Coming to you live from wherever I’m from, Raw emanates from the heart of Texas. Or at least whatever San Antonio is in the metaphorical sense. Claire’s blogging better than everyone else as per usual.
Let’s talk Raw!
Can I Live?
Anyone familiar with that JAY-Z song knows Jay framed the 1996 tune around desperation. Hence, the question. I think of that desperation when it relates to Dolph Ziggler as a character and whatever is happening in Raw’s main event scene. Follow me for a bit.
Theory & Seth Rollins teamed against Bobby Lashley & Riddle. Okay, that makes sense. All four men have beef and the alignments are natural. We even got Bobby Lashley lying his ass off when he told Riddle he watched Stranger Things 4. You ain’t gotta lie to kick it, Lashley. SummerSlam is two weeks away and I’m not sure what we get from this, but hey, I don’t run a billion dollar company. All four men did good work, putting on a solid match. What hurt them is the fact there were no stakes. Bragging rights can only get you but so far and momentum truly means nothing in a world where 50/50 booking is the annoying rule of thumb.
But then along came Dolph Ziggler and that’s when the desperation really hit. Ziggler sat ringside for most of the match. He didn’t explain himself. didn’t ask questions, didn’t do anything but sit. The last time we saw him, Ziggler and his partner were in the beginnings of a thing with MVP and Omos. Now, Dolph is flying solo.
At that point, the match became less important than the man watching the match. Lashley did his usual spear spot into the barricade on Seth, leaving Theory alone with Riddle. The two countered each other’s finishers and then Theory gained the upper hand. Since he’s a bad guy, of course he put his feet on the ropes while going for a roll up pin. But, to the shock of everyone, Dolph pushed his feet off the rope. A shocked Theory fell victim to a Riddle’s RKO and ate a clean pin in the middle of the ring.
So the Money in the Bank winner not only lost a match for his team, but ended the show on his back with Ziggler—seemingly a babyface— looking at him with contempt.
I’m confused. Mystery is good and we don’t need answers to everything immediately, but this is just weird. As I said, the the guy holding the briefcase taking a pin like that is always odd. It’s doubly odd with Ziggler involved because was M.I.A. for months. I’m a fan of what Ziggler did in NXT. He did wonders for Bron and Ciampa, then did the favors on his way out. But this is just confusing. The explanation better be fantastic because if not, this reeks of the last act of a desperate man, clinging to the spotlight with a pinky finger.
Dolph’s appearance was indicative of a show that seemed discombobulated in several respects. But we’ll get to those further down the list.
How Do U Want It?
Brock Lesnar doesn’t show up to Raw without destroying someone. He stepped into San Antonio, cowboy hat on his head, and sent a message to Roman Reigns. Of course, Paul Heyman was on hand because Roman, much like Garfield, hates Mondays. Paul is good at job, which you know. Heyman gassed Brock something serious, stating that this Last Man Standing match is perfect for his former client.
Even when it’s about Roman and Brock, it’s still about Brock and Paul. That said, even when they’re both on their A-game, they’re running out of new things to say. Maybe that’s a result of a seven-year battle. Maybe it’s because the best moments in the Roman and Brock saga are physical and no words do them justice. Much like other feuds in the show getting long in the tooth, WWE threw in some other ingredients for spice. Namely, Theory and Alpha Academy.
We got a lot of Theory this week. And you know what? He’s dull as dishwater. He’s got the goods in the ring but his mic delivery is more wooden-laden than an episode of Angry Beavers and he doesn’t have a presence. Put him in the ring with Lesnar, Lashley, or even Riddle and Seth Rollins, and it’s painfully obvious he doesn’t have that undefinable spark. Lesnar invited him to fight since Theory talked about his cash in plans. Theory, shockingly, said nah. But you know who didn’t?
Chad Gable and Otis.
You know what happened here. Lesnar pummeled Chad and gave Otis one hell of an F5 through the commentary table. While the monitors were still hooked up, no less. For that moment alone, the segment at least gets a passing grade. Lesnar lifting Otis like a child and executing that move in that fashion is always worth the price of admission.
I need more from Judgment Day. Corey Graves mentioned on commentary that their motives are still mysterious and no one knows what this “change” looks like.
Agreed, Graves. And we don’t agree on much. Outside of that leather jacket you wear because that’s a great choice.
