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The WWE Raw season premiere heralds a new era of apathy

Meet the new Raw, same as the old Raw.

It’s the first Monday Night Raw since the WWE Draft and Jay and Jason are holding their breaths. Raw has, mercifully, jettisoned the Rey Mysterio/Seth Rollins feud to Friday nights, but Lana is getting a title shot against Asuka tonight. And how will Raw adapt now that it has Braun Strowman WITH. HIS. FARMER. GLOVES!?

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly wrestling podcast, PTW!
  • Will Mustafa Ali finally fess up to being the SmackDown hacker that, uh, hacked (?) RETRIBUTION into existence?
  • Will The Fiend bring The Firefly Fun House to Raw Underground?
  • Does Raw Underground even still exist?
  • Will Keith Lee be able to draft his old music back?
  • And will they finally remember that they forgot to draft Andrade?

Jay and Jason will pine through – deep breath – three hours of Monday Night Raw to find these answers for you. 


Jay: Jason. Did ya miss me? 

Jason: Almost as much as the guy from Chicago P.D. misses his throat lozenges. Seriously, I feel like someone needs to check on that dude. And almost as much as I miss Raw’s old theme song…like super old theme song, I’m thinking like Beautiful People era. This lazy hip-hop isn’t getting me hype for three hours of the pro-graps, and tell me you wouldn’t get excited seeing Drew McIntyre sauntering through a fireworks factory?

Speaking of the fireworks factory, am I the only one not really into this Alexa/Bray pairing? In concept I get it, in practice, it just feels aimless.

Jay: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss the Skillet theme. That song was just kind of…yeah, I don’t know. 

And I see what you are saying about The Fiend/Bliss thing, but Bray hasn’t been aimless since 2018. Give them a chance and…oh wow. Is RETRIBUTION finally doing some — oh no, The Fiend is gone. They’re doing a cluster thing to introduce us to the new roster that is mostly the same roster. 

Jason: I’m not crazy about THEIR theme song either, but it’s better than silence, and I enjoy their gear a lot more this week. Still need to drop the damn masks, but the black and white look is more aesthetically pleasing.

Jay: Hmm. The masks are growing on me but they need to lean into it. Plus Ali found some gold nuggets with his black out hand gesture. It’s a good tweak of his character. I approve. 

Oh. Matt Riddle is still a thing?

Jason: WWE employed Lawler for years despite a mountain of evidence of his sexual impropriety, so what’s the surprise on Riddle? Man, this reminds me, remember when Lashley’s finisher was a stalling suplex? It really says something when a Full Nelson as a finisher is an improvement.

Also so long as this faction war gives me more Ali/Alexander matches I’ll take some stupid masks and even stupider names. I’m less into the Fiend randomly interrupting a group whose whole thing is random interruptions, but I guess we gotta defer to the gods of Twitter.

Jay: But wow Cedric is getting tossed around by Ali. I thought he went to a boot camp. That boot camp must have been terrible. 

Those three segments weren’t terrible.

Jason: If the goal is to bury RETRIBUTION beneath the ring, sure. The whole squad got stomped out by a single guy. Twice! Clearly, both Lashley and Wyatt could destroy all four guys in RETRIBUTION by themselves. If we weren’t meant to think they were chumps before, we’ve got no choice but to think that now.

Jay: What do you think the writer’s room was like when they made that call?

Jason:

WWE Writer: OK, we’ve got a dangerous new heel stable having their first match on Raw. How should we book it?

Vince: MAKE THEM LOSE!

WWE Writer: Uhh, are you sure? We probably want to make them mean some…

Vince: MAKE THEM LOSE, DAMMIT! JUST LIKE THOSE ANTIFA GUYS!

WWE Writer: (Several weeks later) OK, we may have found a way to salvage this floundering angle by putting an exciting and charismatic star that people like as the leader. We had to bump their explanation promo so we could continue to devalue Aleister Black, how should we book…

Vince: MAKE THEM LOSE! BUT MAKE IT LOOK LIKE ONE GUY COULD BEAT THEM ALL BY HIMSELF!

WWE Writer:…Really? You sure they should already be…

Vince: DO IT TWICE!!! HAVE TWO GUYS BEAT THEM ALL SINGLE-HANDEDLY!

Jay: Hahaha! New roster, same ole sh*t. The Fiend should have just caused a DQ and kerfuffle. Which I think is a good way to describe Raw overall: a kerfuffle.

Speaking of kerfuffles. We have AJ vs. Riddle and Keith Lee vs. Braun Strowman with his farmer gloves. Do you think he’s going to change his catchphrase to “someone is gonna get these gloves?”

Jason: Glad to see Tall Ninja Underground DoorMan Jordan whats-his-name found a place on Raw. Andrade couldn’t even do that.

