Bring the Pain
.@FinnBalor waited seven years to do that!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/uOcxZa1Qc3— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
The last time Finn Balor and Seth Rollins squared off for a brand new WWE championship, Finn shocked the world. Finn became the inaugural Universal championship for about 22 hours thanks to an injury Finn sustained in that match at Seth’s hands.
On the other side of that coin, Seth never forgot the fact Finn defeated him at SummerSlam seven (!!) years ago, so he entered this match with redemption on his mind.
Maybe I did it here, maybe I did it amongst friends, but I shared so many thoughts over the years about Finn’s attitude once he came back from that injury. As a character, he never demanded his rematch.
He never even seemed that bothered by the fact that he held the championship for less than a day. Finn got robbed, straight up and down. No diss to Seth at all because things happen in that ring, but the fact still remains.
During this match, Finn showed just a lot of bother. He Power Bombed Seth in the barricade, then asked Seth how he liked that since that same move put Finn out of commission all those moons ago.
Finn picked on Seth’s injured shoulder, and showed a viciousness that he rarely exhibits as a member of Judgment Day. Even reminded Seth exactly what his name is in case he forgot.
Seth’s injury made any outcome feasible. Finn defeating a one-armed Seth feels like a heel move but it also gets him one step closer to redemption. Seth coming out on top while nursing an injury gives him a lot of juice as a face. Who doesn’t like a good guy overcoming the odds?
THIS IS AWE-SOME! #WWERaw pic.twitter.com/aiaacsoE84— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
Seth gutted out a win with a Stomp after the first attempt failed. This makes a lot of sense because Seth is incredibly over and it’s not a bad move going with him as an inaugural champ or at least putting him in the match for said championship. But I still think Finn getting the title is the better story.
Besides enhancing Judgment Day, it exorcises those demons that spouted all those years ago. Finn as a possessed heel defending his championship on a revenge tour just sounds fantastic.
I’m not down on Seth winning for the reasons I said, but I can’t help but think WWE missed an opportunity. Hopefully they circle back to this story one way or another and give Finn a chance to right some wrongs. Even if it doesn’t come at Seth’s expense.
3 The Hard Way
This match is !#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/i8X8DBL2Pj— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
I’m pretty sure most astute viewers picked Seth Rollins in the triple threat featuring Seth, Damian Priest, and Shinsuke Nakamura. “How” he got the got the win remained the question.
Well, they answered it with a really dope opening tournament match and a great Raw opener.
We got each man squaring off one-on-one, along with some psychology in the form of Damian’s hurt left leg. In fact, one might argue that if not for that leg, Damian wins the match. The leg gave way when he put Seth in prime position for a top rope Razor’s Edge. Shinsuke focused on that same leg and tried making Damian submit. But with Shinsuke focused on Damian’s gimpy leg, he forgot about Seth.
Seth crashed on top of Shinsuke with an incredible Frog Splash (seriously, the man changed directions mid-air) and then finished the King of Strong Style with a Pedigree. Not the greatest looking Pedigree, mind you, but he got the job done.
Props to them for protecting Damian here. After his match with Bad Bunny at Backlash, and just all his work with Judgment Day over the past few months, he deserves all the good things.
Who’s the Man
Who ya got??#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/z32nnr9cKV— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
I wasn’t sure when Brock Lesnar might show his face this week. And yes, if you watched Raw, you know that’s indeed a loaded statement.
Would he make Cody Rhodes’ life miserable during his match against Finn Balor and Miz, or attack him if Cody faced Seth later?
Turns out we got the former and whew, we got a lot of it.
Cody hit Finn with a Cross Rhodes, then hit Miz with not one, not two, but three Cross Rhodes. Right before the ref finished the three-count, Brock appeared in all black and snatched Cody out the ring quicker than my moms used to snatch me out of Toys R’ Us if I forgot my home training.
No DQs in triple threat matches, meaning the match continued. Finn finished off Miz with the coup de grace, while Cody felt two F-5’s, including one through the commentary table.
