Bobby Fernandes checks in with the first live WWE Raw of 2019. Was the show Good, Bad, or downright Ugly?
With almost all coverage lately around AEW, WWE proceeds business as usual, sort of. On the January 7 edition of Monday Night Raw, the biggest of the big will grace us with his presence, “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s purpose is to commemorate a guy who is beloved by all who knew him, “Mean” Gene Okerlund. With such a huge name among other possible, rumored personalities tonight, can Raw pull out an over the top show?
John Cena Returns to Raw
Although we “can’t see him” anyway, Cena was sorely missed. He isn’t great as an actual wrestler but neither were a lot of the greats before him. He is pure charisma and plays off of hope and fighting back. He stands for “Never Giving Up” a true hero for all to adore. Some people just hate him. It is what it is, however Cena can only add a touch of Good, every time he is out there. Put him up with anyone, and give him a mic, and you have gold. Well, Mr. Cena officially announced his participation in the Royal Rumble Match. Drew McIntyre interrupts. He did spectacular on the microphone, however the crowd was dumbfounded. McIntyre made his claim to fame and called out Cena’s attributes, while also boasting his own. This led to Cena owning him as always and surprisingly had the audience’s full support. Drew McIntyre headed to get a piece of Cena but was interrupted by Lio Rush babbling about Seth Rollins losing it, only to be attacked by Rollins. Then Ambrose attacked Rollins, being joined in with Lashley. Cena attempted to aid Rollins but was hit by McIntyre. Out comes Finn Balor, the crowd went bananas. Finn cleaned house. This is brilliant energy starting Raw off with bang leading to a 6 man tag match
John Cena, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley w/ Lio Rush and Dean Ambrose
Everyone was on point for this one. Individually, Cena was on fire as well as Lashley. The story though is Finn Balor, he can work and rarely disappoints. Dean Ambrose who hasn’t been so sharp lately looked great in there. Love him or hate him, “Vintage” John Cena sucked in the audience, until McIntyre hit a “Glasgow Kiss” knocking him out for a two count. Cena took a beating but hit an “Attitude Adjustment” on Lashley but couldn’t get the tag getting taken down by Ambrose. Cena took a beating in this match completely isolated. Finn Balor guns in firing on all cylinders wrecking Ambrose hitting the “Coup De Grace” however got hit with a “Claymore Kick.” Rollins comes in from another planet, hitting moves from a moonsault out of nowhere to the outside, to then hitting a “Falcon Arrow” for a close two count. Rollins could not be stopped until he missed a huge “frog splash.” Ambrose comes in to pick Rollins clean but gets “Stomped” for the victory. Rollins, Cena and Balor victorious. HHH didn’t watch “The Architech” Burn it Down, which Rollins certainly did, but was welcomed back by The Game. Rollins wants Ambrose, HHH obliged for a “Falls Count Anywhere” against Ambrose for the I.C. Title” later on Raw.
“Mean” Gene Memorial w/ Hulk Hogan
Any Hulk Hogan is Good Hulk Hogan. This particularly has a lot of potential. Remembering a guy like “Mean” Gene who literally shared a career with Hogan couldn’t be more appropriate. The more Hulk Hogan for any reason is already good, but this could be Great. No one does a highlight reel like WWE. This one was just fantastic. What a great man, and what unbelievable, priceless memories of a true legend. Hogan was fantastic, and this whole tribute to everyone’s favorite personality, was all heart.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match (Lumberjack Match) – Bobby Roode and Chad Gable (c) vs. The Revival
Lumberjack Matches are usually at the least entertaining, as there are so many involved. This feud is great all around. Both teams are old school and play off each other successfully. Very textbook, both teams looked sharp. The baby-faces pushed around The Revival, as Lucha House Party kept Revival in the ring. Bobby Roode is so good! He has full potential to do whatever WWE will let him. It really is up to them how they want to use Roode, but he is capable of a lot more then he already has. The “German Suplex,” “splash” spot with Revival and Gable was amazing. Then all hell broke loose. Tons of confusion for a very weird finish. Gable gets the pin w/ Dawson’s foot under the rope. Absolutely confusing finish to a Good match. Roode and Gable Retain!
