Let’s talk about a few things we the fans in the WWE Universe have learned from watching this past Monday’s episode of Monday Night Raw on the USA Network. Legends can make a positive if not meaningful difference for your brand. Allow me to elaborate on what I mean with regards to that statement. It depends on what legend and how they are used in a creative capacity and also how effective certain Hall of Famers can be utilized for WWE to gain a big advantage when recapturing their audience. As a viewer personally I’ve not been overjoyed by what I’ve witnessed on TV over the past couple of months considering Raw is supposed to be the flagship franchise for the company, I digress though.
By positioning a Hall of Famer who 9 to 10 years ago had to retire due to a severe injury and who wrestling fans thought it impossible that we would ever see this man even be able to step inside a ring again, well, guess what the unthinkable had happened and the sports-entertainment masses rejoiced when Edge made his WWE Return at the Men’s Royal Rumble last year in 2020. This past Sunday in the 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble match Edge ended up winning the whole thing.
WWE has built superstars that possess unlimited talent and potential, they all continue to grow and come into their own individually. However, by capitalizing on having one of their biggest stars make a historic return the story wrote itself due to already having reality based facts to help elevate the storyline farther. Now, who will Edge choose to face at WrestleMania?
Edge interrupts Drew McIntyre
The opening segment opened up with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, who not only had slayed the beast Brock Lesnar, but now he’s conquered a Hall of Famer in Goldberg at Royal Rumble. Drew was cutting a good promo where he used his time to reflect on the road to WrestleMania only to be interrupted by Edge. “The Rated R Superstar” showed respect to Drew but he took issue with the Scottish Warrior in how McIntyre’s not considering Edge a serious threat. Goldberg was a big part of why it was necessary to have Edge win the Rumble this year because eventually he will challenge McIntyre for the title. I don’t know when or where, but it will happen.
WWE wants to show confidence in their Champion by making him look stronger and stronger and we might ask ourselves the question of how do they do just that. Here’s a theory I have. They’d get McIntyre to successfully defend against big stars on your current roster and with Goldberg, Drew gets that Hall of Fame, legendary rub and like it or not it works. Imagine that same scenario when you’re talking Edge vs. McIntyre for the WWE Championship at Mania.
Sheamus Betrays Drew McIntyre
I feel Sheamus is a guy who’s been there and done that and is just in need of the right opponent. Well, who better than his close, personal friend Drew McIntyre and it creates an issue on television that we as fans can buy their friendship as real. WWE kept building to this match between Sheamus and McIntyre for the WWE Championship and in my opinion it’s a match that I want to see. Let’s be real, Drew also needs a strong heel opponent and case in point Sheamus had to turn on Drew, we were just anticipating, waiting for the moment when the Celtic Warrior would betray his best friend. Raw seemed like the right place and time, well easy for me to say after the fact, right?
Riddle def. United States Champion Bobby Lashley by DQ
After witnessing Riddle get the better of the Hurt Business over the past few weeks, the almighty Bobby Lashley finally got his revenge on The Original Bro. on this week’s episode of Raw. But Riddle still won the match. For me it’s not always about wins and losses, it’s how you finish and Lashley applied his Full Nelson titled The Hurt Lock on Riddle while Riddle was still on the apron and Lashley was not letting go. In the post match segment Lashley put Riddle in the Full Nelson again throwing him over the barricade.
I can get behind this concept because Lashley is a monster and he needs to be treated as such. Let the CEO of The Hurt Business loose on his opponents. Riddle has gone over however still let your big heel get an advantage on him.
Xavier Woods def. Mustafa Ali
These two had good chemistry in the ring wrestling each other. Retribution will have to eventually get some more victories in their win column to make this group continue to look impressive and having Ali lose is hurting any momentum for the faction. Woods was able to pin Ali due to Ali being distracted by Kofi Kingston taking out both T-Bar and Slapjack. Overall not a bad match though.
