Monday’s show opened to the Nature Boy himself, Ric Flair. His business, to announce the final member of his team, who will take on Team Hogan at WWE’s Crown Jewel event. That man is no other than first-round draft pick, Drew McIntyre.
This brief segment completed the respective lineups for the nothing match in Saudi Arabia and now means McIntyre has played lackey to Dolph Ziggler, Shane McMahon and now Flair since his return to the main roster. Why won’t they let this man stand alone!? The Scot has the potential to be the best heel of the full-time roster but that’s never going to happen when he’s being shown off as a glorified lapdog.
I must stress what uncomfortable viewing it is to see Flair flogged out in front of us, just to sell this event in a socially unjust country. Flair has recovered well from his health problems but it’s clear for all to see that he’s less sure-footed entering the ring and, whilst he’s still sharp on the mic, he’s slurring more and more of his words. I don’t care if Flair wants it or nor but keep this man out of the ring, help him to preserve his health and don’t subject us to these awkward scenes.
Drew McIntyre def. Ricochet
This was a great slog of a match between two superstars who clearly have great chemistry together. McIntyre’s combination of size, strength, and speed fantastically complimented Richochet’s relentless aerial offence and whilst the pair held back in this match, the potential for some classic matches down the line is obvious.
The finish came after McIntyre was able to gain the advantage on the outside of the ring before setting Ricochet up to receive the Claymore Kick once back inside for the three-count. After the match, McIntyre’s ruthless streak came to the fore as he executed a vicious-looking Inverted Alabama Slam onto the ring steps on his beaten foe.
This was a great match and victory for McIntyre who’s been in desperate need to regain some of his momentum ever since it was largely lost after his Wrestlemania 35 loss to Roman Reigns. This loss also doesn’t hurt Ricochet in any way due to the booking of the match as both superstars were allowed to look good in an entertaining opener.
Aleistair Black def. Jason Reynolds
In this competitive affair, Black dispatched “Cleveland’s finest (jobber)” in an efficient and dominating fashion.
It’s a shame Black will likely have to settle for decapitating jobbers for at least another month or so until creative can come up with an angle for him, however, it’s still good to see him being actively used.
Grade: Robinson’s fruit squash
Rusev, Lana & Bobby Lashley segment
Nothing new was illuminated upon in this segment, we had much the same as we’ve seen in previous weeks, with Rusev being made to look like a mug and Lashley and Lana, again, gloating over their new relationship on the tiantron.
I don’t know where this angle is really going or who it’s serving because no one is looking good so far, it’s not adding much spice to this Team Flair vs Team Hogan affair and I don’t know who would enjoy watching this. As a filthy casual, I don’t care about Rusev and Lana’s relationship (probably cause they’ve been off-screen for months prior to this), I can’t imagine the kids are getting anything out of this nor any soap fans in the audience. Rusev deserves better than this.
I feel the best thing to come out of this would be a gimmick change for Lashley. Have him become some womanising villain who goes around the locker room stealing other men’s wives because he plays the role perfectly. I’m not sure I could ever buy into Lashley as a serious champion in WWE, so why not run with this gimmick and have him wind up every babyface going and then get his ass kicked down the line. That would be fun to see.
(We did get some suggestion of payoff later on in the show, with Rusev storming the restaurant where Lashley and Lana were dining and having to be separated from his wife’s latest squeeze. The only problem was this segment wasn’t allowed to run for as long as it should’ve as it made for a funny scene to see Rusev with his hands finally on Lashley as Lana’s hysterical screeching dominated the commentary on this angle.)
Grade: C (B-)
Andrade w/ Zelina Vega def. Sin Cara
In a surprisingly even matchup, Sin Cara looked good upon his return from injury. Andrade took plenty of offence and had to rely upon Vega’s interference to grab the win in this match.
In what was an entertaining contest, Andrade and Vega took their opportunity to gain some cheap heat, with Andrade mocking the legend, Eddie Guerrero and Vega ultimately, costing Sin Cara the match. Sin Cara also got a great reception from the crowd and will be thanking his lucky stars he never got roped into the Lucha House Party upon his reintroduction to the WWE Universe.
The Viking Raiders def. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder
This match went exactly how you’d imagine it to go. Ryder and Hawkins seemingly drawing the short straw this week to take a beatdown from the new Raw Tag-Team champions. After a short match, Hawkins was the one to take the Viking Experience for the pin to keep the berserkers on a role.
I love seeing Hawkins and Ryder no matter what and with the Viking Raiders made to look great once again, there wasn’t anything to complain about.
Seth Rollins def. Humberto Carrillo
After taking offence to some of Carillo’s earlier comments, Rollins faced off against high-flyer in Carrillo’s first match on Raw after making the move over from 205-live.
Rollins gradual heel-turn was further teased in this match as Carrillo withstood much of Rollins early offence and almost nabbed the win for himself after nailing a picture-perfect Aztec Press. Rollins was ultimately the victor after countering a second Aztec Press, catching Carrillo on the chin mid-moonsault in order to set up the Curb Stomp for the three-count.
A solid debut for Carrillo and further character development from Rollins in a condensed matchup.
The Street Profits w/ Kevin Owens def. The O.C. w/ A.J. Styles
The main event of the evening saw another in-ring debut for the comedic duo, the Street Profits as they sought to take revenge on the O.C. for their attack on them backstage, last week. After teasing they had someone there to watch their back, we had to wait for that reveal as the match got underway beforehand.
The O.C. used their advantage in numbers to keep their athletic opponents at bay in this match as they worked over the pair for the majority of the match. The finish came after an interruption from A.J. Styles led to his ejection from the referee, which he took objection to, thus prompting the injection from Kevin Owens who landed a stunner on the enraged Styles to give the Profits the opportunity to capitalise on the distraction. Montez Ford was the one to land the five-star-esque Frog Splash to land the win for the debuting tag-team to close the show.
A solid show overall with some entertaining yet uninspired booking sprinkled in with the usual comedic 24/7 title skits with R-Truth. The highlights of the night including the increased momentum for the likes of Drew McIntyre and Rusev’s assault on the restaurant in order to finally get some hands-on Bobby Lashley.
Outside of this, it was nothing more than an average show with very little storylines furthered and not much interest garnered in the upcoming Crown Jewel event.
Final Grade: B-