TV Recap: WWE Monday Night RAW

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Unfortunately, I begin this column with some unfortunate news. Bret Hart revealed earlier today he is battling prostate cancer. I applaud the Hitman for being brave and empowered to publically share his diagnosis, and I join the millions of fans in wishing Bret all the best and only positive outcomes through what will likely be a difficult time.

RAW itself kicks off with Rabbi Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar discussing their chance to headline WrestleMania. It does sound like more of the same, some nods to the interference from The Wyatt Family. Brock does his usual standing around with a blank stare and the occasional laugh. The segment gets awesome, as Dean Ambrose confronts Lesnar, inviting the Beast to give him a personal tour of Suplex City, and Ambrose might ask for multiple rides. Ambrose came off looking like the biggest bad ass in the company. He owned the mic on that segment.

Really, if it is just going to be Heyman doing all the talking, just leave Brock in the locker room with his Playskool Matching Card Game.

Kalisto defeats Rusev by count out. Decent match. Not great, I think they just did not have the right chemistry in the ring, or Rusev had no idea what to do. Alberto del Rio was entertaining on commentary at least.

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon attempts to pull the classic tactic of sowing seeds of sabotage between Ambrose and Roman Reigns for their main event tag match tonight against The New Day. Steph appeared nervous, forget lines?

Again, backstage, this time with Brie Bella updating everyone on Nikki’s surgery, except you can just go on WWE.com because it is plastered all over it. Charlotte interrupts, claiming responsibility for putting Nikki out of action. Charlotte really not coming off well on TV lately.

The Usos come out for their match against The Social Outcasts, however Lillian Garcia blunders by introducing them as the Grammy award winning Tag Team of the Year. The production truck replays that, and JBL harps on it over and over again. They talk about it so much, you almost forgot there was a match. Also because the Social Outcasts are now trying way too hard to get over as a hashtag trending whatever. Usos win via multiple superkicks and the top rope splash.

Miz hosts the Miz TV segment with guest, AJ Styles. Miz goes on to praise Styles, taking occasional shots at his previous employer without naming, but I’m pretty sure Miz was referring to TNA. Very over-the-top obvious Miz was not going to let AJ speak, however things get interesting when Miz calls himself the “Father of the Yes Movement” and essentially orders AJ Styles to join him otherwise he will never make it in WWE. He calls AJ a dumb hick, which prompts the brawl. While Miz did put AJ over, the segment felt stretched out and the point was beaten like a dead horse. Miz needs to reign back the arrogance a bit, it is becoming a bit too cartoonish for my liking.

Brie Bella, now a face I suppose, earns a win over Charlotte. Brie shouting “Brie Mode!” just looks so forced and fake, and Charlotte, while she does come across as imposing and intimidating, needs to stay off the mic.

Big Show makes very short work of Erick Rowan, however is then mauled by Rowan, Harper, and Strowman. I was expecting Mark Henry to show up for the save, but never happened.

Titus O’Neil follows suit and squashes Tyler Breeze. I love how the announce team put Titus over as a tough strongman who has a bright future… except he is constantly mid-carding in hell and being put over as “having fun.” Well, it might be fun, but if he is going to be put over as a force to be reckoned with or whatever cliché they have, then put him up against some bigger and higher tier opponents. Squashing Tyler Breeze does nothing for Titus, and only lowers Breeze to permanent jobber status.

Backstage, Triple H questions Lesnar for not crushing Ambrose when he had the chance, implying Lesnar is going soft. Lesnar, clearly unscripted remarks that Triple H will find out how soft he is at WrestleMania. Ew.

Finally, a good match on the show. Sorry, but thus far it has been slow going.

Dolph Ziggler picks up a victory over Kevin Owens in a great match. Love Owens banter during the match. Sometimes it is a bit overboard but it works well for him. He is a jerk and embraces it. Ziggler took some serious badass bumps during this one. They work great together, which is probably why they have so many matches on both RAW and SmackDown.

I guess Mark Henry is not on the show tonight so he could be the first man highlighted in WWE’s tribute to Black History Month. Something tells me we’re looking at retirement soon.

Sasha Banks is out first for her match against Becky Lynch. Sasha talks about going solo and is determined to be the one to defeat Charlotte for the Divas Championship. Things go awry when Naomi and Tamina arrive to politely give her a send off, and show “unity” during the match. So here comes the inevitable face push, as Naomi and Tamina eventually attack Banks. Match is thrown out, as Banks and Becky manage to chase off the remaining two members of Team B.A.D.

In honor of Black History Month, Ron Simmons will be the next featured guest on Legends with JBL, only on the WWE Network.

Two more backstage segments before the main event, Chris Jericho talks with Renee Young about keeping a close eye on AJ Styles, and Goldust continues to plead with R-Truth to be his tag team partner. Truth points out Goldust has doo-doo on his foot, and he’s a weird. Goldust brings up Truth’s buddy “Lil’ Jimmy” which apparently hurts Truth’s feelings.

This Wednesday on NXT, Apollo Crews goes one-on-one with Finn Balor. I’ll be watching from work.

The New Day comes out and cuts a hilarious promo about fighting for the rights of children and trombones, shaming The Rock, and calling Reigns and Ambrose = Ambreigns, which apparently is some sort of twisted fan-fic name which Big E. shuts down before Xavier gets graphic. Apparently Bootygate is over. These guys are hysterical. Paul Heyman is at the commentary table, so one might think Brock may actually do something tonight. Good main event, New Day’s antics never cease to entertain. Ambrose is awesome as always. Reigns did not get a lot of ring time. Interestingly, Brock did come down to the ring, but New Day took Reigns out of the ring and left him down, while Brock hit the F5 on Ambrose. It was nice to see Ambrose get the winning pinfall, but then ate the F5. No Suplex City.

Tonight’s RAW slipped a bit in the delivery department. Brock’s appearance tonight felt lackluster and did nothing to push any storyline. On the plus side, it seemed the story involving the WWE Championship took a backseat to the rest of the roster. But, unfortunately, tonight’s matches were mostly quick and uneventful, except for Ziggler/Owens and the main event.