Monday Night Raw: "The Monster Wins Again"

It’s been a good month for Braun Strowman. A few weeks ago, he defeated main-eventer and former WWE Raw Universal champion Finn Balor to close an episode of Raw, then he beat another former WWE Raw Universal champion in Kevin Owens, and then, of course, Strowman eviscerated the “Glorious One” Bobby Roode midway through the previous episode of Raw. That is the kind of three-week stretch that most of the wrestlers on the roster can only dream of having. It shows a firm commitment to the show’s biggest babyface that they’re building to something, that this Braun Strowman Cannot Be Stopped storyline is going somewhere.

But that’s not the case.

Unfortunately for the Monster Among Men, he is inching closer and closer to reaching that same ceiling he hit in 2017 and that ceiling comes in two forms: Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Like 2017, Strowman looked as though he may finally be handed the rock and given the opportunity to run with it, but he lost his big-time feud with Reigns and he lost his WWE Universal title match at No Mercy against Lesnar a few months later. In 2018, his rise and subsequent fall will not be all that different. Reigns, if you were paying attention to David Otunga’s comments in the booth last week make it painfully obvious Reigns vs. Lesnar III is happening sooner rather than later. With Lesnar’s next exit from the WWE looming large over Raw, you could make the case this latest Strowman dominant streak indicates that Strowman, and not Reigns, will take Lesnar’s place as the next gigantic Raw Universal champion.

Of course, this would require Vince McMahon to let the Roman Empire fall. On this episode of Raw, Reigns mentioned in a backstage segment once again about how the Universal championship should be around his waist and that Lesnar is essentially an illegitimate champion. The Lesnar and Reigns story isn’t over, as much as we all may wish it were, and it can only end with a Reigns victory. After months of struggling since his stunning loss to Lesnar at WrestleMania 34, would it really be logical or realistic for McMahon to finally put the title on Reigns only to drop it to Strowman soon after?

No, Reigns is still the long-term guy for this company, and Lesnar dropping the belt to the Big Dog is still the long-term plan for this show. Strowman is talented and deserving and more than ready to get a Universal title run, but this month of dominance that ended with his strongest showing yet -- defeating Balor, Owens and Roode in a Fatal 4-Way match to close Monday’s show -- is once again giving fans false hope.

It’s still the Big Dog’s yard.

***

What happened in that Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey promo?

Nia Jax is not a good actor. This is not news, sure, but this was the go-home show leading up to the biggest match of her wrestling career. Her delivery was off, her character continues to be all over the place, and, man, I am really not excited for this match.

Although, Jax tapping out to a vicious Rousey armbar may indicate she may not be walking out of Money in the Bank after all.

The Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and Bobby Roode segments were refreshing

One of the most frustrating things about the current WWE product is how much it feels like the show is created for the company’s YouTube page. On this episode, we were treated with the brilliant and cerebral Kevin Owens trying to work his magic backstage prior to his main event match later that night to take out Strowman prior to Money in the Bank for obvious reasons: Strowman cannot be stopped. He lost. Balor lost. Roode lost. Owens is the best kind of heel in professional wrestling because what he’s saying is both piercing always containing at least a kernel of truth. It would be foolish for Balor and Roode to not follow Owens’ lead.

And he was right.

Elias vs. Rollins feels like a 2020 WWE Raw Universal title program, right?

If Elias isn’t “there” yet he is awfully close to getting off that exit. It’s not 2017 Strowman levels, but the “Walk With Elias” chants are more resounding than the “Get These Hands” chants these days. Fans obviously want to like the Drifter, but the company isn’t ready to start the babyface turn. Instead, they’re pitting him against the second-best babyface on Raw in Rollins.

This segment was exactly what you wanted days before a PPV. Not only is it unclear which wrestler is winning on Sunday, it’s evident that the Chicago crowd will be hot for this one. I’m thinking Sunday is a big night for the next potential breakout star in the company. My property on Elias Island isn’t for sale. Sorry.

Lifted from the Legal Pad:

  • Curt Hawkins got a complete entrance! In 2018! On Raw!

  • “Finn had to the win” from Coach hit me to my core. Poor, Balor.

  • Rousey’s UFC monologue hit hard. The “born ready” material got fans back into this segment. Rousey is good, folks.

  • Last week, Bayley had herself a J.R. Smith Game 1 In The Finals moment. This week, she got scarlet letter’d. Brutal.

  • I still can’t believe we’re getting Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal this Sunday. What a treat!

  • B-Team vs. Deleters Of Worlds officially has potential, but the former has to be treated like legitimate threats and they probably have to win.

  • “No, Jinder is an idiot,” may have been Reigns’ best mic work in years.

  • “Here comes the Big Dog” from Michael Cole is still the worst thing in professional wrestling. (Outside of Mahal’s presence, of course.)

  • Shoutout to extending a literal olive branch to a potential friend. Owens is a sweetheart.

  • Is the new Baron Corbin just Corporate Kane? That’s it, right?

  • That Fatal 4-Way opener was insane. What stood out? The number of blows from Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon and Natalya that hit made the match, from Moon’s suicide dive, to Bliss’s punches, to Natalya’s clotheslines. Everybody looked good here.