SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw has wrapped. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and relive some of the madness.
-Bobby Lashley received an authentic star reaction from the Chicago audience. He looked the part too. Lashley is teetering on the edge of being too cool to heel and Goldberg across the ring chomping away on gum may just be what pushes him over into babyface land for good.
-Speaking of Goldberg. Ok, if takes an entire production strategy of piped in cheers, piped in Goldberg chants, and hometown mentions to protect him from an inconsistent presentation in front of live fans, is the guy really all that valuable? Fans, young and old, can see through that charade and are sitting on their hands because of it. At best, the match is a dud between Lashley and Goldberg at Summerslam. At worst? Lashley muddies his impactful heel run on the show in favor of a one off laugh spectacle that people will forget by the time Roman Reigns walks out later in the show.
-Get. The. Sword. Out. Of. Drew. McIntyre’s. Hands. Unless he’s going to swing away and cut Jinder Mahal in half, what is the purpose of this thing? Joking aside, if McIntyre doesn’t use the fine piece of weaponry, it confirms its existence as a childlike prop. The visual of McIntyre scaring away team Mahal with the sword in hand was laugh out loud funny, but not at all the reaction WWE was looking to get.
-A better night for Rhea Ripley this week. Not a great one, but better because she’s be defined clearly in one direction. After the last five months, that definition is a major step in the right direction.
-Ali secured a nice hometown reaction, but in classic Vince McMahon fashion, was squashed like a bug a few minutes later. Ultimately, it leaves Ali in the same spot, though. He’s working to find himself. The partnership with Mansoor has some legs to it, but we’ll have to wait and see just how long they are.
-At the core, I liked a lot of what Charlotte did with her promo time. She spoke authentically from the heart and tried to stay on the heel side of the line, while not leaning too heavily into being the queen. That said, by the end, it was rendered 100% useless. Nikki attacks Charlotte from behind like a heel would, pivoting her away from her blueprint babyface persona. Plus, Corey Graves on commentary kills any potential heat for Charlotte by surmising out loud that Charlotte was right about Nikki and that she was a coward. Baby Nikki? Weakened. Heel Charlotte? Also weakened. Well, an exemplary promo segment, WWE. Bravo.
-The Miz and John Morrison are firmly placed in the “go out there and fill time” camp aren’t they? There is nothing to invest in with these guys. They’re around and that’s about it. Damian Priest played off them well, so if the goal is to make him look like the adult in the room, success. That’s not the tone I hear when WWE speaks about them, though.
-Riddle is getting over. Part of me cringes in saying that given the road we saw him travel to get to this point, but the crowd reactions are strong. What happens next with him is telling. Riddle was sacrificed to Omos this week, but the angle feels like a setup for Randy Orton’s return and showdown at Summerslam which will see Orton and Riddle take the belts off of Styles and Omos.
-Karrion Kross is that you out there? Couldn’t tell.
-Nikki A.S.H vs. Charlotte worked for what it was. The crowd seemed into it and it was as definitive of a win as you’ll see in WWE these days. Not memorable, but a fine main event match to close the show.