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Raw recap & reactions (May 15, 2023): The real Sami Zayn problem

Judgment Day rocks the world as they make their presence felt for three hours. Paul Heyman schemed against the tag team champs, while Becky Lynch broke her silence.

Check Yo Self

I’m intrigued by something brewing between Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens. Kevin made it clearer than crystal that he wants to move on from the Bloodline. He’s tired. He’s over it. He cares less about the fact they’re fighting Solo Sikoa & Roman Reigns at Night of Champions and more about the fact it’s just one more fight.

But Sami cares. He cares so much that he believes Night of Champions provides he and his partner their own redemption song. Sami believes he and KO both owe Roman losses after he stole victories, and he passionately hates the fact that Roman thinks he’s Mustafa: the ruler of everything the light touches.

The obvious question is how that might affect their Night of Champions matchup but, specifically, their match this week with Damian Priest & the Prince. KO needs Sami focused on the immediate future since Judgment Day rolls deep. And sure enough, shortly after the bell rang, Finn beckoned Rhea & Dom to make an appearance. Two-on-two morphed into four vs. two. Actually, make it five vs. two because we know neither Kevin or Sami will touch Rhea.

The ref took care of Rhea & Dom after they both overstepped their bounds, as per usual. But Paul Heyman always has an ace up his sleeve. And no, that’s not a reference to a former NXT wrestler who made his debut this week. More on him later.

The Wise Man made a deal with Imperium, while also informing Damian & Finn so they knew beforehand. On one hand, this gets under the tag champs’ skin. On the other, it shows them—specifically Sami—the amount of teams aiming for their spot. Even if they come back from Night of Champions with belts in their hands, more challenges await.

Sami taking the pin thanks to GUNTHER interfering also makes sense. Like I said, Sami’s focused elsewhere at the moment. Taking a pin during a main event is usually a wakeup call. Maybe this wakes him up to everything else happening outside of Roman. But if you want my opinion, and you’re here for that, I say it doesn’t. He still wants Roman and Roman is only a few days away. And even then, if they retain, is he truly ready to move on from the Tribal Chief?

I’m not calling for more beef between the current tag champs at all, but it’s something worth watching.


U Don’t Know Me

Shinsuke Nakamura actually had his hands full with Miz. Not saying that’s a bad thing either, because Miz’s story right now is all about credibility. While he and Shinsuke didn’t get to the level Seth & Miz achieved several weeks ago, they provided a solid opening match.

Miz tried cheating, but, in a nice touch, his erratic nature caused him the victory. He paid so much attention to cheating and scrambling for the victory that he pinned Shinsuke too close to the ropes. The ref stopped the count, and that was the end for the A-lister.

Shinsuke got a good W using his finisher also rather than a rollup or small package. When in doubt, give me the finisher over a quick pin. At least in a match where one person wants to establish dominance.

Public Service Announcement (Interlude)

Some scribbles on the Battle Royale:

GUNTHER introduced himself to everyone on the Red brand. Imperium essentially hit pause on the show as the Ring General stood on the commentary table, announced himself, his accolades, and threw shade towards the future battle royale winner.

Bronson Reed got a lot of shine here. Multiple men tried eliminating him to no avail, and he stuck around until the final three.

I don’t like introducing JD McDonnagh through a battle royale. Besides the fact he gets no television entrance for his very first match on Raw, he got no chance to truly shine or standout. And his first feud on Monday nights? Dolph Ziggler. The good news? His first dance partner is Dolph Ziggler. The bad news? His first dance partner is Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is excellent in the ring and makes everyone look better. But it’s 2023. I can't imagine many audiences investing in a Dolph feud at this point.

But they made up for it later with a nice video followed by a quick backstage interview where the Irish Ace explained why he went after Dolph. And then Finn Balor showed up, lurking in the shadows like Batman. Don’t be shocked if JD ends up in Judgment Day.

Dexter Lumis has beef with Maxxine’s models. And speaking of those models, Maxxine’s focus is Otis. Mansoor and Mace are step-children to her right now. They got eliminated and she paid it no mind while rooting for her new favorite man candy brand.

Mustafa Ali won! While I have no delusions that Ali beats GUNTHER at Night of Champions, it’s still a high profile spot for a guy who worked his butt off for years for this very moment.

Thank You

Becky Lynch’s promo ability is one reason she is where she is and who she is at this moment. Her promo tonight towards Trish Stratus felt real, told a story, and had rhythm! I love rhythm in any type of writing, dialogue, or random speech. Repetition is a key ingredient for any speech and she used it perfectly this week when she answered Trish’s challenge.


Dom’s heat remains the thing worth talking about. The man showed up in this week’s opening segment as the Judgment Day confronted KO & Sami, and got booed out the building. KO actually asked for the boos because he, comically, asked for Dom’s opinion. The crowd loves to boo this man so KO obliged them.

Secondly, the crowd booed him when he simply showed up in a backstage segment featuring Rhea Ripley and Nattie. That’s it. He just walked on screen, tapped Rhea on her shoulder, and the boos rained down like money in Gotham City during Batman’s third act.

Then he got more boos during his rematch with Xavier Woods. A rematch that Woods lost, again, thanks to Rhea, again.

I really have nothing to say about the match itself because Dom’s heat amazes me. The more it intensifies, the more I want to talk about it and explore it. WWE’s doing great with him now but they really need to do something with all that emotion.

Kill ‘Em All

I’m torn on Cody Rhodes’ promo this week. While I liked the passion—I always love Cody’s passion—his schtick has its limits for me. The “what do you want to talk about” thing comes off as corny and trying too hard, while he is always self-indulgent. Intellectually, I always appreciate a good reference to the scorpion and the frog fable, I don’t like it in the wrestling ring. Thankfully he told an abridged version. But, he also didn’t say anything new; we got all this last week, minus the fable.

I understand building a program with Brock isn’t easy, but it’s weird devoting precious minutes in a three-hour show when it doesn’t move the ball forward even an inch. Cody wants to kill Brock and move on to something bigger and better. And at this rate, so do I.

I Declare War

Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler finally made their Raw debuts...much to Raquel Rodriguez’s chagrin.

But before we get there, let’s talk about the fact Raquel and Liv Morgan didn’t defend their championships this week as promised. Liv is hurt (legitimately) so Raw called an audible: Raquel vs. Chelsea Green.

Green put up a fight, as she should since she’s in a contending tag team, but Raquel got the W.

Ronda & Shayna cut that celebration short. They jumped Raquel and told her she’s catching this same beatdown every week until she defends those championships. Specifically against them. At least I assume that’s what she meant since Raquel & Liv just defended the titles on the last SmackDown. Or maybe Ronda doesn’t watch on Fridays since she’s no longer a part of the show.

Either way, interesting conundrum here. But let’s hope Liv is okay and heals quickly.

This show flew by. We even got some interview segments between Corey Graves and Seth Rollins. I hope they’re doing the same for AJ Styles so not to make it so obvious that Seth leaves Saudi Arabia with the new championship around his waist.

Anyway, fun show that set up matches for next week, progressed some balls this week, and didn’t do too much.

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