Monday Night Raw last week covered a lot of ground and brought about a lot of creative changes for WWE. Tommy Dreamer made an unexpected return to WWE to align with The Dudley Boyz. WWE World Heavyweight Champion formed a new stable called the League of Nations with Rusev, King Barrett and Alberto Del Rio. Charlotte is progressing as a character that may or may not be involved in a heel turn, and Roman Reigns continues to chase Sheamus and the WWE Championship.
This week served as the go-home show heading into TLC this weekend in Boston. However, this week’s Raw came off like WWE was treading water until after TLC, when they can finally progress some of these characters into new ground.
Monday, a huge 16-man tag team match opened the show, another ECW veteran returned to even the odds with the Wyatts, Charlotte and Paige boiled over on MizTV, and all other feuds built to a boiling point for TLC this Sunday.
Here are the top five moments from this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw:
5) “The Family” vs. League of Nations vs. Team Extreme vs. The Wyatts
First thought I had on Raw was, “Oh, League of Nations got theme music. I guess they’re here to stay.” I’m very cool with the stable, and I’m thrilled Kevin Owens isn’t a part of it.
For me, Sheamus as the leader is fine because he’s meant to be the WWE Champion right now. Rusev just got back from an injury. Alberto Del Rio hasn’t gotten over with the Zeb Colter/MexAmerica thing, and King Barrett needed something to do. This stable gives them all something to do. Owens is the IC Champion. He’s got his thing. The group works for the rest.
The opening segment was a little awkward, but we’re still finding out what the group is going to be. Monday was an interesting trial run as they took on all three other major groups in a huge 16-man tag team match that lasted almost the entire first hour of Raw. The match was to ultimately give Reigns a win over Sheamus. WWE could have booked that better, but it was fun.
I love this feud on paper. Ambrose vs. Owens is the contest of one of the best heels versus one of the best faces in the company. On paper, it would be really interesting to see these two develop stories in the ring and on the microphone. However, WWE doesn’t seem to understand that because all we got as a brief encounter and a “cute” popcorn and soda gag.
Ambrose and Owens have had zero time on the microphone. Granted, they’ll have some on SmackDown this week with the contract signing. That’s a good step, but this feud has had no development that it’s difficult to get invested in it even with the players. It’s almost like WWE officials think fans are going to automatically care about the feud because of the IC title.
I know WWE is heavily pushing SmackDown’s move to USA but have Ambrose, and Owens do that on Raw and have Owens vs. Ziggler main event SmackDown. That makes way more sense and would build Breeze vs. Ziggler for once too.
3) Rhyno Returns/Dreamer vs. Strowman
After a week of speculation, the Man-Beast Rhyno made his return to Raw and aligned with his ECW brethren Tommy Dreamer and The Dudley Boyz. No doubt, it was a fun moment and for all intents and purposes, good for Rhyno. However, this comes off as a major disappointment.
I wasn’t expecting RVD, Sandman, or anyone else, but this was a safe choice considering the former ECW Champion has been in NXT for the better part of a year. It’s not a bad choice. It was just a predictable one.
Despite being involved in the 16-man tag team match earlier, the feud between Team Extreme and The Wyatt Family continued in what was officially the main event. Dreamer took on Braun Strowman and put him over well. It was a fine match for what it was, and Strowman looks strong by dominating someone like Dreamer.
The problem is this makes the Wyatt Family the obvious winners on Sunday. That wasn’t really in question, but it’s unfortunate that this serves as a holding feud for The Wyatts until WWE can think of something better for Bray Wyatt. This feud is fun for what it is, but it’s not something that I’m gaining significant interest in watching.
2) Charlotte vs. Paige Confusion
A few weeks ago, this was the best feud going in WWE in my opinion. Now, I can’t even tell who the face is and who the heel is anymore. Charlotte’s heel tactics are a good idea, and Ric Flair’s involvement has been nice for both of them. However, it desperately needs to go somewhere. It’s almost like WWE matched Charlotte and Paige last month and realized that the former was too innocent, or clean-cut and the change in attitude is to “toughen” her up for the fans.
That would be awesome if it didn’t come off like a heel turn is looming. It doesn’t come off like Charlotte is being forced to develop this attitude to beat her because she already did at Survivor Series last month. Instead, it comes off like Charlotte has developed an attitude because all of a sudden she feels like she’s accomplished something.
Meanwhile, Paige was a huge heel after the Reid Flair comments, but Monday she comes out to cheers? Then she slaps The Nature Boy in a classic heel move. The booking of character is just all over the place, and the feud doesn’t feel personal anymore. It’s confusing. It seems like a double turn is coming on Sunday, or some kind of an alliance because something is looming for Becky Lynch.
On the other side of the Divas division, Sasha Banks is still just sitting and waiting to do something of substance.
1) Reigns vs. Sheamus Preview
I get why WWE booked this to end the show. TLC is this Sunday and this is the final building block to get fans to buy it. Sheamus vs. Reigns is going to be an extremely physical match and it’s a great choice for a TLC match. Monday’s main event segment proved that fact.
However, the same segment proved that Reigns and Sheamus have some work to do on the microphone. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact problem, but it’s definitely there. Their chemistry is awkward. The “potatoes and tater tots” line was cringe worthy and the feud just doesn’t have much depth.
They have problems in their brawling and TLC will be good, but where is this going next. Will Roman Reigns be the WWE Champion going into Royal Rumble?