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Monday Night Raw Rants: The Club Reunites Edition

The Nerd Hub celebrates as The Club reunites this week with our WWE Monday Night Raw rants. We also celebrate the return of anything substantial actually happening on the show for the first time in weeks. Sure, Ricochet held off another challenge from AJ Styles in a repeat main event from last week. However, the big news emanating from American Airlines Center in Dallas involved Big Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and Styles turning heel together.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: AJ TURNS HEEL, REUNITES THE CLUB

WWE threw all kinds of swerves at us in the United States Championship title match main event. First, Styles appeared to have won the belt in the early going. He socked Ricochet with the Phenomenal Forearm and pinned his shoulders for the three count. However, replay and official John Cone informed the other referee that the champ got his foot under the rope. Therefore, the title change got negated and the two wrestled on.

What ensued became a seesaw affair between Ricochet and Styles. Ultimately, Ricochet came out on top as the athleticism of both took center stage during the match.

Enter The Club.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came to ringside, where they gave mock applause to the defending champ. Styles positioned himself in between his old running buddies and The One and Only, seemingly in a protective stance. However, Styles then suckerpunched Ricochet out of nowhere and announced his heel turn. Gallows and Anderson joined in for good, old-fashioned beatdown from The Club.

Don’t look now, but perhaps WWE may actually book guys we like being heel to challenge their babyfaces. You know, NOT Shane McMahon. The Club can band together and put fear into Universal Champ Seth Rollins, WWE Champ Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns, Ricochet or Intercontinental Champ Finn Balor. Literally, any champion (besides Drake Maverick) WWE chooses to throw these guys up against would create a story likely to engage viewers.

 

BEST OF THE REST: BRAUN STROWMAN DESTROYING THINGS

WWE finally decided to end the weird contests between two of its biggest monsters. It let them do what monsters do at the box office each summer – destroy things. Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley ended the silly thread of arm wrestling and tug of war with a Falls Count Anywhere match.

The Almighty took it to The Monster Among Men a good portion of the match. Lashley whipped Strowman into the ring post before spearing him through the timekeeper’s area. Then, they took the action to the crowd. However, the assault on Braun continued as Bob smacked him liberally with a steel chair.

The babyface monster battled back with a huge running shoulder tackle. Then, he lobbed Bob onto the stage where he commenced to spearing him through a video board. It drew sparks from the board and an expletive from Corey Graves at the announce table. It also got a no-contest result as medics had to tend to both men.

You can tell Paul Heyman runs the show now on Monday Night Raw. This show smacked of Heyman if ever any show smacked of the “Paulrus” as The King calls him. Nobody knows how to cater to our inner big kid with violence and destruction more than Heyman.  The only criticism of this extension of the Strowman-Lashley feud I have is that it came out of left field. These guys went from tugging rope to blowing up sets in a week. However, that’s a huge improvement, so I’m not complaining.

 

BIG WINNER: MIKE & MARIA KANELLIS

When I previewed Stomping Grounds, I posited that WWE’s new contract extensions with Mike and Maria Kanellis likely meant an impending Cruiserweight Championship run. Little did I know, the couple would go from a near total non-factor on TV to a feud with the Universal Champ and Raw Women’s Champ.

Welcome back to the big leagues, Mike and Maria Kanellis. They set up a mixed tag match with Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch backstage. So, those of you cringing at WWE exploiting the relationship between Rollins and Lynch for entertainment purposes likely didn’t enjoy this. However, it certainly created an unexpected and entertaining twist to the storylines of the champs. They’ve both had unending rivalries with Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans lately.

However, the drama just began to unfold at the start of the match. When Becky Lynch tagged into the match, Maria dropped to the floor and grabbed a mic. She began berating her husband, Mike. She also claimed she couldn’t compete due to being pregnant. As Maria continued to lambaste her man, The Man made Mike tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in the ring.

This led Maria to continue her rantings, saying that Becky Lynch represented the only man in the ring. Maria added that she’d ask Becky to impregnate her next time. Mike got left speechless as she walked off.

In addition to the Strowman-Lashley destruction content, this proved to me Heyman took charge this week. He’s stated in the past that Maria represents one of the most creative people with whom he’s ever worked. Apparently, he’s so confident in her abilities he didn’t care too much about pulling them from nowhere into this confrontation. Yet, many people tired of endless Lynch-Lacey Evans and Rollins-Baron Corbin content. So, this gave us something different for a change.

