We’re on the road to Crown Jewel. My feelings on all of that aside, WWE is prepping a very interesting show for early November. Wanna know what other matches or stories we got going into that weekend? Well, read on, good reader.
But not before reading Claire’s blog.
Let’s talk Raw!
Everyone Wants to be the Champ
With no end in sight to both WWE heavyweight championships residing on the Island of Relevancy, thee United States championship is clearly the main belt now. Yes, Bobby Lashley carried it beautifully, but the spotlight felt brighter and hotter this week. Mostly because of the sheer number of contestants aiming for Seth Rollins’ neck. Those of you reading beyond this section get a little more backstory on one of those challengers in Mustafa Ali, but there’s also Matt Riddle, of course, and now...Elias.
Riddle and Rollins are great together. That type of feud with that much animosity is only sweeter with a belt involved. Their match this week showed the less fight pits involved, the better. Elias played spoiler, as the man returned tonight with his sights set on performing a concert. But people kept interrupting. First Riddle, a self-professed fan, and then Rollins just because he’s Rollins. They teased a little tension between Elias and Riddle with the former a little annoyed that the latter stopped his show, which made more sense based on how Riddle’s match with Rollins ended.
Elias stayed ringside during the bout, putting blows to Rollins after the U.S. champ provoked him. Later in the match, Seth begged Elias to hit him for the DQ win. Seth always wants the easy way out when things get rough for him. He gave Rollins everything he had but nothing kept the original Bro down. So, yeah, ask Elias to snuff you in front of the ref and go home with your title. Elias didn’t bite so Seth superkicked him.
Riddle went to the outside, threw Seth back into the ring and looked like the new champ. Right up until the point Seth blocked the RKO and threw Riddle into Elias, who lost his temper and went straight for Seth. Seth won the match, curb stomped Elias for his troubles, and almost did the same to Riddle on top of the belt.
But then came Ali, who wanted revenge for Seth’s earlier actions, while promising that he’s now Seth’s problem.
A fun segment that promised a lot going forward. Elias and Riddle? Possibly. Elias and Seth? Also maybe. Ali and everyone? Definitely. And the stories are already there, with everyone’s sights focused on Rollins either now or in the not-too-distant future.
Sometimes this wrestling thing really is simple.
The O.C. aka California defeated the Alpha Academy. Really liked seeing Gallows & Anderson back in the ring, but I knew the match didn’t matter. The California Boys’ main beef is with the Judgment Day. That’s what my money is for. I understand why showing them back in the ring against worthy opponents properly reintroduces them to the crowd, but again, that’s not where the juice is at the moment. A point underlined by the fact the Judgment Day showed up after the match and engaged in a little back and forth with their counterparts.
Long and short of their promos: Judgment Day vs. The O.C. at Crown
Royal Jewel, Finn Balor thinks the Bullet Club stuff is played out (even though he definitely embraced it when he wanted AJ Styles on his side), and AJ challenged Dominik after having some very unkind words for the young Mysterio. As an aside, Rhea Ripley was the best in this segment. The absolute best. The way she looked at Dom, the way she flexed a bit when AJ called her their “mommy,” and doing her Lady Macbeth thing with Dom. Fantastic.
Before we even get to that, I’m very sad that Rey Mysterio is on SmackDown because now I don’t get to cover my favorite story in WWE. Also means, more than likely, that story is no longer a part of Raw, which is a huge loss for the red brand. Le sigh. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Who’s Your Mommy?
Dominik just gets better every week. He’s finding his legs as a smarmy punk smitten by a woman whom he has no idea how to handle, while getting better in the ring. AJ Styles was the perfect dance partner, which surprises no one. Like most matches on the night, it wasn’t a barnburner by any means but was a solid affair. Dom wrestles differently than his dad—as he should—using his quickness while also utilizing his length and reach. Oh, and of course some viciousness. His 619 still looks awkward because he’s not as quick as his dad, nor is he as short. While the move works from a character standpoint, it doesn’t quite pass the eye test. But that’s a minor quibble.
The bigger news here is Dom has a W over AJ. Rhea helped a lot, holding AJ’s foot and holding off his attack on her Dom, but it was just enough for Dom to get the surprise pin attempt. The JD has the advantage over The O.C. right now. And that’s cool for right now.