Jay: If you listen close you can hear Ron Simmons yelling “Damn!” somewhere out there. That was savage, Jason. But I guess this is the final nail in the coffin of Raw Underground. 

Jason: The writing was on the wall when Spyder started reffing regular matches. Now Jordan Plain and Tall is out here playing heater for AJ Styles, a guy who absolutely does not need one.

Jay: Truth. But a manager always opens up a realm of possibilities for a performer.

Jason: So the story of this match was twofold: AJ Made a friend and Matt Riddle is dumb as bricks. “Big guy likes his hand? OH NO, I LOST!” I’m hoping this guy is at least more mobile than he looks. We don’t need another Great Khali.

Jay: He’s spent weeks scouting talent in Raw Underground. He’s likely a technical master by now. 

Jason: Yes, he’s taken all the best parts of Arturo Ruas, Erik from the Viking Raiders and Riddick Moss. He must be unstoppable.

Jay: And don’t forget former two-time world champion Dolph Ziggler, Billie Kay that one time, and Ivar at the peak of his powers when he was able to summon turkey legs using the Odin Force. The Raw roster should take note.

But Raw is just very, very scattershot lately. Each segment seems to live in a bubble, whereas SmackDown has been very cohesive. One segment bleeds into another with criss-crossing paths. It’s done a good job of keeping my attention lately to the point where I’ve been rushing back to the couch as the commercials end. Raw does no such thing. I just finished making dinner and am now working on two separate projects while occasionally popping my head above my computer screen to say “Oh, there’s Charly. She’s using the same inflection to deliver the same lines she’s been handed for more than three years.”

Jason: Drew’s not much better, frankly. He, like his Hell in a Cell opponent Randy Orton, has clearly got the whole “WWE Main Eventer” promo thing down to a science, to the point that even when he’s doing well, there’s something so blandly familiar to it all. It’s not a bad promo or anything, it’s just so obvious and familiar.

Speaking of obvious, here’s Lana coming to the ring to get stomped by Asuka. I wonder if she’ll get put through a table by Nia Jax afterward?

Jay: I’m just relieved to know that Natalya isn’t coming. Thank heavens. Here’s hoping the constant battering via table leads to a storyline where Lana suffers a psychotic break and feels the need to put people through a table. I just want something — anything — to shake me from the apathy Raw has doused me with. The physics book I’m reading now is holding my attention better, Jason. PHY-SICS.

Jason: Raw works on a separate physics engine than reality. How else do you explain the Irish whip?

Jay: I had always assumed it was the aggressor’s ability to manipulate the laws of inertia to their advantage by generating such a huge kinetic energy that their opponent is unable to stop. Speaking of inertia, here comes Nia Jax. 

Jason: At least it seems like Asuka will be feuding with both Women’s tag champs at the same time. I bet there’s no way that Shayna and Nia prevent each other from winning the Raw Women’s title. Nope, never gonna happen that way.

Jay: Jason, it will be far worse. Asuka will feud with Shayna and Nia, but Asuka will need help. Jason, look at how broken that table is. They’re gonna have Asuka team with — sorry. I’m holding back some vomit. Asuka is going to –*cough.* Jason, Asuka is going to team with Lana.

Jason: If they do a 4-way match between those women it means that Lana is winning the title, Jay. That’s the only thing that means. 

Jay: All I see is darkness. Darkness, depression, and the delirium that has defined Raw. And WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK. They split the IIconics only to put Peyton in ANOTHER TAG TEAM WITH SOMEONE WHO IS NOT BILLIE. WHY!?

Jason: Who thought it was a good idea to have two separate “Can they get along?” tag teams in the same match? And am I crazy, or are Peyton and Lacey attempting the “One’s a heel, one’s a face” dynamic? I am very happy to see my girls in the Riott Squad back on Monday, though.

Also, of all the poor new theme songs we’ve been subjected to since the WWE’s divorce from the CFO$, I actually don’t mind Dana and Mandy’s (ManDana?) theme. I’d prefer they just use Brooke’s awesome old one, but WWE clearly doesn’t care what I like.

Jay: It’s not even that, just why oh why oh why did they split a team to make another team? Like whatever, the Riott Squad isn’t supposed to be here but you split The IIconics to make another tag team. It’s like you traded $1,000 for $100. Next segment is going to be Kofi and Woods trying to find a new partner, watch.

Jason: This match also makes it clear how similar Mandy and Peyton’s gear is. If you were going to pair them both up with worse partners than they used to have, why not put those two together? Peyton can carry a match better than Dana, and Mandy’s infinitely less grating than Lacey.

Also jeez, I’m not sure I know the best way to land a senton to keep your opponent safe, but completely whiffing it and landing on the other side of your target seems like the wrong way. 

Jay: Sigh. Let’s talk about something more pleasant. Did you know that exposing the skin to 2 greys of radiation will trigger skin damage that is typified by redness? And if you jack it up to 15 greys you get skin necrosis.

