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WWE Raw preview (July 15, 2019): Paranoia destroyer

The Beast is back in Uniondale, New York (aka Long Island). Okay, he’s not advertised, but he’s got to show up, right?

The Headliner(s)

After a few months with a Universal champion who worked every Monday (and Friday - Sunday) night, Brock Lesnar is again wearing the red belt.

It’s not at all surprising. Whether people who live and breath pro wrestling want to admit it or not, Brock moves the needle like no one else on WWE’s roster. Part of that may be WWE’s own fault for failing to produce stars, but it’s true. Faced with declining television and live attendance numbers, with a competitor coming to cable in the fall, and a general perception that he might be losing his touch, Vince McMahon called in Lesnar - and Undertaker - to grab some headlines.

There are a few reasons to be optimistic about the move.

Most are pretty obvious. All signs point to Brock’s side hustle as a mixed martial artist being over. Without the UFC as leverage, and training for upcoming fights as a reason to not be available to work more shows, there’s hope this won’t be the ultra part-time version of the Beast Incarnate we became accustomed to getting for the last four years or so. A corollary to this is that Vince may be desperate enough to write however many zeros on a check is necessary to get Lesnar back regularly on one or both of his weekly TV shows when the new contracts - and the scrutiny that comes with them- begin this fall.

We’re also in the Paul Heyman era now. McMahon has the final say, of course, but perhaps Brock’s advocate can come up with a few more creative ways to work around his client’s schedule - whatever that may be - to tell good pro wrestling stories.

And there are lots of interesting rivalries for Lesnar out there. Seth Rollins will get a chance at avenging his loss from last night in Philadelphia at some point. Roman Reigns is definitely going to be in the mix. It would be cool to see past Brock opponents like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Finn Bálor, and Daniel Bryan work with him for more than just a one PPV match-and-done program. Beyond those names, there are tons of new ones who’d require building up (or re-building) but could be potential dream matches in their own right - people like Andrade, Ricochet, Rusev, and Matt Riddle.

There’s also a more cynical reason to be excited for this new Lesnar reign. It can’t be worse than the last one, where everyone who targeted him either cut promos about his schedule or listened to Heyman promos about David and Goliath. Plus, anything will feel like a breath of fresh air after months of Baron Corbin main events.

NOTE: As of this post’s regular 9AM eastern publication time, had yet to run their official preview for tonight’s show.

The title scene

Before the night took a depressing turn for The Man’s man, Raw Women’s titleholder Becky Lynch and her boyfriend Seth did win the mixed tag match that main evented Extreme Rules. That not only means Lynch got to keep her belt, it means Lacey Evans is out of chances to take it from her. We’ll see who emerges as Becky’s next challenger tonight.

Reuniting with his good brothers Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows paid off immediately for AJ Styles - he’s once again the United States champion. But while The Club surely spent Sunday night celebrating that, Ricochet was probably stewing over how the trio screwed him out of the red, white and blue belt.

On a night with plenty of title changes, The Revival kept their Raw Tag Team titles when they best The Usos, and they didn’t even cheat to do so! Well, at least not right at the end... there may have been some double-teaming while the referee was distracted. But that’s just regular Top Guy business. Without a clear argument for a rematch, it may be time for Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson to start a new feud.

R-Truth is still on the hunt for Drake Maverick. The former Rockstar Spud may not have consummated his marriage yet, but he is the longest reigning 24/7 champ in history.

Kabuki Warriors are supposed to be next in line for a Women’s Tag Team championship match, and Asuka & Kairi Sane are SmackDown Superstars, so IIconic titleholders Peyton Royce & Billie Kay should be alright until at least tomorrow. Paige slapped Billie on a Tuesday, after all.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- The Big Dog and the Dead Man are cool, and there were no clear signs either are leaving the yard right away. We’ll see what’s next for either or both of the Graveyard Dogs.

- More importantly, we’ll find out where “Best in the World” Shane McMahon’s head is at after his alliance with Drew McIntyre, and Elias, couldn’t stop him from eating the pin in last night’s opener.

- Another alliance that couldn’t get the job done in Philly, we’ll find out how strong the friendship between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross is now that they couldn’t take Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s belt.

- Another Raw talent who was chasing blue gold (if those sorts of things even matter any more), Samoa Joe just lost his second straight PPV title bout when he was pinned by WWE champ Kofi Kingston now. We’re still scared of him, but it might be worth wondering why anyone with a strap should be.

- Not even a possibly ruptured spleen could keep Braun Strowman from giving Bobby Lashley those hands, and powerslamming him off a balcony to win their Last Man Standing match. Their feud ended up helping both guys look like badasses again. Now what?

- Speaking of now what, are we closer to a real world Bray Wyatt appearance now that WWE’s noticed his puppets are out of the Firefly Fun House and hanging out backstage?

It’s the Extreme Rules fallout show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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