Pro Wrestling

10 Ways Raw Was Slightly Unhinged In All The Right Ways Source:

It’s only appropriate that after crowning a borderline lunatic as the WWE World Champion at Money in the Bank that the first Raw of his reign would feel a little off-kilter. From the moment Ambrose arrived in Phoenix by taxi, nearly forgetting the belt when he got out of the cab, things were somehow different. The atmosphere in the arena was a little brighter than usual, the jokes seemed funnier, the energy level seemed higher, and all sorts of interesting things seemed to happen as a result. Maybe it’s a side effect of WWE having its first fully babyface champion in quite some time. Whatever the case, the energy that Ambrose brought to Raw seemed to spread through most of the show, and we’ve examined some of the highlights for your enjoyment.

10. Wait, You’re Supposed To Like The Champ?

The best thing we can say about Dean Ambrose is that while he’s not the best wrestler on the roster (he’s above average, most of the time), and he’s not the best talker on the roster (although he’s up there), he is certainly one of the most likeable performers in WWE. Even as champion, Ambrose comes across as a regular, albeit slightly unhinged guy. He speaks naturally and doesn’t fall back onto catchphrases. He talks directly to the people in attendance instead of to the hard camera. He inadvertently refers to The Big Lebowski. And while he can monologue with the best of them, where he really shines is when he’s just riffing, reacting to things with clever one-liners and talking like a human being instead of a guy who’s memorized a script. This isn’t designed to be a gigantic set-up where we dump on Roman Reigns, but there is a reason why Ambrose isn’t getting mixed reactions when he comes out as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. With his crazy attitude and street fighting persona, people have been comparing Ambrose to legends like Brian Pillman and Steve Austin, but we see Ambrose more as someone like Mick Foley. Like Foley, Ambrose is a wrestler whose hard work clearly connects with the audience. He’s someone that fans actually like, relate to, and want to see do well, which is why his title reign is being greeted with acclaim. Source:

9. The Best Version Of Stephanie

This week, it’s apparently Stephanie’s turn to take a little vacation, and Shane is left to run things by himself. So, when it becomes apparent that a decision must be made in regards to a #1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Title, Shane comes out to lay down the law. Of course, Seth Rollins doesn’t like that, because Shane’s ruling won’t be in his favor, so he demands Stephanie’s input be considered. Obviously, Seth has forgotten that Stephanie mocked him repeatedly a couple of weeks ago, but that’s just continuity, we’re not expected to remember that, right? Anyway, Shane humors Seth by pretending that Stephanie is standing next to him, and asks her opinion. Unlike the real Stephanie, there are no long monologues, no sneering at the pathetic wrestlers she employs, and most importantly, no slapping people who can’t hit her back. Imaginary Stephanie just agrees with Shane’s reasonable decision and we move on. As a result, we’d like to take this opportunity to campaign for Invisible Stephanie for GM of either Raw or Smackdown, because frankly, it’s the most tolerable version of Stephanie we’ve seen in ages. Source:

8. It’s Never Over

We’d talk about how we’re not big fans of giving away a Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn match, one of wrestling’s only eternal blood feuds, as a throwaway match on Raw with no advertising, but at the same time, who doesn’t want to watch Sami and Kevin hockey-fight each other every chance they get? Sami picks up the victory, because somehow in this world, Sami wins matches, but Kevin doesn’t take the loss lying down, and attempts to powerbomb Sami off the stage. Which, you know, probably seemed like a totally reasonable reaction. Brawling ensues, and we’re probably headed to another fight at Battleground, because that PPV takes place immediately after the brand split, which suggests that we’re being given Kevin-Sami one last time before they end up on separate brands and have to spend years trying to find their way back to each other. Seriously, did anyone notice that the draft to split up the roster is happening five days before a PPV? Has WWE considered a way to make that show not a complete lame duck effort, since at least a few of the matches will probably involve people who will no longer be on the same brand by the time the PPV happens? Maybe they have, we’re just asking. Source:

7. If No One Else Is Going To Ask, We Will

Did WWE really set up Raw and Smackdown podiums and leave them there for the entire show, just for a comedy bit involving Johnny Ace trying to sleaze his way into a GM spot after the brand split? Or are those just supposed to be a looming reminder of the approaching draft? Either way, they were visually distracting every time they were on screen, but not as much as the god-awful red suit that Big Johnny decided would be appropriate for his big return. Never before have we regretted owning an HD television, but now there’s this bright red object burned into our retinas, and it’s just too much to deal with. Meanwhile, we’re just going to ask another question, why are all these former GM’s coming back and begging for jobs? I feel like Shane and Stephanie have made it quite clear that they’ll be retaining control over both brands in some way, and there is no need for a GM. Not that we don’t enjoy watching Shane try to let Johnny down easy before finally just telling him “No”, but we can’t help but feel this is building to a screaming Vickie Guerrero all over an episode of Raw, and we just now got over the PTSD that resulted from hearing that voice so much over the years. Source:

6. A Man Of His Word

Hey kids, apparently we were all lied to, because according to John Cena, just apologizing when you do bad things doesn’t actually make everything okay. Of course, The Club’s apology was not sincere, and they were obviously planning to jump John Cena at the first opportunity, but they certainly went the extra mile in trying to sound genuine, and that should count for something, right? Honestly, as confusing as it was to turn AJ Styles heel at the height of his WWE popularity, he is so much more comfortable as this lying jerk who pretends he’s still a good guy that we’re actually more than okay with things continuing this way. And while this may all still end in a series of dominating victories for the paragon of Hustle, Loyalty, and shirts that parody cheap beer, for the moment, we’ll admit that we were revelling in the classic heel act of The Club on Raw. Everything they say is a lie, but they’re just so earnest that you almost believe they might be telling the truth, and that’s when they jump you. Look at Cena, he came to the ring knowing that he was going to get ambushed, and he still ended up agreeing to a 1-on-1 match with Anderson that ended when Styles and Gallows attacked him from behind. That’s some good old-fashioned heel work, right there. Source:

