10/25/21 Raw Rundown: Rebranding Smackdown
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Reverse Hipster's What Mattered
7. Austin Theory
Austin Theory challenged Dominik Mysterio to a match after disrespecting him in front of Rey Mysterio. Dominik said he would handle it, but Austin handled him instead. This program was pretty basic, and I still want more depth from Theory because he is a new character. However, at the very least, they avoided the temptation to have Dominik win and are communicating to us that Theory is annoying, but talented.
6. Damien Priest
Damien Priest and T- Bar had a match this week, and it was pretty good. These are both two big athletic guys from NXT, and they got to showcase their talent. Specifically, T-Bar who did a perfect moonsault during the match. The biggest story that came from this was Damien Priest's character shift. He showed his rage this episode, just completely flipping out on T-Bar after he caused a DQ.
5. Zelina Vega
Zelina addressed her WWE subjects, and it was great. Her head has gotten so big, and she is just loving throwing her crown in everyone's face. This segment confirmed that Zelina would be a great Queen of the Ring because of her excellent promo ability.
4.RKBro vs. The Dirty Dawgs
Finally, RKBro got a fresh opponent. The Dirty Dogs definitely delivered in their tag team title match and put on a really good match. The Dirty Dawgs were even shown some respect by not being straight up beaten, but rolled up after a fantastic final sequence. I have a question for you all. Do you want to see RKBro continue feuding with AJ and Omos, or are you ready for something new?
3. Triple Threat Tag Team Match
Dirty Dawgs vs. Street Profits vs. Otis & Chad, and it was insane. In this segment, WWE basically showcased three-fifths of the SmackDown tag division that has moved to RAW. This match was clearly trying to steal the night on stacked show, and they almost did. This match showcased the best attributes of tag team wrestling. Surprisingly, the Dirty Dawgs won and earned a tag team championship match. I think that was a good result. They have been an excellent tag team since their inception, but haven't always got the credit.
2. Bianca Belair & Becky
Bianca and Becky had a lights out promo segment and brawl. Bianca came out and ran her down. I love this segment because it wasn't just I'm going to beat you, I'm going to hurt you rah-rah-rah. Bianca talked about Becky's insecurities and how Becky is mad that people love the EST. Also, Bianca pointed out that Becky is hiding behind the title because she doesn't have the same credibility without the title, but Bianca is the EST with or without the title. In my opinion, Bianca delivered her best promo on the main roster on this RAW. Becky responded by disrespecting Bianca and telling her to get to the back of the line. This caused a brawl, and Bianca whooped Becky. Becky hit a move and escaped. They have a title match set for next week.
I also want to give some love to Becky. This is why she is looked at more favorably than Charlotte, for example. Time after time, it seemed like Charlotte had to stand tall like nobody could look better than her. However, Becky lets Bianca run her down and beat her with a kendo stick. Becky knows she is a champion and is secure in her position, allowing her to help others thrive. Bayley is the same, and so is Sasha, and it's how we get stars like Bianca.
1. Seth vs. K.O. vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Finn Balor
Seth challenged Big E, but then so did Finn Balor, Rey Mysterio, and K.O. I really liked the segment because all the contenders listed their resumes. They made good cases for why they specifically should get a title match based on what they have done. The match itself was absolutely awesome, and it was the best main event WWE has done in a while. Also, I loved that Seth Rollins won the match. He had wronged everyone in this match and seemed like the last person would win. However, after his WrestleMania match with Cesaro and his three-match series with Edge, he seems like the perfect person to challenge Big E for the title.
Rob's What Mattered
5. Raw is SmackDown
The season premiere of Monday Night Raw looked a whole lot like SmackDown last year. That's a huge compliment, as SmackDown was consistently the better show. The WWE Champion Big E came from SmackDown, as did all of his potential competitors: Seth Rollins, Rey Mysterio, Finn Balor, and Kevin Owens. All three tag teams in the number one contender match were from SmackDown and had pre-existing excellent chemistry. Raw borrowed the hottest women's feud in WWE from SmackDown in Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch. And they even borrowed one of the less hot women's feuds in Carmella and Liv Morgan. Raw was in desperate need of this shakeup, and now it's up to them to make the most of the talent they took from SmackDown.
4. Austin Theory vs. Dominik Mysterio
I love the backstage set-up to this match. We don't need an elaborate backstory to make a weekly TV match meaningful. Austin Theory is an excellent heel, and he looked like a star here. I'd love to see the disrespect he showed escalate to a new legends feud with Rey Mysterio.
3. Raw Tag Team Division
Led by RKBro and with new additions from SmackDown, this division is fresh and exciting. I still love the pairing of Riddle and Randy Orton. Any moment where Orton starts to show love for his partner genuinely warms my heart, and they are incredible in-ring any time. In the kickoff match of the night, I was reminded how promising and underutilized Alpha Academy is. They should get more time on Raw. In the championship match, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode did a great job too. They have taken their afterthought tag team and made one of the most consistent heel tag teams to get over the babyfaces.
2. Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch
I'll be the first one to admit I was wrong. I thought returning Becky Lynch as a heel and taking the championship from Bianca Belair was a horrible booking. Instead, Lynch has been an excellent heel: her act is novel and consistent with her last persona, and she's using her star power to get other women over (sounds different than another women's champion we know). Belair has raised her star power and, at every turn, rose to Lynch's level and even exceeded expectations with her promo work and in-ring athleticism.