Jason: Should I be surprised at how blandly uninteresting Elias’ new song is? No? Just because we all expected this to be worse than it ended up being doesn’t mean that it’s actually any good? OK, cool. Thanks.

Jay: At least it showed effort. The guy’s not going to win a Grammy, but he’s lightyears ahead of other musician type characters that have come and gone. Plus, Elias has been doing this for over three years and it’s still not stale. Props. I’m just deathly afraid it leads to a battle of the bands angle with Elias’ band vs. Jeff Hardy’s terrible band, Peroxygen? Or something.

Jason: Oh god, of all the things WWE has stolen from TNA, granting Jeff Hardy the freedom to embrace his musical pursuits is right up there with “Claire Lynch redux” in the list of bad ideas. Aint nobody looking for a PeroxWhy?Gen reunion.  It says something when your band has a stupider name than Hoobastank.

Jesus, are they keeping the Miz vs. Otis feud going despite them both being on separate shows? And did they really move Kofi and Woods over to Raw to feud with Sheamus…who also moved to Raw? It’s almost like the Draft was a…stupid idea. Like they…didn’t really plan ahead what the moves would mean? Like…none of this matters.

I did enjoy E supporting Kofi via ThunderDome Skype, though.

Jay: Yeah. Everything seemed on track for night 1 of the draft. All the moves made sense sans The New Day, but things went off the rails on night 2. Especially when they moved Rey and Dominik and Murphy to continue the never-ending feud with Seth. Ugh. Here’s hoping they find ways to keep The New Day alive though they are separated.

OMG, they finally admitted that Ali he’s the hacker. Finally. Do you think he can find the real Raw Anonymous General Manger? RETRIBUTION is off to a rocky start, but at least they are doing a good job with Ali integrating all this into his character. 

Jason: Yeah, as long as they let Mustafa Ali cut promos it won’t ever be fully lost. That dude is great. What I want is them to beat The Fiend down and remove his mask. That would be the ultimate sign of renewed faith in the group. It’ll never happen (on screen at least), but a man can dream.

Jason: ¡Pero, El Gran Gordo! ¡Dios, Mio!

Jay: I got a chuckle, I’ll take it. But again, why did they do all this splitting if they didn’t want to split them, ya know?

Jason: Yeah, overall, not my favorite. Seeing Otis’ beard poking through the mask was fun, but I didn’t enjoy this feud when it was on the well written show, so it’s sort of DOA on Monday Nights.

Jay: And again, why did they move them? It makes no sense and it’s just making a mess for the sake of making a mess.

Jason: Elsewhere, I appreciate the shout out to the terrible Bray/Randy feud that culminated in the House of Horrors match. Huskus dropping ODB references is also a fun surprise.

Jay: And Alexa’s gone full Harley. She looks like Harley Quinn cosplaying as Freddy Kruger.

Jason: Wouldn’t be the first time she wore Freddy Kruger gear. But enough of that stuff, it’s time for Trainman, fresh off an afternoon spent with the local 4H club, taking on the Limited (by inferior booking) Keith Lee!

Jay: Someone’s gonna get those farmer gloves! Why though? What happened to him being the “most evil son of a bitch that’s ever walked the earth”?

Jason: He still is that guy, he’s just focusing his hatred on gophers, coyotes and other pests around the trainyard. Though it’s pretty lame that they’re playing up the rib injury so much so him losing makes sense.

…Or they can have him beat Keith Lee clean with said injury and make the one guy that seemed to be getting over look like a total chump and a poor sport. Jeez, it’s like they are trying to book each week worse than the previous one.

AND another Randy Orton/Drew McIntyre Promo battle is the main event again. Woof.

Jay: Do you think Randy is going to bring the night vision goggles?

Jason: Do you think they make it easier to see in the Cell? Because until they started putting the camera guys in the cell with the guys, these things were unwatchable. ESPECIALLY now that it’s red.

Jay: I’d assume so. They should ban night vision goggles, Hall of Famers, and fractured jaws for the match to make it fair.

Remember when R-Truth and The Miz ruined the 2011 HIAC and the whole segment hinged on someone finding bolt cutters to free Cena and CM Punk from their clutches?

Jason:  To think there was a pair hiding right in the front row the whole time. Well that was a mighty anticlimactic ending. Thoughts on Raw?

Jay: It was dull, nonsensical, and was truly a great backdrop to finish an entire chapter on radiation biology. You?

Jason: Well, they took the two most interesting acts on the show and booked them to lose like fools, brought over two of the worst storylines from SmackDown despite one of the key performers not even appearing on this show, saddled my girl Peyton with Lacey by-god Evans as a tag partner and introduced a s----y rap theme song that I’ve already grown a distaste for. So, basically an average Raw, all things considered. 

Jay: Sigh. See you next week.

Raw

Look at how excited we are for next week.

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