By Will Pruett
Will Pruett watches the 90 minute Hulu edit of Raw because it’s better.
Raw is quickly becoming the kingdom of monsters. Wrestling has always had mysterious big men who wear single-shoulder singlets and likely destroy catering, but Raw has been stocked with various types of monsters and this show highlighted all of them.
First, there is the legendary monster. In this case, his name is Goldberg. Brock Lesnar would also tend to fit into this mold. This monster destroys everything in his path (as a monster should), but does so on rare occasions. This is a special monster we don’t see very often, but one who must destroy (or yell or snarl) when seen. In the case of Goldberg, it looks like he’s about to become one of two central monsters on Raw, as he’s likely going to win the Universal Championship at Fastlane.
Moving on to the new monster, Samoa Joe. While Joe isn’t new to me and likely isn’t new to you reading this, Joe was new to the audience last week when he attacked Seth Rollins. Joe is the sort of monster I’m most fond of. He’s the technical monster. It’s not just his size, but his ability and agility contributing to his monstrousness. Joe is the rare monster who can wrestle a 20 minute match without exhausting himself or running out of fun things to do. Samoa Joe was able to display his full range on Raw, both with a strong opening promo and with a good match against Roman Reigns. As a side note, this is the sort of monster Brock Lesnar was originally in 2002.
Speaking of this match with Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman’s interference in said match displayed another of form of monster: the unbeatable giant. This was exactly what Big Show has been at his very best and what Andre The Giant was going into WrestleMania III. This is high praise for Strowman, but Strowman has had the best creative effort on Raw since the brand split. Now we see the interesting period of Strowman’s monstrous life. He’s beyond the jobber phase, although beating four of them was fun to watch. Strowman is now up against credible main eventers and he can’t just be the monster demolition machine he has always been.
In a way, Nia Jax has this in common with Braun. She has been the sole monster in Raw’s Women’s Division and has been fun to watch. Going back to the first Raw episodes after the brand split, Braun and Nia were the monsters getting weekly squash matches. We’ve seen an effective effort for both. Now Nia has to find a way to stay monstrous but occasionally lose. This is a true challenge and a turning point in the career of a monster.
Raw has monsters all over the top of its card. Now, they have to find a way to keep any of them from becoming stale. This is a true creative challenge, since monster stories tend to be very similar to each other. How will Raw make sure Nia Jax, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Bill Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar all have different enough stories going into Fastlane and WrestleMania?
And now for some random thoughts:
– Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns was a good main event. I would have timed Braun’s interference not to coincide with Roman setting up the Spear on Joe, but this is a small criticism. Overall, Joe was allowed to look tough in his second week on Raw. I’ll take that.
– Bayley getting a Women’s Championship shot next week has me worried that WWE will do another story about Charlotte losing the belt on Raw. This is a poor decision on a number of levels. I love the Bayley character and thus feel WWE hasn’t done to work to lead up to a Bayley win. Just as they did with Sasha Banks, WWE would be losing an epic story they could tell with Bayley. Heck, it’s a story they’ve already told to great success with Bayley on NXT.
– I’d be all for a great main event between Charlotte and Bayley with a heartbreaking Bayley loss. I’m all about twisting the figurative knife as Bayley loses and breaks down in tears. Let fans feel the agony of defeat. It’ll make the rush of victory even better.
– Goldberg vs. Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship is going to happen at Fastlane. I’m currently of the opinion it’ll last four or fewer minutes.
– Goldberg’s promo segment with Owens and Chris Jericho wasn’t my favorite thing. I have had trouble investing in Goldberg since his return and this is continuing here.
– Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho felt like a whole lot of nothing.
– Why did I have to see Gallows and Anderson vs. Cesaro and Sheamus with a terrible ending instead of the Raw debut of Akira Tozawa? 90 minute Raw edits can hurt you sometimes.
– The conflicted nature of Mick Foley on this show was really well done. I don’t enjoy the constant focus on authority figures instead of wrestlers, but at least WWE chose to tell an interesting story of conflict between Foley and Stephanie McMahon. I’ll take this instead of overwrought authority promos any day.
– At long last, Raw is getting good. Yay!
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.