RAW Thoughts

RAW ThoughtsWe continue the Road to WrestleMania with a stop in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m interested to see how the rest of the FastLane undercard develops and where it may lead. Let’s go!

Matt Hardy HOFBrock Lesnar & Paul HeymanWe kick things off with the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, along with his advocate Paul Heyman. The crowd pops huge for his entrance and are very quiet to listen to Heyman’s promo…as they should. You want to know who the biggest superstar in the entire company is at this point? It ain’t Cena, it ain’t Reigns, and no…it ain’t Ambrose. It may suck for Vince that a part-time player is the biggest star he has, but that’s his own fault. Brock Lesnar is, simply put, the #1 box office draw that WWE has right now. As much as they want to set-up Reigns as the winner at WrestleMania to give him “his moment”, what’s BEAST for business is to have Lesnar be the champion.

But those are just my opinions…

Dean Ambrose vs Brock LesnarAnd yes, Paul Heyman delivered another promo that I was more than happy to listen to. I’d much rather hear Heyman than 99% of the current roster open up the show any day of the week. When Dean Ambrose came out, he was able to deliver another solid promo, as well. He’s got a unique delivery that plays to his gimmick. Sometimes the fans “get it”; sometimes they don’t. But he’s still miles ahead of most of the roster.

The fact that they’re playing the three top babyfaces off against each other for FastLane is an interesting situation. You KNOW that Reigns will be booed out of the building if he wins and that either Ambrose or Lesnar winning will result in a massive pop. How does this match help Reigns in any way? Once again, I’ve GOT to question WWE’s booking decisions when it comes to Reigns. I just don’t get it.

I understand that WWE is in the middle of pushing Kalisto as Rey Mysterio 2.0, but there is NO WAY that he should be in a competitive match against Rusev. I can only suspend disbelief for so long. The fact that Rusev sold so well for Kalisto is proof that he’s a future champion and a team player. He really made Kalisto look better than he had any right to be. Remember when Rusev was dominating John Cena and killing people in the ring? Yeah…me, neither. Let’s push Braun Strowman some more…

Stephanie McMahon, Roman Reigns, & Dean AmbroseThe backstage segment with Stephanie McMahon, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose was very intriguing only for the spot where McMahon suggested that one of the friends will stab the other in the back, bringing up Shawn Michaels turning on Marty Jannetty and Seth Rollins turning on them. Is this a legitimate foreshadowing of a breakdown and a heel turn? Or simply a dangling carrot?

Social Outcasts 3It was nice to see the #SocialOutcasts get some more mic time. I liked the team of Adam Rose & Curtis Axel, too. They had chemistry and looked really good against the Usos. The only problem was that with Heath Slater acting like a goof on the outside, it looked like he was trying to emulate the New Day…and that’s not good when you’re trying to get a push for being original and unique. Honestly…it’s 3MB all over again. At least they’re getting a spot on the roster, right? It’s better than nothing, I suppose.

But we still have no idea just what tag team will be “over” enough to take on the New Day at WrestleMania. Crazy.

AJ Styles 1I was wondering how they were going to get AJ Styles over with his MizTV segment, because Styles isn’t the best on the mic. I quickly realized that Miz was going to put Styles over on his own by not letting Styles speak yet still going off on the mic about his accolades. Not the worst idea in the world, when you think about it. It was also intriguing to put Styles in a position where there was no other option than to get a babyface pop against the very hated Miz. Definitely smart booking all around in order to throw more “hype” on the Styles Train, though in the end I’m not sure it did much to help Styles get more acclimated with the WWE Universe or get him over.

Alicia Fox & Brie BellaI wasn’t going to even mention the match between Brie Bella and Charlotte because it’s been done and nobody gives a shit. Then, for whatever reason, Ric Flair caused a distraction with the referee when Charlotte was in a sleeperhold (???). Yet he was still causing a distraction when Charlotte escaped, went for the figure-four leglock, and inexplicably got rolled-up for the pinfall. I mean…what total and utter bullshit. When they played Brie up to fans for being Daniel Bryan’s wife didn’t work to get her over (keep doing “Yes Kicks”, Brie…maybe they’ll cheer you more!), they thought that her being the sister of the recently-surgeried Nikki Bella would help get her over (she’s fearless for having surgery and YOU can be fearless for being her sister!). FFS…what a crock of shit. So do we now have to put up with Brie Bella vs Charlotte at FastLane?? What happened to Sasha Banks?? Where’s Becky Lynch?? Where’s Paige?? Where are the TALENTED women wrestlers??  Goddamn…this whole segment just pissed me off.

