I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Monday Night Raw was pretty good this week. It was certainly the best show they’ve had in a few months, with a solid C rating. I know that might not sound like much, but considering how terrible the shows have been lately, this is quite the upgrade. The show wasn’t all that different, but it was just different enough to make the night a lot better than the most recent episodes.

That’s what we’re going to look at today: what did WWE do that made this week better and why was it better. Some of the things were as simple as doing more good things than bad, but at the same time there were a few things that were just interesting in general. I’ll be ignoring the negatives because that’s almost all we’ve been looking at over the last few weeks (for good reason) and it would be nice to change things up, even if it’s just for a week before WWE does something else to mess it up.

Aside from the first two, these are in no particular order.

We’ll start with the biggest and arguably the most important part of the show: there was a story running throughout the evening. That would be Seth Rollins going after Baron Corbin’s choices for guest referee at Stomping Grounds and attacking all of them with a chair. This might not be the most thrilling thing in the world, but what mattered here was the scheduling.

How many times have you seen an episode of either Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live where a story is set up to start the show and then almost nothing happens until the end of the show? Fans tend to either get bored waiting on the payoff for what is supposed to happen and go elsewhere or they’ll just go away and wait until the main event and come back then.

Rollins wasn’t happy at all:

Instead, we had Rollins hitting person after person with chair to the point where it was almost funny. While I’m not wild on seeing who the guest referee is going to be on Sunday, I’m much more likely to remember Rollins blasting everyone with a chair, which also ties back into the chair shots to Brock Lesnar both at WrestleMania 35 and Super ShowDown. They’re actually giving us something to carry throughout the night and make you want to stick around for a little bit longer, even it it’s in increments over the course of the entire show.

Moving on, and with the other aspect that might have been the most important, the opening sequence was short and to the point, meaning it wasn’t a twenty minute talking segment with the sole purpose of setting up the main event. Less than fifteen minutes into the show, we were into a match (and one that mattered) instead of waiting around all day for people to say the same things that they say every week. There’s more to it than just getting to a match though.

This set the table and the feel for the rest of the night. Having the show start with a bunch of talking is boring. It gives you the feeling that you can watch something else for fifteen minutes and come back later, with the possibility that the same people will still be talking. How is that must see television? Something like this can work well in a special moment (first show after a title win, a big angle or some pay per views) but Monday Night Raw (and SmackDown Live to a lesser extent) have gotten WAY too obsessive with it and going in a different direction was a nice switch.

Speaking of the match, that was another smart move as Ricochet goes over and advances to the title match at Stomping Grounds. This is a simple one as Ricochet is fun to watch and the fans like him. He’s won some matches so now let’s put him into a match with something on the line. That’s the kind of booking that has been badly missing from the show as it feels like stuff happens and there are no consequences or rewards. Ricochet wins, then he wins again, and now he’s getting a title match out of it. Well done and logical booking.

He has good reason to be excited:

I’m going to couple some odd choices together here and go with Becky Lynch and the Viking Raiders. Both of their segments were quick and to the point with the Raiders destroying a pair of jobbers and Lynch cutting off the same promo that Lacey Evans has cut for months with a Bexploder. They got in, they got out and they did what they were supposed to do without wasting any time.

And why should they? The Raiders (somehow making their first appearance in almost two months) are designed to be close to the modern day Legion of Doom and Lynch isn’t one to talk when she can fight. There’s no need to drag these segments out longer than they had as the point can be made without wasting the fans’ time and attention. It was nice to keep things moving for once instead of having the same segments with the same results. The Raiders aren’t supposed to need long in the ring and Lynch is a fighter first. Why is that so complicated?

In the easy positive, there’s the Firefly Fun House, which is one of the nearly can’t miss segments of the week. This one seemed to turn the corner and that could mean that we’ll be seeing Bray Wyatt back in the ring at some point in the near future. One idea that I liked was to have Wyatt open the door to Aleister Black’s room, but then one of them has to lose and that defeats the purpose (expect it next week then). For now though, just enjoy what you can from the wacky mind of Wyatt, who is clearly having the time of his life in these things.

And then there’s….this:

Finally we have one of the fun moments of the week: Shane McMahon finally gets beaten up. This is more about setting up Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre (you have to get McMahon in there somehow though) but for once, McMahon took a beating and didn’t get in the last word. I know it’s just a temporary smile but it’s almost cathartic to see him get part of what’s coming to him. That’s what WWE wants in the long run, but for now it was nice to see McMahon get taken down a few pegs.

Sidebar: how much better is it to have the Revival as McMahon’s lackeys? I know it’s not the most thrilling thing in the world, but it’s something that fits them well enough. Above all else, THEY’RE NOT BEING HUMILIATED. It’s a standard roll for a pair of goons and they’re even the Tag Team Champions again. This isn’t their saving grace, but it’s something for them to do that isn’t a terrible way to go and I’ll take that in a heartbeat.

There were a lot of problems with this week’s Monday Night Raw, but to go from the all time disasters that we’ve been seeing in the previous few weeks to a completely watchable show is a huge upgrade. They have a LONG way to go to get things back to where they need to be (or even close to it) but this show was proof that they know how to do things if they actually put their mind to it for more than two seconds. Don’t have the long opening, keep things moving and give us a reason to stick around throughout the show rather than just coming back for the end. It works, it always has worked and it worked on Monday.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the History Of In Your House.

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