Live from ThunderDome!
It’s been almost a month since Aleister Black was written off television by one of Seth Rollins many eye-focused attacks. Before exiting his guest commentary role on the SummerSlam broadcast last night (Aug. 23), Kevin Owens let us know he’d invited Black to be his guest on tonight’s edition of “The Kevin Owens Show.” WWE.com has since confirmed that Aleister accepted the invite and will be on Raw for the first time this month.
Black had been an ally of Rey Mysterio’s in the battle against the Monday Night Messiah. With Rollins still rolling after pinning Dominik Mysterio with his dad handcuffed to the ropes, and a PPV called Payback six days away on the calendar, Aleister’s sudden reappearance makes sense.
Does having that reappearance occur for an announced-in-advance interview segment make sense?
The former NXT champion generated some interest in his predicament with an unsettling Instagram post days after Rollins & Murphy sent him packing with one good eye. It raised some fans’ hopes that a different Black would return. Maybe with more of an edge, or even as a heel. Perhaps leaning even more into the supernatural.
Any of that could still be true. Show-within-a-show segments like KO’s are rarely straight-forward, and the likelihood things get violent and/or weird is pretty high. It still feels like a missed opportunity to have Aleister show up unexpectedly; that’s always more exciting, and the fans streaming into the arena now would be able to virtually “pop” for a cool return spot.
But WWE probably has data that says promoting these things helps their numbers. There were also rumors that Vince McMahon likes Black as a performer but felt his gimmick limited him, so perhaps he’ll be less mysterious now. A sit-down chat would be a good way to establish him as less pagan and more straight-forward pugilist.
Would emerging from the shadows unexpectedly to attack Rollins have gotten us talking? Sure. But this is obviously discussion-worthy, too. We’ll see what we have to say after Aleister’s chat with Owens.
The title scene
Lots of us were pretty certain Randy Orton’s buzzworthy 2020 run would be capped with a win at SummerSlam. But after a backslide The Viper never saw coming, Drew McIntyre is still WWE champion. McIntyre had vowed to finish Orton with a Claymore he would see coming. Is that enough of a justification to run this back on the Aug. 30 PPV?
That title wasn’t the only one that didn’t change hands in Orlando last night. But one that did was the Raw Women’s title as Asuka made sure Sasha Banks’ latest reign was just like the others on her resume - short. WWE tried to play up the notion that The Boss lost because her bestie Bayley didn’t sacrifice herself the way Sasha did in Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s championship defense earlier in the show.
The Golden Role Models won’t have a lot of time to hash out any issues they have, though. They have to defend their WWE Women’s Tag belts against as-yet-unrevealed challengers at Payback. To make matters worse, The Empress has an argument that she should get a chance at making Sasha “No Beltz Banks” by virtue of the fact she & Shayna Baszler beat the champs last Monday.
Their match got bumped to the Kickoff, and Apollo Crews beat MVP to remian United States champ. Does that mean he can finally move on from The Hurt Business now? It’s a tough beat for MVP, but his group isn’t title-less. They still have Shelton Benjamin’s 24/7 strap.
Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins showed why you should never poison Street Profits, as they successfully defended the Raw Tag Team championship against Andrade & Angel Garza. The story coming out of that SummerSlam clash continues to be the issues between the losing teammates and their business associate Zelina Vega. Maybe Garza should offer Zelina a rose?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Black isn’t the only former NXT champ showing up tonight. Keith Lee moves to Raw days after dropping the black-and-gold brand’s top belt. Main roster audiences were introduced to The Limitless One at Survivor Series and Royal Rumble. How will WWE build on those big moments?
- They took Sunday night off after getting run over by the Strowman Express on SmackDown. Will RETRIBUTION be back tonight, and will we get any more clues about who they are or what they want?
- Mickie James’ return was overshadowed by Rollins’ drama, but the veteran should be able to get another shot at Natalya after taking a Lana-assisted countout loss to the #BOAT last week.
- Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan’s may be running out of chances to reconnect amidst the duos losses to Peyton Royce.
- Shane McMahon will welcome us back to Raw Underground, where last week he teased us with a Nia Jax vs. Baszler & the MMA Horsewomen brawl.
It’s the SummerSlam fallout / Payback go home episode!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?