1) Inmates Running The Asylum – Since neither Kurt Angle or Stephanie McMahon could be at last night's show in England, Kurt picked Dean Ambrose and Stephanie chose The Miz to take care of everything. Random, but I guess we'll go with it. For me, having Ambrose sprinkled consistently throughout the show didn't exactly get me excited, but his interactions with Miz helped balance things out. A fairly pedestrian conversation ensued between these two until Braun Strowman decided to crash the party, in a sling! No! Braun let everyone know when he heals up he'll finish off Roman Reigns and then look to Brock Lesnar.
Enter Kalisto, who stumbled his way into a promo and found himself in another match against the one-armed Strowman, why? Take your win and lucha things away! Ambrose booked Miz into a match against Finn Balor and we finally made it through a kind of strange opening to the show. It didn't exactly have me on the edge of my seat, but it was productive in setting up the theme for the show, a few matches, and Braun's future intentions.
2) Life Sized – For those who didn't know, Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax are good buddies off-screen, so why not tap into that friendship (even for a little bit) on-screen? Nia used Alexa's own words against her, when the champ said Nia was "Great" last week. After Bayley, Nia thought she should get a shot next, which Alexa swiftly got out of accepting, instead, gaining a friend. I was kind of surprised at how easily Nia let that go, but seeing those two as a team will be plenty of fun to watch. The monster of the division in your corner is never a bad thing, until the monster wants the title.
Getting to the match against Mickie James, Alexa focused on Mickie's arm, slowing down the former champion in the later phases of the match. "Little Miss Bliss" seems to be yelling a lot more these days and she picks her spots really well, shouting "I don't need this!" while recovering on the outside. For someone who is still fairly new to the game, she gets a lot of the details already. Some outside chaos led to Alexa getting the win and Nia got in a post-match crunch on Mickie.
3) Battle Scars - Well, Kalisto got off easy, thanks to Roman Reigns showing up to face Strowman in the ring, a complete afterthought, really. With Braun in a sling and Roman all taped up, I enjoyed the imagery of how far these two have gone to put each other down. It's not often we see both competitors in such tatted condition. Reigns clearly got the best of Strowman in this one though using whatever was nearby to pick Braun apart. Not thrilled with the big man getting chased off by the "Big Dog," but considering he's injured; I'll let this one go. Jumping out of storyline and into real life for a minute, with Braun being out for 4-8 weeks for elbow surgery, that's sure going to put a damper on Raw. Losing one of the best booked guys on the show is going to be massive and probably forced WWE to do a bunch of audibles for the upcoming PPVs. If WWE could ever get Brock to show up, maybe he could fill the void a bit.
Props to WWE for leaving in the boos for Reigns, considering this was a taped show, they could have easily piped in some cheers. Braun's promo was again more towards the middle (he didn't go after the live crowd, like two weeks ago), allowing fans to cheer him. WWE wavers on their stance, but given how Cena has been received for much of his career, it's best to just let the fans decide on their own whether to cheer or boo the polarizing Roman Reigns and whoever he's facing.
Golden Truth – Specifically, Goldust, which was the best promo/pep-talk he's given in I don't know how long. Just doing that simple backstage segment made me pull for them in a way I've never done before, and I was kind of bummed they didn't get the win against Cesaro and Sheamus. Don't really expect them to rise up from the bottom of the tag division, but I appreciate WWE giving them something to work with.
Mickie James – Putting over the younger talent is not a surprising role for James at this point in her career. Losing to Alexa clean (actually, all it took was a punch to the face/falling off the second rope) and getting crushed by Nia after the match is a pretty rough night though.
This Week's MVP
The Miz – Can't say a lot of people really jumped out this week, Goldust, Alexa, and even TJP had their moments. I'll go with Miz though since he basically did everything last night, including: promo in the ring, backstage segments, commentary, a match, got involved in Dean's match, and even ring announcer. I really enjoyed the ending to Miz's bout against Balor as he attempted to win by forcing the referee to call the match, after Balor unintentionally put his hands on the ref. This received plenty of heat from the crowd, which then turned to big cheers as Ambrose restarted the match and Balor beat the hell out of Miz to get the quick win. Even though Miz has been on the short end of the stick in numerous Raw segments, he was the one getting the last laugh as the show went off the air.
I like Samoa Joe, I like Seth Rollins, but I'm not as excited about their feud as I should be. Joe especially has been great on the mic, but I find myself zoning out during too many of their segments. TJP not only picked up the win this week, but post-match he attacked Jack Gallagher, continuing his wretched ways. Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox's match was timed terribly and was over before I could get into it. The pin at the end was awful too, luckily, Corey Graves made note of it, so I'm sure we'll see them go at it again. Bray has been kind of hovering around the whole IC title scene, but WWE had made it clear he's kind of "above" all of that with his dominance of the competitors. Since this was a taped Raw, I wasn't expecting too much, last week we at least enjoyed a great opening and ending, this time around I can't say the same. Although, the Shakeup has clearly helped Raw, imagine this show without Bray, Dean, Miz, and Alexa in it.
Grade (out of 10): 4 (Last Week: 5)