The Bloodline went on a warpath early. Roman Reigns appeared...from somewhere...explaining to the audience that since Kevin Owens always shows up on SmackDown and pokes his nose where it doesn’t belong, he sent the Bloodline to Raw, KO’s home. According to Reigns, John Cena isn’t enough for the Bloodline; KO needs the entire Raw roster. And since Owens won’t go away, the entire Raw roster better watch out.
The camera cut to Jey Uso narrating the Bloodline beating down Mustafa Ali and telling the whole roster that sh*t is real right now so they better rock a vest. I’m paraphrasing but I swear that’s what he meant. During the first match, they cut to the Bloodline decimating Andre Chase (Teachable moment for Chase U!) and Elias. And yes, Elias got smashed with his guitar. Shortly after the first two matches, we got an Adam Pearce interview. Pearce said he and Bobby Lashley spoke but it’s all good. He didn’t announce when we might see Bobby back on tv, but it’s happening. MVP showed up with Lashley on his mind and wanted a meeting with Pearce. Pearce acquiesced but caught word of yet another Bloodline beatdown. This time, Cedric Alexander, Dolph Ziggler, and I believe Shelton Benjamin found themselves in the crosshairs. With Shane Helms by his side, AP told everyone to scatter!
The Bloodline interfered in two more segments, which created separate matches for Sami Zayn and the Usos. But I’m singling this out for two reasons: I love a running storyline through the show and wish WWE did that more often. It’s a little tougher for three hours since not idea stretches out that long, but WWE does it effectively more often than not. B, it further establishes the Bloodline and puts them against the world heading into the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season.
It added an element often missing from Raw: chaos. Raw hit its peak format wise in the late ‘90s because it truly felt like anything could happen. And, thankfully, it often did. A little anarchy goes a long way for me, so yeah, more of this. That said, the way the story ended this week left a sour taste in my mouth. I still love the idea and most of its execution. Just wish WWE went all the way with something like this rather than playing footsie.
War of the Roses
Alexa Bliss excels when the territory gives her something interesting with which to wrestle. This week, Byron Saxton interviewed Alexa and Bianca Belair, questioning the number one contender about her actions last week. For those playing along at home, Bray Wyatt’s symbol flashed on the Titantron, Alexa went into a bit of a trance, and almost put Bianca in the Sister Abagail. But she snapped out of it and rushed to the locker room. Byron wanted answers, as did the Raw Women’s champion. Alexa had no answers for what happened but she explained how she got to this point. Bliss explained the whole saga with Bray in serious terms that put her as the focal point in the story rather Bray’s co-star. He abducted her, brainwashed her, took everything from her, and turned her into someone completely different.
And yet, she was the one forced into therapy. She took the brunt of everything. Left unsaid but definitely inferred, is that Bray came back to cheers and adulation, even after all of that. Alexa carried the segment with believability and sincerity. It felt real and I felt so much sympathy for her. Even when she told Bianca that she appreciates their friendship because it helped, I felt her. That said, she wants Bianca well aware that she wants the championship, and that she’s a threat. In fact, she believes Bianca forgot about Alexa’s championship reigns and the threat she poses.
The Bray Wyatt logo flashed again and when the interview ended, Alexa hit Bianca over the head with a vase filled with roses.
I really dug this. Like really, really dug it. I’m not sure how it affects their championship match in two weeks, but I really hope it remains a focal part of this story.
The Takeover, pt. 1
Sami Zayn defeated AJ Styles in a very good match. And AJ got in everything early, which makes sense. AJ barely contained his anger and wanted all of Sami . In fact, AJ damn near controlled the entire match until Sami outsmarted him. How? Glad you asked. AJ went for a Phenomenal Forearm around the mid-match point but Sami hit the ring rope, which knocked AJ down a peg or two. Sami controlled that portion until AJ hit him with a Rack Bomb, got a two count, and tried going for the Styles Clash. I say tried because Sami blocked it, exchanged an elbow or two, and hit AJ with a Brainbuster. AJ kicked out, and the two exchanged more blows, AJ nailed a Pelé Kick, but Sami recovered first. Sami got in some offense, set Styles up for the Helluva Kick, but missed. Styles turned that miss into a Calf Crusher, which Sami sold like he stepped into a bear trap!
And that’s when the Bloodline thread continued. AJ broke the hold once he saw Solo Sikoa walking to the ring from the stands. AJ went after Solo, Sami followed him, and AJ summarily dismissed Sami with one head smash into the commentary table. Once Sami got back into the ring, the ref checked on his wellbeing. Solo saw an opening for a cheap shot, and the rest is history. Sami got the W and the Bloodline’s Raw dominance continued.
Very good match that extended a running storyline for the show. I’m always a fan of shows using a focal point for the narrative, and one group going destroying everyone in their path might be my favorite version of that trope.
The Takeover, pt. 2
Seth Rollins found himself in a promo battle with Austin Theory. This came after Seth mentioned the fact the Bloodline attacked everyone on Raw except him. Hmm, wonder if that was smart.
