The Raw Rundown
Rob’s What mattered
1. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston
Admittedly, I usually watch Raw on my DVR the day after. This was one of those matches where I already knew the result when I started watching it. And yet, I slowly went from begrudgingly watching to on the edge of my seat. Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kingston pulled out moves and sequences that I’ve never seen before. They had amazing chemistry and trust. They took almost 45 minutes to tell their story, and they told it. The contrast between McIntyre who has been champion most of the last year and Kingston trying to get redemption from his reign was amazing. In my opinion, this was maybe the best match we have seen from the Raw brand this year, and that’s saying a lot. This should have been on a PPV, and this should have been for the title, but I’ll take it for what it was. When I saw the spoilers, the result was disappointing, but I’m not even mad in the context of this match. In fact, it probably makes more sense to have McIntyre face Bobby Lashley at Hell in a Cell, a stipulation that requires a longer, more heated rivalry. Both guys came out of this looking stronger. Kingston proved he deserves another world title run, and he should hover around the title picture until he gets it. If so, maybe we see these two rematch at SummerSlam. I would love to see it.
2. Randy Orton vs. Xavier Woods
RKBro is everything. Nearly every week on Raw, they find a way to land in the what mattered section. The team is showcasing the best of Randy Orton and Riddle. Orton is using his skill in body language to slow build this team, and his credibility as an active legend is building everyone he works with. Riddle’s goofy character makes me smile every week, his chemistry and contrast with Orton is incredible, and he can back it up in the ring too. This week, I loved their backstage promo, Riddle searching for the invisible key to his mouth that Orton threw away, Orton using Riddle’s finisher as a callback to Riddle’s RKO last week, and Orton faking hitting his pose behind Riddle before deciding to walk off. It takes two to dance though. The New Day has worked their ass off to help get RKBro over. For the second week in a row, Xavier Woods had an excellent match on Raw. Woods should definitely get rewarded for his efforts the past few weeks.
3. Tag Teams
Maybe in response to SmackDown, Raw Tag Teams had time to shine and brought it this week. I already talked about the New Day and RKBro. They had the two best matches of the night. There was also a short but good tag match with T-Bar/Mace vs. the Lucha House Party. Both of them are underutilized tag teams who showed what they are capable of in this match. I’d love to see either of them make a run at the title. I didn’t love the match between AJ Styles/Omos and Elias/Jaxson Ryker, but it established the dominant champions again as the team to beat in the division and seemed to break up the team I didn’t care about. The Viking Raiders lurked backstage in a segment with Monsoor, who knows what we will see from them when they return to the ring. The Men’s division has a lot of potential to see who will wind up challenging the champions and getting a big push by proxy.
The women’s tag team match was a little short, but it was solid. The women deliver when they are given time, and there was some development, showing that Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke could be the next Raw team to challenge Natalya and Tamina.
4. Alexa’s Playground
I felt the match between Shayna Baszler and Reginald was neutral. It wasn’t a what mattered or what didn’t, but it was okay because it did what it was supposed to do. Later in the night made everything worth it. Alexa Bliss’s character is still fresh and exciting with Lily. The segment was unsettling but funny. Everything about that juxtaposition worked. I was glued to the TV to see if Bliss was going to snap with Lily in her head. I laughed out loud when Baszler came out, kicked Reginald off the swing, and beat the crap out of him on the ground. Then, the tension between Bliss and Baszler was dynamic. It’s a sure-win feud for both of them, and it elevates the whole women’s division to have a feud like this away from the title.
5. Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith’s name tells you so much about him as a commentator. It’s such a vanilla name that it doesn’t take attention away from the ring, and it’s so boring that it can’t possibly be a WWE gimmick name. Being far away from WWE gimmicks is the best thing about him. Smith has a background commentating in combat sports that I think lends so much validity to the sports entertainment product. Pro wrestling is often at its best when we treat it like a sport: the wrestlers are trying to win, wins/losses matter, and the action and consequences of the combat in-ring are real. Smith absolutely delivered the first week with all of those things in mind. Here’s hoping he is on for a longer and more fruitful run than Adnan Virk.
