Happy Memorial Day! Raw opens with a moving and heartfelt tribute to fallen soldiers. Now it’s time for some rasslin’.
IN-RING SEGMENT WITH BRAUN STROWMAN
I like how Braun says inside the case there’s a contract that guarantees ME a title shot. He didn’t say guarantees a superstar or guarantees the winner, he said ME. It’s little things like that that make a big difference in promos and how a character is perceived by the audience. Props to the writing team on that one.
Am I hearing Finn get booed? That’s pretty damn surprising. Maybe it shows just how over Braun is. Or maybe Finn is stale and needs a heel turn. Or all of the above. It could be like how anyone going up against Daniel Bryan is a heel even if they’re a face. Finn smacking Braun in the face could signify winds of change for Finn, or maybe I’m reading too much into it. Kurt makes an immediate rematch, and I would be surprised to see Finn win dirty.
Segment Rating: Six This Is Your Lifes
FINN BALOR VS. BRAUN STROWMAN
I figured Kevin Owens would get involved and cause a disqualification once he came out on commentary. Finn takes another severe beating. Owens is obnoxious on commentary, which I guess means he’s being a good heel, but it’s annoying the shit out of me. He gets on the mic and tries to egg on Braun to destroy Balor, smart move to try to have one of his competitors taken out. Finn can’t get anything going in this match, Braun is pummeling him, to the delight of the crowd. Finn finally tosses Braun into the ring post and hits a few dropkicks, including an impressive one that knocks Braun over the top rope. Finn gets close to an upset before my senses were correct and Owens causes a DQ. Braun launched a ladder at Owens, throwing further than I ever thought it was possible to throw a ladder. I’m excited to see Braun stomping after Owens, let’s hope he catches him and turns in into his own personal hand puppet. This was a very good opening match with the hottest face on the roster doing what he does best: beat the shit out of someone.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
IN-RING SEGMENT WITH ELIAS
Elias with some Grade A crowd trolling tonight, the man gets better at it every week. He didn’t even sing a song or have a match and this was the most I can remember being entertained by him since El Vagabundo. They use Seth to get even more heat on Elias. That was excellent.
Segment Rating: Nine This Is Your Lifes
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: JINDER MAHAL VS. SETH ROLLINS
You could argue that Seth Rollins has never been more over than he is right now. It’s obvious that he’s extremely pissed about the chair attack on him and Roman last week, he comes flying out of the gate in this one. Sunil Singh does his job by causing a distraction, as much as I want to see him get the shit kicked out of him, at least he serves his purpose well. Some people may find Jinder a boring wrestler, especially by today’s standards, but I think he harkens back to a day when matches were more logical. He’s a heel whose attacks usually center on a speedy babyface’s midsection, which slows the face down. His style makes a lot of sense. Sure there’s not much action when he’s in control, but it tells a good story and gets a bigger pop when the face makes a comeback, especially in a match with someone like Seth who may be more over than Strowman. Just as Rollins really gets going, Jinder hits double knees to the abdomen. It’s a terrific plan of attack by Jinder. This match has a few good near falls off of the gut buster and the falcon arrow and the crowd is really into the match. Jinder comes damn close to winning the IC title with a chair shot while the ref is busy ejecting Singh. I love how Rollins used Singh as a weapon. Then he grabs an actual weapon and gets himself DQ’d, but who gives a shit? The crowd may be a little upset that he didn’t hit a curb stomp and get a pinfall, but it was almost as satisfying to see Jinder get smacked with a chair. The cherry on top is Elias shattering his guitar over a celebrating Rollins. There was nothing I didn’t like about this match. It was perfect. The wrestling was terrific, the crowd was HOT, the heel-face dynamic was perfect, and Sunil Singh was used just right. Then, just when everyone forgets about Elias and is celebrating with Seth, he makes his move and gets even more heat. So far tonight Elias has insulted the crowd, held the show hostage without playing a song, and brutally attacked the top babyface from behind. Terrific show so far. The kicker is as Seth is being carried out in a neck brace, the crowd sings Happy Birthday.
Match Rating: Ten Gold Medals
NIA JAX VS. MICHELLE WEBB W/ RONDA ROUSEY ON COMMENTARY
I’ll call this a segment instead of a match as Nia just uses Webb to prove a point to Ronda. It seems as if Nia is going to be the heel here, which would make her face run pretty damn short. Ronda finally loses her smile as she walks down to the ring. As the “baddest woman on the planet,” she smiles too much for my liking. That segment really didn’t accomplish much at all. We’ve already seen Nia squash jobbers for weeks in a row, and why did she get in Ronda’s face before turning around and walking out of the ring? Why did Ronda let her leave after being called out? The heel should slide out of the ring as soon as the face gets in if they aren’t going to get physical. The first blemish in an otherwise excellent show.
