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Raw recap & reactions (Oct. 25, 2021): Tricks, treats, and a new challenger for the champ

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Who would step up to challenge Big E for his championship? How would Becky Lynch come around to Raw? And there’s a new Queen in town. We talk about it all

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Monday Night Raw was live from Houston, TX this week. As per usual, Claire is on the play-by-play and I’m your man for the color commentary.

Let’s talk Raw!


Battle Royale

Raw set it off this week with four men courting Big E for a shot at his WWE Championship. Seth Rollins deserves the title is his because he’s Seth Rollins and never got a shot at the Universal Championship. Rey Mysterio wants one more ride with the title since there’s more light at the end of his tunnel. Finn Balor is not only the first Universal Champion, but one of the greatest NXT Champions in history. His resume speaks for itself but he figured a bullhorn might help his cause. And then there’s Kevin Owens, who touts his own CV and the fact he already beat Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship.

What do you do when four men want the same thing and a simple discussion won’t do it? If you said a game of Paper, Rock, Scissors or a spelling contest, then clearly you’re reading the wrong site and the wrong review. If you said put them in the ring with ladders and a contract hovering above the ring, then you’re in the right place and scarily clairvoyant.

It didn’t take long for the ladder to make an appearance, as KO power bombed Finn Balor onto one, and then introduced his back to the same ladder after Seth Rollins moved out of the way of KO’s Swanton attempt. Like all ladder matches, momentum was hard to capture. Every time it looked like someone was ready to take full control of the match, there was someone else to act as a roadblock. Example? Glad you asked.

In the spot of the night, Mysterio attempted at 619 on KO only to have his path thwarted by Rollins. The legend disposed of Rollins then finished what he started on a recovering KO who just so happened to have a ladder in his hands. Rey then used the same ladder to crash land right on top of a groggy KO outside of the ring.

And even after all that, Rey wasn’t in control. In fact, as the match went on, KO got his revenge on Mysterio, who got a little too big for his britches, and powerbombed the legend through a table.

But the one consistent in the match? The one person who was in the middle of everything? Seth Rollins.

The Visionary dropped KO through a ladder, curb stomped Prince Balor, and climbed rung by damn rung to punch his dance card with the WWE Champion.

This was a good ladder match between four pros setting up a very steep hill for Big E to climb. Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre are no slouches, but they’re also not Seth Rollins. The ladder match reestablished Seth after Edge beat him down at Crown Jewel and made everyone remember why his stat sheet is stuffed from top to bottom.

The rub, as it were, is what story do they tell. If it’s just a longer version of Drew and E, miss me. We know the two can put on a good match but it needs a memorable story to elevate the belt and the man holding it. I don’t know if it’ll be anywhere close to what Seth and Edge just did, but that in itself is an issue. If the WWE Championship doesn’t deserve a story with that much thought, or the same amount of thought put into Roman Reigns’ Universal Championship stories, then what are we here for?

But that’s a potential complaint for a later date. Tonight, they killed it.


The Serpent and the Rainbow

The Dirty Dawgz received a title shot after “winning” a triple threat match earlier on Raw. Details for that are below but long story short, they came into the match incredibly fresh for two guys who wrestled The Street Profits and Alpha Academy. Big Bob—still funny—and Dolph Ziggler took it to the tag champs early on. And as former SmackDown champs, of course they did. The question was whether they could isolate Riddle long enough and stop a Randy Orton onslaught. Riddle is focused more on Halloween costumes than defending their titles, so it was easy getting him off his game.

But even when Randy got in, the song was still the same. Sure, he got a few shots in, but the dirt dogs did as their name implies and got a little extra on the outside of the ring. After isolating Randy from his partner, Dolph did his best to submit the Viper to no avail.

The fast and furious ending featured an RKO to Big Bob, a superkick to Randy, and then mat wrestling between Riddle and Dolph, showcasing the amateur wrestling ability both men posses.

The tag champs walked into Raw with the belts and walked out with the belts. A fun tag match that establish the Dirty Dawgz as formidable contenders who might catch the champs slipping one day and take those titles.