 

BIG LOSER: THE UNDERTAKER

Consider it part of my Shane McMahon fatigue. The Undertaker delivered a promo along with Shane-O-Mac and Drew McIntyre. The Dead Man vowed Shane and the Scottish Psychopath would rest in peace at Extreme Rules. In addition, Undertaker brought up their WrestleMania 32 tussle and claimed “The Best in the World” amounts to nothing but another lost soul among many.

Don’t get me wrong. The Undertaker is what he is at this point. He’s a nostalgia act trotted out to grab attention every now and again. However, this promo represents a cut-and-paste of any Undertaker promo you’ve seen for decades. It gets the job done, but it’s hardly unexpected or exciting.

 

HIGH FIVE

Street Profits – The NXT Tag Team Champs appeared on Raw in a meeting with Heyman. As always, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins gave an energetic hype job of their impending main roster debut. These guys bring an electricity and energy to matches in a way that’s kind of lacking in the tag division right now. They will instantly help either show they appear on.

24/7 Championship Race – Drake Maverick outsmarted R-Truth to win his coveted title back as he also tries to save his storyline marriage. The champ came out as part of No Way Jose’s Conga Line. Truth couldn’t resist rubbing it in while Maverick sat ringside with his wife who told him he’d have to choose between her or the title. However, the 205 Live GM got the last laugh by smashing Truth with a briefcase and pinning him during some of the last moments of Raw.

Carmella – The former SmackDown Women’s Champion rarely gets to wrestle on the Blue Brand these days. However, she successfully defeated SmackDown Women’s title contender Alexa Bliss on Raw. Mella did wind up losing to Nikki Cross in an ensuing match. Yet, the Staten Island Princess had to get excited about being involved in something other than being R-Truth’s sidekick.

The Viking Raiders – Erik and Ivar teamed up with Samoa Joe to hand The New Day a beating. Don’t look now, but the former NXT Champs just keep winning. So, they can  make a big impact on Raw going forward. They just need the time and commitment from the WWE creative team to do it.

Cesaro – The Swiss Cyborg ruthlessly beat WWE sparring dummy No Way Jose to a no contest. The character reboot continues for the former member of The Bar. He’s a no-nonsense, physical villain out to smack the teeth out of any babyface. It’s the type of role he’s perfectly suited to pull off. He could easily work into any feuds involving faces the WWE wants to help get over.

 

LOW FIVE

Lacey Evans/Baron Corbin – The Lady of the WWE needed to play the numbers game to beat Natalya. Yes, the same Natalya who has virtually gone into the WWE Superstar Protection Program since Ronda Rousey jetted. Kudos for getting Evans involved with someone other than Lynch. However, she lacks teeth as a credible championship contender. This booking doesn’t exactly convince anyone she’s got the goods to take down The Man.

The Miz – The A-Lister defeated Elias in a Best-of-3 Falls match. He took advantage of The Walking Truth smashing his knee into the ring post with a decisive Figure Four. However, this feud just represents two guys whose career have stalled recently in the wake of Shane McMahon’s heel push. These guys turned in some of the best content for their shows in 2018. Now, they’re involved in a pedestrian, mid-card beef.

Nikki Cross – The WWE seemed to skip ahead in their to-this-point, well-paced storyline with Cross and Bliss. Carmella calling out just how reliant The Goddess is on Cross and then beating her gave us something fantastic. However, they should’ve cut the show for these three there. Instead, they gave us a rushed match to create doubt as to whether it should be Bliss or Cross facing Bayley at Extreme Rules. Sure, we knew we were headed there. However, this seemed like fast-tracking the story a bit too much.

Bray Wyatt – The Firefly Fun House segments grew to become one of the best things on Raw the past few months. So, we notice when Bray or The Fiend goes silent. Hopefully, this carries no significance in the plans for him.

The Revival/The Usos – Extreme Rules sits only a few weeks away, but the champs and their big rivals provided nothing further. Maybe WWE just wanted to give Street Profits time on the mic by themselves. However, their appearance possibly could’ve hit another level with involvement from either of these teams. In my opinion, even a staring match as they walk past each other could’ve generated some excitement.

