Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio
Barring the already dead-in-the-water Dean Ambrose/Chris Jericho feud, which is taking up prime real estate during its three hour run-time, WWE Monday Night Raw is entering into a really good place with multiple layers of talent getting exposure and true stories emerging that are getting me more invested in the show.
While the ratings don’t reflect it, getting so many young, hungry talents on the screen is doing wonders for WWE television, providing fresh match-ups, new faces and stories that have to build sensibly from the bottom up.
Probably the best thing from this past Monday was “The Club” (name might not sound that impressive, but at least we have a name now) against “The Family” (WWE Champion Roman Reigns and The Usos).
AJ Styles and Roman are hitting it off so well right now because they represent two completely different things. In spite of their differences, they still seem to blur the lines in terms of their alignment as faces or heels, so it creates this delicious chaos that could turn on a dime. Their coming title match at Extreme Rules is probably the most excited I’ve been for a main event program in the last 12 months.
A lot of people weren’t happy with The Family taking the win over The Club Monday what with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson not looking as dominant as the internet demands they be in order for the painted brothers to get over, but we have to appreciate that the WWE is taking The Shield route and giving all six guys a consistent and bright spotlight to elevate each other.
The Usos as a serious tag team is what I’ve needed from them for about two years now. No more having fun, get serious and beat the hell out of people. Anderson and Gallows, considering that they just arrived and are getting attention in the main plotline, are getting some fantastic exposure and will be inserted into the tag division soon, which will add to an already stacked group of teams. More of this please.
How He’s Doin?!
How about the night Big Cass had? He got to stand in the ring and talk down to Jericho, both figuratively and literally, and then later on in the show, he got to manhandle Jericho. Watching Cass scream at Jericho while shaking him violently came out of nowhere and I loved it, he’s doing a good job keeping his and Enzo Amore’s stock high while Enzo recovers. Cass’s prominence on the show was the only good thing to come out of the stale, forced feud that is Jericho/Ambrose.
The Intercontinental Title continues to get a good shine from the whole Cesaro/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn/Miz combination. I like seeing Sami and Kevin have to earn their spots in the match and then fulfill on those opportunities. Miz had a killer match with Zayn and doesn’t get enough credit when he needs to deliver, while Owens had a serviceable match with Zack Ryder, who I still don’t think has much left to give that is new and refreshing. This fatal 4-way match at Extreme Rules should be a beautiful car wreck.
Elsewhere, Sin Cara defeated Rusev, which makes zero sense. Rusev as a killer tank is the best role for him, he should be feared going into his match with Kalisto at the PPV.
Paige defeated Charlotte with an oddly hot crowd, but I wonder if that had more to do with Ric Flair getting banned by Shane McMahon from ringside.
Speaking of the McMahons, I rather like seeing Stephanie and Shane get along. Stephanie has this unbelievable ability to come off as likeable as a face in spite of her long record as an effective heel. I know there is something sinister coming, but this whole situation has been beneficial to talents not being undercut or dismissed by The Authority.
Further Down The Card
R-Truth beat Fandango. Who cares? I don’t.
Baron Corbin took down Dolph Ziggler again, so let’s close this chapter and have Corbin battle someone who isn’t heavily damaged goods.
The Dudley Boyz defeated The New Day after The Vaudevillians interfered to cause the distraction. I’m glad these teams are still getting on television to continue being a presence for viewers. The more these teams battle it out, the more it feels like the tag division is full and thriving.
Raw is pushing forward with this “New Era” title and we’ll have to see how long it will last. I’m remaining optimistic that if ratings and subscribers to the WWE Network improve, it’ll give leadership a reason to keep sailing on this course. With Cena and Rollins prepping for returns, it’ll be interesting to see how the power levels and match-ups change down the line.
One last quick note: I would be remiss to not say that seeing Adam Rose be arrested for domestic battery and tampering with a witness was something that made me sad and highly disappointed. Of course, innocent until proven guilty and all, but I feel like this will effectively close the door on Rose being a part of WWE.
Having watched Rose, nee’ Ray Leppan, during the ESPN’s E60 NXT special, I felt so completely connected to him as a father and husband wanting what is best for his family. I hope that his family can recover from these turbulent times and get him on the right path. If not just for his sake, but for the sake of his wife and kids.
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