For my Night One coverage, check HERE!
After having not seen any full, live episodes of Raw or Smackdown in several years, I found my first dive back in–the Smackdown Draft Night–to be highly entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of that episode. Could Raw keep up the momentum?
And wow… Raw is REALLY three hours long these days, huh? I know I’m not breaking new opinion ground here, but who possibly enjoys that? That’s as long as Avengers Endgame, 40% of it is commercials, and, it’s like, 5% as enjoyable.
Also, wait… it’s 8:02 and Chicago PD is still on with a funeral or something. Have I not figured out my USA app as well as I thought I had?
OH HERE IT IS, DON’T WORRY. Look, USA: don’t cheap me out of my three friggin’ hours of Raw. I’m buckled in for this stuff already.
Raw opens with a recap of some of Raw’s newly drafted talent from night one, such as AJ Styles, Naomi, and The Miz and John Morrison. After that, it’s time to see what Randy Orton is up to. I do love that WWE has reintroduced pyro in an era without fans. Who is supposed to be getting pumped for this?
Randy starts off with a solid promo before Drew interrupts with a somewhat more canned rant, but then McIntyre took off his shirt, and… dude is hot as hell. Has Drew always been that sexy? Damn. Is this really the same guy that used to be the dorky and gangly guy that Vince McMahon introduced? I gotta work out more.
They have a middling brawl to start the show. It’s fine. Perfectly… fine. More of shirtless Drew McIntyre, please. He and John Morrison should form a tag team.
After a commercial, it’s draft time! Stephanie isn’t wearing fake denim tonight, so that’s nice.
RAW SELECTS: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Bayley
RAW SELECTS: Randy Orton
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: The Street Profits
RAW SELECTS: Charlotte Flair
REACTION: I really, truly hope they don’t do any weird tag title switch, and they just have the Raw Tag Titles on Smackdown and vice versa. Don’t even bring attention to it. Just let it happen. Don’t rename these titles! Just… “here tonight on Smackdown, the Raw Tag Titles will be defended. OBVIOUSLY”.
Charlotte… has not been gone long enough for me to miss her yet. And she’s on Raw, so we know who is going to end up taking the title from Asuka now, I guess.
MATCH 1: Aleister Black vs Kevin Owens
It’s a no disqualification match! That’s like Falls Count Anywhere, but you have to pin your opponent in the ring like a schmuck.
No ring entrance for Black, but Owens charges right to the ring and they get down to it with heavy fists. Now that it’s been revealed that Mustafa Ali is in charge of Retribution, why does Black still hate Owens? Some explanation would be nice here. I guess Aleister has just embraced his inner evil and doesn’t care about rationale anymore. Heel and face turns are so weird.
Owens wins a match the is delightfully slow-paced and vicious, and I am two-for-two on Raw and Smackdown giving me great opening matches in my renewed watching. I’m here for this!
(Commercial note) OH MY GOD, WE HAVE SMART MIRRORS NOW. Lululemon has a workout wifi mirror. God bless this whacky ass future without jet packs.
After that commercial (and others that aren’t about Smart Mirrors), we get more draft picks!
RAW SELECTS: Braun Strowman
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Daniel Bryan
RAW SELECTS: Matt Riddle
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Kevin Owens
RAW SELECTS: Jeff Hardy
REACTION: Hopefully Sami Zayn doesn’t switch shows, so we can get more of the Eternal Feud That Will Burn Longer Than Our Sun.
After those picks, it’s time for Miz TV (which… I thought these two did The Dirt Sheet as a team?) with Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose. Miz and Morrison have such wonderful charisma and flow together. They are so entertaining.
Mandy and Miz dig at each other for a bit over her forced move away from Otis before Lana and Natalya barge in. I think there is a brawl that ensues, but it was hard to tell what with the seizure that was induced by that patented Kevin Dunn camera work. Wow; I haven’t noticed how bad he is when I only watch Pay-Per-Views. Is Raw always substantially worse? I had no idea what was going on.
So wait… there is a commercial break, and then we come right back to Miz TV? It’s just a vehicle to bring Lars Sullivan back out and let him feast on Morrison, though. And sure… Lars should totally be going easily over Morrison. Sigh.
After that, my off-branded tag title dream is washed away when New Day and The Street Profits just… swap sets of belts. The lunatic simplicity of that (and Woods’ mocking of it) almost makes it worth not having Bizarro Title World.
RAW SELECTS: Retribution
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Lars Sullivan
RAW SELECTS: Keith Lee
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: King Corbin
RAW SELECTS: Alexa Bliss
REACTION: Bliss remaining with The Fiend makes sense. Mercedes Martinez was definitely not featured on the picture of Retribution, and… come on, WWE. You had HOW LONG to work out who you wanted in this faction and you still got it wrong and immediately reshuffled? What are you even doing?
Keith Lee got drafted after Jeff Hardy, Lars Sullivan, the terrorist faction headed by a guy who wasn’t actually a Hacker, and Matt Riddle. In case you were concerned that WWE still had appropriate designs on his main roster usage.
After those selections, we get a Seth Rollins promo, and… *checks clock* it’s 9:05 and we’ve had one match. In lieu of a match, though, the segment quickly devolves into a brawl between Seth, Jeff Hardy, and AJ Styles. A triple threat match is promised up next!
Raw has… a LOT of commercials. Damn. But the Lululemon Future Mirror is back!
MATCH 2: Seth Rollins vs Jeff Hardy vs AJ Styles
This triple threat match was quite frantic and interesting. I’d like to have seen it on PPV without commercial breaks. Everybody pulled their weight, and the right guy (AJ Styles) won.