5. You Can Pay Attention Again

Hey, everyone, Sasha’s back, so the Women’s division can start mattering again! That sounds cruel, but it’s been quite clear since WrestleMania that WWE was literally attempting to kill time with a filler feud involving Natalya so that they could hold off on Charlotte vs Sasha in their first one-on-one PPV match until SummerSlam. It’s not the worst idea in the world, obviously, but it would have been nice if we could have spent that time doing anything interesting at all with the Women’s division, instead of centering it around Ric Flair and a lame duck challenger. That said, Paige and Charlotte went out and tried to have a good long match before Sasha’s return, which, again, nobody cared about because they were still waiting for Sasha. Also, Dana Brooke spent most of that match showing why she really should have stuck in NXT a little longer, because while her character work is on point, she is basically lost in the ring, and managed to blow basically every spot she was involved in, including the finish. But, with that said, Sasha’s here, and everything should be cool again, at least for a while. Plus, they might have actually created a secondary feud between Becky and Natalya! Think about it, we might be on the verge two meaningful Women’s segments a week! Source:

4. New Era, Same Old Wyatts

Well, the Wyatt Family is back, minus the injured Luke Harper, and all that character work and positive crowd reaction that they got before Bray suffered his untimely injury is basically gone now. Nope, they’re back to being the mysterious and creepy guys who deliver vague backstage promos and then come out and deliver vague in-ring promos. At least this time we didn’t have to wait to see who they’re next target is, as The New Day presented themselves immediately. As fresh as such a feud would be, and we’re still curious if Xavier was actually momentarily controlled by the Wyatts or just messing with everyone, it feels like another step back for the Family, after Bray was on the verge of something special just a few weeks back. Frankly, if the best WWE could come up with for their return angle is feuding with The New Day, why didn’t they just have Bray return as part of the Money in the Bank match instead? Either way, it’s not like they’re going to win anything. Plus, we’re not really looking forward to the eventual tag matches involving Rowan and Strowman, neither of whom are exactly the strongest wrestlers on the roster. But on the bright side, that’s another established tag team in advance of the roster split! Source:

3. Who’s Your Daddy?

We would once again like to take the opportunity to apologize to Titus O’Neil, who seems like an okay guy. We’re sorry, Titus, but you’re going to have to accept that Rusev is your kids’ role model now. Look at him, he’s in the best shape of his career, he’s the US Champion, and he broke you without breaking a real sweat. Plus, he’s in a stable relationship, which is another good value for your children to learn. This intense, vengeance-seeking Titus is a new look for him, if nothing else, but when push comes to shove, we’re pretty sure we can guess who is going to be on the winning end. Face it, Titus, you’re just filler until the draft, at which point Rusev will find someone more important to fight at SummerSlam. The good news is, unlike your former tag team partner, you don’t have to spend your weeks getting awkwardly yelled at by a clearly unstable old man, in service of some vague, unexplained goal. Seriously, how is any of that going to make Darren Young great again? Wouldn’t this time he’s spending standing in front of a sterile blue background be better spent in the ring? Source:

2. The Miz Is Coming Back. You’ve Been Warned.

It was truly too good to last, as The Miz has finished shooting his latest direct-to-video Marine sequel (admittedly, they’re not that bad, but that’s because we have Ted DiBiase’s version to compare them to) and will be on the way back to WWE in the near future. That’s bad, because in addition to being the Intercontinental Champion and the star of a Hollywood-adjacent movie, his hometown of Cleveland just won the NBA Finals to partially alleviate decades of suffering for their sports fans (which will last until roughly six seconds after the Cleveland Browns kick off in their first game of the new NFL season). If you thought Miz was insufferable before, imagine what he’ll be like now that he can call his hometown the “City of Champions” and compare himself to LeBron. Maybe one of the crew members he was yelling at this week can give him food poisoning or something so we can delay his return a couple of weeks. On the other hand, Miz returning means we might be closer to Cesaro taking the title from him, which I think we can all agree is best for everyone. Source:

1. Everyone Loses, But We Still Win!

Admit it, you knew from the second we had all three Shield members in the ring to open Raw that a Triple Threat match was coming. Heck, you probably knew after the main event of Money in the Bank saw the WWE World Heavyweight Title change hands between each former member. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing that WWE went through the motions of having a #1 contenders match that was entirely designed to fail to actually determine Dean Ambrose’s opponent for Battleground. What it did mean was that we got a second good, long match between Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, that was further enhanced by Dean Ambrose being the most entertaining thing on commentary since the last person who wasn’t a regular member of the booth. Which reminds us, is that declaration he made a few months ago about using his power as champion to replace Michael Cole with a fish tank still in effect? Anyway, we probably wouldn’t have gone for the double count-out, because in that case, both Reigns and Rollins actually did lose the match, as opposed to a no-decision of some sort, but we’ll give credit for having Ambrose cut through the red tape and just declare that he’ll fight both of them, because he’ll take on any and all challengers. We already discussed the many reasons why fans like Ambrose, but making him into a “fighting champion” who’s ready to defend his title anywhere, any time, against anyone, is another item to put on that list. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.