If it’s Monday, then WWE is Raw. Which means Claire is doing her thing in the usual spot and I’m doing my thing here. Also the usual spot.
Let’s talk Raw!
I’m Not Looking at You Dudes, I’m Looking Past You
Seth Rollins didn’t expect his U.S. championship match against Bobby Lashley to go very long. The challenger came into the match with the crowd serenading him—as they always do—and high on his own supply. For a brief moment, Seth’s plan to attack fast and overwhelm the All Mighty with a bunch of offense might work. Seth put Bobby in the perfect position for a Curb Stomp only for Lashley to block it with his arms. And I don’t mean he used an arm to swat Seth aside. No, I mean his arms stopped his face from hitting the mat because he’s apparently strong enough to not go down when a grown man jumps onto the back of his head with the full force of his weight behind a foot.
That’s one of the illest things I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring and a fantastic illustration of Lashley’s strength.
After that, we got a very fun, crisp match with a well-told story. Which is kinda the main reason we’re here, right? Seth really proved he was a step ahead of the “MMA guy” in Lashley. Seth countered a spear into a Pedigree. He turned the Hurt Lock into his own pinning combination. And when Lashley refused to break the hold, Seth low-blowed the champ while the ref wasn’t looking.
That’s when the story dovetailed into Seth’s beef with another MMA guy in Matthew Riddle. Riddle’s music played, he showed up on the ramp to talk his trash, distracted Seth, and Seth caught a spear from Lashley and an L as a result. The guy who claims he’s 10 steps ahead the MMA guys like Lashley and Riddle got proof he really isn’t, and furthered the story between Riddle and Seth. Great opening match.
And as a result of Riddle’s machinations, Seth finally gave him the rematch he clamored for and it’s happening at Extreme Rules. However, it’s on Riddle’s turf: a fight pit.
That’s another good way WWE illustrates Seth is off his game since he agreed to any match Riddle wanted. Now he finds himself in a match Riddle made famous on Riddle’s terms. Hardly the sign of a supreme strategist. But it is the sign of good storytelling.
Turn Me Back to the Old Me
Damage CNTRL talked a lot of ish this week. Rightfully so after Kai-N-SKY won the tag championships and Bayley effectively got into Bianca Belair’s head. But Bianca wasn’t Bayley’s target this week as she set her sights on Alexa Bliss. Bayley, like a lot of cagesiders reading this, doesn’t believe Alexa is anything closed to what she used to be. Bayley said Alexa used to torment her but now Lilly is the only one with bite.
For a lot of reasons, Alexa isn’t the same person she used to be many moons ago. Her match with Damage CNTRL’s leader signaled the start of her journey back to the way things used to be.
With a lot of help from her friends, Bayley finally got a W over her longtime enemy in a solid main event. What’s clear within the story is Alexa might need to go back to the old her to not only stand a chance on her own against Bayley, but for her, Bianca, and Asuka to deal with Damage CNTRL. Would the old Alexa fall victim to outside shenanigans from Dakota Kai? Of course not. This is a story worth watching.
While we didn’t get a definitive answer on Alexa, we finally know when Bayley gets her championship match. Damage CNTRL beat down Asuka and Bianca after the match, giving Bayley the opening to tell the fallen champ that she wants the Raw Women’s championship at Extreme Rules. The more interesting aspect is the shape the match takes since the fact they’re fighting in Philly isn’t a surprise.
Yo I champunch ase in his face...
Last week, Kevin Owens broke Austin Theory’s nose in one of Raw’s best segments. This week? Theory is out for revenge and his own pound of flesh. More importantly, Theory wanted, no, needed, to show KO he’s more than just a pretty face with a glide path to a championship. By design, Theory took a lot of punishment this week. Austin showed determination, grit, and any other synonym for “heart” when fighting a guy who just loves a fight. KO had nothing to prove here, because he’s already a made guy and he’s confident enough in who he is and what he stands for. Austin? Ladies and gents, this match was everything to him.
Which is why in the middle of a good match he went for his MITB briefcase. No matter how much he wants to prove he can hold his own, he is compelled to take shortcuts, thus, proving KO’s point. The problem with his plan was Johnny Gargano showed up out of nowhere to take said briefcase. A distracted Theory walked right into a Superkick, then a Pop Up Powerbomb, and the fat lady hit her high notes for the night.
Adding insult to injury, Gargano dropped the briefcase right on a fallen Theory’s stomach and pranced around the ring in celebration. I chuckled.
Imagine That No Gun, No Knife. It’s a One-on-One Now We Gots to Fight
“Calm his butch ass down” made me laugh out loud and I’m still laughing. Even if you’re reading this on Tuesday morning, just know I’m laughing. What made it funnier was he said it while two-thirds of the Brawlin’ Brutes welcomed Raw to Fight Night. Which, I understand, is far removed from Fright Night, a fine ‘80s horror flick with a 2010s remake that works a lot better for me as a film and concept.
But anyway, the Brutes came into the match with the Street Profits with one thing in mind: Send a message to Jimmy and Jey Uso.
And that they did.
Look, you know the two teams involved so you know it was a solid match. WWE wanted the Brutes to look strong going into their tag title match on SmackDown, so mission accomplished. They played their game rather than even try to do what the Profits do.
Grim Reaper Calling, Judgment Day
First off, the crowd loathes Dominik. If you missed Judgment Day’s segment before their match against Riddle and Rey Mysterio, go back and watch. Dom barely got a word in edge wise with the crowd throwing boos at him like they were in Philly and he was good taste. That’s a testament to everyone involved, along with the goodwill everyone has for Rey. I’m not the only one into this family story mixed with Rhea Ripley turning boys to men on bended knee ‘till the end of the road.
Riddle interjected himself into this story with Edge’s absence, meaning he too found himself in Papi’s clutches for a mean back suplex when the referee turned his head. Riddle is fine but this match was all about Rey getting a taste of revenge. Especially since it was only a matter of time before Seth made his way into the match for some payback on Matt.
The entire match built to the moment where Rey, after fending off Seth, was face to face with his son. Dom approached his father and dared Rey to hit him with the chair in Rey’s hand. Dom even knelt down to make it easy for his father. Rey, of course, declined. That was the end for Rey and Matt, as Rey took the finisher from Finn. The L didn’t matter much here because it’s all about Dom and Rey. Captivating stuff and Dom is playing it beautifully.
AJ Styles, after being on a milk carton for weeks, showed up and got into a verbal spat with Finn Balor. I like teasing tension between these two, along with wondering whether or not AJ will accept Finn’s Judgment Day membership offer.
So I Creep...
Miz TV. Miz rightfully indigent about Dexter Lumis being in his house. Miz calls him out. Dexter shows up underneath the ring and Ciampa hits him with a microphone to send him back to where he came. Meh.
This was a very solid episode of Raw. Once again, nothing life-altering or the most newsworthy show. Just solid wrestling, solid storytelling, and a fun night.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.