We got a bit of that tonight before Finn Balor and Rey Mysterio squared off in the middle of the ring. Damian Priest and Finn told Dominik his old man is washed. In no uncertain terms, it’s time for Dom to leave that zero and get with some heroes. Dom said nah and the fight commenced. The main issue with the group isn’t the wrestlers. Finn and Rey wrestled a good match because duh. And the story of the young (ish) battling the old guard for supremacy and for the loyalty of a family member is an easy one to tell effectively. The problem is Damian isn’t a good mouthpiece for the group. Finn could be that person, but he wasn’t too hot this week. And Rhea is on the shelf. None of them have Edge’s presence. Even their music doesn’t fit them; it fits Edge.
As my podcast partner and favorite person in the world stated, the group went from cool to corny real quick. And I think it’s because their roles aren’t defined. With Edge, it’s easy to see how everyone fits. Without him, they look like an island of misfit toys. Even when Finn injured Rey’s knee during the match, I never believed Finn would take advantage. Yes, he got the win, but there was no viciousness. No bite. No nastiness.
Corey mentioned how powerful this group is without us having any actual proof of said power. Therein lies the issue: WWE keeps telling us instead of showing us. When it comes to the Judgement Day, consider me a Missourian.
Spend a Little Doe
Carmella and Bianca Belair put on a very good match. Mella is underrated in the ring and always serves her character well. I want their beef to keep going because of matches like this. What I don’t want, however, is Becky interfering in the proceedings. Of course, that’s exactly what WWE provided this week. This isn’t me dissing Becky, either. I just want a women’s championship feud independent of the Big Time. She sat ringside while Mella and Bianca wrestled, then distracted Bianca. The ref counted to 10 and Mella picked up a count out victory over the champ. Mella celebrated like she won the championship which is perfectly in-character if not kinda stupid. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about the match was the ending.
All Eyez on Me
Ciampa wants the spotlight. That’s why he hitched his wagon to Miz’s star. It’s weak but it’s better than the nothing we got for weeks. Right? Right. The weird part was Miz calling out Logan Paul. Miz told his former partner if he doesn’t change his tune, then Miz will find another tag partner to scale WWE heights. So, let me get this straight: Miz asked his old partner to come back to him in front of his new partner? Spoken like a man with tiny balls.
As an aside, Miz tripped over his words several times during Miz TV. It’s only worth mentioning because the man is so good and rarely, if ever, fudges up. Anyway, Ciampa and Miz’s handicap match with AJ Styles became a tag match when Ezekiel came to the ring. Zeke used the moment to introduce himself to AJ, a man whom his brother speaks very highly.
Zeke got involved but this was all about AJ, Miz and Ciampa. When AJ trapped Miz in the calf crusher, Ciampa rushed in for the save. The problem, however, is he didn’t let up. Miz and Ciampa were disqualified, meaning they get to live and fight for another day.
Big Momma Thang
When it looked like Alexa Bliss and Liv Morgan might form a tag team. the latter won a championship and went to SmackDown. What a bum. Asuka is taking her place, at least that’s how it seems right now. The two faced Doudrop & Nikki A.S.H. this week and picked up the W. Good for them but this Doudrop and Nikki thing is going nowhere. For a quick minute—very quick—we got some story on their team up. Now they just come out together, get divided, and lose. More importantly, with the women’s tag titles in, ahem, stasis, a tag match between four women is pointless.
Do It Again
This might be the point where Raw fell off the cliff for me. WWE interrupted our regularly scheduled Usos/Street Profits singles match in prep for a tag match programming with R-Truth and Omos. While it didn’t make sense, it was at least a wrinkle in the same story beats we got for weeks leading to Money in the Bank. Seriously, you can cut both teams’ promos from June, past them in July, and nothing changes. Truth’s presence added levity to the situation. But it went on too long.
Then Omos came out of nowhere and my eyes almost rolled into the back of my head like the Undertaker. And just like that, the tag team match morphed into a six-man tag match. The good guys took on the bad guys and the bad guys won. More importantly. Omos pinned Angelo Dawkins. I don’t get it. There’s a tag match between the Profits and the Usos in just two weeks. Why involve Omos? Why pin any of them? How do Omos and Truth advance this story? Why do any of it at all?
I promised to keep it all the way real with you, cagesiders, so yeah. This show bored me almost to tears. Bianca, Mella, and Lesnar slamming Otis through a table not withstanding, this show just didn’t move me. SummerSlam is two weeks away and Raw feels no less special now than it does on a random Monday in May.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.