Welcome to The Nerd Hub’s weekly critique of Monday Night RAW. This week, we discuss the final twists and turns ahead of Money in the Bank on the go-home show from O2 London in England. This includes the big surprise – Sami Zayn’s revenge plot ends up paying off in a big way.
HEADLINE NEWS: SAMI STEALS MITB SPOT
WWE provided one last big swerve ahead of Money in the Bank on Monday. Master heel Sami Zayn goaded Shane McMahon into granting him a match against Braun Strowman. The stakes included a spot in the MITB men’s ladder match. Shane O’Mac made it a Falls Count Anywhere main event match just to spice things up for us. Then, Zayn got help from Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin to defeat The Monster Among Men and steal his Money in the Bank spot.
Sami Zayn will now join Corbin, McIntyre and Ricochet as the RAW representatives in the ladder match. As a result, the Underdog from the Underground vaults up to the top of the list of potential briefcase winners. WWE already involved Sami Zayn with WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, who wrestles Zayn’s buddy, Kevin Owens, at Money in the Bank. Don’t count out an angle where Owens and Sami Zayn antagonize Kingston for months. Sami Zayn easily could maintain his heel heat with his guaranteed title opportunity in hand. Furthermore, the Wild Card rule would allow him to cash in on either Kofi or Universal Champion Seth Rollins.
BEST OF THE REST: NEW FACE OF WYATT
Another reveal WWE gave us in the go-home show involved the unveiling of Bray Wyatt’s new face. Critics wondered how the Mister Rogers version of Wyatt would play out in the ring during the first episodes of Firefly Fun House. They got their answer with a creep-show-to-the-max version of Wyatt on Monday.
The payoff of Wyatt’s dark turn took a month, but it was time well spent. Wyatt’s new face of fear excited and disturbed us as viewers in the best possible way. The Eater of Worlds needed to land a big hit in his latest reboot. Many fans already gave up on him. He’s got plenty back on the bandwagon so far.
BIG WINNER: BECKY LYNCH
WWE loves nothing more than to set up babyface champions to overcome impossible odds. RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch received just such a scenario in London.
Her contract signing with both Lacey Evans and Charlotte Flair devolved into the inevitable brawl. Despite the constant cheers from her loyal United Kingdom fans, Lynch ate what was booked as a double powerbomb from Evans and Flair through the table. However, the segment looked like it failed to go over as planned.
The Lady of WWE visibly seemed to struggle with nerves. She forgot to help Flair hold Lynch up for the powerbomb at first. Credit The Queen for holding all of Lynch’s weight when she expected some help. Lynch appeared to direct Evans from on top of Flair’s shoulders. Regardless, Evans looked out of place on the same stage with the two biggest Superstars of the women’s division. Flair and Lynch carried the segment.
The scene ended with Flair and Evans holding the SmackDown and RAW belts, respectively, over Lynch’s prone body. However, this segment drove home the fact Lynch will retain both belts come Sunday. This played out just like the build to WrestleMania. Ronda Rousey and Flair stood tall over Lynch then, but The Man took the gold.
Lynch returned as a conquering hero to her native Ireland and the UK over the past week. She will leave Money in the Bank that way, too.
BIG LOSER: REBOOTED MOJO RAWLEY
Months of build yielded little payoff with the unveiling of the rebooted Mojo Rawley. Unfortunately, new Mojo looked like old Mojo with the addition of goofy, blue face paint. WWE booked him well with a squash victory over Apollo Crews. Yet, this received little reaction from the fans in attendance or on social media.
The problem with the Rawley rework remains to be the story behind the character. Fans know little about why Mojo got blue face paint or why he’s yelling at mirrors backstage. Therefore, the WWE Universe lacks any motivation in getting behind him. They still remember Rawley as a failed tag team act with Zack Ryder. As a result, they need convincing on what has changed with the guy. Therefore, WWE still needs work to do to salvage any sort of momentum for Mojo.
