Raw’s main event juggled a lot. Let’s start like Memento and work backwards.
Jimmy Uso betrayed his twin brother yet again and basically put the tag titles around Judgment Day’s waists. The main event between the tag champs and Judgment Day broke down into beautiful violence. Damian Priest not only put Cody Rhodes through a table courtesy of a Razor’s Edge, but he gave him a low blow before that just to be a jerk. Dirty Dom showed up, because of course, which prompted a response from Sami Zayn. And based on everything that transpired throughout the evening with Sami, I questioned his appearance, if only a little.
But the Jimmy Uso factor happened sooner than I anticipated. But it makes sense. Everything is working perfectly for Jey right now. New show. New friends. New championships. Why wouldn’t his big brother ruin it all for him and change everything just like that? Kevin Patrick said the Jey’s past keeps haunting him and I like that. So long as the Bloodline breathe, Jey gets no peace. Surely he understands that because he helped create that mindset.
At the end of it all, Judgment Day stands back on top or Raw. Rhea Ripley stopped Damian from going after Drew McIntyre several times during the show. She said Damian needed his focus squarely on recapturing gold but there’s obviously some shared secret between Drew and Mami. Seth Rollins pointed that out during his confrontation with Drew. He even questioned whether Drew got himself reinforcements.
That’s a fair question and I’m surprised the rest of Judgment Day didn’t question Rhea harder than they did. She said she handled Drew and she did, but at what cost? Nothing is free in professional sports entertainment wrestling and they don’t present Drew as a stupid man. Some pushback from Damian might go along way too since he’s the one who wants Drew. Or wanted, anyway. Maybe that gold around his waist quiets the voices in his head pointing him in the Scotsman’s direction.
Speaking of Seth and Drew, they got a little personal during their interaction. A very compelling segment between the two because it felt real. Drew knocked Seth for pandering to the crowd and constantly retooling himself for a gimmick that works. Seth, on the other hand, kept his hits above the belt. He honed in on one thing: Drew needs to forget the Bloodline. Get over it and move on because they clearly have. That rubbed Drew the wrong way and I get why.
But it also sets up an opposite dynamic from Seth’s beef with Shinsuke Nakamura. With Shinsuke, Seth let his emotions explode everywhere. He seemed off his game because he let Shinsuke take him out of it. Here, Drew feels like the one not entirely focused. He’s stuck on Jey, stuck on Roman, stuck on the past while the present keeps unfurling before his eyes. It’s not only good heel turn fodder, but a cool Achilles heel for any character. Usually, when someone move on, it seals their fate.
That giant chip on Drew’s shoulder put him in direct conflict with Sami as well. Drew respected Sami until the latter buried the mini hatchet with Jey. Rather than mind his own business, Drew got in Sami’s face about it and now they have a match next week.
And that brings us to the top of the show. Sami set it off and stated the obvious: he missed Kevin Owens. More importantly, he hates the fact that KO’s gone and that they spent most of their reign dealing with Judgment Day. But he also stated his intentions for the World Heavyweight championship. While lamenting his past and focusing on his future, Judgment Day arrived to finish the job. While Sami talked about being all alone, his other friend, Jey came to his rescue. In that moment, based on Sami’s feelings about KO leaving, I figured Sami might turn on Jey.
But he didn’t. The two met backstage and Sami expressed all his conflicting and human feelings. He’s happy for Jey but also jealous. And a little mad because Jey is the reason KO is on SmackDown. They hugged it out, Sami apologized, and they probably smoked some weed afterward, but it’s worth monitoring going forward.
Is Sami truly over everything or will the resentment rear its ugly head once more? All of that came to a head during the main event, at least somewhat, but nothing truly felt settled. And with Jimmy firmly in the mix, this whole thing just went tits up. I love a competent through line for Raw and this one was not only that, but it built higher stakes when the clock struck 11.
I’m still not even attempting to give a little play-by-play on a Falls Count Anywhere match. However, there’s a thematic element that ran throughout that warrants attention.
Ricochet started this match before the bell rang. He went after Shinsuke Nakamura with so much emotion, and that carried him through the match. His seething hatred for Shinsuke made him take bigger risks than usual, like a beautiful Shooting Star Press off a guardrail in the stands. Every move he did felt impulsive and a purely responding to everything Shinsuke took from him in the past.