Anyway, Seth told the “kid” that there’s something more important than that championship around his waist, something he will never be: Seth Rollins. No matter how hard Austin tries, there’s only one Seth Rollins and he’s not ready for that level.
Austin fired back, taking shots at Seth’s legacy and calling him the SHIELD’s third most successful member. Jimmy & Jey showed up, Austin left Seth in the ring by himself, and Kevin Owens came to the rescue. Then we got a tag match in the main event that almost didn’t disappoint.
The ending let me down. I get making Owens look good going into this tag match...two weeks from now...but then don’t book the match. The Bloodline dominated the entire night from the opening moments. Giving them an L before the credits rolled makes a lot of that story moot. Raw’s final image of Owens standing tall with Zayn coming out, standing nose-to-nose, and then deciding “nah” while regrouping with his dogs, supersedes all that came before. Like it or not, the beginning and ending of a thing matter more than the middle in terms of what people remember.
Maybe something happens on SmackDown that makes me change my tune but as of now, it felt like a misstep on a night where WWE didn’t make many bad moves. But props to them for bringing together so many elements from the show into the main event: Gallows & Anderson beating up on Jey Uso and Solo Sikoa, and Austin’s sneak attack against Seth from the crowd.
I say shocker because of course Bayley and Becky Lynch put on a very good match. Not quite the level commentary gassed it beforehand, but still very good. So I’m not going to waste words or time there. The other sarcastic shock comes from the fact Bayley cheated. Becky’s pre-match promo revolved around Bayley doing things by herself. Despite their similarities and great careers, Becky says she did everything, including the things she’s not so proud of, dolo. Bayley can’t say the same thing, so she challenged her. Bayley, the heel, and the very specific type of heel, didn’t fall for that. She came to the ring with her Damage CTRL fam by her side, and used them in the win.
Dakota Kai & IYO SKY pulled Bayley out of the ring after Becky hit her with a Manhandle Slam and went for the W. Becky, clearly tired of their nonsense, went out the ring and threatened both women with a freaking monitor. The ref threw them out but while ensuring they left the ring, he missed Bayley nailing Becky with that same monitor. Bayley hit a Roseplant on Becky and showed the only rule in which she believes is by any means necessary.
The Eyes of Dominik Mysterio
You ever get whatever is in a red solo cup thrown in your face? Luckily my answer is no but if your answer is yes, you understand Dominik’s pain. Dom accompanied his Judgment Day family doing his best Keifer Sutherland from The Lost Boys impression, rocking a pair of black shades due to his Oscar-worthy performance last week when Asuka spit mist in his eyes.
How did Dom get in that position? Well, while the Street Profits wrestled Finn Balor & Damian Priest, Tozawa stalked Dom with a solo cup in hand. Rhea, continuing her position as the most interesting person on Raw, stood in the way. She backed Tozawa off and made him hesitate. But she ducked when he finally got the moxie to throw, and the contents of said cup hit Dom right in his eyes. Well, we know Rhea so her reaction was anything but calm. She chased Tozawa down after the match and demanded a match. Stand by your man, indeed. Tozawa hesitated but the Profits talked him into it if only in the name of defending his manhood.
And lo and behold, we got an honest to God inter gender match. It took Tozawa a minute because he clearly didn’t know what to do and hesitated. This wasn’t the smoothest match as we got at least one botch and potentially another with a powerbomb that almost went bad. But it entertained on sheer spectacle alone because we don’t see this in WWE. Rhea got the win thanks to a Riptide. This match embodied chaos, much like all of Raw’s opening half hour.
Before That Though...
So, about that tag match. The highlight sequence for me was Angelo Dawkins getting the hot tag and going crazy. Montez Ford gets better every week but Dawkins is right there with him, showing incredible athleticism and explosiveness when he gets his minutes. Finn sold beautifully for him but the amount of height Dawkins got on his flying shoulder tackles and the 360 splash he does in the corner. But Damian Priest, showing equal explosiveness, came from nowhere with a South of Heaven on Dawkins, which transitioned to gorgeous Frog Splash from Montez, who also came from nowhere. The match came alive in this moment, and it preceded everything with Tozawa, Dom, and Rhea. But the shenanigans with those three gave the Profits the win when Finn got distracted and found himself on the wrong end of a three count thanks to a Montez roll up.
Still Not Over...
Two good things about the ladder match between the Miz and Dexter Lumis: Bronson Reed’s return and Maryse’s tweet. I’ll let you take your time picking your jaw up off the floor.
Anyway, Bronson showed up right when Dexter thought he had the match...in the bag. Bronson stopped his ascent, then flattened him from the top rope with a Tsunami. He then reset the ladder, helped Miz to his feet, and watched as the A-Lister got his money.
So, yeah, Bronson by Miz’s side means this feud still isn’t over. Sigh.
Really enjoyed Raw. Two missteps in my eyes: the ladder match and the ending. They’re not huge issues that make me hate the show, but I do take umbrage with them quite a bit. Well, at least a little bit. Mostly because a story about the Bloodline dominating the whole night needs them standing tall at the end of the show. At least it does for me. But even with that, we still got an exciting three hours.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it.