From an in-ring action perspective, this was probably one of the best episodes of Raw in a long, long time. I don't know if it was the result of some type of mandate or if guys were just lucky to be booked with people that they clicked with, but for whatever reason the matches felt way more fun and exciting than usual, which helped the pacing massively. Corbin and Gable in particular had their second straight banger in as many weeks. I don't know if they've tapped into some great chemistry between the two of them or if Chad Gable is just a really talented fucker (probably the latter), but either way, long may this feud continue! It's easily the best thing Corbin's done in his entire career.
These past few years though, the problem with Raw and WWE in general has never been a lack of good wrestling. It's everything else. Everyone being scripted to talk and act exactly the same. Everything feeling so overproduced. No-one being able to stand out or show any type of authenticity. This show highlighted it perfectly. On a three hour show, with loads of good wrestling, what were the two best parts? The small glimpses we got of guys being able to show some proper character, first with the Street Prophets and Miz breaking the Fourth Wall to pull some faces and then with Sami Zayn acting the tit at ringside during Nakamura's offense.
I know it's not news to say this, but imagine how great this show would be if it were booked or written like it was 1997 and guys were allowed to just throw shit out there and act more like themselves. We see enough of them on Network specials, podcasts and social media to know there's some really funny, interesting guys on this roster. It's criminal that they're all forced to talk and act so weird and uninteresting.
Some other quick thoughts:
- Rusev's fucked already. Nothing kills a return like abandoning the direction one week in. If they were always going to drop the tease that he might have been shagging Maria then they never should've hinted at it in the first place. Everyone knew Rusev wouldn't be announced as the Father in the end, but at least play on it and develop your story. They had Maury Povich offering to come on the show for a paternity test, for fuck's sake! That would've been a right laugh! Instead, they decided to just abandon the whole thing in that super frustrating way Vince drops angles, scripting the announcers to brush it off and act like you're the dickhead for wanting to see things followed up on. Rubbish!
- EC3 needs to leak to Meltzer than he's being buried and Vince will never push him. Appealing to Vince's need to troll and undermine Big Dave is the only way EC3's gonna be able to save his career at this point.
- Nice to see they've breathed some life into the 24/7 thing by giving the women a go. Hopefully they come up with some fun vignettes.
- Big fan of Hogan's name being booed. They obviously weren't expecting that by keeping the crowd mics up. Brilliant. Hopefully that continues. Fuck him.
- Another great Firefly Funhouse. Bray's really hitting his groove with these now. I wonder if we'll ever see School Teacher Bray in a live setting or if it'll always be in these type of segments? Either way though, there's no denying it any more. If it isn't already the case then this Seth vs. Fiend thing needs to be a double turn. The crowd hated Seth during that opening promo and the way they had him screaming in fear at the end was even worse than last week. Look at this prick!
The quicker they start playing on the glaringly obvious unlikable aspects of Seth's character and push him as the heel against Bray the better it'll be for everyone involved.
- It looks like they're going all out next week, with a new logo, set and the return of pyro for the, "Season Premiere." It would be forgivable if people missed the new logo though since it was shown at the same time as that terrifying image of a photoshopped Brock Lesnar.
Major Uncanny Valley vibes!