HEYDORN’S WWE RAW RECEIPT 11/14: Austin Theory capitalizes on failed cash-in, shows serious demeanor

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH ASSISTANT EDITOR

WWE Raw analysis
PHOTO CREDIT: Austin Theory Twitter

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

This week’s episode of WWE Raw has wrapped. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and relive some of the madness.

-Seth Rollins is so much more effective as a babyface whose audience reactions are matching up with the character he’s playing and the story he’s telling. They are bigger than they have been in a while and Rollins looks pretty damn comfortable out there, too. Good stuff from him all around this week.

-Lashley had a good night at the office as well. He continues to straddle the line of babyface and heel right now, which Paul Levesque should work to clear up sooner than later. With Rollins as a babyface now, Lashley as a heel makes the most sense.

-Mustafa Ali needs a little more than “fighting babyface.” He is one, but that’s all he is. If the goal is for people to invest in him, there has to be at least be breadcrumbs around that can be nibbled on in anticipation of a potential big win down the line. His booking is so one-sided at this point that there doesn’t seem to be any hope for him at the moment.

-Have Tony Khan and Paul Levesque called each other and decided to just not introduce new talent to their audience? Look, we got a decent Mia Yim match that helped define who she is to the Raw audience this week. It would be good to have the same thing from a character perspective, too. Why should fans care about her? We still don’t know.

-So far, Riddle with the bongos = Riddle losing matches. Those things annoy me and make Riddle supremely less likable. Also, at this point, just smoke a damn joint out there? The weed teases are just juvenile at this point.

-JBL and Baron Corbin getting smoked by Akira Tozawa at poker was fun. One-note, but fun nonetheless. There is a place on a three-hour Raw for this kind of segment.

-We finally have The Miz vs. Dexter Lumis scheduled. Phew. That alone helped Miz TV clear the low bar to success that it had. The Miz and Lumis could have a decently hot crowd for the bout given how long the story has been going on. Johnny Gargano’s involvement remains a mystery. Does the Triple H regime not trust Lumis to talk? Well, Zack, he doesn’t talk. Then don’t have this type of angle with him! Johnny Gargano is not going to be around to speak on Lumis’s behalf for every feud he’s in. Let’s hope not anyway. Gargano has a lot to give to the main roster, but a talking puppet who looks unlikable isn’t the right the lane to be driving in with him.

-Dominik had a good night. Nothing really new from him, but more solid work as a young punk.

-Good to see Mia Yim get dropped into the War Games match on team Bianca Belair. If she’s going to be a player on the Raw brand, she has to be framed as such and her involvement in that match accomplishes that goal.

-Austin Theory was the story of the show this week. Dropping the Money in the Bank cash-in, but picking up a new and serious gimmick is a huge win for him as it reestablishes his push in a stronger light and gives him more to work with outside the constraints of being a dumb, doofus, jock. He played the aggressive heel well and clearly laid out how he got to where he is. Really well done and while the match with Dolph Ziggler went longer than it probably should have, part of the game is showing the audience you can wrestle. He did that in the match. With Theory attacking Rollins to end the night, it looks like Rollins vs. Theory is something they are setting up for the future.

-A good main event between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. More of a backdrop for the other feuds both are involved in with in WWE to stand in front of, but good nonetheless.


CATCH-UP: 11/14 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW RESULTS: Keller’s report on Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for U.S. Title, Miz TV, Riddle vs. Gable, Survivor Series developments

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