Segment Rating: Four Katie Vicks
DELETER OF WORLDS VS. THE ASCENSION
The Ascension wrestles heel in this one, which I’m all for if it gets them out of the comedy tag team funk. However they don’t look to strong once Bray gets the hot tag, nor when Viktor resorts to a roll-up. They still looked like a couple of jobbers in this one. Matt and Bray are fun but this match was nothing to write home about. The second hour has been weak so far after a strong first hour.
Match rating: Three Gold Medals
BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: THE B TEAM AND KURT ANGLE
Dallas and Axel have become pretty entertaining. Their matches leave something to be desired, but their charisma and promo segments are a lot of fun.
Segment Rating: Five This Is Your Lifes
Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan have certainly improved their promo skills. Less is more with them, and they’re not trying to be silly and funny.
BOBBY ROODE VS. KEVIN OWENS
Someone in the crowd has a sign that says “Eat, Sleep, Show Up Once, Repeat.” I need to find other things to entertain me during Bobby Roode’s matches. In addition to being a boring character, Roode’s wrestling doesn’t make any sense. His moves get reversed because he stops in the middle to say “GLORIOUS”, and when he does hit a move, he stops. He doesn’t keep the pressure on his opponent. He just does not wrestle intelligently, especially for a face. Not a great match but I was more entertained by this one than I normally am by Roode’s matches. Thrilled to see Strowman get his hands on both guys after the match.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals + Two for Braun’s post-match destruction
IN-RING SEGMENT: SAMI ZAYN & BOBBY LASHLEY
Sami has done a great job of going from still getting cheered when he first turned heel to getting a ton of heat over the past few months. I love that he threw the guy who got evicted by his parents into his promo. He admits *gasp* that Lashley’s “sisters” were men that he hired. He apologizes for and defends the segment in the same breath, then makes himself the victim and calls the crowd repulsive. He is tremendous on the mic and is a great whiny bitch heel. Unfortunately, Lashley sucks on the mic, and the crowd doesn’t seem to be behind him at all. He needs to stop smiling and stop talking and just kick ass, or turn heel, because this happy face Lashley doesn’t work. Last week it was Lashley who saved a segment and this week it was Sami.
Sami Zayn Rating: Six This Is Your Lifes:
Bobby Lashley Rating: Three Katie Vicks
DREW McINTYRE VS. CHAD GABLE
Here we see a wrestler vs. a brawler. Jim Ross said last week that Drew McIntyre is a future world champion, and I can’t disagree. He’s a beast. I don’t think Gable even touched the ring post on that throw, that didn’t look great. The whole match seemed like it was a little out of sync, which is surprising because Gable especially is so good in the ring. This one didn’t do it for me tonight.
Match Rating: Two Gold Medals
THE B TEAM BBQ
This looks like it’s going to be another awful holiday episode food fight. Aaaaaand I was right. God I hate these segments. One step forward and five steps back for The B Team tonight.
Segment Rating: Seven Katie Vicks
They announce Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor, Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Roode, Nia jax vs. Natalya, and a #1 contender tag team battle royal for next week.
MITB QUALIFIER GAUNTLET MATCH
MATCH #1: BAYLEY VS. LIV MORGAN
Bayley’s promo sucked, and what the hell was that match?
Match #1 Rating: One Gold Medal
MATCH #2: BAYLEY VS. SARAH LOGAN
WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT MATCH?
Match #2 Rating: One Gold Medal
MATCH #3: BAYLEY VS. RUBY RIOTT
Horrible start to this gauntlet match so far. We know Bayley has the endurance to last from her iron woman match with Sasha Bank, so why are they insulting her and the fans with these first two shit fests? Not much better with this third match that is barely longer than the first two.
Match #3 Rating: One Gold Medal
MATCH #4: DANA BROOKE VS. RUBY RIOTT
HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS GOD DAMN TERRIBLE
Match #4 Rating: One Gold Medal
There seems to be a pattern here.
MATCH #5: MICKIE JAMES VS. RUBY RIOTT
Corey says Ruby has already faced multiple competitors so Mickie has the advantage. Except Mickie exerted more energy coming down the ramp than Ruby did Bayley and Dana Brooke. It took til the fifth match of the gauntlet to finally get a decent match. They’ve really phoned this show in after a terrific first hour. Ruby gets the dirty win.
Match #5 Rating: Four Gold Medals
MATCH #6: SASHA BANKS VS. RUBY RIOTT
It’s very smart wrestling by Sasha to immediately start going for pinfalls since Ruby has been out there for a little bit, regardless of how little effort was exerted in her first two matches. I don’t know how Corey can say Ruby has shown “tremendous endurance” with a straight face. Sasha and Ruby work extremely well together in this match. Sasha hit a crushing powerbomb then fought off Liv and Sarah before making Ruby tap out. I would like to see what Ruby can do in a ladder match but I’m not upset that Sasha is gonna be in it, she’s surely gonna have a “holy shit” moment or two.
Match #6 Rating: Six Gold Medals
Overall Gauntlett Match Rating: Two Gold Medals, because as a gauntlet match it sucked balls.
Overall Show Rating: Four Gold Medals. One great hour and two bad ones doesn’t cut it.