Emotions ran high during the Monday Night Raw main event with Charlotte and Sasha Banks facing off for the RAW Women’s Title. Yes, an actual female main event, that closed the show. No segments with male stars, or authority figures coming out to rehash old feuds. Just two women, in the ring, giving their all. And in the end, Sasha Banks came out victorious, for the second time.
It may seem strange to give credit to a company for having two women close the show, but this is a large step forward for WWE. For as much as they touted the “Diva’s Revolution”, they always seemed standoffish when it actually came to gender equality in terms of presentation. Main eventing PPV’s is a large part of that, but so is having more prominent segments on the weekly events. For perspective, the last women’s match to close out Monday Night Raw was Lita vs Trish Stratus in 2004, TWELVE YEARS AGO. WWE still has a ways to go to gain some semblance of equality, but this match meant something in the micro and macro.
As for the in-ring performance itself, it was good, not great. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the match. Charlotte and Sasha clearly have great chemistry, and seem to enjoy beating the hell out of each other, but this was probably one of their least technical outings. The story in this match wasn’t about out wrasslin’ one another, it was about destruction. Charlotte had to break Sasha in order to retain that title. As such, the match was a bit of a spot fest, focusing more on high impact, high drama sections than a standard battle of attrition, but they got the desired effect; the crowd was all in.
Sasha regaining the title on RAW was a momentous occasion, one that i’m sure WWE will milk for all it’s worth in the coming years, but I can’t help be feel a little letdown that Sasha hasn’t had her “big stage” moment on a PPV event, and by extension, holding the only title the company is willing to let change hands on free TV. Even the US Title, which you could argue has lower stock, seems to only change hands at a PPV event. It’s a small issue, and one that doesn’t completely sully the moment, but something I noticed.
Talk is Cheap
Man, John Cena is tired of the jokey jokes. Last week, he tee’d off on Dean Ambrose during his Talking Smack interview. Basically hitting Dean (and his girlfriend, Renee Young) with the Bison speech from Street Fighter. Cena went on to call Ambrose out for being lazy, and not caring about Dean in any way, essentially putting Dean beneath the soon to be 16 time champ.
Dean, never one to take these things lightly, went on another rant this week, which prompted Cena to run into the ring, to be interrupted not once, but twice. With AJ Styles and Dean both cutting pretty harsh promos on the bejorted one. It all pretty much amounted to Ambrose calling Cena a politician and a hypocrite. One that talked his way into the title picture instead of earning it through hard work. Then hit him with “have fun being the guy who plays John Cena on TV” . Ouch.
The build to this match, which is this Sunday on No Mercy, has been stellar. AJ has been playing the back a bit in order to let Cena and Ambrose tear each other apart, but clearly neither man has taken their eye off the prize. I think Styles still walks away champ so that Cena and Ambrose can have a one on one match up down the line, but every part of this has been flame emojis.
Dolph, This is Your Life
Man, if Dolph and Miz weren’t actually friends, i’d think that Miz was actually trying to destroy this dudes life. Miz invites Ziggler to the ring for a Dolphumentary, under the guise of a WWE Network special, then proceeds to showcase just how much of a non-entity Dolph has been for his entire career.
Then, then on top of all that, Miz actually had original members of the Spirit Squad come out and remind Dolph of his past, and potential future. Also, Dolph has never had good hair during his entire run. Just various shades of highlighter piss yellow, but I digress. There should have been two more members, but Miz said they were likely lost in transit when they were sent back down to OVW. All great stuff.
At this point, it all comes off as Dolph trying to assure himself more than prove anything to Miz. The mind games are clearly getting to him, and adds the right amount of emotion to the match this Sunday. Now, there is a rumor floating around the interwebz that Dolph may be taking some time off, so he could actually lose this match. Still, WWE acknowledging the history of a Superstar that has changed gimmicks, and actually using it to build toward something is great. Wrasslin’ history is no longer lost to time, and only transferred through grainy videos. We have fairly long memories in this regard, use that to your advantage.
Sister Christian, Your Time Has Come
In an odd twist of fortune, I’ve come around on the whole Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt feud. I’ve embraced the silly. If only because I really like Bray as a character, and want them to use him in a way that actually takes advantage of all his posturing. No, having Randy also slip the production team a $20 so that he can mess with the giant screen doesn’t help, but it will force Bray to do something different. From the looks of it, that difference my be actually introducing Sister Abigail.
Bray’s dips into the supernatural always come off a bit hokey, but his mic work is such that he can just talk circles around someone and have everything else just kinda fall into place. Does this mean he’ll win due to spectral interference? No clue, but i’m more intrigued now than I was about a week ago. Also, Bray disappearing is only creepy if you ignore that dozens of people would have walked by that container and could have let him out. Randy, you imprisoned a man with video evidence, pretty sure Bray just called for a stage hand.
Stuff and Thangs
Becky with the Bold Hair has her first title defense this Sunday at No Mercy. If I were a bettin’ man, i’d say she’s gonna win that one easy, but Smackdown Live has built the hell out of this match. It has to be said that SD Live has benefitted the most from the brand split. The smaller rosters, and shorter showtime forced them to be more judicious with their pacing and how often people actually perform. This decreases fatigue, and lets them plan out the angles even though they still have PPV’s every month, there has clearly been times when someone in creative took a step back and said “hey, let’s go this way instead”, and the show is better for it. Lynch vs Alexa Bliss, Nikki Bella and Carmella, and a slew of others on the Blue Brand have gotten a chance to shine in a smaller amount of time.
RAW on the other hand still feels like a slog at three hours. I know, you’re probably tired of people complaining about that time, when Chris Jericho is likely the most over person on your show, if only because he takes some of the sting off of segments, there’s a problem. The cruiserweights got two segments this week, but spread throughout the show, which meant the ghost of Prince’s past had to come through twice and purp the place up. I’m not a fan of the set design specifically for the cruiserweights, the same way I wasn’t a fan of Sin Cara’s mood lighting, or if they’d done something similar with the Women’s matches. Integrate the division into the main show, and find other ways to make them stand apart. This comes off as a sideshow attraction, or novelty, not just a showcase of a different division.
Alright, i’m done jabber jocking. Let me know how wrong I am on the Twittah Machine, and drop you gamertags in my DM’s so I can embarrass you in front of your significant others. Till then…