Elias caused the ending by appearing and attacking Jeff Hardy with the guitar. Is Elias going for the Big Show effect where every time he appears, his allegiances have shifted? He’s apparently a heel again. Bully for him.
RAW SELECTS: Elias
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Sami Zayn
RAW SELECTS: Lacey Evans
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
RAW SELECTS: Sheamus
REACTION: Sami Zayn was selected after Elias and all those people that went before Keith Lee. That’s weird. But it means Owens and Sami will be co-existing, so I’m happy about it. Cesaro and Nakamura are remaining a tag team for the foreseeable future because… if not, there is no one for the Street Profits to feud with imminently?
MATCH 3: Lana & Natalya vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
This was exactly as good as you pictured it would be in your head when you read those four names. Dana Brooke won when she almost kind of didn’t miss an assisted seton. I think her hair hit Lana.
After the match, Natalya dissolves the partnership with Lana, and damn… EVERYONE just leaves poor Lana.
We then cut to backstage where Ricochet offers the Hurt Business a proposition: a match against any of them. If he wins, they must leave him alone. If the HB representative wins, Ricochet will join their little clubby. Cedric accepts on behalf of his cronies.
What a wonderfully Elementary-School-Playground stipulation that is. “If I win, you leave me alone”. Couldn’t have asked for anything better than that, Ric?
MATCH 4: Angel Garza vs Andrade
It’s great to see Garza wasn’t seriously hurt in that tag title match after all. Garza was selected to Raw as the last pick on night one; Andrade has not been taken to this point. This wasn’t anything to write home about; it was just a vehicle to get to the post-match.
Zelina was on commentary for the match to run down both guys (but mostly Garza), but she made an attempt to console Andrade after his loss. That went about as poorly as possible when The Fiend and Alexa Bliss showed up to hit twin Sister Abigails. Come on, Andrade! I totally have faith that you can go over in a feud with Wyatt!
RAW SELECTS: Nikki Cross
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler
RAW SELECTS: R-Truth
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Apollo Crews
RAW SELECTS: Dabba-Kato
REACTION: It’s like the fifth round in any actual sports draft. Nothing here feels monumental or relevant, but with some good management, any of these picks could produce surprisingly well going forward.
(What the hell is a Dabba-Kato, though?)
MATCH 5: The New Day vs Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler
The RawDown Tag Team Titles are on the line here, even with Ziggler and Roode en route to Smackdown. Whoever booked all this tag title stuff was clearly drunk, and I love it.
Still no curly boots for Xavier Woods! I remain as disappointed in that as I am thrilled to have him back. Nothing extraordinary here, but Woods being back still brings a smile to my face. The New Day retains.
Elias being backstage gives him a chance to explain his attack on Jeff Hardy, and he blames the car accident that Jeff Hardy’s vehicle was involved in. Hey, continuity! I appreciate that, WWE. Especially when I had completely forgotten that ever happened… or that Elias was involved in it. Elias blows off the whole idea of the red-headed stranger and says that he knows who tried to run him down. Interesting!
MATCH 6: Ricochet vs Cedric Alexander
So Cedric has to win this, right? Being left alone is a dumb stipulation, but Ric being in The Hurt Business (quasi-willingly)… that has legs.
JESUS WITH THE SPASTIC CAMERA CUTS AGAIN. This is giving me a headache. It’s never this bad on PPVs, I swear.
Nuts, Cedric did not win because Ricochet pulled out the ol’ Eddie Guerrero “He cheated, disqualify him!” trick ending, complete with spectacularly dramatic fainting. This bodes… poorly for Ric, I figure. Where does he go from here? I hope they have a plan, but hell… they can’t even fit Keith Lee on a three hour Raw, so the chances are slim.
(Oh, as soon as I say that, they advertised Lee vs Strowman next week)
Last picks of the show!
RAW SELECTS: Titus O’Neil
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Carmella
RAW SELECTS: Peyton Royce
SMACKDOWN SELECTS: Aleister Black
RAW SELECTS: Akira Tozawa
REACTION: Book-ended by Titus and Akira, this seemed like a nothing wrong, but Aleister Black going to Smackdown could be of note. Peyton Royce and Carmella seem like they have upward mobility potential with their new storylines.
MATCH 7: Women’s Battle Royal
GUYS. This show is still going on. How do you do it every week? I’ve seen 50 commercials for that Chrisley guy and Terry Bradshaw’s families. Only saw our future Mirror Overlord twice, though. I’d have been fine with that commercial at every break. It makes me feel like I’m glimpsing into the laziest possible science fiction story. I also saw a lot that there will be a movie double feature of The Proposal and 50 Shades Something Or Another.
At least Asuka is on commentary for this and ranting angrily in Japanese. Late show saving grace! Although at some point she apparently just… leaves? And starts watching the match on a TV in the back? How was that more efficient?
WWE can’t ever stop themselves from taking one step back no matter how many steps forward they take, so the women’s main event #1 contender match is interrupted by footage of Orton and McIntyre brawling backstage.
Anyway, a genuinely entertaining ending segment between Nattie and Lacey doesn’t matter because Lana sneaks back in and eliminates Natalya to win, paying off (?) the betrayal earlier in the night.
The continuation of the Randy and Drew ruckus closes the show.
This wasn’t… terrible by any stretch. It wasn’t as good as Smackdown, though, and while Smackdown flew by, this Raw felt every last minute of its three hour runtime. I kind of wish Ricochet had joined The Hurt Business because I worry they don’t have anything else for him to do.
I’m curious to see how the post-Draft landscape shakes out. I am really stoked for the prospect of more Sami/KO with their usual dynamic shifted. I’ve got a very wait-and-see approach to everything else, though.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy, like, five of those mirrors so I can set them up in a pentagram and see if I can summon Robot Devil.