#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/Fv8V0y0pld— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Interesting contract signing between Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch. And not for all the right reasons.
Trish seemed a bit off on the mic tonight. Or, at least a far cry from her promo a few weeks ago and her performance a couple weeks ago. She stumbled on a few words and didn’t bring the emotion she usually does. But I liked her theory of the case: This is her first contract signing while Becky knows many contract signings only because of the walls Trish tore down.
Becky’s retorts might sting more if they didn’t beat around the bush. Trish demanding gratitude for paving the way demands a little interrogation. Trish, and women in her era, did a lot of things WWE never asked of someone like Becky. Thankfully.
Becky hinted at that, saying Trish did things that gives Becky nightmares and referencing that time a creepy old man made her bark like a dog on television. And no, I’m not linking to it because no thanks. But there’s something there that WWE can’t really touch because they like to rewrite their past, a lot of that stuff involved the Chairman, and they’re a family company now.
That’s unfortunate because a compelling narrative exist between the current woman in charge and the former woman in charge. Both took different routes during very different times in WWE. Interrogating Trish’s past, however, means examining WWE’s past. It also means exploring how today’s women feel about the things yesterday’s women did. How do they feel about the eye candy, the breast implants, the bra & panty matches, the lack of match time, etc.
That from @BeckyLynchWWE!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/E3GNyEJAkG— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
And how does Trish feel about that? Her character wants her props but also clearly resents the fact Becky avoids all the sex over substance of the Attitude era. That’s why, as she said, it’s a big deal she finally gets a contract signing. But it’s also sad and indicative of her time on top. WWE often shows us her highlights in the ring with Lita but they don’t show her managing a tag team named T&A. They don’t show the aforementioned story with the creepy old man, his wife, and his daughter. Or any other time WWE treated her as a sexual fantasy instead of a professional wrestler.
When she said she came into the company on day one as a star and didn’t have to break her nose to achieve that status, she’s doing a disservice to those of us who like context. I don’t know how Trish Stratus feels about those things when the cameras are off, but I want to know how her character feels.
Becky and Trish detailing those things paints a fuller picture for the story and for the audience. While obviously a chunk of the audience remembers, that’s still at least 20 years ago. That’s a long time. Any story about legacy demands the storyteller catch the audience up so they know what the characters know. Or at least know most of it.
I didn’t expect the story to go here but now that they are, maybe I’m expecting too much. Wrestling companies, especially this one, don’t usually criticize their history. Sure, they get flippant about some things they can joke about, like Kofi losing his accent, all of Kane’s personas, or other obviously silly creative choices.
But criticizing themselves for how they treated an entire gender? Or even how they mythologize their own story while ignoring the stuff that makes them look bad? Yeah, that seems like a lot.
That said, they opened the door. Asking them to walk through it seems fairly reasonable. Right?
Did @BRONSONISHERE just one-up @KingRicochet on #WWERaw? pic.twitter.com/48jWxa8fv2— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Bronson Reed challenged Ricochet because he believes the One and Only cost him a match against GUNTHER. He’s not entirely wrong, either.
I like when the person who talks that talk delivers on said talk. Bronson Reed did that and more in a very solid match with Ricochet. Ricochet made Bronson look like an agile monster who takes a licking and keeps ticking.
I like what they’re doing with Bronson and hope it continues. Him vs. GUNTHER might rock the world.
The Start of Your Ending
.@ZoeyStarkWWE does not care about your friendships.#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/7n2Sntjcc0— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Haitch sees big things in Zoey Stark. We got a video before her match, where she proudly proclaimed the time of heroes is over, and then she made pretty quick work of Candice LeRae. Even with Nikki Cross’ companionship, Candice proved no match for Zoey.
WWE often does a lot of telling and not showing with their storytelling, but that changed with Zoey. She said she’s here to destroy our favorites and before the bell rang, before she even took off her jacket, she attacked Candice.
That’s great presentation for someone WWE wants us to care about and take seriously.
Shut ‘Em Down
Will @CodyRhodes be able to make it to #WWENOC this Saturday or did @BrockLesnar just ruin The American Nightmare's chances?! #WWERaw pic.twitter.com/T296WY8jdZ— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Raw kicked off with Brock Lesnar jumping Cody Rhodes. There’s no other way to say it. Well, maybe there is, but that’s the most visceral way. During said jumping, Brock injured Cody’s arm to the point he needed a sling.
This is Brock Lesnar at his best. Continuing his animalistic rage from last week, Brock showed no remorse for the man who claims he wants to fight Brock.
