Welcome boys and girls! Raw isn’t TV 14 yet but whew, they’re skirting that line with a few moments in this week’s episode. Wrote a lot about it. Like to read it?
Here it goes.
And don’t forget to read Claire’s blog for the play-by-play because she’s the best in the biz.
Let’s talk Raw!
I promise not to make this a long diatribe. Well, I promise to try. WWE rolling out Titus O’Neil in front of his hometown crowd to talk about “goodwill,” “smiles,” and aaaaaaaall the good work WWE does around the world was absolute BS. As Nas and AZ once said back in 1996, the move was faker than a big-faced $100 bill, which was a thing back in the day. Titus is often WWE’s shield when the heat from the outside world gets a tad too intense for Vince and friends. The number of times they leech off Titus’ reputation in hopes that just a portion of it drips onto the company is way too high. Vince using Titus as a smoke screen for the heat coming his way due to alleged allegations is disgusting.
AND WE DON’T TALK ABOUT POLITICS OR RELIGION? REALLY?
The same company that positioned Sgt. Slaughter as a treacherous soldier during the Gulf War? The same company that once hired a Bill Clinton impersonator during a PPV emanating from Washington, D.C. during a government shutdown and asked him about said shutdown? The same company that created the Nation of Domination as a rift on the Nation of Islam? THE SAME company where Jack Swagger and Zen Colter went around for at least a year with an American flag shouting, “We the people!” during the height of the Tea Party movement? THE SAME COMPANY that featured Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton in a wrestling match?
And, yes, the same company where the owner and his son wrestled Shawn Michaels and...checks notes...oh, that’s right, GOD. God was Shawn’s partner because Vince wanted proof he was better than God. There was even this segment:
Yes, surely that company doesn’t talk politics or religion.
I love wrestling. It’s why I love this job and everything it entails. But moments like this make it really hard to even think about covering Raw. Not even because of the lying but because they treat us, the audience, like we’re idiots. And it’s insulting.
Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg
The crowd—at least the one in Tampa—isn’t feeling Logan Paul. At least not like I’m sure he or WWE wants. A mixed reception welcomed him to Miz TV. It wasn’t weird at all because duh. Logan is a natural heel. Even preening to the crowd felt unnatural to a guy who made his name as life’s antagonist.
Miz’s mic work here was fantastic. He put Logan over, read a list of his accomplishments while reminding everyone that he isn’t on Miz’s level when it comes to wrestling. A tag match is one thing but a singles match against a guy with 18 years under his belt is a horse of like five different colors.
And he’s right. That sets up a great story from Miz’s perspective. Logan, on the other hand, is used to hearing the things he can’t do. Miz is just another person doubting him, so he wants to do something about it. But Miz, for his reasons, declined Logan’s challenge. Miz sounded like a guy who truly cares about Logan and doesn’t want to embarrass him. Almost like a big brother denying the little brother just to save him from himself.
All that maturity went out the window the minute Logan talked about Miz’s marbles. Miz showed off his newest t-shirt proclaiming the size of said marbles, and accepted the challenge. Remember how Marty McFly reacted when someone called him chicken? That’s Miz now. Miz accepted the match on behalf of those marbles and Logan thought he had it made. Then Ciampa came out since he’s Miz’s muscle, and the two tried beating Paul down. I say tried because they failed. Paul escaped, his music played, and WWE reminded us Paul is coming to Madison Square Garden next week to host his version of Miz TV.
Logan Paul isn’t quite there when it comes to the talking part of this thing of ours. But I’m sure he’ll get there. Working with Miz is a great tutorial for anyone at this point, so hopefully Logan pays attention. Still think him as a face is a meh idea at best, but it is what it is at this point.
Do it Again
The Big Time is finally getting her next shot at the title. While it was jarring to jump right into a war of words and a match so soon after the first leg of WWE’s Apology Tour featuring Titus O’Neil, the women delivered. Carmella and Bianca was, unsurprisingly, very good. They showed the storytelling acumen they displayed last week, and Mella showed she deserves a lot more than the speed bump spot between Ms. Belair and Becky Lynch. Bianca wants redemption at SummerSlam for what happened the last time these two tangoed at the summer’s biggest party. Becky, on the other hand, believes this is a story of her comeback tour.
To quote a great movie character, let them fight.
Damian Priest and Rey Mysterio put on a highly entertaining match. Damian showed off his power, grounding and pounding Rey almost into submission. Rey, true to form, never gave up. He escaped defeat multiple times, dealt with a Finn Balor distraction and fought the way we expect any father to fight for their son. See, before the match, Damian promised us that Dominik’s entry into the Judgment Day will happen. On Raw. This week. Strong words from a strong man but he Priest says a lot of things.