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
Elias straight killed it on the guitar in his opening. He obviously took the fans opinion that his guitar skills are sub-par to heart because he seemed to really try. The fans have spoken and they love to “walk with Elias” they also despise Baron Corbin. Corbin could save a puppy from a house fire and most likely still get negative heat. Rightfully so, he can stink up the place. He really is the after-school special bully and pours cheese out of his mouth constantly. As always though, these two can go. This was action packed and high energy. Elias flew around the ring hitting Corbin with a nasty set of offense. It looked Good. Corbin seems to mesh well with Elias. Elias can handle Corbin’s physicality without looking sloppy and overwhelmed. Corbin after taking a ton of punishment from Elias, slammed him with a right hand, and tied him off into an “End of Days” for the clean victory. Not sure where this is going, or to what end, but this was a decent match.
Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox w/ The Singh Brothers vs. Apollo Crews and Ember Moon
Alicia Fox really needs to never speak on the mic and maybe just not compete anymore. Jinder Mahal has a lot of potential but he isn’t resonating currently with the audience. I think if Mahal channeled his inner “Alberto Del Rio” we could see some magic. Truthfully, this wasn’t a Bad Match. It was quick, Fox took the squash and Crews killed it. Quick, fun match.
Winner gets Raw Women’s Title Match a Royal Rumble – “The Boss” Sasha Banks w/ Bayley vs. Nia Jax w/ Tamina Snuka
Sasha Banks is very talented. So talented in fact that she made Jax look Good. Sasha Banks carried this match, selling and putting Jax over to her maximum ability. The “Gorilla Press” spot on the equipment case was impressive. Nia Jax dominated with little spurts of Sasha fighting back. Sasha took a nasty bump getting hung up on the top rope. Sasha went for a gutsy move on the apron but it seemingly got botched and Banks landed hard but recovered. Jax gets caught up in the “Banks Statement” and Sasha Banks Wins a trip to the Royal Rumble to face Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship.
Intercontinental Championship Match (Falls Count Anywhere) – Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins attacking Ambrose on the ramp was a great touch. This match had a lot of feeling and intensity that had been missing from this feud. It was everything but flat this time. Rollins was a mad man and Ambrose reacted accordingly. They definitely didn’t hold back. You could feel the shots being taken. This is the appropriate level of competition guys like this are supposed to have at all times. This was a PPV level Main Event Match. For it to be on Raw speaks volumes. They were going blow for blow countering each other’s move-set. Rollins beat the hell out of Ambrose and Ambrose followed up with a beating with a steel chair. This looked like an “ECW” type of match in the best way possible. Rollins looked like he might lose, then hit move after move, “Superplex into a Buckle Bomb”, a huge “Super-kick” followed up by “The Stomp” he had it won until Bobby Lashley interfered. Lashley destroyed Rollins manhandling him and blasting him all around the ring. This was such a sick match, it hit all of the right notes. The finish was so cheap, and made no sense as no one came to intervene even after the earlier match. The ending really disappointed but the match was damn Good. Ambrose retains!
A Moment of Alexa Bliss
No matter how unbelievable Alexa Bliss is, and she is, this is a nightmare waiting to happen. No one is looking forward to this at all to begin with. This could be a big segment as Rousey and Bliss have heat. Rousey isn’t at her best on the microphone and this type of promo has a “boring” chant on deck at all times. Rousey then gave props to the “Unsung Hero, The Boss” Sasha Banks. Nia Jax then popped out and stunk out the place, before being interrupted by Sasha Banks. It is refreshing to see Banks back in the storyline, especially with a possible match with Rousey for the Gold. Sasha Banks carried this failure and set up a decent proposal even Nia Jax trying to ruin it.
“The Monster” Braun Strowman Face to Face with WWE Universal Champion “The Beast” Brock Lesnar
It’s Good to see Braun Stowman back. He has a presence that demands attention. This faceoff was a fantastic idea, and even a bit surprising. Unfortunately, Lesnar didn’t come down to the ring “card subject to change.” Heyman always shows up on the mic, but then it all came apart. Strowman didn’t deliver and Heyman ate him alive. This was a boring disappointment, until Lesnar decided to take Strowman up on his offer to “get these hands.” But, that didn’t happen, Lesnar circled the ring and left all of us wanting to see this finally go down and being very disappointed.