6. The Miz is back!
The Miz returned with the MizTV segment this week, and I have to say I missed him. Miz and John Morrison find a way to get anything over, make the feuds around them better, and back it up in ring. He didn’t wrestle this week, but it sounds promising we will see it soon. So much for the canon of the zombies killing Miz. It definitely made the zombies look weaker for not taking him out for longer, but I doubt we’ll see them again anyways.
7. The Cold War nobody is talking about
Johnny Drip Drip tries to steal every segment with his wardrobe. This week, he put together an outfit that revolved around a garlic necklace. He claimed it was all about warding off any other creatures that could be after him and Miz, but we all know the real reason is because he couldn’t resist the drip of that piece. Sound like anyone else we know? Every week, Seth “Drippin’” Rollins comes out with a new extravagant suit trying to steal the show. I’ve seen a little attention on WWE on Fox’s social media hinting that the two are trying to outdo each other, but I’d love to see a “no-contact” feud just founded on drip. Once they finally meet in ring, I think the match would deliver too. Is it too much to ask that these two are the mid-card champions for their brand by Survivor Series?
Reverse What Mattered
1. Reginald vs Shayna
I expected Shayna to destroy Reginald. That didn't happen, but I still enjoyed the match because they let them go out there and have a competitive match. Reginald slammed Shayna, and She did a number on his leg. Also, Alexa interfered in the match and gave Reginald the win. Shayna and Alexa had a face-off, and I'm very excited about a feud between the two of them. This rivalry was definitely the most exciting development on Raw.
I love that Eva did a wrestling-centered vignette to shut down the rumors that she wouldn't be returning to wrestle. She is already a star, and I'm all in on her character. However, who knows what will happen as WWE seems to love to promote someone for weeks and then just not use them/fire them. Ask Emmalina, Liv and Aleister Black.
3. Miz Returns
I'm not going to lie. It was disappointing to see WWE ruin Miz's epic write-off of being eaten by zombies. Now any potential for Miz to have an epic comeback is dashed. However, I'm am happy to see the Miz, and I'm glad he will still be able to contribute even while he is injured. His promo skills could be advantageous to John Morrison.
4. Mandy and Dana
Lana and Naomi lost to Dana and Mandy in a decent tag team match for the number one contender spot. I was rooting for Lana and Naomi, but I guess they couldn't do that because they were planning on firing Lana. There goes another tag team along with the Riot squad because Ruby was fired. I'm happy that Mandy and Dana are getting a title opportunity, but at this point, they seem like the only ones left in the division.
Reverse Hipster What Didn't matter
1.Kofi vs Drew
Hear me out; the match was very good. However, the result was bullshit. This is just like Asuka, and Charlotte Asuka beat Charlotte, but then they give Charlotte a rematch, and she wins clean and gets a title shot, and we just forget about Asuka. Kofi beat the champion, which entitles him to a championship match, but somehow Kofi has to go through Drew, who isn't the champion and hasn't beat Lashley, to get a championship match.
WWE is overexposing Drew at the cost of the champion and Kofi and the story. Kofi vs. Bobby at hell in the cell would be exciting, and Kofi never got his rematch for his title. Meanwhile, Drew lost one on one at Wrestlemania, basically clean, and lost again in the triple threat at Backlash. So why does he deserve another shot? I don't want to see Drew vs. Bobby three. He failed; he needs to move on and let Bobby have an actual title reign. I didn't even think Kofi should win at Hell in the Cell because Bobby hasn't had the title that long. Still, it would have been a new feud, an exciting match, and just having a good match with Bobby could have done wonders for Kofi, and Bobby could add another successful defense to his title reign.
