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.
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.
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.