In what could have been WWE’s shot back at AEW and a message to fans who want to support WWE, Vince and co. missed a huge opportunity on Monday.
There were many ways the first Raw following AEW’s inaugural pay-per-view could have gone. WWE could have pulled out its best matches, could have brought out some major surprises or could have sent a message to AEW with its ability to draw big-name stars. It did none of those things.
Instead, while WWE could have offered up a great bounce-back Raw, the show fizzled, fell flat and appeared to have little flow with awkward segments that gave more fuel to fans who are now on the AEW train.
“Beast Box” Brock
If I’m being completely honest, I’m actually entertained by this new version of Brock Lesnar. That said, what WWE did wrong here was be blatantly obvious in its delivery of this new version of the Beast Incarnate.
After stumbling upon an image of Lesnar treating the Money in the Bank briefcase like a boombox, WWE realized what they had and milked the ever-loving snot out of it. Changing his theme music, dressing him differently and using him twice in the first hour of the show was WWE cramming this new Lesnar down the WWE Universe’s throats.
The entire Raw was predicated on the idea that Lesnar was going to call out his future opponent. He didn’t. Instead, he danced in the ring and hinted that he likely won’t make a decision for months.
Again, this new Lesnar is somewhat entertaining, but there was no reason to use him so much. And, yes, I know in saying that, it’s a stark contrast from the months and months fans called out WWE for using Lesnar so little.
The Block Party
If the Brock Party wasn’t enough, WWE gave us the “Block Party” hosted by the Usos. After AEW gave at least three five-star quality matches at Double or Nothing, WWE could have responded with one of their best tag teams showing their stuff in the ring. WWE chose to go another way.
Using an extremely talented duo as the hosts of an outdoor party that was meant to create more goofy friction between the Usos and The Revival. WWE writers (or maybe Vince) chose to have the tag teams fight over a game of Corn Hole.
I watched this segment and all I could think to myself was, ‘I wonder how much WWE paid to rent the tent, hire the DJ and find an American-themed corn hole game board. That’s not a good sign.
Maybe that’s just me worrying WWE shouldn’t be wasting their money considering how much they’re leaving the door open for AEW to come in and become the No. 1 wrestling company. (I say that with an element of sarcasm… but only a little.)
Related: Sami Zayn Mentions AEW During Raw
Becky Lynch Buried
“The Man” is only on one show now. She’s the Raw Women’s Champion and to fit her in this week, WWE stuck her in another tag match. It was a match where one could argue Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross and the Iiconics all came out looking stronger, with only Lynch looking less useful than ever.
Lynch picked up the win, but she’s dropped from the main event at WrestleMania 35 to Becky Two Belts to Raw Women’s Champion to mid-card tag match, all in a matter of weeks.
Remember, this is the star of the company we’re talking about here. Or, at least, she should be.
Sami Zayn Name Drops AEW
The one thing WWE should not have done was referenced the promotion that just spanked their a$$ this weekend. Double or Nothing was a fantastic show and leading up to Sami Zayn’s incredibly odd Electric Chair segment with Corey Graves, Raw was a disaster.
This Q&A segment was a bad idea. WWE should have known that. They’ve not had a good Q&A segment, perhaps in the history of the show. The last one being when Alexa Bliss Open Forum segments that were absolute disasters.
This segment had no structure. Zayn was supposed to answer controversial questions — the assumption being the chair would force legitimate answers — yet he was never actually hooked up to any of the half-dozen straps on the chair itself. The questions were clearly pre-determined by WWE (one fan was visibly trying to remember his lines) and when Zayn finally let the WWE Universe have it, he name-dropped AEW for absolutely no reason.
From Bad to Worse
There was some good on the show. Cesaro vs. Ricochet was great, as was the Dolph Ziggler promo. Bobby Lashley stood out in a positive way and Bray Wyatt’s segment was excellent.
That said, WWE went almost an hour before delivering any actual wrestling on the show. When they did, it was Shane McMahon vs. an unknown distant Samoan cousin.
The 24/7 segment was awful with the same six or seven guys chasing R-Truth around the ring and into the block party. If WWE chooses not to have the title change hands and make this a platform for R-Truth to be comedic, then fine. Just let him be comedic.
The Wild Card Rule is all but a distant memory, as is the brand split and there were chants of “AEW” and “This is awful” ringing throughout the arena.
If there was one thing WWE would have wanted to do with their first Raw after AEW made a statement, this show was not it.
Related: AEW: More News on Jon Moxley Signing