Things got worse for Cody later in the show when Brock hit the ring and called Cody out.
From that point? Violence. All Violence. Brock trapped Cody’s injured arm in a Kimura Lock. With Adam Pearce and co. begging Brock to let go, Brock held on to Cody’s arm like younger me holding on to a Power Ranger toy. And he yelled “fight me!” with all the chaos happening.
Unhinged Brock is the man. Like I said last week, he brings a believability and reality to everything he does, which puts him head, shoulders, knees, and toes above the rest of the roster.
I don’t know if this means Cody wins at Night of Champions since a one-armed man beating Brock just feels wrong, but he already looks like a hero on the strength of stepping in the ring with this beast. Triple H showing up in Cody’s locker room during the show’s closing moments didn’t really tell us anything we don’t know: Cody needs a doctor, the arm is probably broken, and Cody’s the toughest cat in the world. While I always appreciate a Haitch sighting, this one fell flat for those reasons.
The man competed with a torn pec. We already know nothing stops him from getting in that ring outside of an act of God. So, yeah, we get it.
A determined @CodyRhodes still wants a fight with @BrockLesnar this Saturday at #WWENOC ... and even let @TripleH know! pic.twitter.com/EwfsP3cI1A— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
The only thing I see is maybe sowing seeds for Triple H to stop the match this weekend if it gets out of hand since he knows he’s not stopping Cody from showing up in Jeddah.
Dirt All By My Lonely
Will @ArcherofInfamy be the difference maker in this one or can @ShinsukeN bounce back against @FinnBalor on #WWERaw? pic.twitter.com/OXZcI65E28— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Shinsuke Nakamura needs a crew. That’s his story on Raw so far, and one progressed in his match with Finn Balor. The two got into it last week after the credits rolled and Shinsuke, despite the numbers against him with Damian Priest standing ringside, walked to the ring solo.
He felt the effects too. Damian interfered with a massive clothesline early on, and took Finn out of harm’s way while Shin loaded up his finisher.
Good story, good match, and the right man won as it relates to that story. When does Shinsuke reach his breaking point? Or does he find a way through all these factions as a man without a country?
Looks like @RaquelWWE just found her new tag team partner on #WWERaw! pic.twitter.com/uAMqO4DrKV— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Speaking of solo acts, Raquel Rodriguez started the night sans partner. After defeating Sonya Deville, but not before Sonya started with a lot of aggression, Raquel found a friend: Shotzi.
WWE gave us a very brief prelude to next week’s Fatal 4-Way for the women’s tag team championships, with Shotzi taking Liv’s place by Raquel’s side and showing no love or mercy towards Sonya & Chelsea Green.
That’s a good spot for Shotzi, who might finally make her mark on the red brand.
Hate Me Now
Hope @DomMysterio35 thanks @RheaRipley_WWE for that one!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/1aT5EfDoYN— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
“People fear what they don’t understand, hate what they can’t conquer...” Corey Graves called Nas, my second fav rapper of all time, a great American and quoted that line from “Hate Me Now.” He used it in reference to Dom and I don’t even care.
Dom won his match against Apollo Crews thanks to more Mami interference but it doesn’t matter because someone shouted out Nas on Raw.
Dom may become my favorite wrestler now on principle now.
Soul Brother #1
TAG TEAM PANDEMONIUM!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/TNFLbfoRQs— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2023
Matt Riddle stepped up as Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn’s partner against Imperium. Matt helped them during the show’s opening segment and continued into the main event. That’s all part of Matt doing everything he can to solidify his friendship with the tag champs.
The three vanquished the big bad villains and sent the crowd home happy. While it made the tag champs look good, it didn’t do much for getting me excited for GUNTHER’S Intercontinental title match against Mustafa Ali. In fact, the only time we saw Ali tonight came during an impassioned backstage promo that Brock promptly interrupted.
Not saying Ali needs a presence during this tag match, although that makes sense now that I write it, but showing those two bumping heads even once goes a long way.
A six-man tag between these men will deliver in the ring. But I never got the “why.” Last week, it looked like Imperium setting their sights on tag team gold and WWE teeing up a story of the champs beset on all sides with no breathing room. But Matt shows up this week and everything is cool.
Nothing against the match at all, but this hardly feels like the best way to end Raw before Night of Champions.
I enjoyed this episode for the most part. The main event didn’t do much for me and I think they missed some opportunities throughout the show’s second half. And I still wish they didn’t make it so obvious Seth Rollins is beating AJ Styles.
That said, the story with Lita and Trish intrigues me the most. If WWE just got out of their own way, they might have something truly memorable on their hands.