Not Great, Bob

For the second consecutive week, the shoot best (non-Seth Rollins) part of the show was Bo Dallas’s impression of his brother, Bray Wyatt, which feels far more resonant and real that it has any business being. Not just considering the performers involved, but the tension is helps build in their feud. Having Matt Hardy lose on a fluke to Curtis Axel and then celebrate his opponent for emerging victorious also fed into this, as it seems to establish a level of respect for the B-Team that articulates itself a real, albeit very weird, connection between the two teams that will either see the bottom pulled out from under it, or maybe even mean an expansion of either the Wyatt Family or the Br/Woken Universe.  And that’s a win for everyone, no matter how bad the B-Team eventually lose.

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While we are definitely excited at JMS HQ to have Alicia return somewhat unexpectedly to Raw after a lengthy recovery, her appearing for just a half-second hug with Bayley MADE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. Especially when Bayley was immediately booked in a match with Sasha, who she had a brutal fight with the week before, as her tag team partner. Which would be fine is they had, say, explained why Alicia wouldn’t be on the team in place of either Bayley or Sasha and/or just not shown Alicia at all. Instead, the entire segment feels like a convoluted segment to advance the Bayley-Sasha feud with no care taken to establish how it makes sense in either a larger, division-wide context or in the very specific context of Bayley and Sasha’s imminent feud.

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The less said about what they are doing with the Authors of Pain, the better. There’s definitely value in a feud with Titus Worldwide, but it’s all on the Titus end of things. TWW has been treated as so bottom of the barrel that beating them feels less like a rite of passage into a high plane of existence than a quasi-punishment for the backstage issues that kept them off TV for the last month. Though the nameplates-on-their-outfits look is both a nice touch for AoP and a much easier way to tell them apart for the time being.

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Whatever quasi-Laycool vibe they are aiming for with Alexa Bliss and Mickie James is not working any way. That’s not to say that the crowd didn’t get molten hot for some reason –- to the point where it felt like something else was going on in the arena that they were responding to instead of her — but that it is nigh unwatchable television from two performers who can do better and should be better. That Natalya coming out to interrupt them felt like a relief should tell you everything you need to know about how well the segment immediately preceding it worked.

The match was serviceable in the way that most Natalya matches are, but felt largely unnecessary… in the way that most Natalya matches do. Having Nia Jax help her get the victory seems to be cutting off her non-bullying nose to spite her face also felt largely unnecessary… in the way that most Natalya matches do.

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