Welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw! Claire is here as usual, I’m here as usual, and here you are. Thanks for rolling with us from wherever you are. And shoutout to all the dads, uncles, grandfathers, step dads and godfathers celebrating Father’s Day this weekend.
Let’s talk Raw!
I Miss My Homies
AJ Styles is Cody Rhodes’ avenger. Not exactly the role I envisioned for the Phenomenal One, but tis the role he played this week. Before their Money in the Bank qualifying match, Seth Rollins explained himself. Last week’s violent choices towards Rhodes were about saving Cody from himself. Cody is a virus and that virus turned inward. The man declared himself suitable for Money in the Bank! Seth believes taking Cody out was the only option at that point.
AJ Styles bum rushed Rollins mid-cackle, saying that was for Cody. Prior in the match and later in the night, Seth dedicated the match, his win, and his future Money in the Bank victory to Cody.
Brilliant heel logic and a brilliant heel move.
And guess what? A brilliant match followed.
But before we even get there, I gotta point out the fact Seth and AJ got a one-on-one match with plenty of time for their Money in the Bank qualifier match while the women got a very short tag match. Yes, it’s Seth and AJ but still. That type of move speaks volumes.
But I digress. AJ and Seth told a tale of two evenly matched men with one who might be a little more cutthroat than the other. In the ultimate show of respect, they went for pins very early. AJ sought punishment on Cody’s behalf, but spending a lot of time in the ring with Seth wasn’t a part of the plan. Once that didn’t work, it was a fight. Seth wanted no parts of this AJ Styles; the one Edge wanted in the ring instead of the puppy dog. And AJ seems hellbent on proving everyone that he’s still that guy.
But he let his emotions get the better of him at least twice, resulting in sloppy pin attempts. That’s an interesting story beat and one worth exploring down the line. Is AJ so focused on proving everyone wrong that he loses control and focus? The first mistake was a nasty looking backbreaker that AJ waited just a tad too long to take advantage of, and then another where he pinned Seth way too close to the ropes.
AJ’s biggest mistake was missing the Phenomenal Forearm. Once he came down wrong and tweaked his knee, Seth pounced. And even a hobbled AJ isn’t quite enough to get the job done against Seth. Even if he’s doing it for Cody.
After trading blows and reversals in the third act, AJ positioned Seth for the Styles Clash. But that knee! AJ’s hesitation have Seth an opening for a block. AJ, still doing too much, sunset flipped over Seth but the former Messiah blocked AJ’s mat counter. And while Seth didn’t get both of AJ’s legs, he did get the one with the bad knee. Seth wrenched on that knee in his pin attempt, and now he’s going to Vegas.
Great match, great psychology, better story with so many stakes. Curious what happens to AJ now with Edge on the shelf, a loss to The Judgment Day, and now this. While I don’t love him suddenly doing things for Cody, I don’t hate it either.
Match of the night.
Put Your Back into It
The Usos and The Street Profits tag team championship match might set a new bar. If Jimmy Uso and Montez Ford’s solo match is any indication, then yeah, they’ll be a tough act to follow. Besides the requisite high-flying moves and the tough talk from the Usos, we got ring psychology and the beginnings of an underdog story. Can the Profits really handle Jimmy and Jey? That’s the story, full stop. Jimmy hurt Montez’s back early with a suplex to the canvas and stayed on it like a pit bull. Worst of all, the lack of back mobility hurt Montez’s offense. And he overcompensated to prove something to himself.
That’s why a frog splash—with Jimmy practically on the others side of the ring—led to Ford’s downfall. The move itself might be the most impressive thing you’ll see all year, but he gave Jimmy just enough time to get those knees up in the air. With all the wind knocked out of him, especially from that distance, Tez took a 3-count.
Two-on-two, the Profits beat The Usos by count out. One-on-one, Jimmy dissected Montez. Can these cats compete? We shall see.