- GOOD – 8
- BAD – 1
- UGLY – 1
The Spirit of Raw around the beloved “Mean” Gene Okerlund had a GOOD feeling this week. It had some big moments and a lot of success. It wasn’t perfect but it was fun and enjoyable. It was more than a GOOD show, it was special.
We can get used to this. Raw delivering, SmackDown delivering, hell maybe NXT will go back to normal this week as well and kick ass. Whatever happens, what a time to be a fan. No matter if this was WWE’s plan all along or they feel the heat from all of the attention the “new guys” are getting, this has been getting better and better.
Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (5/22/19)
Prince Pretty is back on NXT!
Tiffany’s Takes dives into this week’s edition of WWE NXT as the black and yellow continues their built to Takeover XXV!
As we head into TakeOver XXV, what is the state of WWE NXT this week?
NXT Championship: I love when a babyface drops some hard facts. I also love that I’m apparently better at math than Adam Cole. Gargano pointing out that Cole’s talking point about winning the first fall was nonsense was so fun. I do like that we’re getting Part II at Take Over XXV, but I was surprised that Gargano didn’t insist that UE be banned from ringside.
The tag team match between Gargano/Riddle vs UE was fabulous! It seems that all is back on track between Strong and Cole, at least for now, but it remains to be seen how it’ll be after TakeOver.
North American Championship: This segment was really interesting. Tyler Breeze never really got any traction on the Main Roster, so moving him back to NXT makes sense. I think the match between him and Dream will be an interesting one, but I don’t see Dream dropping the title.
Women’s Division: Candice LeRae seems to finally be back on track after months of being Gargano’s perpetually worried and vengeful wife. Her match with the Lone Star Loca, Reina Gonzalez was so good! WWE certainly seemed impressed with Gonazalez after the Mae Young Classic, so it was nice to see her get some screen time. Going by Baszler’s actions after the match, it appears that Ms. LeRae is on track for a title shot, thank God.
Remind me to never piss off Io Shirai. The Genius of the Skies definitely seems to be tapping into her hardcore side because the sight of her wielding that Kendo stick AND using it scared the shit out of me. It’s pretty clear that the reckoning between Shirai and Shayna Baszler is going to happen at TakeOver.
Well, it is officially official, Mia Yim and Bianca Belair will meet again NEXT week and settle the score. I really want Yim to win this because her booking has been weird considering her talent.
Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
You can, too!
Be like Elisa and get yours at:
NXT Tag Team Championship: Another announcement was made officially official – Viking Raiders are no longer NXT Tag Team Champions, but because the Street Profits didn’t get an ACTUAL pinfall, the titles are now vacant. I love that Regal has made it a ladder match between the only four tag teams in NXT right now: Forgotten Sons, Street Profits, Burch and Lorcan, and Undisputed Era. I have a feeling Forgotten Sons will win, but we’ll see.
Sean Maluta vs Mansoor: This was a good, if random match. Sean Maluta has been back to WWE several times since the Cruiserweight Classic, but he never seems to stick around for very long. Mansoor seems to be someone WWE is very high on considering he’s racked up several victories over the last few months. The match was okay, but since it was two jobbers going at it, it was hard to get into. I was more excited about Maluta than Mansoor.
Overall Thoughts: So, how was NXT US this week? It was really good. They’re really kicking the build to TakeOver XXV into high gear without making it seem really rushed, especially in situations where substitutes are being made (Dream vs Breeze).
Even though it LOOKS like all is well in Undisputed Era, the fact that all of them have matches next Saturday makes me wonder if that’s when the final breakdown will happen, especially with Strong taking on Riddle. I’m very excited by the change in Io Shirai, I think Baszler’s going to learn the hard way to never underestimate someone’s willingness to fight.
That’s it for Tiffany’s WWE NXT Takes. Be back on Monday for RAW!
Andrew’s WWE Raw and SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (5/20 + 5/21/2019)
Coming out of Money in the Bank, how do the WWE main roster shows stack up?
Coming out of Money in the Bank, how do the WWE main roster shows stack up?
We’ve got a Beast in the Bank and a new title being debuted on Raw.
So generally speaking this could be interesting. I guess there’s only one way to find out.
Let’s get to the shows!
- Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman: Strowman wins via Running Powerslam – N/A
- Cesaro vs Ricochet: Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ** ½
- The Usos vs The Revival: Revival wins via Dirty Roll-Up – *** ¼
- Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs The IIconics & Lacey Evans: Becky wins via Guillotine Leg Drop – **
- WWE 24/7 Championship Scramble: Titus O’Neil wins – * ½
- WWE 24/7 Championship: Robert Roode vs Titus O’Neil (c): Roode wins via Roll-Up – N/A
- Drew McIntyre vs The Miz: McIntyre wins via Claymore – ** ½
- WWE 24/7 Championship: Robert Roode (c) vs R-Truth: Truth wins via Roll-Up – N/A
- NoDQ Tag Match: Seth Rollins & Kofi Kingston vs Bobby Lashley & Baron Corbin: Kingston wins via Trouble in Paradise – ** ¼
Brock and Heyman come out to kick things off. Brock seems to be loving the hate, using the briefcase like a boombox. Heyman doesn’t say anything interesting beyond the fact that he made it clear that Brock isn’t sure which belt he wants yet. But Brock seems to be tickled, and I was amused.
Foley takes a Uber to the arena! We all know he didn’t pay for that one, Foley is notoriously cheap.
Wait, so Sami and Braun are going to have a match? Even though Braun didn’t hang Sami up, and we can kinda figure it was Brock, or someone trying to help Brock. We need to see Sami get smashed? I mean, the crowd seemed to like it, even though Braun is bland and his involvement against Sami is just dumb. But it is what it is.
Wh-Why do we need to hear Lars Sullivan talk? So, generic cornball question from Charles is interrupted by…the god damn Lucha House Party. Okay well that’s a half point off of the score. Oh god, they’re giving them a modicum of offense too. Sheesh…no one cares about any of these four. Stupid Lucha morons.
Ricochet and Cesaro time! Oh okay, start with a commercial, hey the match starts to pick up, and then we go to that crappy picture in picture commercial break during what might’ve been a Sasuke Special from Ricochet. Well, talk about taking a match that could’ve been match of the night, and butchering it with poorly timed breaks.
So Styles and Corbin will clash eventually? Well…ugh.
So Shane is claiming he’s done with The Miz and moving onto Reigns. But now Shane has Drew Mcintyre in his arsenal as well as Elias. While I don’t mind this whole thing from a pro wrestling perspective, I’d really prefer McIntyre to stand on his own for a singles push soon. Playing the lackey really isn’t a great look, even though yes, it’s well positioned in the story.
This was a solid match between the two best tag teams in WWE. The fact that The Revival went over because of heel tactics is even better. So with the Usos’ being jerks and The Revival taking a few short cuts, we might get to see a few good matches out of this. I don’t need a whole year like New Day and The Usos basically had, but a few months of solid matches would be great.
Firefly Fun House introduces another verse to the theme song and a 90s style introduction clip, and then distorted into a creepy video with depressed kids and Let Him In, written on faces and shirts. Not the quality I’ve been expecting, but not awful.
Alexa comes out for Moment of Bliss with Nikki Cross in tow. Alexa is seemingly getting nasty with Nikki and she’s just acting like a loyal puppy who wants to make Alexa happy. Granted, I still see this as a bigger game, but that’s not the point Becky Lynch comes out for the interview and IIconics and Lacey Evans interrupt. A few decent lines were thrown around, Becky challenges all 3. Nikki immediately stepping up to fight with Becky was cute and perfectly simple with the “I’ll be your partner”. Also the way the heels try to dismiss it since they’re one short and Becky just shrugs at Alexa and says “She’ll do”. Plus the whole just stand there and look pretty, let the man do the work – that’s just a fantastic line, and Alexa plays along bringing her coffee. If Alexa really is hurt, this was a genius way to get them all over in a match. Alexa being disinterested sipping her coffee and just occasionally rooting on her team was perfect. This was such a perfect moment with a decent match attached.
Okay so the new title is effectively the PG Hardcore DDT Heavymetal Weight 24/7 and Free Tank of Gas championship! Foley has a scramble match and we see a few people we rarely see, including Eric Young doing his best Crash Holly impression. Titus World Slide wins the scramble, so he’s the inaugural champion, only to be rolled up at the top of the ramp by Robert Roode after like 65 seconds of being champion. Then the Scooby Doo chase begins!
