For Team Red, the last stop before the the Biggest Party of the Summer™ is in the (SmackDown’s Charlotte) Flair Country - Greensboro, North Carolina!
It’s no secret we’re huge Renee Young marks here in Cageside Country. Professionally as the second coming of Mean Gene Okerlund and the host of our dearly departed Talking Smack, to behind-the-scenes as Canada’s Sweetheart and the Lunatic Fringe’s perfect match, Young is a consistent positive on the roller coaster of quality that is WWE programming.
But none of that doesn’t mean we don’t have some concerns about her historic gig as the first woman to join the commentary team for an entire episode Raw.
WWE knows it’s a big deal, and not just because they devoted one whole section of their official preview for tonight’s show to Young joining Michael Cole and Corey Graves at the desk. And it undoubtedly is. For optics alone, it’s great for the company to have a woman as a near-constant presence on their flagship broadcast as they head toward Evolution and possibly even a WrestleMania main event spot for their women’s roster.
None of which means we can’t have some concerns, however.
As many have pointed out, Renee’s stint on the announce teams for NXT and Superstars weren’t necessarily a home run. Perhaps as an artistic choice she made or maybe as a result of the direction she was given, Young played her time ringside at Full Sail and on the old C-show as a cross between fan-in-the-booth and relationship expert. She would “ooh” and “aww” about the action in the ring as opposed to calling it, and offer insight into why wrestlers (particularly the women) hated each other.
That was a long-time ago, however. Her time on the black-and-yellow brand was circa 2013, while she worked with Tom Phillips on Superstars in late 2014/early 2015. Working Raw probably brings slightly different guidance (aka, having Vince McMahon in your ear) and new challenges, but Renee’s undoubtedly grown as a professional. She’s also been preparing for this moment, both via tools like observation and time, and thanks to the practice she presumably got with last week’s Mae Young Classic tapings.
Go out there and kill it, Ms. Young. We’re pulling for you.
The title scene
It’s somewhat surprising one half of Sunday’s headlining match in Brooklyn, Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, isn’t scheduled to be on the SummerSlam ‘go home’ show. But then again, the on-screen story is that he doesn’t care and the backstage one is that he’s on a very limited, very expensive date-by-date contract, so maybe not. WWE is teasing that Lesnar’s brokenhearted former(?) advocate Paul Heyman may be willing to reveal the secret to defeating The Beast to Roman Reigns, though. So our time worrying about Brock’s coming-and-goings may be wrapping up. But probably not.
She watched her SummerSlam opponent dismantle Alicia Fox last week, but Women’s Champ Alexa Bliss is still talking trash about Ronda Rousey. While we probably won’t get to see Bliss try to “expose” Rousey the way she’s been promising until Sunday, we will get to watch her try to avoid Rowdy while she faces Natalya tonight. Both Ronda and Foxy are set to be at ringside for their match. UPDATE: Understandably considering today’s sad news, this match has been cancelled. WWE.com’s preview now just has a section about Bliss and Rousey.
Looks like Seth Rollins will again be outnumbered when he heads to the ring to sign the contract for another shot at Dolph Ziggler and the Intercontinental Title. We still don’t know what (or who) The Architect’s plan for countering Drew McIntyre is, and we expect them to play it close to the vest until Sunday.
There is an actual Tag Team Championship bout on the show tonight, but we can’t be the only ones thinking The Revival vs. The B-Team vs. Deleters of Worlds will end in an indecisive fashion and force a rematch at Barclays, right? Then again, with 12 matches already announced for the SummerSlam card, maybe Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas’ underdog dream does come to an end in North Carolina tonight...
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- One of those 12 is a rubber match between Finn Bálor and Constable Corbin. Before they face off again, however, Commissioner Stephanie McMahon’s lap dog may be looking for revenge against The Big Dog. Roman cheap shotted him backstage last week, and Romey will need something to do with Brock not around, after all.
- Currently without a match in Brooklyn are Sasha Banks and Bayley. There’s a path to something for The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection after Ruby Riott’s return gave Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan a win over the best friends last Monday, though. We’ll see how that plays out, and if it lands them on the SummerSlam card, tonight.
- He’s got a big concert to get ready for, but Elias should probably also come up with a plan for Bobby Lashley seeing as Lashley keeps ruining his performances on Monday nights.
- Mr. Monster in the Bank Braun Strowman has been struggling to get wins lately. Despite losses to Jinder Mahal and Kevin Owens, however, the big man can still cause - or should we say wreck - a scene. He proved it last week when he tipped over the stage of KO’s show... with Owens and Mahal on it!
- The Authors of Pain finally got on the right side of the ledger when Rezar pinned Titus O’Neil last week. And Bobby Roode derailed Mojo Rawley’s hype train when he picked up a GLORIOUS win over Gronk’s bud. Both those stories will probably have to wait until after New York to grab more spotlight, though.
It’s the SummerSlam ‘go home’ show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?