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.
-I was looking for a little more intensity and a little less goofiness in the weigh-in segment with Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley. Lashley brought it, but Lesnar was overly dismissive, which tempered Lashley’s intensity. If this is part of the story and Lashley goes over on Saturday because Lesnar wasn’t taking him seriously, then fine. Otherwise, this wasn’t a segment with a consistent tone.
-Bianca Belair with a dominant win and I give it a thumbs up. There wasn’t much hype to define true potential Royal Rumble winners, but Bianca is of course one and this win helped lock that notion into place.
-Damian Priest loses again because his dark side got the better of him again. The psychology here is backwards. I don’t believe the audience is going to invest in Priest and get behind his journey to control his emotions. This is wrestling. The audience wants to cheer a badass babyface who wins. The story of Priest trying to contain his aggressiveness just gives crowds a reason not to react. The pop is in the fire up, not the other way around.
-I like the attempt at defining stakes for the Royal Rumble match by featuring Rhea Ripley, Dana Brooke, and Liv Morgan in short promos detailing what a win would mean. It’s not a lot, but it’s something and given the lack of focus on those matches Saturday night, this hype stood out.
-If you’re going to do silly Academic Challenge nonsense on a show this was the way to do it. Randy Orton, Riddle, Chad Gable, and Otis executed perfectly – or as perfectly as possible. You can put the pitchfork away. I’m not advocating for more of these, but this worked and it worked because of the talent. Their personality and charisma got this material over and not many acts could have.
-On the heels of the spelling bee, Orton and Gable had one heck of a match. Orton was in “good Orton” mode and it made for the loudest crowd reactions of the night.
-Good stuff with Austin Theory and A.J. Styles. Theory hung with Styles and that’s a feather in Theory’s cap. He’s getting a lot of significant TV time. There is clearly an investment being made in molding him into something.
-Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop at the Royal Rumble has a lot working against. Namely Doudrop’s framing since her debut and the fact that Doudrop figures to be far away from the WrestleMania card when the show arrives in April. For that reason, we know Lynch is winning and retaining her title on Saturday night. Outcome aside, Doudrop should have turned some heads with her performances throughout this feud, including the promo segment this week. She hung with Lynch and has an authentic voice and personality. She comes across as a natural and WWE should find a way to keep her on television.
-Montez Ford is still in the air on that dive out of the ring. What a spot.
-The Maryse birthday party was destroyed thanks to Edge and Beth Phoenix. Shocking I tell ya! Just shocking! This was an obvious outcome, but mildly entertaining at the same time. Props to Miz and Maryse for selling it all.
-The Royal Rumble is this week right? I thought so, but you wouldn’t have known it outside of a few short segments this week. The Royal Rumble has major stakes and the bottom line is, those stakes were not properly articulated by any of the key participants. Ultimately, a huge missed opportunity to cultivate intrigue in the match.