 

RELATED: MONDAY NIGHT RAW RANTS: RICOCHET EDITION

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Monday Night Raw Rants: Ricochet Edition

Welcome to The Nerd Hub where we’re ushering in the Ricochet Era as United States Champ. The One and Only picked a doozy of a first match as champ on Monday Night Raw. He took on AJ Styles in the main event of the Stomping Grounds fallout show in Everett, Washington. Without further ado, let’s go to the no-holds barred review of the show.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: RICOCHET-STYLES I WAS PHENOMENAL

AJ Styles looked every bit the Phenomenal One in his return. He took a few minutes in the early stages of the match to get warmed up. However, he and the new US Champion put on a tremendous show. Styles ducked a 630 Splash and then hit a Phenomenal Forearm to win the non-title match. Yet, this properly showcased Ricochet as a breakout Superstar on the rise.

Furthermore, this whet our appetites for when the two work together on a grander stage. WWE can build a program between the two possibly leading up to SummerSlam. In addition, a feud with a babyface champ would work if WWE turns Styles heel and reunites The Club as rumored.

Most importantly, Ricochet received a major upgrade from working the midcard with Cesaro. His victory over Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds for the title served as a surprise. However, that’s only because WWE hadn’t booked him as a serious title threat going into it. He proved in the indies and at NXT that he’s got all of the talent in the world.

 

BEST OF THE REST: USOS WIN TAG TEAM FEATURE MATCH

The Usos teamed up with New Day to battle both heel champion tag teams in an elimination match. Unfortunately for SmackDown Champs Rowan and Daniel Bryan, Raw Champs Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson took exception with them. Wilder got upset at Bryan and decked him with a stiff right. As a result, Xavier Woods rolled up Bryan for the first elimination. However, The Revival quickly evened the odds by hitting Woods with their Shatter Machine.

Once the SmackDown teams got eliminated, we were left with a showdown of Raw’s best teams. Then, Jey Uso scored the deciding blow. He nailed Dawson with a diving splash off Wilder’s back to get the 1-2-3.

The Usos and The Revival deserve all the time they can get with so many of Raw’s  other acts floundering. These teams work well off each other and have delivered each time they take the ring. In addition, the inclusion of SmackDown’s best teams gave the match a unique feel. This segment served as one of the few times the wild card angle helped the show in recent weeks

 

BIG WINNER: 24/7 CHAMPIONSHIP STORYLINE

WWE finally found some semblance of interesting story for its 24/7 Championship. Following weeks of midcarder mobs chasing R-Truth and Carmella, we received an interesting angle with Drake Maverick. The 205 Live General Manager defeated R-Truth for the title and proudly wore it to his storyline wedding over the weekend. However, R-Truth crashed the nuptials and won his title back.

Then, Maverick used an interview segment with R-Truth and Carmella on Miz TV to demand a rematch. So, WWE announced a rare exception to the 24/7 rules and banned the mob from appearing at ringside. Thus, Maverick got a one-on-one shot with R-Truth. However, Truth quickly hit The Equalizer and defeated the dejected Maverick. As a result, Maverick had to watch “the love of his life” – the 24/7 title belt – leave with Truth.

The scene got chaotic from there. The mob rushed the ring after the decision against Maverick became official and chased Truth. This time, the 24/7 title pursuit interrupted a match between Heath Slater and Mojo Rawley. Slater took advantage by rolling up Truth to win the title. However, Truth quickly won the title back. Then, he ate a Lumbar Check from Cedric Alexander, who then became the champion. Yet, the former Cruiserweight Champ got ambushed by EC3, who then became champ. But Truth won the title back when Carmella distracted EC3 by grabbing the belt from him. As a result, Truth rolled up EC3 to become the nine-time 24/7 Champion.

As mentioned previously, I’m not a huge fan of this championship angle. However, WWE hit jackpot with the running thread between goofballs. Truth and Maverick actually could’ve received more time for their match. They certainly keep fans invested with their social media content.

 

BIG LOSER: THE MIZ

WWE went for the shock value and had Undertaker appear. The Dead Man provided the cavalry as Roman Reigns got mowed down in a handicap match. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre essentially announced a 2-on-1 free-for-all and lit up The Big Dog. Shane O’Mac hit Reigns with a spear and McIntyre followed up with a Claymore. Then, Shane loaded up for a Coast-to-Coast. However, the gong sounded and Undertaker cleaned house. Everyone at home had to delight at seeing Shane chokeslammed. We love to see an over-pushed McMahon get his just desserts.

