Raw airs tonight (Aug. 22) with a live show from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is the fourth Raw episode during the five week build towards Clash at the Castle, which takes place on Sept. 3.
Triple H needs more time to solve this problem
Triple H is using his new position as head of WWE creative to address several of Raw’s glaring problems, and the product is noticeably better in his hands compared to out-of-touch Vince McMahon. However, there is one big problem that will require more patience to deal with, and that is Raw’s obnoxiously long run time of three hours. Raw permanently adopted the third hour over a decade ago, and for pretty much the entire time it has been an anchor weighing down the show.
Vince McMahon spent the last couple of years thinning out WWE’s roster depth due to a combination of bad booking and budget cuts. Roster depth needs to be a strength in order to fill out three hours of a pro wrestling show with interesting content on a weekly basis. Triple H will have to get as many wrestlers over as possible up and down the card, not just the main event scene, to fight off the exhausting third hour issue. That’s going to take a lot of time, hard work, and some luck to accomplish.
For now, it looks like WWE’s plan is to position the most compelling segment or match on Raw towards the end of hour two rather than in the traditional main event slot at the very end of the show. This is why Dolph Ziggler and Theory ended up wrestling in the traditional main event segment at the end of last week’s show. That is most certainly not a main event level match, but until Raw’s depth is significantly improved and more wrestlers get over, WWE is likely taking the correct approach in prioritizing the end of hour two over the end of hour three as far as TV ratings are concerned.
It would also help if Raw actually had the top men’s champion show up more frequently, of course. That’s something Triple H can address more quickly, and Karrion Kross might be the key figure for making that happen.
The biggest draw on tonight’s lineup is Edge’s first match in Toronto in over a decade. He’ll go one-on-one with The Judgment Day’s Damian Priest. Based on the logic I just described, this match is more likely to take place towards the end of hour two rather than the end of hour three.
This match will likely set up whatever fight is planned for Edge, The Mysterios, and The Judgment Day at Clash at the Castle. That could end up being a singles match between Edge and Balor, or perhaps some kind of tag team or six man tag combination.
Edge is the favorite to win as the hometown hero tonight, but Dominik Mysterio doesn’t trust him and could potentially screw up the finish of the match. That’s assuming Dom will successfully escape whatever torture Rhea Ripley has planned for him. If you see Rhea heading in your direction with sounding rods in her hands, turn around and run for your life, Dominik.
The title scene
The vacant Women’s tag team titles are up for grabs in an ongoing tournament. Tonight is the start of the second round, with Asuka & Alexa Bliss taking on IYO SKY & Dakota Kai. The latter team is the favorite, given they are the hot new team in WWE and are being pushed alongside Bayley.
Speaking of Bayley, she’s set for a six woman tag team match with SKY and Kai against Bliss, Asuka, and Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair at Clash at the Castle. Bianca didn’t have much to do last week, and I expect that will change tonight.
United States Champion Bobby Lashley has defended the title in long matches against Ciampa and AJ Styles, respectively, on the last two episodes of Raw. Will anybody else step up to the champ, or has he earned a break from in ring action for one night?
Jimmy and Jey Uso are the WWE tag team champions but don’t have any competition. They also probably won’t be able to make it into Canada for tonight’s episode of Raw.
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns is set to defend the gold against Drew McIntyre at Clash at the Castle. The part-time champ isn’t expected to appear on Raw tonight. McIntyre did have a surprise appearance on last week’s episode, where he fought Kevin Owens to a disqualification finish. It wouldn’t be surprising to see both men butt heads again tonight, if Drew happens to be in the building.
Ever since Triple H took over WWE creative, it seems like most wrestlers are not interested in chasing Dana Brooke’s 24/7 championship jobber gold.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Beloved hometown hero Trish Stratus returns to Raw tonight. Which heel will look to make a big splash by interrupting Trish’s segment?
- Seth Rollins ran away from a medically cleared
Matt Riddle last week. They are set for a match at Clash at the Castle and could use one more big angle to get fan hyped up for it.
- Veer Mahaan and Omos might just be taking turns squashing jobbers on Raw. Last week was Veer’s turn, so maybe Omos will get the honors tonight.
- The Street Profits and Alpha Academy were stuck on Main Event last week. Let’s see if Triple H’s creative finds something for substantive for them to do tonight on Raw.
- Mustafa Ali wrestled in a match last week on Raw. It was a loss in a tag team match alongside Cedric Alexander. Do they have staying power as a new team in WWE, or were they just filling in as two lower card babyfaces to put over Miz and Ciampa for the night?
- Is the beef between Theory and Dolph Ziggler over now that Theory beat Ziggler in a main event match, or is Dolph still looking to superkick this dweeb’s stupid face?
- Ezekiel is on the road to recovery after he was apron powerbombed by Kevin Owens. Thankfully his father and other family members were around last week to offer Zeke their support while he remained hospitalized in his ring gear.
- Dexter Lumis has a knack for being escorted out of the building by security whenever AJ Styles wrestles. How does he fit into whatever schemes The Miz and Ciampa have in the pipeline?
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?