Damien Priest def. The Miz
Why Damien Priest will flourish on the main roster? He’s the complete package from the way he carries himself, with a great gimmick and not to mention Priest has an unorthodox style combining his real life martial arts background. The guy has such a swagger about him. Here is how I see it, he will be one of the few NXT stars that can make a transition between brands actually work and do it well. Credit to The Miz helping get Priest over on his debut. Say what you want about Bad Bunny, it gave Priest a crossover type of rub to make his debut feel that much more special. John Morrison also was a huge part of that too.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin def. The Lucha House Party
Now talk about a stark contrast in styles! I’ll be honest, I liked it and you know what it was fun and entertaining. The Lucha House Party does a lot of creative and innovative moves. Cedric Alexander’s style worked with those guys. Shelton Benjamin is one of the all time greats he can do it all and he’s so smooth inside the ring. If you’ve been watching Raw they’ve teased dissension among the Tag Team Champions with Alexander tagging himself in and getting the pins, but not this time. Benjamin is the one who tags himself in and gets the pin for the win. A very good match I felt.
Triple Threat Tag Team Match
Naomi & Lana earn a Title Shot
I’m happy with the results, Lana and Naomi make a good team. Charlotte & Asuka we know how great they are. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke work for me and yes you’ll say based on looks, but it’s their talent and they both have similar stories which makes sense to pair these two ladies together. The match was a positive for me coming from an aspect of why certain women who were competing in the match that needed veterans to help establish them even more. Asuka, Charlotte, Naomi, were crucial in helping get Lana established as a threat and it did not hurt Dana and Mandy or Charlotte and Asuka themselves because they don’t need it as much due to who they are and what they’ve accomplished so far.
Jeff Hardy & Carlito def. Jaxson Ryker & Elias
We saw a continuation of the Jeff Hardy and Elias feud. I found it to be good as well. I’m so happy to see Carlito back even if we’re only seeing him for a limited time. He not only looks in great shape, the guy can still go. Ryker has an opportunity to really shine and we fans get to watch it unfold. I’ll admit Elias is improving as an in-ring worker and Ryker with Elias to me are only helping each other. So, that’s a good thing. Another solid match.
Alexa Bliss def. Nikki Cross
I felt bad for Nikki, but I was happy for Alexis at the same time. We revisited a battle between two former friends now turned rivals. Nikki got some offense on Bliss, but unfortunately for her Bliss had to go over due to wanting to keep her looking strong and having Alexa aligned with Bray Wyatt The Fiend which made it all make sense. Bliss is such a strong character for WWE right now and with Wyatt/Fiend gone currently, she can still provide a story for that vacant void because back at December’s TLC PPV last year in 2020, The Fiend was burned alive by Randy Orton. I get why Bliss had to play mind games with Cross changing back to her character before joining The Fiend so she could get inside Nikki’s head. Can we just say Alexa adding a variation a twist of some kind to her version of The Sister Abigail was incredible, made it her own for sure.
Main Event Edge def. Randy Orton
Another fun match, anytime we get an opportunity to watch a Edge vs. Randy Orton match greatly improves any wrestling show. Largely that is credited to great storytelling both in and outside of the ring and given their shared past history together and that’s an awesome formula for a tremendous matchup between two veteran guys. One who’s already a Hall of Famer against one who will soon be a Hall of Famer himself one day.
These guys are so amazing at not just selling with their bodies, but also selling with their eyes, their faces, and overall body language and demeanor. All of that is so very special to me as a fan so I appreciate those subtle nuances which add so much detail and pain to the full picture. You’re watching two great artists at work here with what they can do whether it’s inside the ring and outside the ring as well. In the end thanks to a haunting appearance by Alexa Bliss who out of nowhere is sitting on the top rope and then a weird yet strange black substance starts oozing from her mouth – what a frightening image of horror that would distract Randy Orton and allow Edge to spear The Viper and Edge would pin Orton for the victory.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve been very critical of Raw, but regardless of that, let me go on record by stating that this particular episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was very good.
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