With WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar sitting at home watching the Minnesota Twins try and turn around what has been a disastrous 2018 season, Roman Reigns, being the company man that he is, is now having to pull double-duty on Monday Night Raw.
Reigns, who kicked off Monday night’s episode, really enjoys calling Bobby Lashley something far easier -- “Bob.” Reigns, like Sami Zayn before him, is no fan of the former ECW legend. With Lesnar away, Reigns and Lashley believe they are The Guy on the A Show. There is just too much testosterone in play for the former world champions to get along. This feud -- if you can really call it that -- feels off. Not in the way Zayn and Lashley felt off -- as that was just bad and unfortunate and should get its own episode on How Did This Get Made? -- no, this feels like a feud that would make sense if you replaced Reigns with the Universal champion Brock Lesnar. Reigns versus Lashley feels as though Vince pitched this feud to Lesnar first as the big feud of the summer, the Beast passed, and Reigns was booked to feud with Lashley in his place not over the Universal title, no, something far more riveting -- pride.
Reigns’ other feud, however, couldn’t be more compelling. In Reigns’ opening promo, Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler and His Diesel Drew McIntyre interrupted the Big Dog before he could utter “Bob” for the fourteenth time to remind Reigns that the latter is incorrect in his assertion that this was his yard, when, in fact, it was the former’s ring. The dangerous duo jumped Reigns, Seth Freaking Rollins made the save, and, after pressing Raw general manager Kurt Angle for a few seconds backstage, were awarded an opportunity at wrestling Ziggler and McIntyre later on in the evening.
The tag-team match, after a rough first hour that included Curtis Axel and Woken Matt Hardy wrestling at a pace that even the tortoise found that he was bored with the in-ring action and a cringe-inducing visit to Dr. Shelby’s office for Bayley and Sasha Banks, was perfect. The storytelling, which began with Ziggler and Rollins showcasing just how good these two are at this whole pro wrestling thing and the perfect preview of what’s to come in their 30-minute Iron Man match at Extreme Rules in two weeks for the IC title, was off the charts, highlighted, perhaps, by the stare down between McIntyre and Reigns.
Reigns and McIntyre present an intriguing dynamic; Reigns is Vince McMahon’s golden goose, for now, but it’s easy to forget that McIntyre was McMahon’s original “Chosen One” years and years ago on Smackdown. Looking at them both, you can tell there is something there. We know McMahon wants to see more of his wrestlers go after that metaphorical brass ring; we know that McIntyre changed his body, improved his mic work, and improved his in-ring work in an effort to do just that. Every time you see McIntyre in the ring, he stands out. The man is a scene-stealer, similar to Braun Strowman, but he actually has the look and in-ring ability to go with it. As we learned on this episode of Raw, Reigns is a prideful professional wrestler who is insecure about anyone who dares to step foot in his yard. With McIntyre, not Lashley, Reigns has a reason to see McIntyre as a very real threat to replace him as Vince’s next long-term project. McIntyre is the real deal, and Reigns should be concerned. There is something there between these two, and, perhaps, something that should be explored this fall over the Universal title once Reigns closes SummerSlam with his arm raised high after finally putting down the Beast.
Kevin Owens is doing what he can for Braun Strowman.
Outside of Reigns’ double-duty, the other major storyline on Monday Night Raw right now is Braun Strowman spending back-to-back summers trying to murder another professional wrestler. Last year, it was Reigns, and as we know, it didn’t end well for the Monster Among Men. (No, I will not use the new nickname, “Monster In The Bank”, as said nickname is not good and Michael Cole would be wise to stop force-feeding it down the viewers’ throats.) In this iteration of Strowman Really Wants To Kill An Important Wrestler On Raw, he is likely to succeed. Not succeed in murdering Owens, obviously, but rather, succeed in his feud with the best talker on Monday Night Raw. I suppose that’s progress.
We know that the WWE isn’t reaching out to the Bill Burr’s or Tom Segura’s of the world for advice on how to write comedy for their television programs, but sometimes they accidentally stumble onto something that works -- Kevin Owens and Braun Strowman fall into that category. Whether it was Owens ever so slowly backing into a non-existent parking spot before Monday night’s show, his bewilderment after Angle put him in a match with Strowman, and his slimeball decision to immediately run for the hillside thirty seconds into their main event match.
Yes, Owens hiding in the Porta Potty rather than calling an Uber or getting his Forrest Gump on and just running wasn’t the most cerebral decision the Quebecian has ever made, but the crowd ate it up, and this episode they were loudly chanting Owens’ location so that Strowman could do more cool shit with heavy shit. This feud is a simple one, but Owens is playing his role as the cowardly heel perfectly and it’s giving Strowman something positive to do while he remains on the outside looking in on the Universal title picture.
The Authors Of Pain and The Revival had very good weeks.
The Raw tag-team division is in shambles. That is completely unacceptable when you consider just how many tag-teams occupy space on the red brand outside of AOP and The Revival. Heath Slater and Rhyno haven’t been a hot act in two years; The Ascension can only be seen on Main Event whenever that airs; Ziggler and McIntyre are above the belts; the Fashion Police have been sporadically appearing on NXT live events; Titus Worldwide only wins matches in random WWE Universe Mode matches. Burn it all down.
Except for AOP and The Revival. They’ve always been the exception, but for a multitude of reasons, they’ve yet to find their footing on Raw. That is no longer the case, as AOP have their old NXT titantrons back and look as though they’re next in line to face the Deleters of Worlds in a big SummerSlam title match. The Revival, on the other hand, have taken control of their future on Raw by going after Reigns and Rollins in a smart effort to generate real, lasting heat. The more The Revival interfere and are able to deliver their eye-popping tag-team finisher, the Shatter Machine, the better their chances are of breaking through. They’ve always had it, now they’re taking it.
Lifted from the Legal Pad:
I really like that Raw is starting each show with an “ICYMI” promo to prepare viewers what’s in store on that night’s show and what really matters for the next month.
“I want to fight Bob.”
What makes this Ziggler and McIntyre pairing work so well is just how genuine they come off. It’s not a stretch to believe these two are hungry to finally break through after years of floundering.
Bo Dallas does a great Bray Wyatt impersonation. I wonder if they’re friends?
I don’t think fans know who to cheer for in the B-Team vs. Deleters of Worlds feud.
“Let’s go Hardy!” chant was the night’s biggest shocker.
Not even Dr. Shelby can save Bayley and Sasha Banks from Worst Feud of the Year for 2018.
“How’d it go with Bob?” - Seth Rollins.
Who backs into parking spots behinds heels like Kevin Owens?
Elias needs something to do. Feud with Dean Ambrose once he’s cleared?
Ember Moon may have killed Liv Morgan with that Eclipse. Morgan can sell.
I may be warming up to Heel Mojo Rawley. Send help.
Mickie James vs. Nia Jax happened at least 13 times before WrestleMania 34 this year.
No more Nia Jax promos. What’s worse than nails on a chalkboard?
This was the best Roman Week in 2018.