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WWE Raw preview (May 18, 2020): Sacrificial wolf

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Another show from the Performance Center in Orlando. This one was taped last week

The Headliner(s)

WWE’s new plan to raise ratings, the don’t-call-it-the-wild-card-rule “Brand-to-Brand Invitation”, is in full effect this week. And Raw’s using their first invite to book WWE champion Drew McIntyre against King Corbin.

Lots of “that’ll put butts in seats” jokes have already been made, including by yours truly. Corbin’s an odd choice for an effort that’s allegedly supposed to stop the bleeding from the television numbers. But he’s a great choice for the purpose of making McIntyre the mostly* beloved top star WWE’s been striving for most of this century.

Do you hate Corbin because he’s a great on-screen heel? Or because you think he’s a mid-carder who gets main event spots and TV time? It doesn’t matter! Either way, you’re gonna want to see Drew Claymore his face off.

Will that shoot tonight to 3 million viewers? No, but I’m not sure anything can at this point. The path back to those kinds of numbers will needs a star that lots and lots of people want to tune in and see. It’s not clear McIntyre can be that star. But after years and years of “polarizing” babyface acts in the spotlight, they’re off to a good start on making the big Scot a hero almost* everyone will cheer for.

Kicking the crap out of Corbin is another logical way to build Drew as a hero. Especially when we’re still a month away from the next PPV and are still in the process of setting up his next challenger there.

Hopefully they won’t give the King four segments over the course of the night, or turn this into a multi-week angle that involves Corbin going over a time or two. If they do it right, it’s one microphone exchange and a match that ends with the champ standing tall. I’d cheer for that.

* I’m not crazy enough to think anyone or anything can be universally loved in this day and age.

The title scene

Last week’s bombshell opening segment made some big changes to the Raw Women’s championship scene. It was unconventional, but the reveal of Becky Lynch’s pregnancy and what that meant about the contents of Asuka’s Money in the Bank briefcase worked perfectly. Asuka’s run is off to a great start, now we’ll see if her first challenger will be Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, or another surprise.

One would think the series of non-wrestling competitions between Tag titleholders the Street Profits and Viking Raiders - such as tonight’s axe throwing contest - are leading to a match for the belts at some point. But we don’t want to make any assumptions.

Because we’d assumed Andrade would have defended his United States championship more than once every two months or so this year, and the assumption would have been wrong. At this point, it looks like Zelina Vega’s stable will lose a member before El Ídolo put his belt on the line again.

The Women’s Tag Team champs don’t need an invitation to move between brands (we don’t think), but then we also forgot what show The IIconics were assigned to before they showed back up last Monday. Anyway, Peyton Royce & Billie Kay picked up a win over Bliss Cross Applesauce in their return match, and now get to fight Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross with the belts on the line.

We’re not sure if NXT Women’s champion Charlotte Flair counts as a Brand-to-Brand invitee, but she’s got issues with people on Wednesdays and Fridays currently, so maybe she’ll take Mondays off. And who knows when we’ll see Rob Gronkowski and the 24/7 title again.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- The losses are piling up and Seth Rollins doesn’t want your congratulations on his impending fatherhood (in kayfabe, anyway). Just ask Rey Mysterio. That may be leading to a match with Aleister Black, but probably not until after Black beats up Murphy some more.

- Since Edge’s grit gave him the upper hand in their Last Man Standing match at WrestleMania 36, Randy Orton is out to prove he’s the better wrestler. We’ll see if the Rated R Superstar agrees to a standard match at the next PPV.

- Their (kayfabe) marriage may be intact, but Bobby Lashley & Lana’s business partnership appears to be in jeopardy. Montell Vontavious Porter is telling the All Mighty he can make big things happen if switches up his representation. MVP didn’t really prove in when he and his other clients, Brendan Vink & Shane Thorne, lost their match against Pretty Ricky, Cedric Alexander & Ricochet last week, but Lashley still seems to be listening.

- AJ Styles is not a fan of The Last Ride, and Jinder Mahal wants to be your hero.

Four weeks until Backlash!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?