In times like these, it's important to have entertainment like WWE to help take your mind off of things. Now, I missed SmackDown last Friday, but tonight I sat down to watch WWE Monday Night RAW. As everything WWE related will now be done out of the WWE Performance Center in Florida, with no audience, now is the time to see who really had their promos down, and who's going to flounder without the energy of the audience.
We open with Edge giving an intense promo, promising revenge on Randy Orton. Since Edge has been around for a while, his promo work is a work of art. He's an expert at this. He maintains his focus on the camera, giving his full attention to the audience at home.
This was a crucially good move, as it shows that he's here with the audience, and he's acknowledging us. After that, WWE treated the audience to the entirety of the men's Royal Rumble 2020 match. This was lazy, but I get it. WWE needed to fill this time somehow, and why not have a match that would take up a majority of the shows running time?
I will say that Jerry "The King" Lawler, Byron Saxton, and Tom Phillips are doing an excellent job hosting. They're keeping the same level of energy and engagement as they would any normal Monday.
The contract signing between Undertaker and AJ Styles was great — but that should be no surprise as Styles is a master at his promo work. Styles and The OC did a video promo talking to an agitated Undertaker, who stood in the ring absolutely fuming.
WWE Producers clearly picked their best promo people tonight — and they should be commended for it. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came out with the signed WrestleMania contract, and let's be honest. They didn't need an audience. This was a personal thing between Styles and the Undertaker, so the eerie silence helped build the tension and drama. If you can catch this segment online, do so.
Our first live match of the evening was between Rey Mysterio and Andrade, with Asuka joining the commentary team. Now, I speak Japanese fairly well, so this was great for me as it gave me a chance to practice listening. Asuka is great and should be held at a much higher regard. Mysterio and Andrade has a good match. Both have similar wrestling styles, and they play off of each other well. Mysterio took the win.
Becky Lynch came out next to cut a promo on Shayna Baszler and their upcoming WrestleMania match. Lynch is a solid, solid person on the mic. Her intensity and confidence shine in each promo she cuts.
We were then treated to a few more clips from prior shows and events, as well as Kevin Owens giving yet another good promo. He's seriously excellent. Finally, at the end of the night, Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to celebrate 3:16 day.
RAW had been showing iconic clips of Austin's long career — each one better than the last. Austin did a great job, even possibly ad-libbing. His enthusiasm is contagious, and his interaction with Saxton was hilarious. You have to go and watch this segment. You will not be let down.
Something like this is not easy for an entertainment company. Performers thrive off of audience interaction. Over the next few weeks it'll be interesting to see how WWE moves forward — especially if there are limits to how many people can be in a building at one time.
Plus, with the announcement that WrestleMania would now be held at the WWE Performance Center without an audience, we are truly seeing history in the making. Sure, you can criticize WWE for a lot of things, but right now WWE Monday Night RAW is still giving us live, weekly entertainment. These performers are giving it their all during this time, and they're doing it for us.