2. Shelton vs Cedric
I have praised the booking of this feud every week so far, but they ruined it this week. They had a blink, and you miss the match. It was time to finally decide to see who was the better wrestler both Cedric and Shelton had one win over each other, and they had Cedric win in seconds with an eye poke. The eye poke shouldn't be enough, especially two weeks in a row. The feud is ruined because if Shelton is a pushover, why do I need to invest in this anymore? It's like WWE had a fastbreak in basketball, and instead of taking the easy layup, they threw the ball into the crowd.
3. Tag team Champions
This feud wasn't super interesting in the first place. However, the random choice to break up Elias and Ryker the night they had a shot at the titles can't be ignored. Why build them up for weeks just to break them up when they had a chance to be champions. Elias and Ryker played this as well as they could have, but it was stupid.
Also, the tag team champions look terrible. They didn't even beat Elias and Ryker. They just imploded, so it doesn't make Omos and Aj look any stronger. Also, they now have two title defenses and are 0-2 on good matches. The first one was bad because they were so limited with what they could do, and the second was bad because it was basically a handicap match.
4. Xavier Woods vs Randy Orton
Basically, the story here is Randy beat Xavier with a Broderick. I think this was a poor way to capitalize on the momentum of last week. Xavier had a great match with Riddle and looked great even in a loss. So having him lose to Randy next week in a slower match that wasn't as good as last week's wasn't a good idea. Now he just looks like a loser losing two weeks in a row, and for what? Also, the better story would have been Xavier winning the match. That could have created tension between Randy and Riddle.
5. Beat the clock challenge
I'm not taking this seriously because WWE isn't. If The beat the clock challenges are legitimate wins, then add Cross to the hell in the cell match because she has a win over the challenger and the champion. They won't, though, because they don't take these beat-the-clock challenges seriously either. Charlotte thought she could beat Cross in a minute, and Charlotte failed, and Cross didn't look as bad as last week, but the story still makes her look like a scrub which is ridiculous.
6. Lucha Losers
I like that they are giving extinction attention, although I wish they change their names. However, WWE had just started giving Lucha house party vignettes, and they even had them beat former tag champions a few weeks ago. So I don't like the choice of squashing them and returning to jobber status. They could have just had a good tag team match and had Extinction come out on top.
7. Sheamus The hero?
Sheamus is being screwed. He was the one who beat Humberto and Richotet one on one clean. Richotet robbed him, and along with Humberto, they have attacked Sheamus two on one multiple times and busted him open; and he continued the match, and he challenged them both back to back. Humberto and Richotet are clearly the villains of the story who can't beat Sheamus without cheating and need to attack him two on one to get the upper hand. Sheamus is justified in wanting someone to earn a shot at his title legitimately. The psychology of this storyline just doesn't make sense.
Rob’s What didn’t matter
1. Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, Nikki Cross
In this week’s MizTV, Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley exchanged words to try to promote their feud. As hard as the Miz and John Morrison tried to add something to the feud, it wasn’t enough. Nikki Cross interrupted, which was the most exciting part of their segment, and she had another 2-minute challenge match against Flair this time. Maybe Reverse Hipster swayed me last week, but this really didn’t make anyone look better. It was nice to see Cross on TV, and her character shined. But surviving 2 minutes in a match with your peer is not an achievement, no matter how highly WWE thinks of Flair and Ripley. For Flair and Ripley, they did nothing to progress their feud, and their matches made both of them look stupid because they could have beat Cross but weren’t trying their hardest. It was like they didn’t understand the rules of the match. This week, there was a 10 second period where Flair was standing outside the ring. Why would you ever do that given the rules of the match? WWE needs to change course if they want all three women to come out of this feud looking better.
2. Cedric Alexander vs. Shelton Benjamin
Last week, I gave this feud a hesitant thumbs up, and they swung all the way to the part I was hesitant about this week. Cedric Alexander hit a thump to eye and his finisher. Veteran Shelton Benjamin was done in less than a minute. In my head, this was supposed to be the rubber match to decide who won the feud. They did everything to build it last week and quickly killed it this week. This would have been better to be a no-contest or disqualification if they want to save the rubber match for a bigger show. Instead, this made Benjamin look terrible and Alexander doesn’t look that much better for it.
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