Priest dominated this match and looked great. And, in the end, got a huge victory. Beating Rey is a big deal for The Judgment Day, a group that needs notches on the belt.
But then the confusion came. So, after the match, Damian and Finn threatened Rey with a concerto. The only thing standing between Rey and a concussion was Dom. If Dom joins the group, then Rey is spared. Dom eventually comes to his father’s aid and says he’s down. Damian and Finn say “nah,” tell the young man it doesn't work that way, and throw him out of the ring.
Priest and Balor say Dom failed the test. He wasn’t supposed to save his dad. He was supposed to annihilate him, just like they did Edge. And next week in MSG when WWE celebrates 20 years of 619, they finish what they started and destroy the Mysterios. I like it. I like all of it a lot.
But, Edge is coming back next week, right? Judgment Day can’t go a single segment without his name on their tongues and those mysterious vignettes get clearer and clearer...
Let’s reverse a bit. Kevin Owens returned—thankfully—for another edition of the KO Show. He offered his guest, Riddle, an olive branch. RK-Bro was cool but Bro-KO? That’s the new hotness. Riddle not only called KO a liar but says he can’t trust the man. KO talked trash about Randy Orton and Riddle just wasn't feeling that. Right as Riddle began his exit, Seth Rollins showed his face. Two stomps later and Riddle is laid out. Later, Ezekiel voices his displeasure with Seth bullying anyone he wants. Seth talked about Zeke’s “family” and those are fighting words. So, of course, a match was in their future.
Once again, Seth and Zeke put on a good match. The story here was all about the stomp. Zeke countered it two times. Once by simply moving and rolling up Seth, then the second by catching him and showing off his power. The best moment was Zeke hitting Seth with a flying knee when the latter launched himself off the top rope. It was a thing of beauty and something that makes me want more of these two in the ring. But, alas, all good things must do what good things do.
There was no third counter from Zeke when Seth went for a stomp. 1, 2, 3, ding ding. Seth gets the W and it’s official: Seth vs. Riddle at SummerSlam.
Extinction Level Event
Remember last week when Omos pinned Angelo Dawkins? Don’t worry if you don’t, it happened. As a result, Omos, well, MVP, challenged Dawkins to a match. The big man vs the man who wants the smoke. The Usos liked the sound of all of that, so they got front row seats.
But with both Montez Ford and MVP interfering in the match at various points, it was only a matter of time before the referee caught one of them. MVP got his client disqualified, Adam Pearce made a tag match between the Profits and MVP & Omos,
The best moment before the telegraphed Usos interference resulting in another DQ, was easily Montez’s reaction to Omos kicking out of his frog splash at one. Tez looked like he saw 50 ghosts. The man even slapped himself to get back in the game and focus. He climbed the ropes one more time and that’s when the Usos intervened.
I like good guy Dolph Ziggler. He sat ringside while AJ Styles and Theory wrestled each other in a match that struck me as just okay. Maybe it was the change in tempo from everything prior on Raw, but it felt lacking. They wrestled a more methodical match that, based on the ending, probably got more time than it needed. While AJ and Theory definitely have beef, everything with Dolph is more interesting at the moment because we still don’t have answers.
Theory caught himself preoccupied with Dolph a couple times during the match with Dolph looking as innocent as a baby. That ended the minute the ref turned her back.
Theory stood outside the ring recuperating from an AJ attack. AJ, not ready to let Theory live, launched himself at Mr. Money in the Bank. Theory catches AJ, almost throws him onto Dolph, but instead throws him onto the commentary table. Dolph looks on while making sure his hands are clean. Theory tosses AJ back into the ring and while the ref tends to AJ, Dolph superkicks Theory into next month.
Theory can’t beat the 10 count and AJ wins by count out. It’s an ending that makes sense as neither man needs an L, but, like I said, maybe a little shorter match helps with that ending.
“Of all the things I’ve seen, that was definitely the most recent.” When it comes to the “six woman tag match” between Asuka, Alexa Bliss & Dana Brooke vs. Nikki A.S.H., Tamina & Doudrop, Graves said it best.
To be fair, I looked forward to the actual match. What we got was 24/7 shenanigans where the title changed hands at least five times. And even Alexa Bliss is now a former 24/7 champ.
I was not sports entertained, which is all I wanted.
Just making note that Veer came again this week. That is all.
Thats all the Raw fit to print. And you know what? I enjoyed this week’s show for the most part. The third hour is still a drag, especially this week with the Miz TV main event and the proceeding match basically being a joke. But once we got beyond that awful opening with Titus, the show was pretty dope for two hours. And the build for these SummerSlam matches gets better by the week.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.