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WWE Raw recap & reactions (Aug. 16, 2021): RK-Bro reunites

Against all odds, the RK-Bro story has been the best thing about Monday Night Raw for quite a while. That rang true during this week’s episode from San Antonio, where the two reunited after Randy Orton was made to realize the truth of his situation and begrudgingly accepted his fate.

He came to realize that two things are absolutely true:

  1. Riddle is worthy of his respect after all, even though he’s the most annoying little shit you’ll ever find
  2. He needs Riddle to defeat AJ Styles & Omos

Orton, who works as a character because he’s so relentlessly himself, to the point of mistreating the hell out of literally everyone around him, ran into the brick wall that is Omos and fell to the same fate as all those before him. It’s worth pointing out they did a great job of building the secondary story here: can Orton RKO this tremendously large man?

He couldn’t here. That’s at least in part to Styles getting involved, however, leaving the door open to the possibility that maybe it could have happened if only the odds were even. Reuniting with Riddle fixed that problem. It acts an both an equalizer and a concession from Randy that being so relentlessly Orton won’t equal victory in this instance.

At SummerSlam, it’s on.

And just think of how good the moment could be if RK-Bro win the tag team titles and Riddle bends down to celebrate with his belt over his shoulder and Orton finally stands behind him and rocks the pose to celebrate along with him. The set up is there. It’s time to go home.

Expletive deleted

I actually really appreciate what they’re doing getting Goldberg’s son involved in this feud with Bobby Lashley. It’s a nice attempt at giving him a bit more depth of character, and while I’m not sure if it’s landing or not, it’s also a way to make him much more sympathetic. At the very least, he becomes more relatable.

Having said that, there just isn’t much meat on the bone here.

Goldberg is in this spot simply by claiming it, not by earning it. Lashley just sort of went along with it. And while I do appreciate what they’re aiming for with the inclusion of Goldberg’s kiddo, there wasn’t much more to his getting involved than there was his father. He just sort of showed up and suddenly was a part of things.

What I was mostly reminded of with how they played this segment out, though, was just how much I miss having a force of nature like Brock Lesnar in times like these. How much more powerful would it have been to see Goldberg like this with his kid and Lesnar stepping up and saying things like “I don’t give a shit about your kids” a la how he handled Heath Slater?

Instead, we get Lashley saying things like “when you step into this ring, you step into the house of the All Mighty” and Goldberg, going for the same level of shock value Brock did but without any of the substance, simply responding with “Lashley, that’s BULLSHIT.”

Yeah. Totally. This whole thing is kinda bullshit, but at least it’s over soon.

All the rest

  • Charlotte Flair was great on commentary during Nikki A.S.H. vs. Rhea Ripley, making fun of how lame it is to call yourself “almost a superhero.” Why would you call yourself “almost” anything, she wondered. “I simply am what I am, a queen.” Indeed. Nikki, meanwhile, is probably a hit with the younger audience and represents the sort of content business WWE has become. It’s not so much about telling good stories using folks who want to be the best wrestler, it’s about creating characters they can market across multiple platforms. Charlotte is closer to the more traditional wrestler, and therefore I hope she continues to dominate the division.
  • Having said all that, the booking for the three women involved in the Raw women’s title match on this show was atrocious. Ripley pinned Cross in a singles match early, Flair got beat up by both after, then Charlotte pinned Ripley in a tag match that also involved someone who hasn’t been anywhere near any of this. No one came out of this evening looking any better.
  • I’m awfully confused with what they’re trying to accomplish with this Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal program. At no point has Mahal looked like a legitimate threat to McIntyre, and the only route he seemed to have to victory was that he had numbers, and then they took that away with McIntyre beating both Veer and Shanky to ensure they’re barred from ringside. I guess the point is “hey, watch this match to see just how badly McIntyre is going to destroy his old stablemate and also see if he maybe finally uses the sword you know he can’t actually use.” It’s not much of a sell for me.
  • Hey, Johnny Drip Drip is actually a decent interviewer. He eased The Miz into their interview on “Moist TV” with a cake question — what is your favorite movie? — that doubled as a set up because he knew exactly how Miz, who is incredibly vain, would answer. When he confirmed his favorite movie is any movie he acted in, Morrison noted his love for it and quickly segued into asking if he was acting injured all this time. That’s pretty good! Then he led Miz right into a match with Damian Priest, which he lost, of course. I don’t know where this is going, but they created some conflict between Miz and Morrison. They made up before the show was over, sure, but the seeds have been planted, at least.
  • Mustafa Ali may very well be the absolute king of making the most of everything he’s given. He maximizes his minutes, as good ol’ JR would say. This story with Mansoor is doing well to get both of them over, as Ali passes along valuable lessons not just through words but during actual matches. That included his cheating to help Mansoor beat Mace, which we’re all going to accept because, seriously, to hell with Mace. But also because it’s going to be great to see the Ali vs. Mansoor match down the line to see just how much of this Mansoor puts to use.
  • I don’t know about any political machinations behind-the-scenes, but it is nice to see at least some synergy between brands in the form of Karrion Kross absolutely dump trucking Jeff Hardy. The bit where he ran through him while he was mid-interview running his mouth just before the match was a nice touch made even nicer by his choking him out in short order in the ring. That’s how you put a guy over.
  • I might be the only one but I still love these 24/7 championship chase segments, especially now that Reggie is out there doing advanced parkour to avoid the hard charging R-Truth and Akira Tozawa.
  • It pains me how little I have to say about what Eva Marie is doing. They have her tied up in a program with Doudrop, a character I’m having trouble finding any sympathy for considering there did so very little to put across why she ever puts up with anything from Eva in the first place, and they’re severely lacking in backstory for, and the pound-for-pound dumbest thing in WWE today, Lilly. Alexa Bliss is also there, but she’s playing second fiddle to the damn doll. Somehow, the evil woman with the maybe sentient and/or haunted doll is the babyface too. It’s just dumb, and bad, and it feels like they’re wasting everything Eva could be because they’ve completely gone away from what worked so well with her before.

This wasn’t a bad show but as a go home episode to a major pay-per-view, it left me wanting.

Grade: C-

Your turn.

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