Miz puts up a solid fight being out numbered and outclassed by McIntyre. So Shane just being a manipulative prick is great. Working his way on the Mr. McMahon 2.0 persona is entertaining and again, Roman and Miz being on the same page and working together as a positive thing…are just unexpected.
Joe makes a convincing point that the referee screwed up. I guess we’ll see how this goes.
Oh R-Truth has a car ready for Robert Roode, and funnily enough, a referee also. One Roll-Up later and the perfect Saturday Morning Cartoons on the brain mofo has the 24/7 belt. Three total champions in like 60 minutes. This is gonna be gold. I’m waiting for a Bayley Buddy to pin the champion.
So even though the tag match was turned into a NoDQ match, Bobby and Baron still kind of suck. Solid match all in all, but it’s very reminiscent of when Baron was GM and he’d just add stipulations and still fail more often than not.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Really solid episode of Raw. Decent wrestling, storylines were moved along well enough, 24/7 title could be fun and damn did that whole Moment of Bliss thing play out like a damn beauty. So I would give the show a 7, but Lucha House Party being on the show and getting in offense is a half point off.
Firefly Fun House was a little disappointing and just there, so neither added nor subtracted to the Steiner Math.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Andrade vs Ali: Ali wins via Inside Cradle – *** ¼
- Carmella vs Mandy Rose: No Contest – *
- Kofi Kingston vs Sami Zayn: Kofi wins via Trouble in Paradise – ** ½
- Becky Lynch & Bayley vs Lacey Evans & Charlotte Flair: Bayley wins via Roll-Up – **
- Elias vs Roman Reigns: Reigns wins via Spear – ***
So Elias apologizes to Shane and uses the fact he put all his energy into the performance, for why he lost. It’s a decent excuse. Oh we’re getting a rematch tonight. Gotta love Shane trying to set up anything and everything to soften up Roman for Jam in the Sand III.
Okay so the fake out reveal for Big E was funny and then the side comments about Becky’s mom were also amusing. Kofi trying to end the digressions by saying he needs to be serious since he’s champion was an amusing jab at people saying he’s a comedy act. KO and Sami interrupt, as Sami talks, the New Day take a jab at KO losing and Owens just walks off. Sami makes a challenge to stand up for him and his buddy. Ok, I don’t expect Sami to win, but it should be a decent match.
Carmella and a bunch of others are looking for R-Truth, but Carmella is his friend, trying to help him out. So we get Truth in a blonde wig and Carmella needing to give him a makeover.
So we get a great match for people who like good wrestling. Andrade and Ali seem to work well together and it was just fun to watch. Ali getting the win is interesting, cause that makes you wonder if he positioned himself as next in line for the Intercontinental Championship, or maybe it becomes a Triple Threat. This result could have interesting ramifications.
Mandy Rose and Carmella have beef that came from the MiTB Ladder match, and we get a non-finish when the undercard mob comes out to get R-Truth since he came out to second Carmella. I’m a little annoyed at the non-finish, but Carmella and R-Truth are amusing.
Kofi and Sami was shorter than I’d like, and also didn’t do much to help Sami, but I guess if they’re moving away from KO and Sami until after the Saudi show, it was fine. Plus the Dolph Ziggler attack needed time, so the shorter match was necessary I suppose.
Roman walks in and Elias is looming above him singing his song – and it was actually pretty neat. I like the way the scene was framed, and definitely came off as Elias trying to play mind games.
This women’s tag wasn’t really set up in as entertaining of a way as the 6 woman tag from Monday. This is just Champs versus people they just beat. The match was fine and Bayley getting the pinfall after Becky got ganged up on a little bit was fine.
Oh Jinder and the B-Team catch Truth, but he manages to get away.
The ring work may not have been fantastic, but the story beats were entertaining. Shane trying everything to screw Roman over the same way he’s screwed with Miz, but failing this time, added a wrinkle. Shane looked concerned for a change, until Drew McIntyre showed up to tip the scales. Shane going from concerned to “yup this was all part of the plan, yup”, is a fun moment.
Overall Score: 6/10
Even though I didn’t mind the show, it was really nothing overly special. A few beats were rehashed from Money in the Bank and Monday, so this falls into the same rut that SmackDown has hit lately. Instead of feeling like two shows, SmackDown just extends certain stories and feels like only half of the show is dedicated to new/unique stories.
So not a bad show, but in no way was it a must watch.
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