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Monday Night RAW in Detroit: A Challenge, A Suspension & A One Man Tag Team

Only four weeks until Wrestlemania! This is usually when most of the story lines for Wrestlemania become clear, there are still some matches that are up in the air, let’s see what this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw bring to us.

Kurt Angle comes out to talk about his match at Wrestlemania and how Brock Lesnar isn’t here tonight. Roman comes out to do another promo where he calls our Brock Lesnar for being a part-timer. These promos have gotten old very fast. At one point he calls out Brock for being “Vince’s Boy,” which is especially weird when Roman is definitely “Vince’s Boy.” Roman then calls out Vince McMahon for not holding Brock accountable. Roman then goes backstage to confront Vince and Vince tells production to cut to commercial.

After commercial Roman storms out of Vince’s office, Vince cuts a long promo about Brock Lesnar and how he’s earned everything he’s got. At the end of the promo we are told by Vince that Roman has been temporarily suspended, which gets a nice reaction from the crowd..

First match of the night is Sasha Banks accompanied by Bayley vs. Sonya Deville accompanied Absolution. The match was mediocre, it featured multiple submission moves by Deville. Mandy Rose tried to interfere ringside but Bayley stops Rose. Sasha gets the backbreaker on Rose into the bank statement for the submission. After the match Bayley walks out as Absolution gets the beat down on Sasha. I’m not sure if this recent spat between Bayley and Sasha means a match for them at Wrestlemania, it would be interesting to see them face each other since Bayley hasn’t had any big time feature matches lately.

Next is Miz TV with guests Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. The Miz carries this segment to tries and convince Finn and Seth individually that their Triple Threat at Wrestlemania for the IC title should just be a singles match, which is an odd thing to try and trick somebody into in front of them. Finn suggests that they should do their Triple Threat match tonight and not wait for Wrestlemania.

Rollins then turns on both the Miz and Balor and takes them both out. This segment was overly lengthy and nothing much came of it. It feels like WWE is just trying to do a slow build to Wrestlemania for some of these matches, considering there isn’t much there for the triple threat featuring these three. All that came of this segment was that a match between Balor and Rollins was set up.

Next up is The Bar vs. The Miztourage, The Miztourage attacks before the match even starts. A brawl ensues between the tag teams; The Revival comes out and goes after The Bar. Next Gallows and Anderson, Titus Worldwide, and Heath Slater and Rhyno come out and attack The Bar. Cesaro and Sheamus escape as they look shaken from the all-out assault on them.

John Cena comes out next, claiming he will not have a match at Wrestlemania. He says he will be going to Wrestlemania, but only as a fan, not as a wrestler. He does an interesting bit where he goes into the stands, hugs a fan, and takes a drink of his beer. He then starts a “This is awesome chant” and goads the crowd into a “Cena sucks” chant. It’s a great promo, where Cena really embraces this fourth wall breaking he’s been doing lately.

Then, things get interesting, John Cena goes into a work-shoot promo where he calls out the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Again, it’s a great promo, he basically claims that the only thing stopping this match from happening is the Undertaker. So, John Cena is either going to Wrestlemania as a fan, or as a competitor challenging the Undertaker. It’s hard not to appreciate how good John Cena can be with a seven minute promo of just him talking and interacting with the audience, he truly is a master artist at cutting these kinds of promos.

Out of the commercial, Kurt Angle tells The Bar that there will be a tag team battle royale tonight to determine who their Wrestlemania opponent will be. Afterwards Elias is introduced, he’s wearing a neck brace after being destroyed by Braun Strowman last week. Elias blames the crowd for his plight, he puts down his guitar and walks out of the ring. We see Braun backstage saying that he will carve his own path of destruction to get to Wrestlemania. As a quick side note: these word graphics that are being used with these promos are too much. It’s as if someone at WWE learned how to use word graphics on live TV and is trying to prove this isn’t the worst idea ever.

Next match is Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins. Finn dominates for most of the match throwing Seth around the ring and eventually outside the ring, delivering a drive-by kick on the apron. Finn and Seth beginning trading blows back and forth, the match becomes incredibly physical as sling blades and kicks are exchanged. Finn and Seth both get air off the ropes in what is a grueling match between the two. Rollins gets a superplex on Balor, Rollin tries to go into the falcon arrow but Balor counters and rolls onto Rollins for the pin. A great match by two transcendent competitors, their match with the Miz at Wrestlemania is sure to be excellent!

Asuka comes out next to explain why she chose Charlotte for her Wrestlemania opponent. Alexa Bliss, accompanied by Mickie James, comes in to interrupt Asuka. Alexa says she can explain why Asuka made her choice, and it’s because Asuka is too smart to step into the ring with Alexa. Asuka tells Alexa that “to be the woman she’s got to beat the woman” (OOOOOHHHH!!!!!) and that she wants to beat the best woman in WWE, it’s a great moment that was my favorite moment of the episode so far, short and sweet. This is probably the best way to use Asuka, short rebuttals with large impactful statements. Alexa is a good foil for Asuka as she’s able to shoot good promos and allow Asuka to make her look foolish with her quick moves and come backs.

Mickie James then attacks Asuka and a match between them begins. Asuka dominates early in the match but outside the ring Asuka goes to kick Mickie but hits the ring post and injures her leg. Asuka manages to stave off multiple pin attempts by Mickie, gets in the Asuka lock, and Mickie taps out. Backstage Alexa and Nia Jax make up and renew their friendship declaring each other best friends. After the commercial Nia Jax comes out to squash newcomer for the night, Joan King.

After the match the audience, the crowd, and Nia see Alexa and Mickie backstage on camera. They are waiting for a backstage interview, however little do they know the camera and boom mic are both on. Mickie and Alexa are making fun of Nia, and Alexa confesses that she’s been using Nia. Alexa and Mickie are tearing into Nia. The two girls are doing the “Mean Girls” routine and just ripping apart Nia with meaningless insults. Nia looks genuinely hurt which really helps make the segment feel impactful. Alexa is then informed that she was on camera and the mics backstage where, in fact, on. Nia runs backstage and starts destroying the dressing room. I look forward to eventual beat down Nia will put on Alexa and Mickie, it will make this lengthy build up worth it.

Next we get a promo with Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. My interest in this feud has been waning for weeks and it’s finally come to a head: I just don’t care anymore. This bit is stuck somewhere between macabre and comedy and it can’t find the right notes. The match at the Hardy estate, Bray’s intensity, none of it matches up, it feels very flat.

As the commercial ends the Tag Team Battle Royale is set to go. As the match is about to begin Braun Strowman comes out to participate in the match. The match begins and Strowman takes out Apollo Crews. The remainder of the wrestlers tries to take out Strowman, The Revival break ranks and takes out Rhyno. Strowman shakes off everyone and the remaining competitors flee the ring under the ropes to not be disqualified. Much of the match then starts to unfold outside the ring, as the other competitors start banging the stairs into Strowman. Strowman gets back into the ring as he eliminates more competitors. Karl Anderson is the only one left against Strowman as Anderson lands multiple kicks on him. However, Braun is too much as he throws Karl Anderson over the ropes and wins the rumble!

Overall, this was a pretty good episode of RAW, the Roman Reigns promo was one of his better ones, Cena was great, the Jax/Bliss feud looks good, and most important of all, and Braun Strowman could be competing for the Raw Tag Team Titles! I’m excited to see how these story lines play out, it is going to be a fun few weeks leading up to Wrestlemania!

DJ Chapman
DJ Chapman
DJ also enjoys tabletop board games, role playing games of any kind, and being right. He is a die-hard Dolphins, Devils, and Yankees fan, screw the Knicks.

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