WWE.com is hyping the following story line points for tonight’s show:
-Will Dolph Ziggler instigate himself into another all-or-nothing match?
-Expect the Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch rivalry to kick into gear in a big way
-How will Lana and Team BAD make their presence known?
-Who will enter in the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal?
-Will The Authority settle their Roman Reigns problem in the ring or with a mountain of litigation?
Let me answer these questions for you quickly: no, why not, a little, nobodies, and in the ring.
The card is more or less complete, so expect this Raw (which is not the last one before Wrestlemania) to be a detail-filler.
Brandon Howard Thurston:
After collecting the TV ratings from sources like Pro Wrestling Torch and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which get Live+SD ratings (viewership that occurs on the day the program airs) from Nielsen, it’s clear there is a discrepancy between Live+SD ratings and the ratings that WWE reports.
I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
Tonight’s raw is in Edmonton, so it should be a good one for straight wrestling, but I wouldn’t expect too much plot to develop. WWE.com doesn’t even have a preview up for the episode. Night of Champions isn’t for a month (it feels like they’re beginning to separate them farther apart this year) so expect some wheel-spinning in the character department.
I have a feeling we’ll see some fantastic matches, though. WWE has a history of delivering on mat quality when they’re in Alberta.
WWE Monday Night Raw Review by Ryan McGee of the AV Club
Tonight’s RAW picked up on all of these threads but picked them up ever so slightly. In fact, things didn’t really progress so much as get increasingly muddled. That slow pace makes sense but only in realizing this will be a long story that will be teased out over the course of months, not weeks. Those looking for definitive answers to last night’s final moments would have been disappointed. Sometimes, a post-PPV RAW can signal a seismic change in the narrative landscape, clearing up a major mystery in order to power ahead with a new storyline. Ones like tonight’s edition simply lay the groundwork for a long grind.
Astute. And yet:
What all this seems to be leading toward is a battle for the generational soul of the company: those that long for the days of D-Generation X and those that want to see new blood take over the main events.
I don’t think that’s at all where this is headed. WWE knows better than to do a new blood vs millionaires club story.
Just as the finale to Summerslam cracked open a fresh can of plot, last night’s Raw felt incredibly restrained in delivering on details. “Someone” texted Kevin Nash to attack the winner of the WWE Championship match. Stephanie McMahon was cryptic in her wooden style. John Lauranitis has something important to talk about with Nash. HHH promises he had nothing to do with it.
That’s a lot of maybe’s and what-ifs, but what’s interesting is that none of it has to do with the WWE Championship anymore. Alberto Del Rio rode in on one of the prettiest chariots around and bragged like a damn villain champion should. Of course, it might all be connected with some simple math. Alberto Del Rio has many giant piles of money. Kevin Nash has always liked giant piles of money. And that’s a fine explanation, if they choose to go with it.
“Hey, Alberto, what do you feel like doing today? I feel like beating Rey Mysterio.” Golden.
This brings us to Cena, who held possibly the loosest grasp on logic out of everyone. His threat was senseless, and his motives totally Hogan-esque. It’s this side of Cena we have every reason to dislike: the guy who will happily step over a more qualified contender in Mysterio to grab yet another title match.
WWE Monday Night Raw covered by The Onion
Wrestling isn’t on the rebound. Nope.
Myles McNutt of the Onion covers Raw in much the same way a typical Raw reviewer would, with insider jargon (which obviously isn’t so insider) and a somewhat jaded take (he mentions not really watching wrestling for several years, which sounds about right). McNutt’s has some great insights, though, such as this important comment on the idea of trajectory:
However, its simplicity reveals how nearly every match or angle in an episode of Raw functions. As someone who hasn’t been following wrestling recently, I was given every piece of information necessary to understand the current event and its future trajectory. It wasn’t exactly entertaining, but it was unquestionably functional, which encourages the audience to anticipate the feud’s future. It’s a strategy on display throughout the episode.
He also touches on an argument I’ve been making for a while, that watching Wrestling all the time can lead to madness:
I can’t imagine, as a television critic, reviewing this show every week: the sameness would become overwhelming, and the terrible writing…would be a cause for ridicule that would be rehashed each and every week.
In Stray Observations, McNutt communicates what many feel is a strange build-up to Wrestlemania:
Switching into pure wrestling mode for a moment, the buildup for Wrestlemania seems extremely bizarre to me. You’ve got two ostensible faces (Triple H and The Undertaker) in one marquee match, while you have a more traditional pairing in Cena and The Miz which is being completely messed with by the presence of The Rock. The idea of Rock feuding with both Miz and Cena simultaneously is interesting, but in practice, it just means that any storylines involving just Miz and Cena seem to pale in comparison to those that involve The Rock more directly. The matches could be interesting, but there is definitely a lack of clarity in both storylines.
I think the lack of clarity comes from the fact that we have over a month until the show. Go back to February of 2000: Wrestlemania 16 made absolutely no sense. There will be plenty of clarity (and, I’m sure, confusing twists) on the road.