Obviously, WWE will use this to build Undertaker and Reigns against McIntyre and McMahon. Presumably, the team up happens as quickly as Extreme Rules. Any Undertaker sighting usually wows some fans. However, he and Goldberg just struggled through a match at Super ShowDown where both could’ve gotten seriously hurt. I know the prevailing sentiment puts the responsibility for much of that on Goldberg. But part-timers in their 50s making several appearances in a short time screams a problem.

Moreover, the history between Reigns and Undertaker made this a head-scratcher. Reigns defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania and dealt him a storyline injury that kept him out of WWE for over a year. If you’re Undertaker, does that sound like a guy you want to help?

In fact, WWE already had a full-time talent that would’ve suited this role much better. Miz still has plenty of heat for Shane McMahon. The A-Lister and Reigns already teamed up in shows prior. It makes far more sense to include Miz in this than Undertaker. As a result of this oversight, Miz once again gets used primarily as a prop for another segment. Creatively, this reeked of bad planning by WWE.

 

HIGH FIVE

Baron Corbin-Lacey Evans – The heel tandem no one wanted at Stomping Grounds opened the show. Much to the angst of fans, they challenged Universal Champ Seth Rollins and Raw Women’s Champ Becky Lynch to a match at Extreme Rules. It didn’t take long for Twitter to light up with fans bemoaning a continuation of these feuds. Lynch and Evans started right after WrestleMania. Rollins and Corbin had plenty of matches going back to 2018. Besides, both Evans and Corbin just lost twice to the champs on pay-per-views. However, WWE added a twist. Corbin said the match would carry a Winners Take All stipulation. Therefore, the heels would win both the red belts with a victory at Extreme Rules. Let’s pray to God that doesn’t happen.

Samoa Joe – The opportunistic former US Champ took his shot at WWE Champ Kofi Kingston on Monday Night Raw. He waited until Kingston wrestled singles matches against both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Then, The Destroyer ambushed Kingston, laying him out with a uranage and the Coquina Clutch. This provided an interesting twist to the Kingston-Owens-Zayn dynamic. We’ll need to stay tuned to see if Joe gets the next shot at the WWE Champion.

Alexa Bliss-Nikki Cross – The execution of the segment came off disjointed. Bliss started off with a singles match victory over Naomi. Bliss commenced with a post-match beatdown of The Glow Queen. Though Cross didn’t rush to join The Goddess, she got involved when Natalya came out to help Naomi. As a result, Cross and Bliss teamed up for another victory. However, the result continued to further their storyline. Cross hit the decisive swinging neckbreaker, but Bliss made a blind tag to get the glory of the pinfall.

Kofi Kingston – The WWE Champ continues the push to the moon. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn picked up a rare victory over New Day at Stomping Grounds. However, each took a turn putting over Kingston on Raw in back-to-back matches.

R-Truth-Drake Maverick – As mentioned above, the two guys gave the 24/7 Championship race an interesting story for the first time. These two continue to make it their mission on social media to drive interest for this gimmick. They deserve more time to work together in the ring.

LOW FIVE

Braun Strowman-Bobby Lashley – WWE booked a tug-of-war contest between its resident behemoths. This came on the heels of an arm-wrestling competition recently. They should book the limbo next. However, it’s hard to imagine things getting lower for either one of these guys.

The Good Brothers – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson got good news this week. They made it on to WWE TV. Unfortunately, they served as a squash match loser to the also infrequently-used Viking Raiders. WWE seems to be sending mixed signals with these guys. Are they trying to get them to stay by reforming The Club with Styles? Or are they pushing them out the door like they did with don’t-call-me Dean Ambrose? This match seemed to point toward the latter.

The Viking Raiders – Sure, they got a win in quick fashion. However, the former NXT Tag Team Champs make such rare appearances that they don’t get the credibility they should from their main roster dominance. They get booked to look impressive in romps. Unfortunately, it’s led them nowhere to this point.

Mojo Rawley – You have to feel for a guy that doesn’t actually get a TV match even when one’s announced. The audience knew to expect a curveball when he and Heather Slater were in the ring. Yet, it must sting for a guy who seemed to be building toward a second-chance push with months of promos to get nothing.

Naomi & Natalya – We received confirmation both of these former women’s champions are alive. That’s a positive. Yet, nothing good happened outside of appearing on TV for the first time in weeks. In fact, Naomi got to eat two L’s for her trouble. Outside of Becky Lynch, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, hardly any Raw women appear on TV. You have to feel both the Glow Queen and the Queen of Harts.

 

RELATED: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND ROLLYNCH RULES: STOMPING GROUNDS 

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