Two things stood out from this week’s Raw: One, they really want their audience to see Five Nights at Freddy’s. That Universal promotion works overtime and WWE did everything in their power for their corporate partner. They even gave a match the picture-in-picture treatment for some Five Nights love.
Seriously, go see this movie or else some mechanical murderer might show at your home.
The other thing, possibly just as important, is that Rhea Ripley is easily Raw’s main character. The woman made her presence known throughout the entire three hours. And even when not around, everyone on screen felt her presence.
It started with this thing above this sentence. And he’s right. Rhea leads that group. She instills law and order. She creates the gameplan. And she commands respect from everyone outside of the crew that no one else inside Judgment Day elicits. Cody didn’t ask to talk to Damian Priest or Finn Balor. And he certainly didn’t inquire about Dom’s dirty presence. He knows who calls the shots.
And it’s a remarkable development considering where Rhea was when that group started. Judgment Day started with Rated R Adam Copeland and Damian. They recruited Rhea, who, like Damian, lacked direction. Look at her now? Here mere presence dwarfs Finn and Damian. These cats aren’t chump change; they’re accomplished wrestlers with mile long track records. But she reigns supreme.
Rhea factors into Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre as well. Just look at this:
That one exchange added another layer to their championship match. And it’s hard arguing with Rhea’s logic. Seth may say the last thing he wants is any comparison to Roman Reigns, but that’s crap. Of course he wants a championship reign lasting almost three years. Roman’s going down in history for that and Seth wants more accolades than his former friend. While we know how she tempted Seth, we still don’t know what she said to Drew. But that’s slowly revealing itself.
Rhea showed up during Drew’s match with Sami Zayn and tipped the scales in his the Scotsman’s favor. Drew and Seth told each other “no Judgment Day” for their Crown Jewel match, but I don’t believe it. If only because WWE put so much equity in Rhea’s presence in that championship match now. And, once again, her presence blots out the current World Heavyweight champ and the former WWE champ.
While Rhea didn’t show during the main event, I assume she engineered everything that happened. Finn came out during Jey Uso’s match with Damian and, surprise, Drew got the win. Actually, the only surprise is that Finn showed instead of Rhea.
For weeks now, WWE structured Raw around her. This week felt like the most overt. She’s involved in the her own championship picture, the tag team picture, and the World Heavyweight championship. She starts the show, fills out the middle, and shows up at the end if she feels like it. Her star not only surpasses the men, but Becky Lynch, who wrestled early in the show and exited stage left. Even everything with Cody felt small compared to Rhea. Whether it’s getting his ankle injured at the top of the show or hobbling to Jey’s rescue before the show ended, it all felt like an afterthought to the true main event.
Everything they’re doing with her right now works. Mami truly is on top.
The New Day and Alpha Academy set the stakes last week: win and move up the ladder. Both teams want tag championship gold and realized they can’t get to the belts without going through one another.
That setup usually creates fun matchups between face teams. It’s deeper than “spirit of competition” but usually no chicanery. They truly wrestle until the best team walks away.
Solid match between two teams I love. Xavier and Chad Gable seemed a bit off during the match’s 2nd act. It didn’t take anything away from the match but they looked like two men on different pages. Beyond that, nothing too remarkable here. Otis took the pinfall for his team, which saves Chad since he’s prepping for another run at GUNTHER. Smart move there although I wonder what of Alpha Academy as a team. I love them together, although I don’t love adding Akira Tozawa to the group. He’s comic relief in a stable that already has Otis; that makes him redundant. Also says they don’t know what to do with the man.
And right on cue, Akira gets drenched. Feeling his britches a bit too much, Akira challenged Bronson Reed. You know how this went.
Like I said, no clue what to do with him. And even putting Bronson in this position feels like. a huge step back after his match with GUNTHER.
I don’t like Indi Hartwell getting her rematch under these circumstances. NXT put a lot of work into Lyra Valkyria vs. Becky Lynch. We got an emotional story over their shared past and a nice mentor vs. mentee setup. No way NXT devotes that much time to something only for it go change 24 hours before the match. Wade Barrett emphasized the fact that looking towards Halloween Havoc without giving Indi a chance felt foolish. Yeah, well, the match itself didn’t communicate that point.
Becky didn’t dominate Indi by any means, nor did Indi look outmatched. But the match itself never put the champ in jeopardy. Not even a little bit. It felt like waiting for the inevitable rather than mining emotion out of how much this meant to Indi. Or just getting me thinking that Becky might lose for at least a half a second. I’m not saying Indi defeats Becky because, yeah, come on. However, booking the match for some tension and unpredictability goes a long way. Both women did their thing in the ring but the overall presentation let them down.
Rhea Ripley smartly lit the fuse and watched it all blow up from her perch atop the women’s division.
Adam Pearce saw it coming though. He got extra security for the fatal 5 way contract signing. He enacted every preventative measure and yet...well, it’s professional wrestling, so you know what “yet” means.
Rhea played everyone against each other and let Nia Jax do the rest. I enjoyed Nia’s obnoxiousness here. Mostly because not many can play obnoxious and threatening like she did. And as the last woman standing, she locked eyes with Rhea. I read that as WWE setting up this inevitable clash between Rhea and Nia. Maybe it comes down to them at Crown Jewel or we get a one-on-one match between the two down the line, but this looks like the direction. I’m not mad at it because of all the women in that locker room, Nia’s the one with who looks like an actual threat.
Tommaso Ciampa is back! That’s the big news out of Johnny Gargano vs. Giovanni Vinci. Oh, that and Giovanni lost, which surely won’t make GUNTHER happy in the slightest.
The other thing? Still no real reaction for Johnny. BUT we did get one for Tommaso, so hopefully he transfers some of his juice to his DIY partner.
I didn’t enjoy Logan Paul and Dirty Dom’s segment this week. Nothing against either man, as they’re both effective heels. But it just felt like more of the same. Logan badmouths Dom’s dad, Dom piles on, the crowd drowned out Dom (possibly some piped in boos as well) and they gassed each other. The wrinkle that struck me as weird? Logan inviting Samantha Irvin in the ring, prompting an attack from Ricochet. While that offered something different, it just didn’t work for me. I appreciate Ricochet’s fire and the logic there. And yes, Logan is a jerk who does jerk things like call out someone’s fiancée.
All that said, I had my fill with these two this summer and I’m good. Even Dom getting involved, because he’s Dom, and their ensuing match next week feels like another way back to Logan. Again, the man insulted Ricochet’s fiancée. Those are always fighting words.
Raw kinda held serve this week. After the last few weeks of pretty spectacular shows, this one felt very average. That’s not a bad thing either but more of a sign of Raw’s consistency. They had an off night with several highlights scattered throughout. And, of course, they finally acknowledged the obvious: Mami runs Raw.
What say you, Cagesiders?