Raw was live from my hometown this week. Was I there? Of course not. For one, trying to recap and write about this show while in a sea of people and alcohol with spotty WiFi sounds like a circle of hell. And B, I just rather be here with you good people!
Claire was also not at the Capital One Arena because she was too busy blogging like nobody else can blog.
Let’s talk Raw!
Can’t Stop the Reign
Drew McIntyre and Kevin Owens executed a perfect mic session this week. Prior to the impromptu match, McIntyre came out to talk to the D.C. crowd and get them excited about the ghost of matches yet to come. Drew O’Mac vs. Ciampa. Drew O’Mac vs. AJ Styles. The crowd was into it and Drew had more names before a familiar tune played in Capital One Area.
Owens felt slighted that Drew didn’t mention him—until he showed up—as a future opponent. But he didn’t blame Drew for the slight; he blamed himself. Owens chalked it up to forgetting who he was for far too long. Showing up to work to have fun isn’t who he is but he was content doing just that. Owens believes Drew doesn’t know who he is either for various reasons. Mostly because he come out with a sword like a player at Medieval Times. Owens doesn’t want to be like Drew and forget, so he’s bringing back the side of himself he forgot: the prize fighter.
Drew responded in kind with fire that felt real. He recounted the fact he was the Chosen One many moons ago and he got fired. He worked his butt off to get back to WWE—and they called him—he’s a two time champion, beaten Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and anyone else put in front of him. In other words, you don’t know his story. Drew then used the word “wrestlers” and “wrestling ring,” then the two put on an impromptu bout of dopeness.
Words won’t do it justice. I’m not even going to try to recant it; just know it was a fight similar to the bout Sheamus and Drew put on during a recent episode of SmackDown, only without the bar fight aspect.
The one downside, even though I completely get it, is the DQ finish. And it’s only a downside because I wanted to see a winner and the crowd did as well. The Usos attacked Drew, giving the Scotsman the victory. I get it. Roman is the big prize for both men. And The Usos are here because Roman doesn’t work Mondays. Someone has to further the feud, right?
Both men delivered messages to the Tribal Chief: Owens, after hitting Drew with a stunner, told the Usos the Tribal Chief owes him one. Drew, coming to just in time to dodge the 1D and deliver a hell of a Claymore to Jimmy Uso, said he will see Roman on Friday night.
That was all good stuff. The match was great and with a proper finish? Possibly greater. Again, the ending made complete sense, so it’s definitely a nitpick. But also me just being greedy. Shoutout to DMX.
I have mixed feelings about AJ Styles vs. Bobby Lashley. The third act of the match was perfect. Not just the back and forth aspect, but the fact AJ’s back too so much punishment during the match that it became a plot device. But there was a lot happening during the first half that came and went. Before I get to that, let me give more flowers to the two men in the ring.
Lashley dominated the first half. They told the story of the dominant champion asserting that dominance over someone thought of as his equal or better. AJ needed a new strategy and quickly because his game plan wasn’t working. I like stories like that when it’s told by two veterans of this caliber. The belief going into this match was AJ’s overall skill might overtake Lashley’s momentum. Nope, that didn’t happen. AJ was no match for the All Mighty.
Eventually, AJ found his sea legs but not before we got an interruptions from Miz, Ciampa, and Dexter Lumis. Dexi showed up in the crowd, again, and jumped the barricade this time. Commentary—and the cops—treated his appearance as hostel, with Raw going to commercial while the cops wrestled Dexter to the ground and escorted him out of the arena.
I still like the presentation and have so many more questions than I did last week. Showing Dexter as an interloper, one WWE as a whole is seemingly ignoring, harkens back to a time where truly anything could happen in WWE. It adds an edge to the show and makes it more must see than Miz. That’s a good thing.
I’m torn on it coming during this match at the same time we got Miz & Ciampa interfering. And the Awesome Two (not their real name, but the name of a hip hop radio show from the ‘80s) had no real affect on the match. So they just showed up, Miz got wrecked, and then they left. Earlier, Miz blamed AJ for Ciampa’s U.S. championship loss, so their appearance makes sense. But make it mean something. There was just a lot happening here and none of it changed the outcome.
That moment aside, this was a good showing for two very good wrestlers. The calf crusher into the Hurt Lock into pin counter was a great piece of business. AJ took the L here as Bobby’s reign continues. AJ and Miz seems like the next logical destination for the Phenomenal One, but on the real, I’m more excited for an AJ and Lashley rerun.
