to protect Lee and let you know that a rematch will be coming.
“THE VIPER’S MESSAGE FROM HELL”- bad
I still cannot believe that they think that giving a promo a stupid name like this will make people want to see it more instead of what people actually do, which is roll their eyes at it.
Anyway, this did not take place from the Undead Realm, but rather they lowered the Hell in a Cell structure so that Randy could cut his promo from inside of it.
Randy’s promo was okay, but the Drew’s earlier promo meant that I was just sitting around waiting for Drew to show up. Drew needed bolt-cutters to get in. Randy armed himself with a chair while Drew armed himself with the chain he had just cut off from the door… and then we went off the air without seeing them start to fight. Yes, really.
This was a meh show at best (like 4/10) on its own, but other than setting up Jeff vs. Elias, it was a major failure as a go-home show. Hell, other than Jeff vs. Elias, Sasha vs. Bailey, Orton vs. Drew, and Roman vs. Jey, I’m not even sure what else is on the show. That’s not good when you’re six days out.