With WWE Monday Night Raw’s ratings rebounding ever so slightly last week, the company has a tiny bit of momentum to build on going into Philadelphia tonight. Not a lot of momentum, don’t forget they’ve had some record-setting lows of late, but folks in the office will be looking for any positive signs they can find at the moment.
With only two more shows to go before Evolution, and three before Crown Jewel, we can expect to see some more build for the hype heading into these events. After last week’s brilliant heel turn of the Bella twins, and the combining of Alexa Bliss vs Trish Stratus and Mickie James vs Lita into one tag team match, Evolution feels like it has more focus from the Raw brand now. Until last week, Smackdown’s Becky Lynch vs Charlotte feud had taken the lead, and arguably only role, in promoting the upcoming all-women’s card. Things are more balanced now, and look for the Bellas to draw some major, non-X-Pac heat tonight as they explain their actions from last week – and maybe get a few more shots in on Ronda Rousey.
World Cup qualifying matches between Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre as well as Dean Ambrose against Dolph Ziggler are being promoted for tonight’s Raw. Unless the inevitable matches booked during the show involve them, it looks like Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns are on ringside/interference duty for the night. From last week’s episode, McIntyre and Ziggler both still have a point to prove to Braun as well as each other, and Ambrose’s abrupt departure following the main event loss will need to be addressed. Expectations are for things to stay balanced, with a Dog of War winning one match, and a Shield member winning the other. It would seem to add to the story if Rollins and Reigns end up accidentally costing Ambrose his match in some way tonight; which would mean Rollins should be expected to go over McIntyre. Will WWE Creative subvert expectations, and go with both tag team champions in the singles tournament? It would arguably be a more creative direction, but feels unlikely.
A possible appearance by the Brothers of Destruction is teased in the official preview for tonight. Mayor Kane’s calendar is free, Knox County’s council meeting isn’t scheduled until the fourth Monday of the month. Will the Deadman and Kane have a retort for last week’s reformation of Degeneration X? Will the duo of demons appear tonight as other incarnations of themselves in retaliation for HHH and Shawn Michaels pulling out old T-shirts? Could we see Biker Taker and Corporate Kane back? When does the time machine show up to return us to 2018? Something that should have been just a fun trip down memory lane is quickly taking up way too much prime time every Monday night. The ‘Taker and Michaels promo that got things rolling was absolutely brilliant. Last week’s DX return was cringe-worthy in comparison. Let’s hope to see this get no more than video treatment for the next three weeks – at least for tonight.
Expect to walk with Elias for the most entertaining portion of tonight’s show, regardless of what he does. Keep your eyes peeled for Baron Corbin trying to exact some revenge on Kurt Angle for his Conquistador stunt from last week… does anyone have an oversized Doink the Clown costume lying around? And look for Lio Rush to get the crowd all riled up while Bobby Lashley stands beside him, all big and intimidating. Don’t expect Lashley to be booked into a new long-term program tonight, but do expect to see him claim his spot in the World Cup.
All in all, from the official preview at least, we can expect much of the same ol’ from tonight’s Raw. Don’t expect what will be a typical Philly crowd to be “down with that”. When the Bella twins might be the most enticing reason to watch Raw, you know there’s a problem. With two more shows to go before Crown Jewel, and the fact Crown Jewel is just an oversized house show anyway, there’s no Universe-shaking events on the horizon to look forward to. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to expect anything more. On a scale of one to five, with five being ‘Can’t Miss’ and one being ‘Might As Well Watch Thunder Reruns’, expect tonight’s Raw to be a two – ‘Worthy of a YouTube Highlight Package’.