Rob's What Mattered
5. Raw’s Undercard Thrives
The best eras of WWE are defined by having an impressive undercard with characters ripe for silly but entertaining stories. This Raw, we saw Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo continue to build steam when Garza beat Erik of the Viking Raiders. Reggie and Ricochet were just starting to have a fun match when the other regulars of the 24/7 division interfered. Keith Lee debuted his bearcat character and squashed Akira Tozawa. Mansoor and Ali’s storyline continued when they disagreed about teaming with Jeff Hardy and got beat by Jinder Mahal, Veer, and Shanky. In the women’s division, Doudrop got a chance against Charlotte Flair, which was cut short by an interfering Eva Marie. Shayna Baszler kept her momentum with a backstage interview and by injuring Eva after the previous match. Everything seemed to matter in the Raw undercard this week. None of it was excellent, but it was all worth watching.
4. Damian Priest vs. Sheamus
Usually, I would want to complain about this match happening again, but they went all out. I think this match's meant to be on the Extreme Rules PPV, so it felt out of place here. Sheamus continues his reign of being one of the most consistently excellent in-ring performers. Damian Priest should be considered in that group as well.
3. Riddle vs. AJ Styles
This match could be the main event in any promotion in the world with the right build. Right now, we got it for free on Raw while these two are still semi-feuding over the tag titles. Riddle's backstage segment was funny, but he continues to do a great job setting up a match later in the night. AJ Styles and Riddle have really complimentary in-ring styles. The striking and grappling was smooth. The reversal at the end was insane, and I'm just wondering how they can keep building on this to put the focus back on the tag team championships.
2. Back in Business
The Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin) returned to help Bobby Lashley this week, which is best for business. Alexander and Benjamin were doing nothing after leaving the group. They added a dimension to Lashley and MVP's character that was missing after the fact. They should have an excellent 3-on-3 feud with the New Day should their conflict continue on weekly TV.
1. Big E vs. Bobby Lashley (so nice we saw it twice!)
The night began and ended with Big E vs. Bobby Lashley. They have great chemistry, and they work a main event style that has Vince McMahon sweating somewhere. It's darn entertaining for the fans too. The match showed off why Lashley has been a worthy world champion, and it gave us a lot of reason to be excited about Big E's upcoming reign. After starting the night with interference from a returning Hurt Business and the rest of the New Day, we saw a cage match booked for later in the night. Is it bad that I knew that was coming because of the size of the ring posts? Now, you’ll see it coming next time too. The cage match was a beyond-worthy main event that only had me wondering why it wasn't on the PPV yesterday. It would have fit the Extreme Rules gimmick perfectly. After the match, Drew McIntyre came out, implying he would be next to challenge Big E, which is a massive opportunity for Big E to prove he's not a transitional champion. McIntyre is the most protected wrestler on the Raw roster, so that it will be no easy feat.
Reverse Hipster What Mattered
3. Good Not Great
The good stuff on RAW can be split into three categories. The first is good, not great; these were good in a vacuum and positive for the wrestlers involved, but they weren't amazing. For example, the 24/7 match was an exciting match-up, but it went short. Then, Drake Maverick had the perfect plan, and it was entertaining, but then they didn't pull the trigger on the title change when they should have.
Keith Lee fighting Akira was a good match for Lee. He looked dominant, and that was good for him, but it wasn't amazing short-term. Kross is another one who didn't put on a great match, but it will be good in the long-term. Also, the six-man tag match with Hardy was good, and even though it meant Ali and Mansoor had to lose again in a decent match, it meant Jinder and his crew finally got a win. Angel Garza also got momentum for his team with a win over Erik in this section's best match. I also like that Garza and Humberto are being marketed as pretty boys; it's simple, but it's not as common a gimmick for guys.
2. Better Than They Were Supposed to Be.
I was not excited to see Matt Riddle face off against AJ Styles again. It was a played-out booking choice from a storyline perspective. However, AJ Styles and Matt Riddle are so good in-ring that they outperformed their spot and had a phenomenal match. I also wasn't excited to see Sheamus vs. Damien Priest. I feel like having this match undermined the triple threat they just had on PPV. However, they put on such a good match that I have to give them their credit. They killed it. This one match was more extreme than all of Extreme Rules.
1. The Best Stuff
The faction warfare was fantastic to see last night. New Day vs. Hurt Business was chaos; it was awesome. I'm interested in finding out why the Hurt Bussiness is back together. I love seeing the New Day back together; it just shows that when you split them up, you are hurting your own pockets because the New Day is so much better together. Having the New Day rush in and save Big E in a big brawl was a hot start to RAW. Also, I love the cage match; it gave us something to look forward to and it completely delivered. It was a massive win for Big E, and the faction warfare on the outside elevated what was already a great match even further.
Also, Shayna Bazler shattered Eva Marie's arm this week, and I loved it. She is on the hottest streak of her main roster run, and I can't wait to see where she goes next.
Reverse Hipster What Didn't Matter
1. Charlotte's Open Challenge
They marketed this all night as something we should look forward to. They told us ahead of time that Doudrop would be the one accepting the open challenge when they didn't need to reveal that. Still, I was looking forward to the match-up because both women are very talented, and this match would have been an epic clash. But the match was short-lived. Eva came out, and nobody wanted to see her continue her feud with Doudrop. They proceeded to bury Eva as she went down and stayed down after one hit from Charlotte and then had the champion taunt her like she was nothing, and she did nothing about it. Then, she was presumably written off TV with a kayfabe injury from Shayna.
Her second run has been terrible. She has wrestled less now than she did before. She has been put in terrible spots that have hurt her trajectory from the start, and she hasn't delivered. I'm rooting for a bounce back from Eva, but her comeback so far has not gone well.
2. Bad Choices
I didn't like seeing Golberg via satellite. It did nothing for me as a fan. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know, and his promo was clunky. Nobody likes Golberg because he is a great promo. Golberg is about action. If it had been Vince's kid beaten up at young age, would the person who assaulted his kid get a stern talking to, or would it be action? The whole point of beating up the kid in the first place was to deepen the level of conflict, but Golberg's still acting like this is a regular fight, and that choice is ruining the potential of the feud.
Keith Bearcat Lee is a bad idea. He already had a good name; there was no need to change it. The limitless Keith Lee is way more marketable and relatable, and catchy than Bearcat. I feel like this is an example of WWE overreaching trying to put their fingerprints on something that was already good when they got it. Also, it seems like they are turning Keith Lee heel; he didn't smile. He seemed angry and squashed a babyface adjacent character. I hope they keep him face because they have enough heels.
3. The Women's Tag-Team Champions
They delivered in their small segment. The problem is it was a small segment. They have two former women's champions holding the women's tag team belts right now, and it still doesn't seem important. AEW doesn't have a women's tag team division. WWE should be pressing their advantage, but they aren't. A significant title change couldn't even make the Extreme Rules PPV, and they didn't even have much planned for it. WWE needs to put more emphasis on these belts. It could be one of the coolest parts of both shows.
Rob's What Didn't Matter
1. Weird energy
This Raw had weird inconsistent energy. We had a plethora of undercard matches with storyline implications. We had two matches that should have been on the PPV yesterday. We had two squash matches to build characters. Because of that, it didn't feel like WWE knew if this was an average Raw or a PPV or a show after a PPV where you build the subsequent storylines. Focusing on each segment, I think it worked, but looking at Raw as a whole, the show didn't really have an identity. Sometimes, you try to do too much, and you actually do nothing. I don't think Raw did nothing, but I think they would benefit greatly from looking up and down the card to make sure each segment is unique enough from the others.
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