I’m not feeling the Judgment Day segment this week. Bianca Belair came to the ring for an interview and the newly-minted threesome interrupted her via the Titantron. Yup, it will always be the Titantron. Rhea Ripley, Damian Priest, and Finn Balor took turns...repeating what they said last week. Edge held them back. He told them to listen to him even though they signed up to take orders from no one. Which is contradictory since they kneeled before Edge—Superman would never—as part of joining the group! They knew what they signed up for. But like I said, we heard this already.
Rhea says Bianca’s problem is she cares about pleasing the fans. And that’s her downfall.
Not interesting, and a rerun to boot.
So WWE just dookied on the 24/7 championship this week. Which is a shame because they did a lot of work to make it an interesting title with an entertaining scene. Becky Lynch challenged Dana Brooke in a rematch from last week’s match. Becky turned into a buzzsaw as soon as the bell went ding. Becky took the beatdown outside of the ring, trapped Dana into the announce table, and did what Onyx did in 1993: Slammed.
According to Becky, this was never about Dana’s little championship. She can keep it. This is about the lack of respect shown Becky’s way etc. etc. you heard it all before. Becky wants an entry into the Women’s Money in the Bank match. As does the woman who showed up for a piece of Becky: Asuka.
I like Asuka and Becky keeping their beef going. Especially heading into a match where it’s possible both women let their personal hatred get in the way of the bigger picture.
Don’t like them shoveling dirt on that title tho. Bad form, WWE.
Prepare for Trouble...
WWE’s twitter used the Team Rocket motto when referencing Alexa Bliss and Liv Morgan. And I’m down for all of that. WWE’s Jesse and James tagged against Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H. The winning team qualifies for the Money in the Bank match.
Doudrop and Nikki still aren’t on the same page, therefore they lost. Alexa and Liv are going to Vegas! Make it double.
Next week. Not this one. Sorry. Elias beat Kevin Owens thanks to, of course, a count out. I say “of course” because KO is always distracted when commentary says “Ezekiel.” So much is his frustration that he pays more attention to them than the match and loses his cool.
So we got news from a victorious Zeke: He’s not done with KO, he wants a spot in the Money in the Bank match, and Elias is coming back for at least one night. Of course, this incensed KO but made me smile because I love Elias with all my heart.
I know, I know. The story here is Riddle’s upcoming match against Roman Reigns. If Riddle loses, he gets no more shots at Reigns. Grand opening, grand closing. Paul Heyman delivered the news on Miz TV this week, and of course Miz happily instigated. So when Miz showed up on commentary for Riddle’s match this week, I expected it. What I didn’t expect was Miz’s opponent: Ciampa.
Ciampa went from the heart of NXT to just another guy on Raw. It’s disheartening and hard to watch. Especially when his entranced isn’t televised.
So, yeah, Riddle beat Ciampa much to Miz’s chagrin. And mine.
Alpha and Omega
Chad Gable and Mustafa Ali gave us an okay bout for the time allotted. They’re good wrestlers so that comes as no surprise, although giving them more time might give us something memorable.
It’s tough seeing Ali take Ls week after week, but here we are. Chad got the W with a little help from his friend. The Beatles approve. But I do not.
Veer Keeps Coming
It wasn’t a quick victory, but Veer defeated Rey Mysterio when the legend quickly tapped to the big man’s submission hold. Yup, that was a thing that happened.
We’re Still Doing This...
Cedric Alexander is still a joke. MVP, a man who barely wrestles these days, beat Cedric, a man who at least wrestles more than MVP, in the middle of the ring. Clean. The most interference we got from Omos was just him intimidating Cedric. That’s it.
Sigh. At least it was quick.
This is the Main Event?
Bobby Lashley. Theory. Pose Down. That’s your main event, ladies and gents. Lashley won, Theory sprayed him with baby oil.
Raw was rolling for two hours. But it’s almost as if they put all the dopeness up top realizing game five of the NBA Finals might be a bigger deal. After Seth and AJ, the show quality noticeably dropped. If not off a cliff, it at least fell of a big hill. The main event was a pose down, the Raw Women’s champion segment was flat, and the guy involved in the Undisputed Universal championship match wrestled someone who WWE tells its tv audience doesn’t matter. Imagine if this show was only two hours.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.