Raw Rambling (10/12): Draft Madness, Tag Team Title Bouts & Less Repetition

0

Every week, I provide WWE Raw Live coverage (check out the 10/12 edition HERE) and it’s fair to say that lately, the red brand has felt very lacklustre. The show has been frustrating to watch at times with great talent not being used to their full potential.

With that in mind, I decided now would be the time to kick off a brand new feature series on ProWrestling.com, so welcome to Raw Rambling! Each week, I will take a look back at the episode of Monday Night Raw and breakdown what worked, what improvements could be made, and what was just a total misfire.

Granted, starting a feature series on WWE Raw after a WWE Draft show might not have been the best way to start it, as the show is always going to be very different, but let’s roll with it and see how things go.

Strong In-Ring Competition

Let’s get started with the positives from WWE Raw this week because there were plenty of them. A big factor on why the show didn’t feel as draining as it has lately was the high-quality in-ring action. The red brand has the benefit (and curse) of having three hours, so the show should always feature at least a couple of lengthy, high-quality matches.

Of course, that isn’t always the case, because for some reason WWE loves to have throwaway matches on the show every week, but the WWE Draft show was different. There were several very fun matches here, with the NoDQ bout between Kevin Owens and Aleister Black starting that trend nicely.

This is a really fresh feud and because of that, it’s always going to be more interesting as we haven’t seen them compete countless times over. Everyone knows how talented each man is, so this being great shouldn’t have been a surprise. Both men really laid their stuff in here and while they didn’t go overboard with the weapons, it had just enough to make the stipulation feel worthwhile. Also, serious props to Black for the Meteora onto the chairs, because that looked awesome.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXZaMLYmJXo

From there WWE gave us a great triple threat match between Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, and Jeff Hardy. It’s a dream match on paper and something that feels PPV worthy, which is what WWE Raw needs each week to help the three-hour show along.

Inside the ring, the three men absolutely delivered, having great chemistry together with some fun near falls and plenty of great sequences. Not having a clean finish wasn’t a problem here either because it was just a random match, plus, I am very ready to walk with Elias once more. It’s great to have him back.

But while those matches were good, the match of the night was the Raw Tag Team Championship bout as New Day put their titles on the line against Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. The Glorious One has been firing out top-quality performances ever since he returned, and this was another example.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3mu8aNG39E

They told a great story throughout this match, isolating Kofi Kingston and putting together some great double team moves, especially when Roode launched Ziggler into the air for the Famouser. Props to the commentary team here as well, really putting over the fact that the champions weren’t mentally 100% after the Big E split, WWE needs more of that subtle storytelling from them.

Overall though, three high-quality matches on one show is good going and while there was still the usual throwaway matches like Andrade and Angel Garza or the women’s tag team bouts, these three matches felt special. More of this please, WWE!

New Brand, Same Problems

One of the big misses for me on this episode was the Miz TV segment. John Morrison and The Miz haven’t quite clicked for me in recent weeks, and their storyline with Otis has been one of the weakest parts of WWE SmackDown for a while now.

However, they’re both great talents and a new brand could be just what they needed. But if their segment this week was anything to go by, the duo is going to continue their very average brand of comedy that isn’t sticking the landing.

The two men have very good chemistry together, but these forced jokes and strange banter that they’re pushing just isn’t working at all. WWE needs to move the team away from this hokey nonsense and start building them as a top tag team again because they could play a massive part in the division if handled correctly.

Areas For Improvement

Despite the show being entertaining and easy to keep up with (even at 1-4 am for this particular Englishman) that doesn’t mean it was perfect. There are clear areas to improve things on Raw, and some of them are just basic booking decisions.

The handling of the Raw/SmackDown Tag Team Titles was a real mess and clearly wasn’t thought through at all. But hey, at least we got another Adam Pearce cameo! Can we just make him the official GM of both shows at this point?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pPLsXhhr4M

Making Lana the number one contender was also a baffling decision. That’s not a knock on Lana, as she’s one of WWE’s very best at character work and really getting heel heat, but it is a knock on WWE’s handling of her. Whether she was being punished for Miro’s comments or WWE just felt like testing its hardware of recent weeks, putting her through an announce table continuously wasn’t a good call.

It doesn’t exactly build Lana up to be a major threat and instead presents her as a laughing stock. Even during WWE Raw this week, she was beaten in the tag team match by Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, then Natalya dumped her, and then Nia Jax put her through a table. Does that scream future WWE Raw Women’s Champion to you?

While a surprise win in the main event was a fun moment, how are people supposed to get excited about her challenging Asuka? WWE needs to be booking its talent as credible threats, which then sets up exciting title matches that fans will be excited to watch.

Speaking of title matches, another weaker element of WWE Raw this week was the work between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton. This storyline has been going on for several months now and it does feel like it’s running out of steam, rather than building up to a huge Hell in a Cell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBY-gk1YveA

There’s no doubt they will deliver inside the cell, but there’s only so many times I can see them brawl around the arena. WWE needs something fresh to inject into this storyline next week, and please don’t overtake a big women’s segment with this again, WWE.

Finally, we come to the elephant in the room, or not in the room as would be more appropriate. Last week, WWE dropped the big news that Mustafa Ali was the leader of RETRIBUTION. It was a big angle and there was genuine intrigue as to how WWE would follow it up.

How did they do it? Radio silence. Absolutely nothing, not a promo (as was promoted) or an attack, not even a video package. For a rebel group that wants to burn WWE to the ground, a night when everyone is around sure feels like a good time to cause some mayhem, doesn’t it?

RETRIBUTION has run hot and cold ever since they appeared, but WWE actually had people gripped this time, and not having them appear was a huge mistake. While it didn’t impact the overall quality of the show, once again, it doesn’t build them up to be a threat.

So, overall, WWE Raw was a massive improvement this week. There were less repetitive segments and we didn’t see Apollo Crews wrestle The Hurt Business for the 1,000th time, so that has to be a plus. Of course, this was a WWE Draft night and therefore it was a special edition that featured a blend of wrestlers from across both brands. But let’s hope it wasn’t just a blip and the flagship show can regain its dominance with a fresh roster heading towards the WWE Survivor Series build.

If you stuck it out this long, I appreciate you checking out my full Raw Rambling and I’ll be back next week to give my thoughts on the highly anticipated ‘Season Premiere.’