Wyatts vs Big ShowI’m wondering why Big Show is being inserted in a storyline against the Wyatt Family. I thought they were going after Brock Lesnar. Are we potentially looking at a Big Show vs Braun Strowman match at WrestleMania? I’d prefer that over Lesnar vs Strowman…but I think we might be getting Show vs Strowman at FastLane instead. Regardless, I feel bad for Strowman because he’s being thrown into a no-win situation. Why no-win? Because he’s simply too green to be given the spotlight at this point in time. He’s not ready…at all. Hell…he didn’t have televised matches or even house show matches while in Florida. How is he magically ready for the main roster? It’s typical “WWE likes big muscular men” bullshit booking. Strowman will fade out like Giant Gonzales or Great Khali within a year or two.

Tyler BreezeI know that Titus O’Neil is currently doing everything right outside of WWE and that’s the reason why he’s being pushed, but the guy simply isn’t getting over with audiences. It’s the same thing that happened with the Prime Time Players. He’s talented and charismatic, but he just doesn’t have “it”. Having him going over Tyler Breeze is a waste of a win. Showing two or three people standing up to cheer once he got his pinfall isn’t going to convince the world that he’s worthy of a push because he’s not. The guy who IS deserving of a push is the one who jobbed out WAAAAYY too quickly. Unbelievable.

Yes, Dolph...we're ALL surprised you won.

Yes, Dolph…we’re ALL surprised you won. By all means keep celebrating.

I don’t even know what to say at the outcome of the Dolph Ziggler match with Kevin Owens. I mean, Owens dominated the entire match (and rightfully so), yet somehow still loses via CLEAN PINFALL. What in the blue hell did Owens do to deserve losing this “feud” with Ziggler? Better yet, who in the blue hell is Ziggler blowing in order to win this feud?? What the hell is going on tonight? Who is booking this shit? I mean, you’ve got some very unusual decisions going on tonight. I’m not upset with the show in general, but I’m certainly upset with some of the wins and losses because they just don’t seem to make any long-term booking sense. I just don’t get it.

Sasha BanksI was really excited about the possibility of Sasha Banks battling Charlotte at WrestleMania, but now it looks like Becky Lynch will be teaming with Banks to go up against the untalented team of Naomi and Tamina…either at FastLane or on Smackdown or next week’s RAW. I don’t mind Banks being turned babyface and leaving Team B.A.D., but I was really hoping that she’d remain on her own. I just think you could easily make her a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin type of Diva babyface by taking on anyone. The crowd loves her regardless, so why does she need to team with Lynch to get the “babyface rub”? I would’ve been fine with a Banks vs Lynch feud at FastLane without getting Team B.A.D. involved, but I guess there are other booking plans afoot.

New DayThe final match was fun to watch. All five men are at the top of their games and the match flowed extremely well, culminating with a final sequence of events that led to the pinfall. Great stuff that the fans enjoyed. It didn’t really push any story other than the Ambrose vs Lesnar feud that should add more fuel to the FastLane fire. So while the match was entertaining, it didn’t really do much other than that. So that begs the question…what was the point? You would think that the Road to WrestleMania would actually help storylines progress, especially in a main event. Instead, we get a small storyline for FastLane (Why are they hyping Ambrose vs Lesnar? Is that the new Mania direction??) and nothing for the tag team champions. Sigh…

Here’s the deal with RAW tonight…it wasn’t a bad show. In fact, I’d say it was a pretty decent show with lots going on. And whether or not I agree with their booking decisions shouldn’t take away from my enjoyment of the program itself. Why? Because WWE is eliciting an emotional response from me. No, I don’t like some of their decisions but I’m willing to sit back and wait in order to find out where they end up. Sasha as champ at Mania? Owens in a big-time storyline stewing from his frustrations? Rusev not being treated like a jobber? Styles in a high-profile Mania match? Until these booking decisions play out at Mania, I can only accept the fact that I’m emotionally invested in the show. Whether it’s a positive or negative response is besides the point. I actually care…and I suppose that’s the most important thing.

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This is just what I’m thinking, but what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

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