The last show before Sunday’s PPV was taped last Monday at the Performance Center in Orlando.
For a variety of reasons, the Zelina Vega-led stable of United States champion Andrade, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory has been getting a lot of airtime in the empty arena era. That’s cool! Personally, I’m on record as being a fan of their group dynamic. They’re certainly easy on the eyes.
But considering they’ve been on-screen for at least 30 minutes of every Raw since WrestleMania 36, they don’t exactly feel like a force any babyface will lose sleep over. It wouldn’t be fair to say they don’t win. Andrade in particular seems to successfully defend his title more than any U.S. champ in recent memory. But he’s racked up those wins over guys WWE as being below him on the card. Same principle applies to Garza & Theory - they beat jobbers, but not anyone who’s been used in a meaningful way lately.
Apollo Crews, who Andrade was both pinned by and beat last Monday, is an example of the level of talent Vega’s trio picks up wins over. The men Crews teamed with last week, Aleister Black & Rey Mysterio, are on a level above them, and haven’t done the job for Los Ingobernables de Zelina.
Someone from the firm of Almas, Garza & Theory should take part in the Last Chance Gauntlet match to replace the injured Crews tonight. If I had the book, El Ídolo would win it. It’s a great chance to establish him and his back-up as real players on Raw going forward. And not having all four of them roaming Titan Towers in the cinematic, “Climb the Corporate Ladder” version of Money in the Bank we’re getting on Sunday would be a real missed opportunity.
We’ll see what direction they go tonight. Their choice may tell us a lot about the ceiling for Zelina’s group.
The title scene
Someone Andrade & company haven’t been presented as a much of a threat to is WWE champ Drew McIntyre. But the same could be said about his Money in the Bank challenger Seth Rollins. Or Murphy, the acolyte of the Monday Night Messiah who’s getting fed to Drew tonight.
Raw Women’s titleholder Becky Lynch isn’t just sitting out Sunday’s PPV. She’s reveling in the fact that she can. All three women competing for the briefcase that would earn them a shot at her - Nia Jax, Asuka, and Shayna Baszler - feel like threats to end The Man’s history making run, though. And if Hollywood really is calling as loudly as it seems to be, WWE may need to get the belt off Becky before another 365 days go in the record books.
The Tag champs are tussling with Viking Raiders tonight, but it’s not clear if Street Profits are putting the belts on the line, though. At least they’ve brought up the face Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins could never beat Erik & Ivar in NXT.
Speaking of the black-and-gold brand, Charlotte Flair seems to be doing her NXT Women’s title business on Wednesday nights these days. The Women’s Tag champs are on SmackDown, and the 24/7 title is in the NFL and on other Fox properties, so… that’s that.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Word is Team Red gets a valuable player back (click if you want to know). Slotting him into the gauntlet match to determine who joins Black & Mysterio as the Raw representatives in the men’s Money in the Bank field probably makes the most sense. We’ll see if that’s what they decide to do.
- Former WWE champ Jinder Mahal is back too, and is a likely candidate for the Last Chance Gauntlet. A lot of folks think we’re about to get a lot of the Modern Day Maharajah in our WWE diet.
- MVP is getting into the management business, and his first clients are Brendan Vink & Shane Thorne. I have a feeling he’ll drop them and try to represent Ricochet & Cedric Alexander after 2 Fly Crew beats the Aussies tonight. Lord knows Ric & Ced could use a mouthpiece.
- Liv Morgan’s getting a little push, but they’re gonna have to find something for her to do other than beat Ruby Riott every week.
- When he’s not getting his ass hammered, Bobby Lashley’s picking up wins on Raw.
It’s the Money in the Bank ‘go home’ show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?