WWE Monday Night Raw: Sasha Banks, Well, Yikes

WWE Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch needed a fresh face to pummel. Since her victory over Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania a few months back, she has found herself working with talent who are, to say the least, not at the level of Flair and Rousey. It was inevitable, and not Lynch’s fault for her rocky summer of work. The company liked Lacey Evans and pitting her against The Man as a way to immediately garner interest in the latter’s character wasn’t the craziest idea Vince McMahon has ever come up with. The pairing with real-life boyfriend WWE Universal champion Seth Rollins became the worst part of Monday Night Raw for a few weeks, and, well, can you remember what else Lynch has done since Rousey disappeared? No? I don’t blame you. Because of the lack of interesting storyline developments with Lynch post-WrestleMania, the opportunity was right there for Sasha Banks to step-in and take it.

Banks has done no such thing.

We can go back through Banks’ brutal interview with Michael Cole last week, or we can pretend that it never happened, and Banks could improve. This week, the Legit Boss opened the show, slowed down her delivery even more and contradicted herself throughout the entirety of her promo. At one point, Banks admitted to crying on the floor after losing the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania earlier this year. In the same promo, Banks explained that she never cared about those tag-team titles? What? Why would you take your ball and go home after losing a championship you didn’t care about to begin with? How is this logical? How did any of this promo help build to Lynch vs. Banks at the next pay-per-view?

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It just didn’t work. It doesn’t help that before we get a full-on Banks vs. Lynch feud, the company felt the need to give us an unnecessary appetizer in Banks vs. Natalya. Maybe if Rousey were around and made the save last week rather than Lynch we look at this feud differently, but Rousey is not around. Did you really need to put Banks over Natalya before going into Banks vs. Lynch? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have Banks’ return be built around her jealousy over Lynch stealing what she thought was her moment at WrestleMania 35? Why did she need Natalya to say “Hi” to her late father in Hell? Natalya’s role in the Banks’ return is kind of like when the filmmakers behind Spider-Man 3 added Sandman into the mix when you already had Venom. You didn’t need both, just do Spidey vs. Venom; just do Banks vs. Lynch.

Still, a lot of this falls on Banks, whose slow delivery and questionable promo content has already doomed her return to the WWE. We all know she can wrestle, but if you want to be the kind of big deal like Lynch, you have to be able to cut a promo like Lynch did last week on Raw. Banks has had two opportunities, and she bombed. You could make the case that it’s not her fault that the content of her promo the last two weeks have been atrocious, that it’s the creative team’s fault, but then how do you explain the delivery? How do you explain the lack of charisma? Nothing about this return has hit the right notes and that’s a shame. Lynch needed fresh blood, and Banks was the perfect roster member to feud with coming off the Evans debacle. Lynch is at her best when she works with the best -- see, Rousey, Ronda. Banks had that chance to be the next memorable, most-important feud on the A show this fall and instead of taking her ball and going home, this time, she just dropped the ball.

Here are three other thoughts I had from this week’s episode:

  1. Placing back-to-back King of The Ring tournament matches to start the show didn’t turn out like I had expected. Sure, the pacing of the rest of this show was weird, but it seemed unfair to do Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre, an absolute banger of a match, only to put The Miz and Baron Corbin out there almost immediately after. The crowd shouldn’t have been as invested and hot as they were for Corbin and Miz, but I’m glad that was case and I’m glad that the visual of King Corbin worked as well as it did. No, I don’t think Corbin should win the tournament, but if the company wants to go the comedy route with the kingship, Corbin is the best choice. You could see his King Corbin shenanigans being so over-the-top and ridiculous it eventually turns him into a babyface down the road, right? Anyway, Ricochet and McIntyre worked the same kind of match Roman Reigns vs. Dolph Ziggler worked last week, only Ricochet actually beat the former Chosen One, clean, in the center of the ring. Building McIntyre back up as a credible threat is easy, but I found it important for Ricochet to get the win here after losing his feud to AJ Styles and avoiding falling into that Ziggler Zone of selling well for everybody, but never winning the big matches. 

  2. Speaking of Ziggler, I don’t hate the pairing of him and Robert Roode. The Glorious One, at this point in his career, probably needs to reside in tag-team purgatory, but the best part of Roode’s professional wrestling career was in Beer Money in TNA and the best part of Ziggler’s last year or so of work was with McIntyre. The problem? This show didn’t lead with their explanation as to why they were teaming up. We got that after they pinned Heavy Machinery to become No. 1 contenders to Rollins and Braun Strowman’s Raw Tag Team Titles. There is a way to make this work because both of these guys can go and both of these guys work well in a tag-team setting. Can we get a team name, though? A real entrance, not a mishmash of their respective themes? There are possibilities here, but this is Ziggler and Roode and who am I kidding?

  3. I don’t miss on-screen authority figures most weeks, but I did miss having one this week. The OC, in a backstage promo, made some good points in regards to how Rollins and Strowman were just gifted title shots and why they’re having to compete in a tag-team turmoil match to get a rematch against the champs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson did what Banks could not this week -- make sense. So when the United State champ AJ Styles had to defend his title in the main event against Strowman it added more fueld to the fire of “Which WWE authority figure really hates The OC” conundrum. The OC deserves answers, but from whom? It’s a weird position to be in because you have Shane McMahon popping in and out of Smackdown Live, but Raw may actually have the laptop in charge again. Thankfully, Styles didn’t drop his title and the OC got to keep some of their gold for another week. 

Lifted from the Legal Pad:

  • Strowman matches are bad for everybody except Strowman. See the latest, Styles, AJ.

  • Styles pulling an Eddie was really great. He’s such a damn good heel.

  • Robert Roode Heel Charisma Alert!

  • Why didn’t Becky make the save after Natalya got brutalized by Banks again? Bad friend!

  • “Everyone’s favorite reality show” - Michael Cole on Total Divas.

  • OC and Viking Raiders getting themselves DQ’d, was, erm, dumb.

  • End Of Days into a DDT was good!

  • Miz’s punches are not good.

  • “I want it all!” - The Miz, in a yeesh pre-match promo.

  • Speaking of, 13 years for Miz in WWE. Seems insane.

  • Corey Graves Fit.

  • Are we sure Rollins can have a good backstage segment?

  • McIntyre carrying Ricochet only for Ricochet to try it later was great.

  • Natalya forgetting to sell her injured arm off-and-on was amusing.