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WWE Raw results, recap, reactions (July 23, 2018): Evolution

The women’s revolution marches on.

I personally get tired of these segments with all their public relations jargon – and that’s coming from a dude who has a PR job, by the way – but even I can’t be too grumpy.

Vince McMahon started the show with the roster on the stage and introduced Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Triple H talked about the bond of being a WWE Superstar and Stephanie made the official announcement; we’re having an all-female special event in October.

And that’s great!

WWE likes to preen a bit and lecture us on how “historic” these moments are – and to be fair, they are. Moments like this are special and they do deserve to be recognized for what they are...but it gets old, you know? The thing that I think is more notable is how I felt watching this one.

For example, I tuned out the McMahon’s and their usual stump speeches. Instead, I was busy bursting with pride at seeing Nikki Cross standing front and center on the stage, grinning maniacally. I was busy feeling fond of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, holding hands and acting above it all. I was cocking my head in puzzlement as Sasha Banks preened in the front while Bayley was standing unassuming in the back of the group – what might that mean for their supposed repaired friendship? Was it foreshadowing their differences?

I care far more about the characters and performers than I do about what the WWE brass has to say. And you know what I say to them, acting as if this moment’s something transcendent and revolutionary?

It’s about time. We’ve been ready for a while.

If you’re like me, this is something new in a time where the same old routine is more unpalatable than ever. I gave the previous episode a failing grade and ripped them for putting Roman Reigns right back in the Brock Lesnar Sweepstakes – more on that later.

So it makes sense to throw my wagon behind something new, right? All the women’s titles in WWE will be defended and I’d imagine that the Banks/Bayley feud will finally come to a front at Evolution.

So if you’re like me, I’d suggest you get behind this. And yes, we’ll have to stomach a whole bunch of dumb marketing and WWE wafting their self-importance everywhere, but that’s the price you pay sometimes. They know this is gonna rock, and so do I.

The guy you thought would win? Yeah, he won

Ugh, enough positivity. Let’s get to the conflicted feelings.

To be fair, I don’t know what the right answer is anymore with this Universal Championship situation. Is there one? All I know is that a triple threat at SummerSlam would have felt like a cop out and WWE softly admitting that Reigns vs. Lesnar couldn’t stand on its own.

They didn’t do that. And that’s good.

Reigns had a promo early in the night that I honestly thought was stellar. He was openly hostile to his detractors and if you were in his shoes, wouldn’t you be? He’s had to deal with so much vitriol over the past few years. He’s the Kevin Durant of WWE; sometimes you just have to embrace that.

Of course, that creates a massive challenge if you’re booking Lesnar as a heel. There are people who will detest both men. Some will cheer Reigns. Some will cheer Lesnar. I’ll be in Reigns’ corner simply because I want Lesnar gone. I want the championship on television for once.

But that can wait. The main event on this show was fun. Bobby Lashley sweats an alarming amount and the storyline from Extreme Rules is still ridiculous, but whatever. You just have to let some stuff slide sometimes.

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about

The real Kevin Owens is back, and things just got awfully interesting.

Braun Strowman had a promo in the ring where he was quite honestly charming. He said he’d be rooting for his Mixed Match Challenge partner Alexa Bliss, got lost in thought, shook his head wildly, and then told the crowd to “calm down,” which all came off extremely well to me.

But there was one problem; he was acting as if all the carnage he’s wrought against Owens was nothing at all. And Owens returned to say his piece.

This wasn’t the Owens we’ve seen for a while, either, cowering away from Strowman. No...this was the Prizefighter. Strowman crushed his son’s dreams, Owens claimed, and did the same for his daughter. And that can’t be forgiven.

That feeling of foreboding is completely earned, by the way. Owens has always been the guy to take things too far in the past. He’s powerbombed celebrities, headbutted his boss, stabbed best friends in the back with glee...

It’s just. Y’know. Strowman attempts murder and feels nothing. That dynamic between the two excites me.

Actually, can we talk about Strowman’s psychopathic tendencies for a second? Strowman’s actions are and have always been completely reprehensible. The dude’s nuts and he ABSOLUTELY should have been given anger management counseling before now. And it took Baron Corbin to make that happen. In fact, Owens was completely correct when he told Stephanie about Angle happily allowing this chaos to continue.

And Stephanie made the right move. She booked the match Owens wanted and put the briefcase on the line. Actions should have consequences. I’m pumped for this one. It also throws a nice wrinkle into the SummerSlam plans. Could we see Owens walking out of Brooklyn as champion?

The Four Workhorsemen

This was going to be below the fold, so to speak, but I just want to give a shout out to the workhorses of Raw: Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, and the Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler.

This started as a beef between Balor and McIntyre, two of the participants of a triple threat match last week. Balor blamed McIntyre for pulling him off a nearly-certain winning pinfall and McIntyre blamed Balor for eating a pin.

Let’s get it on.

Their match rocked, but as is Balor’s eternal curse for his demon powers or something, he got near a victory only to be screwed by outside interference form Ziggler. Rollins ran down, a tag team match was made (playa!), and the four burned it down collectively.

They all rock. We need more things like this on Monday nights and less undercard rematches. And less Corbin with dumb playhouses and no storyline progression for Balor.

Best of the Rest

The B Team def. Deleters of Worlds – The former champs had their rematch, lost, and turned heel I guess? The match was fine, but it was in that “first match of the night” death slot where nothing matters.

Bayley and Sasha Banks are best buds – They beat some local talent. Yup. Everything’s resolved. Sure.

I just want to walk with Elias, okay?! - His album drops and no one was willing to give the Drifter the time of day. Luckily, Angle finally gave him his moment near the end of the show until he started baggin on Cincinnati. Should have been the main event, in my opinion.

Mickie James def. Natalya – This was short and didn’t do anything to advance anything. We’re just waiting on Rousey.

Hulk Hogan throwback video – Nope. Go away.

Titus Worldwide gets back at the Authors of Pain – This segment had the potential to be good. Unfortunately, no one is all that invested in Titus Worldwide. The “we want you to retire” line from AoP would have connected harder otherwise.

With that said, the fire from Titus Worldwide was good! Hopefully this can go somewhere fun.

Mojo Rawley def. Tyler Breeze – Can we live in a world where this isn’t reality, please?

Ember Moon def. Liv Morgan - Thank you for reading me the Webster’s definition of evolution, Ember. I really needed that. And yes, I saw how you snuck “eclipsed” in there. Clever.

(It was a scripted promo, I know. But scripted promos are hot garbage.)

Anyway, this weird feud is still going. No, I don’t know why either. Cole read off Moon’s “beliefs” as if it were a horoscope. It’s not doing her any favors, WWE.

It felt like the top of this card delivered for the most part. The highlights of the show for me were easily the KO/Strowman story progression and the tag match between Balor, Rollins, McIntyre, and Ziggler. They were both fantastic.

But the undercard was egregiously dull and uneventful. Way too many rematches.

Grade: C+

Also, who the hell is O.A.R.?!

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