Normally something like this isn’t that high, but I’m mildly annoyed. Dexter Lumis and Miz didn’t wrestle this week. You know, the match for Dexter’s contract? Well, here’s the thing: Why does Dexter have theme music and an entrance video if he doesn’t have a contract? I’m not a lawyer nor do I play one on tv, but that doesn’t quite add up. During Dexter’s full entrance with music and a video, Miz beat him down with a chair, meaning we’re getting at least another week of this.
Johnny Gargano said there’s something Miz isn’t telling us about his relationship with Dexter. Cool, Johnny Wrestling. Cool.
The Beast is Wounded
Bobby Lashley started Raw this week in a mood. The man didn’t even wait for the intro or any pleasantries. He wanted Brock Lesnar and yes, he got Brock Lesnar. Brock cost Lashley his United States championship last week, so Lashley attacked Lesnar before the man got good and settled. Lashley speared Lesnar through the barricade and then flattened him through the commentary table. Love when Raw starts hot like this. Love it more when it makes a wrestler look dangerous, competent, and true to their word.
For any upcoming match between the two to work, Lesnar must look beatable by someone not named Roman Reigns. Lesnar laid out on debris while clutching his arm and in pain accomplishes that goal.
Look, I’m just happy Ali is doing an important thing on television. Seth Rollins came out for his own celebratory sh*t talking session. Mustafa Ali approached the ring and put a stop to all of that. Seth, seemingly breaking his obnoxiousness for a minute, told Ali how much he respects him and thinks he’s a dope wrestler. But the deal between Ali and Bobby Lashley is null and void since, well, he’s not Lashley. While giving Ali his props, Seth blindsided Ali! Ali fought back but he was no match at this particular juncture.
Seth and Ali for a title? Sign me up. Ali deserves all great things and this is a potentially great thing for him.
SHE’S USING HER!
Bayley is awesome on commentary. “She’s using her” comes from a moment in the tag match between Bianca Belair & Candice LeRae and Damage CTRL where Bianca put Candice on her shoulders and used her partner as a weapon against her opponents. Perfect timing from Bayley that I’m still laughing about.
KAI-N-SKY, Belair, and Candice put on a bad match. Too much skill in the ring, too much experience (at least 45 years in CTRL according to Bayley), and just enough story for a compelling match. And everything looked good for Bianca & Candice until Bayley made the difference. She interfered, Bianca cut her off but the distraction put Candice all by her lonesome. The tag champs finished her off and Bianca’s face said it all.
I like Damage CTRL with the upper hand here. they’re a supergroup and putting them in the driver’s seat is always the right call. Especially when going against people who are only together through circumstance rather than as an actual group.
JBL Has a Point
No, not about Baron Corbin as the modern day wrestling god. No thank you, sir. But Dolph Ziggler has kinda stole money for 15 years in WWE. Good wrestler? Of course. But Dolph’s had “next” for a long time. So long, in fact, other cats took next from him. At a certain point, his character just became “stealing the show” which is cool but that meant losing more than winning and never living up to the lofty expectations his character often projects. But I’ll stop before the DZ fans come out in force.
Trolling the crowd about current wrestlers not making it during the Attitude Era is perfect catnip for people my age but also probably a weird thing where some in that crowd are old enough to pause and think about it. Things that make you go hmmm, as Arsenio Hall used to say.
JBL was great introducing Corbin as the newest wrestler on the Raw roster. He went into mega heel mode at the drop of a cowboy hat, He dumped on Rey—yay continuity—, destroyed Oklahoma, and was just a p.o.s.
After all that, Dolph and Corbin put on a solid match. A very solid match. I’m more interested if the JBL co-sign means he’s a permanent part of the act or just lending his credibility for one night only. If it’s me, I try to make that a permanent fixture because I think JBL does a lot for Corbin. Calling him the new wrestling god sounds like he’s getting a push, so hopefully there are interesting plans for him in this new role as JBL’s anointed.
See You This Tuesday...
Rhea Ripley is headed to NXT on Cora Jade’s behalf, while the Good Brothers are teaming with Cameron Grimes to take on The Schism. Thought you should know.
Raw continues its solid run. Like last week, nothing amazing, but clearly setting the stage for Crown Jewel and giving us good matches on the way there.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.