That bore itself out in the end when Ricochet went to the top rope one time too many and Shinsuke made him pay for it. He pushed Ricochet off the rope and through the table waiting below. One Kinshasa later, Ricochet goes home with the L.
Much like Seth Rollins before him, Ricochet let his emotions get the better of him. But unlike Seth, he leaves disappointed.
Great showing by both men and props to Shinsuke for enduring this two weeks after a grueling battle with Seth.
Oh, and Shinsuke threw popcorn at Ricochet and hit him with nunchucks. Beautiful.
Piper Niven vs. Nattie served a couple purposes. One, getting Piper over and reestablishing her dominance. Secondly, building this connection between Tegan Nox & Nattie. I wish the match went a bit longer, but that’s a usual stance for most women’s division matches on Raw.
That said, they accomplished both things here. Piper got the win, she and Chelsea Green went after Nattie post match, and Tegan made the save. Let’s hope these two go after the women’s tag titles because those belts are collecting dust.
Johnny Gargano needs a hand. That’s the big takeaway from his match with Ludwig Kaiser. Nothing spectacular but a nice back and forth between two men who don’t like each other. And it’s another chapter in this beef between DIY and IMPERIUM, with Tommaso Ciampa “injured” after IMPERIUM pulled a sucker attack.
Something that came across on TV though? Johnny got no reaction coming to the ring. Hopefully this feud changes that but they really need to get Johnny over. Feuding with IMPERIUM, and, more importantly, having good matches with them, hopefully does that.
Ludwig & Giovanni Vinci still seem out of sync with each other, which hopefully bears fruit down the line. Giovanni repaid Ludwig’s attitude by helping him escape certain defeat after Johnny nailed him with One Final Beat. Johnny took his eye off the prize, as per usual with these kinds of things, went after Giovanni, and got a kick in the face from Ludwig for his troubles.
Even when on different pages, IMPERIUM still presents a threat with the numbers game. I’m curious when Tommaso comes back and how they handle this until he does. I foresee Johnny diving into a lot of battles head first and by himself. Brave but stupid. And sometimes that’s just enough to get people to care.
Silly me. I thought for a moment that they planned a finish for Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler that involved someone taking a pin. Instead, we got more chaos featuring Nia Jax, Raquel Rodriguez, Zoey Stark, and the two women in a match.
Prior to the shenanigans and the no contest finish, we got a taste of a pretty good match from these two. Shayna’s submissions vs. Rhea’s power entices me because if anyone can neutralize Shayna’s submission prowess, it’s Rhea. We got a glimpse of that when Rhea reversed a submission, with one arm mind you. But as I said, Nia and the rest of the women involved in this thing interrupted the proceedings and all hell broke loose. And at Crown Jewel, we get a Fatal Five-Way match. I like that a lot.
On that note, let’s get to something else percolating in the women’s division.
Indi Hartwell demanded a shot at Becky Lynch’s NXT women’s championship. Becky, always down for a fight, went to Adam Pearce and we got ourselves a match next week. Then Xia Li rolled up and confused me. She got in Becky’s face for giving Indi the title shot instead of her. Then Becky says if she wants to step up, cool, step up. Xia then said she will but on her time.
Girl...if you’re so mad about not getting a title shot and the champ says you can get it but you say you want it on your own time, why are you even complaining about it now?! That whole thing made Xia look silly, and not in a great way.
But I digress. Jade Cargill showed up and I went speechless for a while. Once feeling returned to my body, I think I recall Becky telling her to get in line. They keep teasing where Jade lands and I need them to pick a spot.
Wow. I don’t know if it’s possible for a GUNTHER match to come off as anything less than stellar. He and Bronson Reed slapped a lot of meat this week and we’re all better for it. Bronson proved himself worthy of the match and his own title reign. They built it through powerful moves from both men and several close two-counts from those big moves. Bronson’s superplex. GUNTHER’s powerbomb (after failing the first time). And the chops. Bronson’s chest looked like hamburger meat.
Just watch it now because I know I’m not doing it justice.
I do wonder one thing though: Who defeats this man for his championship? I hope it’s Chad Gable. He mentioned he wants the championship in a backstage segment, while also noting that Alpha Academy wants the tag titles. Intriguing.
Dope show. No big complaints and we got big developments.
Seriously, that’s all I got.
What say you, Cagesiders?