Roman Reigns – The Wild Card rule gives us twice as many appearances for The Big Dog each week. He made the most of his turn on RAW this week. Reigns and The Miz work well together. Reigns brings out the edge in Miz. Meanwhile, The A-Lister makes Roman come across as more of a charismatic presence. Miz TV gave us a great combo that rose above a group of heels that brought nothing to the party. Bobby Lashley, Shane McMahon and Elias got a few good licks in, but Miz and Roman won the match by DQ and the fans.
Nikki Cross – WWE also repackaged the former Sanity member on Monday. She formed a successful friendship with Alexa Bliss. Furthermore, Cross received ring time when Bliss’ ring gear “got lost with her luggage.” Cross took the place of The Goddess in the women’s division Fatal 4-way and defeated Naomi, Natalya and Dana Brooke. The new friendship angle worked well. In addition, Cross will get sympathy when Bliss inevitably turns on her.
Charlotte Flair – The Queen took advantage of the Wild Card rule to appear on RAW as well. Lynch fans may not love seeing Charlotte get title opportunities. However, the segment Monday pointed out that the women’s division doesn’t have a wealth of candidates who can hang with The Man’s charisma. Sasha Banks may never come back. Bayley seems to need some tweaking with her character. Bliss needs to answer questions to whether she can stay healthy. That leaves Charlotte as the only one on a level playing field with the champ champ right now.
AJ Styles-Seth Rollins Feud – WWE played it smart in doing only promos for these guys ahead of Money in the Bank. Rollins will likely retain the Universal Championship on Sunday. However, Styles had already laid out Seth with a Phenomenal Forearm two weeks in a row. Therefore, WWE faced a lose-lose scenario with any sort of physical segment between the two. Rollins standing tall would make his victory Sunday anticlimactic, while Styles getting over a third straight week would lack impact. These two sold the match well with their mic work. Styles said he’s making RAW his show. Rollins said he used to look up to Styles, but now AJ will be the one looking up at him.
Cesaro-Rey Mysterio – These two veterans turned in the best ring work of the night. This should convince WWE to book them for a lengthy feud. The match worked as a fast-paced sprint to the finish that excited until the end. Cesaro looked every bit as strong as his Swiss Superman moniker would lead you to believe. Meanwhile, Mysterio won the day as the overmatched babyface by hitting the 619.
Ricochet-Baron Corbin – WWE booked The Lone Wolf to continue his red-hot ways, but then ended the segment clumsily. As Corbin climbed the ladder for his celebratory moment with the briefcase, he got taken out. This interaction between the two seemed to do nothing for either guy. If anything, it hurt Corbin a bit heading into Money in the Bank because he got embarrassed. A win for Ricochet and then a cheap shot by Corbin afterwards would have given better momentum to both guys.
Braun Strowman – The Monster Among Men continues to languish in 2019. He flopped in a promo leading up to Royal Rumble. Then, he got bounced out of that Universal Championship match in favor of Finn Balor. As a result, he’s received the virtual laughingstock treatment from the fans since that point. So far, his biggest accomplishment in 2019 stands as a victory over two Saturday Night Live comedians in the WrestleMania Battle Royal. This week, he lost his Money in the Bank spot. It’s fair to wonder if WWE has written him off for good.
Lacey Evans – Segments like the one on Monday remind you that The Lady of WWE still has a ways to go. She clearly took a backseat to Lynch and Flair. I have mostly praised Evans for making her rivalry with Lynch interesting heading into Money in the Bank. However, Lacey appeared outclassed this week, and this showing hurt her a bit. However, she can quickly regain any lost momentum Sunday. Money in the Bank represents her first main roster pay-per-view, one-on-one showdown. She will continue winning over fans with a polished performance.
Drew McIntyre – The Scottish Psychopath had only a supporting role on the go-home show. Therefore, you wonder whether a guy considered as a favorite to win the briefcase Sunday will take a backseat again. Sure, he helped take Strowman out during the main event to propel Sami Zayn to victory. Yet, his work served to put Zayn over more than himself. As a result, McIntyre looks less likely to win at Money in the Bank than he did before this showing.
Tag Team Division – WWE put zero build this week into any tag team action. Their hot-and-cold treatment with the commitment to making tag teams a bigger deal tells fans not to care. Last week, Daniel Bryan spoke about tag teams serving as a pay-per-view main event one day. That day looks like a long way off from now.
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