Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends! Raw emanated from *clears throat* North Caroliiina tonight.
Please be sure to read every inch of Claire’s blow-by-blow blog.
Let’s talk Raw, shall we?
One thing I love about comic books is when characters who squared off long ago do so again in a completely different context. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin fought each other more times than I can count. But if Spidey pulls out that black suit and let his dark side run wild because he’s pushed to the edge? I’m in.
Sure, we’ve seen New Day x The Uso’s battle it out so many times over the past decade. But have we seen it with these iterations of either team with Big E as WWE Champion and this version of Roman Reigns standing shoulder to shoulder with his cousins? I think not.
But why did it open the show? My spidey sense immediately tingled because there’s no way WWE gives us this hyped six-man tag to open the show and leave us nothing to look forward to in the main event.
Enter the All Mighty former WWE Champion Bobby Lashley.
Lashley destroyed everyone in and outside of the ring during the match, including Reigns after he secured the win for the Bloodline. Weird that apparently the referee was cool with an outside man blatantly interfering in the match but, okay, sure.
As a result, Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville granted everyone’s wish and gave us a triple threat match between the two current champions and the former champ. Each man felt disrespected by the other and went into the match with their own agendas.
Big E wants all of the static with Bobby Lashley. Roman wants Big E—the initial line stepper—but will happily take some smoke from Lashley.
This was big boy wrestling at its finest. It wasn’t pretty and “finesse” felt like a four letter word. Reigns went for quick covers to end this thing as soon as possible and get back to Friday nights. It was a great way to establish Lashley and Big E as formidable challengers to a man who is WWE’s Dr. Doom at this point. If there are two cats in WWE who can manhandle the Tribal Chief, it’s Lashley and Large Langston.
After trading body blows, suplexes, superplexes, spears and superman punches, the match hit another gear when E gave Roman the Big Ending. In that moment, that was the game, set, and match. But Lashley broke it up and then attempted to break the WWE Champion by slamming him through the commentary table. Lashley and Roman tangoed for a bit, but neither of them got the job done because the WWE Champion came to just in time to breakup a pinfall.
From that point, it was all E. He eventually put Roman in another Big Ending and right before the ref threw his hand down to the mat for a third time, in came Lashley with a little sweet chair music.
He wailed on Big E for what felt like five minutes. Continuing the story from last week, Bobby’s greed got the better of him and he didn’t know when to stop. Reigns took advantage, hit him with a spear, and walked out of Raw with the win and his pride intact.
This was the best match and best story of the night. Big E looks like he belongs and came out of the match in a much stronger position than going into it. Lashley loses nothing by taking the L the way he did, and Reigns looks...well, like he always looks.
Lashley and Big E is the thing now and the champ will get his revenge. But, there’s compelling stories to tell with Lashley and Roman or Roman and E in the future.
And just like the Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin as a college student avenging the death of his fiancé, or a working adult trying to battle for the soul of his best friend, we now have new context for each configuration.
They Didn’t Make it About Dolls...
There’s an interesting story beat WWE is doing here: Charlotte Flair wants the old Alexa Bliss back. She’s not interested in this new version. Charlotte, playing armchair psychiatrist, says Alexa is broken and using the tricks as a facade. The champ wants to “beat the sense” back into her. Alexa, a smart woman, gave as good as she got. She poked at Charlotte’s lack of identity when she’s not the champ (true), the fact her character is defined by having a title (also true), and how her “woo” chant plays into her lack of identity.
Alexa said it without saying: Charlotte has a lot more to lose than she does this Sunday. If Alexa loses, she still has her doll and other things to define her. If Charlotte loses? Well, yeah, she’s still got that “woo” to fall back on.
Just when it looked like they were going to make this all about dolls, they turned it into a psychological story about one woman who is completely comfortable in her own skin and another who is only comfortable when said skin is wrapped in gold.
I want to see Charlotte lose because I’m aching to see the answer to Alexa’s question. Meanwhile, the specter of Chucky looms closer and closer.
Consider this your warning.
The Winners, and New...
The very emotional moment when Super Brutality dedicated their match to children suffering from pediatric cancer. Maybe there were faking the emotion, maybe they weren’t. But I’m a sap so it tugged at my heart strings.
We now return to your regularly scheduled Women’s Tag Title match....that lasted less than 10 minutes. Obviously Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley were going to win. Seriously, they dedicated their match to CHILDREN. Not just children, but children with pediatric cancer.
Super Brutality gets their moment in the sun while Shotzi & Tegan Nox wait in the wings. By WWE logic, they were more deserving of a title shot than Nikki and Rhea since they own multiple W’s over the former tag champs. Me thinks they have a bone to pick and the new champs will hear all about it in the future.
But today, it’s all about the kids.
AJ is the Weakest Link
Randy and AJ wrote another chapter to their longstanding feud and this particular story of the former Raw tag champs wanting their belts back. Pardon the pun, but the match was phenomenal.
Two cats who know each other all-too well, and that familiarity showed itself a lot, but none better than the final sequence. AJ pump faked the Phenomenal Forearm knowing Randy planned to counter with an RKO.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough because as the story keeps telling us, AJ sans Omos can’t get the job done. The big man got sent to the back early in the match and without his personal colossus to save him or neutralize Riddle, AJ took the L.
I’m not sure if we’re building to a rematch for the tag titles or a breakup of Omos and AJ once the big man realizes he’s carrying the load. But WWE has options.
Jeff Hardy Punches His Ticket
Late in this match, Jeff Hardy went for a Swanton to pin Sheamus and earn a spot into Sunday’s United States Championship match. Sheamus blocked it causing Jeff to bounce off of Sheamus’s knees. Seriously, the man bounced. It looked painful, and thankfully the match was over shortly after that. Hardy is the added wrinkle to this dance between Damian Priest and the Irishman, so who knows how it goes this Sunday.
What I do know is that Jeff needs to soak in an ice bath between now and Sunday because he’s going to feel like utter crap. I wanted a clever simile here and I apologize for not delivering.
Respect on Her Name
Doudrop x Eva Marie, against my will, aren’t done yet. Eva says girls like Doudrop, who aren’t put together, can never beat a woman like Eva. Corey called Eva WWE’s Muhammad Ali which is several bridges too far. Thankfully, he acknowledged that.
Once Eva stopped running, Doudrop made it academic and pinned her...again. I don’t know what they’re doing with Eva at this point, or get why we’re still doing this.
To quote one of my favorite Chappelle Show sketches, wrap it up, B.
Meh Friends, Better Enemies
Shayna Baszler really doesn’t like Nia Jax. Thankfully, the match was quick, fast, and over in a hurry. The true juice was after the bell when Shayna tried to end her former partner’s career. Give Nia props for going for next year’s Emmy because she went all in on the begging and pleading here.
Shayna looked conflicted about potentially breaking Nia’s arm, but hey, can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. Once again, not sure what we’re doing here and it’s probably not really over yet either.
Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo, two cousins, beat the snot out of Mansoor & Mustafa Ali. The cousins are here to climb the ranks while the guys who took the L are nowhere near the same page.
24-7 Champion Stuff Happened
I know this is some people’s cup of tea, but I’ll pass. Reggie makes Drake and co. look foolish again. It takes up valuable time and just ain’t doing it for me.
This was an average episode of Raw. Stories progressed, but there was barely enough match time for several and we’re still getting stuff like Doudrop x Eva Marie for reasons unbeknownst to me. The opening and closing matches were on point, and the Raw Women’s Championship match got a lot more interesting. That, plus Randy x AJ doing their thing saved the show for me.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.