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WWE Raw preview (Aug. 2, 2021): Randy Orton’s return is far more interesting than Goldberg’s

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Raw airs tonight (Aug. 2) with a live show from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. This is the third Raw episode during the five week build towards the upcoming SummerSlam 2021 event on August 21.

Randy Orton’s return is far more interesting than Goldberg’s

The big thing WWE is promoting tonight is the latest return of Goldberg. Goldberg returned to WWE two weeks ago, challenged Bobby Lashley to a WWE championship match at SummerSlam, and then needed a week off. During that week off, Lashley turned down his challenge and then beat the hell out of his former Hurt Business allies, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. That leads to tonight, where Goldberg is returning to Raw again to respond to Lashley’s declination.

It’s obvious that Goldberg is getting the match with Lashley at SummerSlam, it’s just a matter of how they get there. Given the goofy way they got there for the even bigger John Cena vs. Roman Reigns match at SummerSlam, it doesn’t inspire much confidence that the Goldberg/Lashley angle will turn out much better.

That’s one reason why the return that is far more interesting tonight is Randy Orton’s. First of all, we don’t actually know if he is returning. Orton hasn’t been on Raw in over a month, and it was recently reported that he’s been moved to WWE’s inactive list. He is advertised for tonight’s show in the local market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much.

Orton’s tag team partner, Matt Riddle, is set for a one-on-one match against Omos tonight. Even though Omos has practically no experience and is green as hell, he is pushed as a far better wrestler than his own tag team partner, AJ Styles, and is basically unstoppable. Omos’ obvious limitations in the ring mean that a singles match against Riddle will have to be kept very short, and the babyface has no chance to win without outside help. It’s the sort of situation that lends itself quite well to an RKO out of nowhere from the Viper. But that’s only possible if Randy is actually in the building this time.

If Randy shows up to help Riddle, then a Raw tag team championship match at SummerSlam between RK-BRO and Styles/Omos will be made clear. If Randy’s absence continues tonight, then the clock is running out on his return before SummerSlam, and more questions will be raised as to what’s really going on with him and WWE right now.

The rest of the title scene

It wouldn’t be Monday Night Raw without at least one rematch, and tonight’s rematch is Nikki A.S.H. vs. Charlotte Flair. After Flair dominated A.S.H. in a non-title match last week, they are having yet another non-title match this week. The difference this time is that it’s No Holds Barred. That means Rhea Ripley will probably get involved to add some fuel to the fire for the upcoming Raw women’s championship triple threat match between these three women at SummerSlam.

There is some uncertainty surrounding the status of the Women’s tag team titles now that Natalya has undergone surgery for an ankle injury that she suffered last week on Raw in a tag match against Doudrop and Eva Marie. The rumor mill suggests Natalya will be back in the ring sooner than expected. If that’s true, perhaps the champs will just sit on the titles until Natalya is ready to go. Given how depleted the women’s tag team division is, there aren’t exactly a ton of options in play here if the champs are forced to vacate.

Damian Priest defeated Sheamus last week to earn a future shot at the United States championship. It’s still not clear why some challengers have to beat the champion once in a non-title match to earn a title match, other challengers have the beat the champions twice to earn a title match, and a special few can just show and and ask for a title match.

Reginald has received a renewed focus as the new 24/7 champion. He wants to be called Reggie now and says he’s not French. We’ll have to see if his entrance graphics this week actually reflect the name change, because it still displayed “Reginald” on SmackDown a few nights ago. Regardless, Reggie is on a bit of a roll right now, so it might be more difficult than usual for R-Truth to get his baby back.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Drew McIntyre beat up Jinder Mahal’s lawyer last week. This feud is probably leading to a match at SummerSlam, but if WWE needs to keep that card relatively concise, their eventual match could very well just happen on an episode of Raw. It’s really not that big of a deal.

- Mustafa Ali and Mansoor were successful last week in their first ever tag team match together. How many weeks will it be until WWE creative drops this angle?

- Karrion Kross defeated Keith Lee last week. For Kross, the win seems to dispel the rumor that he will be a consistent loser on Raw until Scarlett shows up. For Lee, his story outside the ring continues to be more intriguing than what he’s doing inside the ring.

- Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have been squaring off with Lashley and MVP at house shows, but they have been a non-factor on Raw since Kofi was damn near squashed at Money in the Bank. At this point it’s looking like they might not be booked on the SummerSlam card.

- Ricochet is another guy who hasn’t been on Raw since Money in the Bank. Given his history on the main roster, it’s not surprising that once the ladders disappear, so does Ricochet.

- Where’s Asuka? She has also been missing from the last two episodes of Raw, along with the others mentioned above.

- Alexa Bliss was crushed by WWE’s decision to release Bray Wyatt. Will she find a subtle way to pay tribute to Bray on her playground tonight?

- Given that Raw is in the Chicago market tonight and there are rumors that CM Punk will be returning to pro wrestling for AEW later this month, you can bet your bottom dollar that we will hear some chants for him when the crowd is getting antsy.

- Tonight’s episode of Raw is not listed as one of the dates for the Summer of Cena, so don’t get your hopes up about seeing the face that used to run the place. But don’t worry because Jaxson Ryker is probably in the building tonight, and he’s almost as entertaining as John...right?

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?