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WWE Raw preview (Aug. 10, 2020): Leadership void

Another show from the Performance Center in Orlando. This one taped at the end of a chaotic day last Monday.

The Headliner(s)

Factors in last week’s chaos were the launch of two big angles. Shane McMahon returned to emcee a not-so-secret fight club called Raw Underground, and someone stole the ninja suits from new 24/7 champion Akira Tozawa’s locker so they could have some destructive fun. We’d later learn the black-clad group are calling themselves RETRIBUTION and... whoo boy. Folks have been talking about their Friday night adventure all weekend. But largely not in the way WWE hoped.

Both concepts are likely to continue tonight. Raw Underground proved to be a ratings hit, and fans were much open to its potential. It’s not clear RETRIBUTION generated (pun semi-intended) much more than jokes about how Nexus did it better.

So where do we go from here?

RETRIBUTION hinges on its reveal(s). No offense to talented performers like Candice LeRae or Swerve Scott, but if we find out the biggest names in those hoodies are folks who’ve never held gold in the company or spent the bulk of their WWE careers on Main Event and 205 Live, the jokes are just going to keep on coming.

The most obvious solution won’t deflect criticism that WWE is just recycling other people’s ideas. But they could get people to just call the group an Aces & Eights riff instead of Aces & 5’8”s. RETRIBUTION needs an Exalted One. Or to stick with the comparison to TNA’s biker gang gimmick, a President.

Sure, an antifa-inspired group shouldn’t have a leader. But WWE creative clearly hasn’t done much research on current events beyond figuring out who Fox News’ latest boogeymen are, and the more we can do to have RETRIBUTION not look like an antifa-inspired group the better.

It would let wrestling fans do our thing and speculate/debate about potential suspects. I’ve already seen theories about Tommaso Ciampa & Dominik Dijakovic being floated (based on the fact they both recently wiped their Twitter timelines). I’m all the way on board with Blackheart being the head man with Heavy Double-D as his enforcer.

Another option would be to tie RETRIBUTION to Raw Underground. It would be an even bigger rip-off of Chikara if Shane McMahon was using his no-ropes playground to train an insurgency. But it would be better than there being no storyline reason for Underground’s existence.

Get your picks in for the power behind Raw & SmackDown’s mischief makers before we hopefully get more clues about them tonight.

The title scene

After shooting on each other last Monday, WWE champ Drew McIntyre will watch as #1 contender Randy Orton faces Kevin Owens. The match was booked because Ric Flair tried to offer KO some veteran advice. Should have checked with John Cena to see how that was gonna go, Naitch.

We should know if we’re getting a third Sasha Banks vs. Asuka Raw Women’s title match at SummerSlam after tonight. The Empress faces Bayley, with a shot at reclaiming the title from The Boss on the line. Should be dope. Fingers crossed for a clean finish. While we’re wishing on stars, maybe The Golden Role Models could get new challengers for the WWE Women’s Tag Team belts too.

He’s back. He removed the MVP-sized thorn from his side (and sent The Hurt Business off to rule the nether realm). What’s next for United States champion Apollo Crews? (Author’s note: Oops... it’s still MVP. Blacked out and thought there was still a no rematch rule for a second.)

We know what’s next for Street Profits and their Raw Tag Team championship. Question is, did #1 contenders Angel Garza & Andrade drug Montez Ford last week? And how bad is Bianca Belair gonna whip Zelina Vega’s ass because of it?

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- After a kendo stick-wielding Dominik Mysterio got the drop on him for the second week in a row, maybe Seth Rollins should start taking his SummerSlam opponent more seriously. He should definitely stop messing with the announcers if he doesn’t want Samoa Joe to slap him in the lips and beat down his disciple Murphy in front of him.

- Nia Jax is on suspension for beating up WWE officials. Shayna Baszler is an honorable woman looking for a fight. Hmmm...

- Liv Morgan isn’t sure she wants her team-up with Ruby Riott to be called the Riott Squad again. But they still proved to IIconics that they know how to start a riot.

Two weeks until SummerSlam!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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