1. Number one contender ladder match
The kickoff to the season premiere of Raw was perfect. I thought it was a great way to debut new stars from the draft, promise the audience something new, and the ladder match showed they weren't messing around. I loved Big E kicking off the show, teasing Seth Rollins about losing to Edge, Rey Mysterio bringing up the eye-for-an-eye history, Finn Balor bringing up his history with world championships, and Kevin Owens getting in the mix too. I personally found it the most humorous when Finn Balor and Kevin Owens tried to list their past accomplishments as a rationale for why they should be the number one contender to living legend Rey Mysterio. I loved the little promos throughout the night and Big E watching the screen in the goofiest way possible. The match delivered the exciting car crash we expect from a ladder match and a way better match than we expect from Monday Night Raw main events. Any of the stars could have won, which made an awesome championship contender match, but I was pleasantly surprised Rollins won. I was just starting to think WWE didn't view him as a main event guy and championship contender. Rollins deserves this after working one of the best feuds and matches at Crown Jewel with Edge.
Reverse Hipster's What Didn't Matter
Omos interfering again didn't make sense. Why would he care who faced RKBro? Also, why would he help the Dirty Dawgs, who are former tag team champions and could have won the titles? I would have rather had the Dirty Dawgs just win instead of the interference.
3. Zelina vs. Doudrop
Zelina looked strong after beating Doudrop again, which is good. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they didn't 50/50 book Zelina and Doudrop. However, rematches the night after are bad. It diminishes the original match because now it's not final. Also, the person who won has everything to lose and not much to gain. The person who already lost has little to gain and, like Doudrop, will look even worse losing twice in a row. Chad Gable feuded with Corbin for a while after he lost the crown, it was bad. Please don't repeat that story with Zelina and Doudrop.
2. Keith Lee & The Hurt Business
These are two acts that are lost right now. The Hurt Business is basically enhancement talent, and it's sad when you remember how both of them entered our consciousness. Benjamin created moment after moment in the 2000s with his unlimited athletic potential, but WWE never figured out a character for him. Sadly, that streak has continued to this day. He still doesn't have a character. Alexander had an excellent match with Kota Ibushi and had the crowd chanting for him to be signed, a wave WWE never fully capitalized on. Now, the Hurt Business is back together after being adrift, but WWE never explained why and they haven't even told us if they are associated with Bobby Lashley. This brings me to Keith Lee, another promising black talent who actually came in with a good character and seemed like he would be one of the best babyfaces on the roster. But instead, now he is Bearcat Lee, a vague heel who hasn't explained his shift in attitude and whose biggest character trait is rage. Lee isn't just a monster, he is much more than that, and WWE should take advantage of that.
1.Liv Morgan vs. Carmella
Carmella won, and that's good for her. But, the overall match wasn't good. First off, they gave these women very little time, so once again, nontitle women's matches are getting very little time on a three hour show. Also, it was deflating to see these women change shows only to continue a lackluster feud that was beating a dead horse before the draft. Then, having Carmella win was an odd choice. Liv is the rising star. She is the one that needs to be built, yet she is thrown aside time and time again despite her being a crowd favorite. Carmella has done nearly everything there is to do in the women's division. Liv Morgan needed that win a lot more.
Rob's What Didn't Matter
4. Still No Explanation for the Hurt Business
Cedric Alexander was accompanied to the ring by Shelton Benjamin. Alexander was squashed by Keith "Bearcat" Lee, which was relatively inconsequential. Apologies for bringing this up again, but it drives me nuts that WWE has left this plot hole open. A few months ago, Alexander and Benjamin were having a personal feud, and now they are best buds again. I assume it has something to do with Bobby Lashley and MVP, but WWE- please explain!
I can't help but feel bad for Doudrop. The former Piper Niven was one of the best women's wrestlers on WWE's roster and offered a different look and character than anyone else. After Eva Marie named her Doudrop, I thought that was a part of the story, and now it's her whole gimmick. She put over Zelina Vega, which is great for Vega, but Doudrop hasn't yet made a name for herself (pun intended) in WWE yet.
2. More New Themes
A new theme can mark a new era and new character for WWE superstars that have gone stale. We know that's not what WWE is doing here. Damian Priest got rid of one of my favorite entrances in WWE in favor of another heartless stale WWE theme. It seems Priest will be a new character, and time will tell if that pays off, but I'm tremendously disappointed to see the Archer of Infamy go. Carmella debuted another new theme, reminding one of her old "hip hop" style theme. I could take it or leave it, but I haven't been a fan of Carmella's mask gimmick so far. Keith "Bearcat" Lee got a new theme, though I can accept that his new gimmick is the most in line with a new "monster-style" theme. I'm not sure if I'm all-in on Bearcat yet, or if I just have a soft spot for the old Keith Lee.
1. More Rematches
For the season premiere of Raw, there was a fair amount of new excitement but a lot of the same old stuff too. The teams in the number one contender tag match have been facing each other in some capacity since January. Zelina Vega and Doudrop had a rematch from Crown Jewel. Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair had ANOTHER promo segment.