The Night of the Hunter

I love Bianca Belair. Truly adore that woman and everything she does in the ring. Unsurprisingly, her segment with Becky Lynch this week was as close to perfect as one can get. Lynch came down as the triumphant—and NEW—Raw Women’s Champion. She talked her normal trash about being the best and the fact that she walked out of Saudi Arabia with her belt in hand proves it.

But Bianca is on the hunt this week and had her sights set on the champ to dispel all of her false notions.

Bianca rightly noted a couple things: A. Becky cheated, and secondly, Becky pinned Sasha, not Bianca. Right when I thought this feud was going into a typical direction, it shifted into hopefully something deeper. Belair pointed out Becky is in her feelings because even with the belt over her shoulder and the mountain beneath her feet, the fans still cheer for Bianca more than Becky. In fact, they barely cheer for Becky at all. And it eats her up that Bianca is the EST with or without a championship on her shoulders. Meanwhile, Becky is nothing without it.

It’s a similar note WWE hit with Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss a couple months ago, but will hopefully have more legs here. Of course, a brawl ensued, and Becky, out of anger, granted Bianca her championship match next week.


Extracurriculars

Silver Bullet

This week’s first match was a three-way dance between The Street Profits, The Dirty Dawgz, and Alpha Academy for an opportunity a shot at the Raw tag champs. In the same night, mind you. Obviously, the goal of each team was to get a quick W so not to be in terrible shape when they face off with RK-Bro later on.

Fittingly, the team that took the least beating, those old dirt dogs, got the W. But not without some chicanery by way of Omos continuing his beef with the profits of street.

Scream Queen

Queen Zelina started the week with her scepter in hand, crown on her head, and a throne to sit upon. Going in and out of a British accent—I think it was British—Zelina told anyone within an earshot how dominant her reign will be. She will be generous, cruel, loved, and feared. Ambitious as hell, right?

This was all set up for a rematch with Doudrop, who ultimately took the L when the queen used referee ineptitude to hit Doudrop with her scepter. Corey Graves—congrats btw!—said Doudrop ran into the scepter. I chuckled heartily.

Phantom of the Opera

Liv Morgan paid homage to Chucky while Carmella—congrats!—donned her Phantom of the Opera mask that would make Lon Cheney Sr. blush. Carmella got the win after a short physical contest that, of course, involved Graves somehow because duh. The match didn’t really do anything for me and I don’t really know where we’re going with this one. Meh.

Grizzly

Cedric Alexander tried. I mean, he really did. But Keith Bearcat Lee was a man on a mission. And no, he didn’t wave his hands side to side with Sir Mo. They still need to get this naming convention straight with him. Sometimes it’s just Bearcat Lee. Other times it’s Keith “Bearcat” Lee. But apparently the main thing that matters is domination.

Meanwhile, why did we resurrect The Hurt Business? I’m asking for myself and a friend because we’re both very confused.

Psycho II

Damian Priest showed up with a new presentation and apparently a new gimmick. Now, he’s got this split personality where if you piss him off, he goes from Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk. T-BAR made him angry during their match when he launched a chair at him like a lawn dart and got DQ’d. Mr. Bar then found out he doesn’t like Damian when he’s angry. Priest flashed a look, threw said chair back at T-Bar, pummeled him into the barricade, and then left the man laying with a Reckoning.

Did Priest need this? Shrug. But it’s progress.

Unfriended

Am I the only one weirded out by the fact we’re making matches off threats to take selfies in the ring? I can’t be, right? Somehow, the selfie is now the most disrespectful thing one can do and Austin Theory is the king of this particular brand of disrespect. Austin challenged Dominik Mysterio to a match because Dom said no to a selfie.

The two put on an okay if seemingly pointless match. Theory got the W in a decent affair.


Raw was solid tonight. The show was bookended with people we care about, and there was no stinker on the card. The ladder match didn’t disappoint and they made all of Houston want to see Becky lose her title to Bianca post haste.

I was sports entertained.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.