When Keeping it Real Goes Right
I normally don’t like when WWE goes meta with its stories. Not because I think it’s a terrible move but because some of the wrestlers can’t do it as well as they think. The emotion isn’t there, the truth isn’t as compelling as they believe, and it just feels staged.
Then there’s the New Day and the Usos. These four brothers know what they’re doing. More importantly, they rope the audience into everything because most of us know the story behind both teams. We know every twist and turn of their rivalry, and we know how competitive both teams are on screen and behind the scenes. So when Xavier Woods compares the pressure he and Kofi felt vs. the pressure Jimmy & Jey felt? That ish is real.
The Usos took a paved path to WWE; their reign was practically destined. Xavier, Kofi, & Big E were basically afterthoughts. Xavier talked about them waiting in catering not knowing if everyday was their last. And we all know that! WWE didn’t know what to do with them, so they joined forces. And then, as Kofi pointed out, WWE saddled them with a positivity preachers gimmick built to die. And yet, they made it work. Even when no one thought they could.
The Usos have their own pressure, for sure. Being great when everyone expects greatness from you isn’t an easy thing. Especially when your entire family is wrestling legacy. Jimmy & Jey had no choice. It’s either overachieve or go home. While that story doesn’t hit as hard as the New Day’s tale, it’s still a good point. But it’s also why New Day maintaining that position as the longest reigning tag champs in WWE history just means more to them. Everything with them was essentially an accident. Everything with Jimmy & Jey was predetermined.
Riddle showing up ruined the segment for me. It’s not that I don’t like him, but he undercut the very real drama with bong jokes and his stoner persona. This moment between two great WWE tag teams was nether the place or the time for that. Yes, it led to a very dope six-man tag match, but the words, the drama, and the context contained more entertainment than the match itself. And that’s not slighting the match but rather shows how good all four men are on the microphone.
Not Denzel and not Queen L-a-t-i-f-a-h in command. The O.C.’s solution to the Rhea problem is Mia Yim. The Judgment Day answered Seth Rollins’ United States championship open challenge, with Finn saying he owes Seth for that injury way back when that cut Finn’s Universal championship reign extremely short. The California Boys hit the ring, Seth scampered, and Mia jumped Rhea.
Do. This. At. WAR. GAMES.
Speaking of War...
Damage CNTRL once again ran roughshod over Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, & Asuka. This time with Nikki Cross as an added bonus. Bianca says this ends at Survivor Series War Games buuuuuut...they need a fourth. No way the three of them defeat four women. A functional segment in that it set up the inevitable.
Finger Poke of Gloom
As usual, a veteran gives Austin Theory some jewels. As usual, Theory says “nah” and a fight ensues because he’s disrespectful. This time, he insulted Shelton Benjamin, who took an : after Austin poked him in the eye then hit the A Town Down.
Quick match that didn’t do much for me but also? The story with these vets willingly giving Theory som knowledge and him telling them to shove it is getting old. Almost as if the story needs another gear...
Remember that other gear I mentioned? We got it. And it looks like it went from 5th gear to park.
Seth reissued his open challenge during Raw’s main event. Ali stepped up only for Bobby Lashley to step on him. Lashley sought his revenge on Seth and before the match even started, he extracted his pound of flesh and then some. The bell never rang because Lashley decimated Rollins. It was complete chaos and WWE officials finally got him out of the ring and tended to Rollins.
But then Austin Theory hit the ring, briefcase in hand, and cashed in his chance...for the same title he already possessed. Weird. They teased him going after Reigns’ title, which made everyone laugh. Then they teased him taking the NXT championship and that never materialized. So instead, Theory made the most lateral move of all lateral moves. This says nothing about Theory’s wrestling ability but as a character, he is a true crash test dummy.
AND HE LOST THE MATCH! I used so many laughing emojis in the Cageside slack because it’s just too funny. Yes, he got close to a W but Bobby ran out and made sure that didn’t happen. But before that, Rollins kicked out of everything Theory threw at him. This is a Rollins who just took a hell of a beating from Lashley and barely knew the right year much less the day of the week. And no matter what Theory threw at him, which included a Pedigree, Seth survived.
Lashley snatched Theory out of the ring after the latter hit Seth with an A-Town Down, then threw him in the Hurt Lock. Theory barely beat the 10-count after Lashley left him briefly unconscious, then got a curb stomp for his troubles.
Seth rules and Theory drools. That is a stupid, stupid man and this whole thing with Theory had nowhere to go once the old man “retired.”
A weird ending for the angle and an even weirder ending for Raw.
That’s how I feel about Miz vs. Johnny Gargano. The two wrestled a technically sound match and they clearly work well together in the ring. But I just don’t care about their drama, which is necessary for caring about the match. Miz believed he met with a Hollywood agent interested in buying his side of the story between he and Dexter Lumis. Johnny revealed that was all a hustle, and the agent was actually a private eye working on Johnny’s behalf.
Johnny revealed the “agent” recorded the meeting with Miz and Johnny played it for all of us. Miz admitted everything Johnny said about his relationship with Lumis is true. Duh. We knew that already.
Miz won the hard-fought match thanks to hitting Johnny with a foreign object. Lumis showed up, hit Miz with a chair, then ran away from security. We’re just hitting the same story beats over and over even after seemingly getting some resolution. I’m not with it right now because it feels like it’s running in place.
Nikki Cross is the new 24/7 champ after soundly defeating Dana Brooke. But she doesn’t care. The new champ walked around the backstage area with Damage CNTRL by her side and tossed the trash can into a trash can. Well, she tried to do that anyway. She missed. But I don’t think she noticed that either. She was in some weird euphoric trance while Damage CNTRL looked like hostage negotiators trying not to say or do the wrong thing.
Is this the end of the 24/7 championship? Me thinks so.
Raw’s opening hit it out of the park. The show never reached that height again and nothing else felt as meaningful or personal. To quote Claire, this was one of those weeks where the third hour felt wholly unnecessary. Minus the ending, which was so messy and wild that one can’t help but love it.
Oh and we got an Elias vs. Otis match that just did nothing for me, despite how much I love both men.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.