I’m just here to talk about Rhea Ripley calling herself Dominik’s real daddy. Yeah, yeah, Judgment Day talked trash about Rey Mysterio and Edge. Rey even came out to attack them knowing he was outnumbered. But Rhea’s line, and her subsequent performance, was the best part of Raw’s opening segment. Come see her tease and taunt Rey knowing he won’t hit her. Stay for the daddy line.
Advancing and Going Home
I mentioned before that I love tournaments. There are instant stakes and every match is important. Of course, the women’s tag team tournament is right up my alley. Thankfully, Doudrop & Nikki A.S.H. vs. Alexa Bliss & Asuka delivered a match that with suspense. I suspected the winners early because Alexa & Asuka gotta look strong going into their match with Control (that’s what I’m calling them until someone tells me otherwise). But Nikki and Doudrop looked great as a team and even started matching.
Sure, it’s just a leather jacket for Nikki, but losing the cape and even the dark colored outfit is a good step towards making them an actual team rather than just two people put together because creative had nothing for them.
If both of them get on the same page from a look standpoint, and get more development for their actual team, they might make dope music together.
Asuka made Doudrop tap, getting the win for her and Alexa. Before their celebration with Bianca Belair began in earnest, Bailey, Kai and SKY met them at the top of the stage. It’s wrestling so a fight broke out but officials broke it up before it got really good.
The main takeaway from Ciampa & Miz vs. Mustafa Ali & Cedric Alexander is I want an Ali & Ciampa feud. Ali makes everyone looks good but he makes Ciampa look incredible. And Ciampa does the same for him as well. It’s no wonder they featured in the match’s ending.
Ali, unaware that Ciampa was the legal man, put Miz in the drop zone for a 450 Splash. Before his body connected with Miz’s, Ciampa launched into a perfectly timed dropkick that caught Ali right in the jaw on the way down. It was a thing of beauty and my spider sense says these two would rock the house.
Ciampa continues his momentum while dropping subtle hints that his time with Miz is coming to an end. Miz gifted Ciampa with a matching necklace. Ciampa looked annoyed but then again, maybe that’s just the resting face of an angry man. But nah, I think the end is near.
Dakota Kai beat up on Dana Brooke. What else did you expect?
Guess Who's Back? Back Again?
Riddle’s back, Riddle’s back, Riddle’s back. Bro surprised Seth Franklin Rollins during a segment where the Visionary believed Riddle was at home giving an interview. Turns out, he was in D.C. Riddle ran to the ring, brawled with Seth because wrestling, and challenged Rollins to a match at Clash at the Castle.
Veer, the man with the best hair in all of WWE. He squashed some guy.
Theory! The MITB briefcase holder made his not so triumphant return to the red brand. Why not so triumphant? Because Dolph Ziggler got in his face to give him some game. Theory didn’t the advice, called Ziggler washed and a has been.
Whew, that hurt me.
Ziggler chose violence, and two brawled throughout the commercial break.
Look. I’m just glad this is still a thing and they didn’t move away from it assuming none of us remember. Storyline consistency is a good thing, people! Rejoice.
That fight continued in this week’s main event. A good match, but not an overly exciting one. Theory got a couple shots in that echoed throughout the arena. First, a forearm to Dolph’s jaw and later a clothesline that almost put Ziggler through the mat. But this shouldn’t be the main event for Raw. I know that sounds like a diss but it’s not. Raw needs a heavyweight championship very badly. There’s nothing wrong with these two or what they did in the ring this week, but that’s not the match that ends a three hour program. Not one with a haphazard build that got derailed for a couple weeks and now is a thing again.
Zeke Doesn’t Speak
Ezekiel is in the hospital. His family watches over him. And they all look remarkably like Elias. Their dad even sounds and looks like Elias with a very cheap bad cap. Curiouser and curiouser.
Raw was solid again. Not a spectacular show but a solid one building this new creative foundation. My gripes with the main event aside, I enjoyed this show even if nothing truly newsworthy happened.
Sharing some inside convo between Geno and I, it might be time for Raw to switch things up a bit. Not just the look of the show, but the format as well. WWE’s flagship show pretty much operates the same way it did back in 1997 or 1998. Talking opening segment, match, backstage shenanigans, match, interview, and so on. I know there’s comfort in repetition but breaking formula more often, or just changing the formula entirely, has value. I’m not saying I want arm wrestling or pose downs in the main event spot either, but the show as a whole needs some..ahem..evolution. New creative brains behind the operations is a perfect time freshen up the product.
Food for thought, cagesiders.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.