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WWE Raw preview (July 13, 2020): Crossover

Another show from the Performance Center in Orlando. This one was taped two Fridays ago.

The Headliner(s)

Given this show was taped on July 3, WWE unveiled the big matches - and even a theme! It’s A Night of Grudge Matches! - in advance. So we’ve written about those, and will run them down again below.

But looking at those four matches, and the build in general for Sunday’s “The Horror Show at” Extreme Rules PPV, I was stuck by something. There’s one element of pandemic era Raw I really enjoy. Rather than dwell on the negative (and there’s plenty of that, ranging from whether the company should even be producing shows, to quality levels that all but the most ardent WWE defenders would admit is uneven, to the lackluster television numbers*), I figured, “let’s start the week by accentuating the positive”.

For years, lots of fans and professional take givers like yours truly have wondered why WWE’s Superstars and storylines didn’t intersect more. Or at least acknowledge one another. During a time when other fictional worlds about larger-than-life heroes & villains were booming with “cinematic universes” and multi-episode crossovers, most feuds on Raw and SmackDown felt like they were happening in their own little bubble.

By virtue of the episodes all being filmed in the same place, and probably by necessity because the writers & bookers haven’t had the full roster at their disposal*, that’s changed over the past few months. Randy Orton is working his own Legend Killer 2.0 program while dropping in on a story featuring a comedy belt & a pack of ninjas, and teasing a new version of The Legacy. Kevin Owens is a friend to babyfaces everywhere. Numerous acts have either hired or tried out MVP’s managerial services. Asuka, Bayley & Sasha Banks are everywhere, and the promising Riott Squad reunion story has seen Ruby & Liv Morgan interact with multiple other teams.

These interactions have happened in the ring, and backstage. It gives the show a lived in feel, which helps character development a great deal as we can see who the wrestlers are - and have more or a reason to root for or against them, because we see them playing off one another. It’s interesting to think of the possibilities if WWE embraces a Hollywood approach for more than just a couple “cinematic” PPV matches each month.

Now on to tonight’s specific crossovers, and everything else we’re getting or hoping for on tonight’s go home.

* The potential/probable downside of this is that a diminished roster and tanking ratings will cause Vince McMahon to rely solely on big names, and lead to things like Orton holding multiple titles coming out of SummerSlam. But I wanted to look on the bright side today.

The title scene

The big question mark about the WWE championship match at Extreme Rules has to do with the stipulation challenger Dolph Ziggler will unveil. Fighting champ Drew McIntyre let his old partner call his shot... now he and we are waiting for the bombshell announcement from The Show-Off.

Issues between PPV combatants Banks & Asuka continue to involve their tag partners, and the final set-up for The Boss & The Empress’ Raw Women’s title fight at Extreme Rules will be a WWE Women’s Tag Team championship match. The Role Models defend their belts against Asuka & the recently (and perhaps temporarily?) returned Kairi Sane tonight.

A new-look United States title will be up for grabs when Apollo Crews defends against MVP on Sunday. If Crews is going to leave with the strap, he’ll need to avoid Bobby Lashley’s Full Nelson.

Raw Tag champs Street Profits probably won’t be around again this week, seeing as they likely weren’t at the taping with Angelo Dawkins’ wife less than a week away from giving birth. The unofficial #1 contender feud continues when Viking Raiders face Angel Garza & Andrade in an elimination tag bout. Zelina Vega can’t be happy about the opportunities that stipulation will give her guys to point fingers at one another.

R-Truth is so worried about keeping his 24/7 title safe from Akira Tozawa and his ninjas, he can’t even tell a Hall of Famer when he sees one. Hopefully he remembers he’s facing Randy and not Cowboy Bob tonight. Who knows what he’s going to think when Orton’s likely Extreme Rules opponent Big Show gets involved.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Nobody’s losing an eye until Sunday, but it’ll still be a combustible situation when KO and Seth Rollins run back their WrestleMania 36 classic. Aleister Black & Humberto Carrillo may be out of commission, but with Rey & son Dominik around, Seth & Murphy will be lucky to escape with all four eyes.

- It looked like the Ruby Riott/Liv Morgan reconciliation would happen in response to a blossoming Lana/Natalya team-up. But with the Ravishing Russian quarantining, it’s the IIconics who’ve had the once-and-future Squad-mates number.

It’s the Extreme Rules go home show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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