The build to Money in the Bank is nearly over, and while the road to the annual ladder match event is usually full of fascinating booking, this year's build was not of the standard many have come to expect.
From monotonous setups that ultimately had no pay off to dream matches that did not feel like once in a lifetime events, WWE really dropped the ball with this pay-per-view, as this week's episode of Raw displayed that perfectly.
After the Wild Card Rule seemingly destroyed whatever WWE worked hard to build on the red and blue brands over the last few years, many had no real expectations from this broadcast, as most of the WWE Universe just wanted to witness Bray Wyatt acting absurd on another instalment of FireFly Funhouse.
But let's give credit where it's due, as this was not a terrible episode by any means, it's just that WWE doesn't seem to learn from their constant booking mistakes, which ultimately lets them down in the rating department. So, let's go analyse what mistakes WWE made on this edition of Raw.
#1 Talk, Set-Up, Repeat
Who didn't love to hate The Miz? The man was a walking heat magnet that managed to make wrestling fans loathe his lifestyle, his straight to DVD movies, and even his own wife, but as soon as WWE turned The Miz from the conceited anti-hero to a self-righteous babyface, it all kind of went downhill for the A-lister. Now, no one can say Miz isn't doing a fantastic job with his role, but to see him acting all 'buddy buddy' with Roman Reigns is just predictable from the WWE.
There was nothing wrong with this opening segment, but there was nothing right with it either, as it was everything you have seen in the past, two babyfaces discuss their business in the ring only for the heel to come out to the ring to distract them long enough to get ambushed by the heel's henchmen. WWE can do so much better, this is the last episode of Raw before the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, yet it feels like another throwaway opening to a random episode of Raw no one will remember in a few days.
#2 Disqualification City
Did you know that Vince McMahon's Wild Card Rule states that a particular superstar can only appear on Raw or Smackdown Live for "one night only?" Yet this week Roman Reigns made his second appearance, which is not surprising at all when you consider WWE doesn't follow their own rules.
Okay, Reigns is on Raw again, so how can WWE make the best use of his presence? Oh wait... let's just see him wrestle another tag team match against Bobby Lashley and Elias, that would be super groundbreaking for WWE's rating crisis! Is WWE telling us the absolute best they can come up with on the go home show of Raw is to use Reigns in a tag team match?
It's unbelievable at this point that the creative team cannot seem to churn out something interesting and fresh to get their audience hyped up for one of the biggest shows of the year, moreover, would you be shocked to know that this match ended by a Shane McMahon interference once again?
#3 The Man In The Mirror Is Ice Cold
Not everybody is a fan of Mojo Rawley. The man is a heel, he desperately needs all the heat he can get, but Mojo's heat isn't due to him talking to himself in backstage vignettes for the last few months, it's sort of due to the fact no one cares for his character.
Now, here my honest opinion on Mojo's gimmick. It's not that good, but at the same time it truly isn't that bad. What Mojo is suffering from is a lack of apathy from the WWE creative team, as Mojo made his first in-ring appearance on Raw this week after being in backstage hibernation.
Sadly, the crowd did not care about his victory over the terribly underused Apollo Crews, which is a miserable sight for fans of the 'hype bro'. Portraying as a wrestler as a crazy mirror talking freak is not going to connect to the WWE Universe anymore, as everyone knows WWE will get bored of the man in a month, which leaves the fans asking WWE one question, why should we bother if you don't?
#4 Corbin And Ricochet Get The 50/50
Many people have branded Ricochet a walking highlight reel, and it's hard to argue with that claim when there might not be one aerial move this man can't pull off with precision and beauty. However, it seems like Ricochet's unique abilities in the ring won't allow him to crawl to out of the midcard anytime soon, as this week on Raw the 'one and only' was busy losing to Baron Corbin in a somewhat monotonous match.
The problem with WWE booking Ricochet to lose is that we all know somewhere down the line he will get another victory over Corbin to even the score, and can someone please explain the point in that? 50/50 booking has been ruining WWE for so long now, and no matter how much the company loves to tell us that wins and losses don't matter, it doesn't change the fact that that is a part of wrestling fans find important.
Moreover, Baron Corbin is one of the very few heels with actual heat, but he is so poorly utilised it's not even funny anymore calling him an Applebee's manager. Ricochet and Corbin can be two of the bright sparks on a dull Monday Night Raw roster, but the ill-fitting booking they are receiving right now makes it seem like they will never reach that stage.
#5 Predictable Conclusions
Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman was a feud not many thought they would want to witness every week in 2016, as the narrative of Strowman running through every single available jobber only to hit a rock in the ever-resilient Sami Zayn, who was looking to prove himself to then-GM Mick Foley was a story worth telling.
However, fast forward three years later, and look at the difference in quality in this feud, as now we see a washed up monster battling a man that hates his job. WWE did not even try to make this angle between Braun and Sami intriguing in the slightest, as the basis of their falls counts anywhere match on Raw this week was based on Strowman literally throwing Zayn in the garbage, which Zayn retaliated by requesting Shane McMahon to give him a match against the big man.
This match had the unpredictable stipulation, it promised to be car crash action, and it had Strowman's Money in the Bank ladder match spot on the line, it couldn't get any better than this for Raw, but to no one's surprise, it did not.
This was a sluggish match that was ultimately ruined by interference from Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin, Still, no one can say that they didn't see this coming, as Strowman's backstage heat has apparently caught up to him, which has cost him bigger matches when he was white hot.
Even if WWE were going to replace Strowman, they could have done it in a more creative way, as the possibility of Lars Sullivan destroy the former Raw Tag Team Champion sounds more appealing than another ambush by Corbin and McIntyre.
#6 Missing Stars
The one thing that WWE seemed to get right in May was the reemergence of Bobby Roode as the all-new Robert Roode, spotting a glorious moustache, his irresistible cocky attitude, and the motivation of a winner, the WWE Universe really thought that this was the time for Roode to shine a main event heel in the WWE.
However, that has not been the case, as Roode has made less than two appearances since he rejuvenated him himself, now, why is that? No one would ever know, as it seems that WWE is already bored with Roode as a top-flight heel, which is one of the biggest mistakes they will make this year if that is to be true.
Furthermore, on the other side of the spectrum, you have one of the most gifted athletes wrestling today in Cedric Alexander sitting on the sidelines, which just a depressing sight to witness, as many pegged Alexander as the next breakout star on Raw.
Why does the company employ some of the best wrestlers in the world just to have them be benchwarmers? Raw is filled to the brim with amazing talent that could save the show from its rating crisis, but the creative team once again have no plans for these possible era-defining acts.
#7 Less Than Stellar
AJ Styles vs Seth Rollins will be one of the better matches on the Money in the Bank match card, but we as fans should not overhype something that has not happened in over fifteen years, as Styles' wars with Shinsuke Nakamura is enough evidence on how WWE can ruin a dream match.
There is no doubt that the actual match will be spectacular, but something has to be said about the disappointing booking WWE has afforded this feud, as people are already starting to forget how little WWE has done with this programme over the last few weeks just because the promo package to this match that aired on Raw was fantastic.
Less is more, there might not be a saying that rings truer than that, but when you reflect on the month WWE had to build this programme, it starts to dawn on you that the company did absolutely nothing.
Instead of establishing The Club's relationship with Styles, bringing Balor over to Raw with the help of the Wild Card Rule to warn Styles about the threat Rollins posses and expanding more on Rollins personal views on facing a man that he idolises, WWE took a predictable path to the pay-per-view.
It is totally fine if you liked WWE's approach, but that approach will most likely see these men battle each other on multiple pay-per-views until the life is sucked out of this dream match.