There’s an extreme event in Philly in a few days! So let’s just get into it.
Shoutout to Claire.
Let’s talk Raw!
I’m Your Only Friend
J Styles is joining the Judgment Day. Right? I’m stating that as a declarative but with a small caveat because Lord knows I’m wrong my fair share of time on this planet. This one feels like we’re headed towards Styles becoming the next member. Last week, WWE started the story of AJ as a man without a country. The Phenomenal One thought that maybe, just maybe, Rey Mysterio was not just a friend, but someone trustworthy enough to have his back in a fight.
Yeah, well, about that.
This week, AJ & Rey teamed against Finn Balor & Damian Priest, with Dom & Rhea Ripley ringside. Two things about this: Finn Balor is the Judgment Day’s “official” leader. Those quotes are because the faction’s true leader is Rhea, since she’s everyone’s papi these days. And secondly, shoutout to Cory Graves for referencing The Witch! Not sure if quoting the devil does much for his argument that Styles should join the group but hey, E for effort and T for nice try. And it’s Spooky Season so showing love to dope horror is always appreciated.
During the match, which was good, not great, Rey once again found himself distracted by Rhea and his erstwhile son. And once again, Dominik begged his son to punish him, but Rey refused. I admit, there’s only but so many more times they can play this card, but as of now, it still works. In fact, it works more because Rey’s emotions effect other people.
Rey’s brief detour with his son left Styles high, dry, and on the wrong end of a coup de grace. AJ, understandably upset, took his frustration out on an apoplectic Mysterio, pushing him out of the ring after screaming at him for not being there when AJ needed him. This left A all alone and susceptible to an attack from, you guessed it, the Judgment Day. Finn, while pummeling AJ, kept yelling he’s AJ’s only friend. And you know what? He’s kinda right. I’m not saying my friends beat me up as an act of mercy, but I am saying Finn has a point because there’s no one else on the Raw roster who AJ knows for a fact can hold their own, whom he has a deep history, and actually extended an olive branch.
And I believe Finn. I believe he cares about AJ and that he wants the best for his friend. Does he have ulterior motives? Most definitely. He is a bad guy, after all. But I get the point he’s making and I’m sure AJ does as well.
This is pretty compelling stuff and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter at Extreme Rules.
Seth’s Breath Be Kicking
Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle just need to get this thing over with. They squared off tonight, again, and got in each other’s faces, again. Daniel Cormier, the special referee for their match at Extreme Rules, provided the wrinkle this week. Cormier appeared on the titantron and told both men he respects them both for different reasons but they need to cut the sh*t and wait for Sunday. Yeah, nothing more to be said.
The segment did get a little spicy when Seth went personal talking about Riddle’s kids, divorce, and child support payments. But it’s nothing we haven’t seen or heard from these two.
Except the part about Seth’s breath kicking like Van Damme. Both dudes are great in their respective roles here and regardless of the outcome at Extreme Rules, I hope they both maintain this momentum.
Bobby Lashley. Mustafa Ali. That’s all you need to know. If you missed the match, watch it now. This was the match of the night and even threw in some story. Ali earned Lashley’s respect with his refusal to stay down. This coming after Ali demanded a shot at the U.S. champion, a move that Lashley felt was incredibly disrespectful. Seth Rollins ruined a good moment between the two with his post match sneak attacks but this was fun and an alliance between these two, or at least elevating Ali, is in order.
Let Them Fight
There’s an interesting angle between Bianca Belair and Bayley that they really just played up this week. During their contract signing, Bayley told Bianca that she used to be her. The ponytail, the bright clothes, the smile? She did the same thing and the fans loved her for it. But that love went away and everything changed for her. Bianca believes that nothing “changed” Bayley; she was always pretending to be someone else.
This, this Bayley we see in front of our eyes today, is who she always was. The fans rejected her because they knew she was faking the funk. As always, I wish we got a lot of this earlier in the feud. Too often, we get to the juicy psychological stuff right before the match. Le sigh.
Anyway, while Bayley and Bianca were in the ring, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY attacked. Asuka and Alexa Bliss found themselves on the wrong end of a beatdown, with Asuka taking the worst of it. Good segment all around.
CNTRL, AlT, DELETE
Been waiting a long time to use that one. Raw gave us Dakota Kai vs. Candice LeRae this week. Yup, those aren’t typos or a bits of a fever dream. Unsurprisingly, they put on a good show. With Damage CNTRL ringside, the story was just how long would it take them to interfere. As soon as Candice got some momentum., Bayley’s presence paid dividends for Kai when she nailed Candice with a sneak attack, allowing Kai to get the pin.
Damage CNTRL’s domination continued when IYO SKY defeated Alexa Bliss in a solid main event. Dakota not only beat Alexa, but she and her crew pummeled Bianca and friends. Even Asuka, hobbled with one leg, did her best to fight but was clearly no match for those three women. And the giant ladder they pulled out from under the ring.
I complained about Damage CNTRL looking weak several weeks ago but no more. They’re a dominant group now overpowering seemingly every woman in Raw’s locker room. I say that because we rarely see anyone else now, minus Candice. I’m surprised she didn’t show up during the post match beatdown to make the save but I suppose we gotta leave something for Extreme Rules or the most ridiculous “season premiere” ever. Ridiculous because you have to actually be seasonal to have a season premiere. Prepare to hear me complain about this a lot next week. But not too much.
When Roman’s away, the kids will play. Solo Sikoa, Jimmy & Jey Uso, and the honorary Uce Sami Zayn showed up at Raw to tell everyone Roman is coming next week. While Jey and Sami got into it, as they usually do, the Street Profits stepped onto the scene to talk trash. This led to Solo vs. Angelo Dawkins, a very physical contest overshadowed by the outside drama between Sami and Jey. Jey stepped in every time Sami lent his cheerleading expertise and wrestling knowledge to Solo.
It almost cost Solo the match too, as both men argued on the ring apron, distracting the ref in the process, while Solo put Dawkins down for at least 10 seconds before the ref finally turned around and only got to a count of two. Solo eventually got the W but the Bloodline is messy. How long before Jimmy, Solo, and, more importantly, Roman interject? Like the human drama and this is chocked full of it.
After Johnny Gargano took an L—thanks to Austin Theory’s outside chicanery—to Otis, Braun Strowman appeared. And by that, I mean he roared, ran, and wrecked shop. Strowman beat up Chad Gable then demanded the match ring the bell to start their match.
But I don’t want to talk about all of that. We’re here to talk about WWE teasing Omos vs. Braun. During the match, Omos and MVP were standing and watching television in that most awkward way wrestlers do, which made me roll my eyes for multiple reasons. I have no desire to ever see these two wrestle. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever. Do. Not. Want.
Raw is hitting this groove where I’m always impressed with the wrestling, the flow, and come away liking the show. But nothing there’s nothing exciting about it. It’s just a good wrestling show, which isn’t a problem at all. It rarely grabs me by the throat and demands my attention. After years of inconsistency, I’ll take it.
This was a good go-home show and Extreme Rules should rock.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.