Following two consecutive weeks of seeing the Internet flare with ratings of “Worst episode ever” for WWE’s flagship show, what, if anything, can fans expect tonight from Monday Night Raw?
The crew will be in Houston, Texas, this evening. Two weeks away from the Tables, Ladders, Chairs PPV/Network Special, the initial expectation is for the matches already booked to start building that go-home push. We know Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey will team with her original best friend on the roster, Natalya, to take on the duo of Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka. We’ve been told Dean Ambrose will be in the building tonight, after taking the evening off last Monday, and we know he’ll be taking on Seth Rollins for the Intercontinental Championship at TLC. We also know Braun Strowman’s elbow bone spur surgery might keep him out of his scheduled match with Acting Raw GM Baron Corbin; therefore a lot of things seem to be deliberately being left open, so Creative could shuffle Corbin, Elias, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor or Dolph Ziggler into any slot they feel like. Considering consistency of character is not something Creative feels like building or caring about, literally anything could happen in these next two weeks to make another couple of matches for TLC. That used to be something to get excited about. These days, it’s concerning.
It definitely looks like The Drifter and… wait, who’s Lashley again? The Dominator? My Man? Oh, that’s right, now he’s The Almighty. It looks more and more likely The Drifter and The Almighty will end up facing off at TLC in some capacity, so we should expect another confrontation tonight. If Lashley, and his manager Lio Rush, are accompanied by their new posse of McIntyre and Corbin, we can once again look for things to go sour for Elias.
At one point in the not-too-distant past, it looked like McIntyre and Balor were on a collision course for TLC. More recently, it’s looked like Balor would revive his feud with Corbin as a proxy for Strowman, which would leave McIntyre without a dance partner. Don’t expect to see The Scottish Psychopath kept off the TLC card, he’s finally living up to his Chosen One moniker. But there’s a distinct shortage of babyfaces on the Raw roster at the present time. Will Ziggler flip to begin what was always an inevitable program against McIntyre? Will Bray Wyatt make his triumphant return to television to do the job once again? Or will Corbin just end up making a handicap tag match of Elias vs Lashley and McIntyre for TLC? With just tonight and one more show to go before Dec. 16, we should expect some answers tonight – mostly, just hope we’re not left with more questions.
Watch for Ambrose to get the heat rising with a rant about how smelly people from Houston are, for some odd reason. And listen for his wife, Rene Young, tell us it’s hard to understand her husband, while she doesn’t condone nor condemn anything he’s saying, no matter how ridiculous. Why they won’t just turn Young to go along with Ambrose is beyond anyone’s comprehension, and frankly just leaves Young looking silly on commentary whenever there’s a Dean segment. Expect the typical confrontation with Rollins to occur, probably some fisticuffs, with Rollins standing tall holding his belt in the air at the end.
Rousey and Natalya vs Jax and Tamina has generated some buzz regarding Nattie’s long-rumoured heel turn against Rousey. While fans have been expecting it to happen since Rousey was introduced onto the roster, and it will happen one day, don’t expect it to be tonight. It might, but it would make little sense at the moment. Rousey’s got enough on her horizon with Jax and Snuka for TLC and the foreseeable future, and pairings against either Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. While there’s always that chance Nattie goes rogue tonight and becomes the next challenger, that would be bucking Creative’s trend of title contenders getting two or three shots in a row on PPV. Nattie’s not in this match tonight to turn heel, she’s in there to eat the pin. Expect Jax and Tamina to win in an attempt to build The Facebreaker’s credibility as challenger.
Then there’s the midcard, also known as the rest of the ladies and tag division. Alexa Bliss’ promotion last week suggests she’ll be out of the ring for a while. Expect this to be her first step into management, as she ends up supplanting Corbin as the full-time GM. Digressions aside, the nonsensical spot last week with the planted fan questioning Sasha Banks and Bayley was cringe-worthy at best. Whatever it is they come up with for the women tonight, please, let it be better than that. Also expect Vince McMahon to display his unique brand of comedic genius with another toilet spot featuring tag champs AOP, their manager Drake Maverick, and challengers Bobby Rooooooo and Chad Gable. Pee is funny, Vince, don’t you listen to millions and millions of fans telling you otherwise…
It’s very easy, but also very lazy, to become a negative critic of anything; to pick and poke holes in plots in movies or television, or snidely comment on how many songs from an album suck compared to one good single. Wrestling gives us a wide range of things to criticize, from the writing, to the performers themselves, in both their in-ring and promo abilities. It would be hoped that nobody wants to feel like they’re simply bashing something for the sake of bashing it. Having said that, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find positivity while forecasting what may or may not happen on any given week of Raw. We’re on one of the worst rolls in memory for show quality, so that’s a negative. On the other hand, it literally has to get better, right? It can’t get any worse, can it? Is that being positive, or optimistic at least? With the next PPV being treated as a throwaway before the Royal Rumble, WWE doesn’t seem too concerned with trying to engage their audience at the moment. Sometimes soldiers have to struggle through. On a scale of one to five, with five being, “Did You See That 450-Corkscrew Splash Finish?” and one being, “He Finished Him With The Worm,” expect tonight’s Raw to rate 1.5.