Brock is a legitimate scary human being. He showed up with stitches in his forehead and a black left eye, directing all his anger at Cody and the audience at home.
IT'S BROCK LESNAR!!!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/g3co6NRZrA— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
I mean, look at it!
Brock wants Cody at Night of Champions. As Corey Graves said, Cody focused so much on “finishing the story” that he didn’t finish the job that is the Beast.
Dope match but everything with Brock made it better because it felt real. Brock remains one of the few cats on the roster who makes all of this feel like reality. When he said he wants a fight with Cody, part of me thinks they might just find an alley in Saudi Arabia and get it on right there.
That’s what separates Brock from everyone else in WWE. That’s why he gets the big money and why he comes and goes as he pleases.
As a footnote, Miz once again approached Shinsuke for a partnership after they both missed the mark during the tournament. Shinsuke declined, of course, and instead challenged Miz to a one-on-one match next week. `
Guess Who’s Back?
WHO'S YOUR DADDY, JACKSONVILLE?#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/MYiTBKv15Y— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
“Go Ireland!” Of all the things Trish Stratus said during her heel promo this week, that made me laugh the hardest. Trish rocked a t-shirt with Becky Lynch missing poster plastered on the front. She even handed out missing posters in the locker room.
After one perfectly timed fake out Trish played on the audience, Becky actually returned. She got physical with Trish, because of course, and we know an eventual match is on the horizon this summer.
But more great work from Trish. The aforementioned “Go Ireland,” messing with the crowd, working in a story about her daughter and Becky’s daughter, and a perfect delivery.
Ill Street Blues
#SmackDown Women's Champion @RheaRipley_WWE encountered some new arrivals on #WWERaw ... and so did @DomMysterio35! pic.twitter.com/sfGXzbnfzw— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
Look, any segment with Dom gets an appropriately referenced prison-related rap song.
Anyway, Rhea Ripley squashed Dana Brooke in a match Dana asked for because she has a death wish.
Dana got in one shotgun dropkick but that was pretty much it. After getting the W, Rhea continued decimating Dana, which brought out...Nattie!
Nattie’s back and wants her title shot but also stood up to a bully.
Setting up Rhea’s next true challenger (Nattie) is the only reason this match happened. I preferred an actual match for Rhea and more than what we got. I suppose they think Dana is a sentimental figure, and she can be, but there’s no real investment since we have no reason to invest.
The General (Salute Me)
Wonder how @Gunther_AUT will feel about this...#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/Y6RCR8hYRl— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
First off: GUNTHER is blessing Raw with his presence next week. We learned as much from the rest of Imperium as they shouted it to everyone within earshot.
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens didn’t care, plus they Giovanni & Ludvig interrupted them. So, yeah, a match ensued.
And it was a fun one! Imperium lost but they hung with the tag champs and showed they belong in the same ring as them. That’s the best we can ask for in this type of impromptu match that introduces a team to an audience who might not watch wrestling on Friday nights.
How will GUNTHER feel about the L?
The Second Coming
Where's @WWEGable when ya need him?!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/J391D4hyuI— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
“This is fine.” That’s what I thought as the cameras showed us Sonya Deville & Chelsea Green walking around backstage with a petition. But then they ran into The Way. For those who don’t watch NXT, that’s Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano, Dexter Lumis (kinda), and former NXT Women’s champion Indi Hartwell.
While this makeshift family of two parents, their grown daughter, and her psychotic husband possibly got on Karen & Sonya’s bad side, Johnny let it slip that “he” is coming back soon. Candice isn’t enthused and Dexter is on the fence.
Who is the he? It’s gotta be Ciampa right? No way Austin Theory comes back to this group for a couple reasons, but Ciampa fits right in with his former best friend and tag partner.
#WWERaw has been put on notice.@ZoeyStarkWWE has arrived. pic.twitter.com/5RT7NkerW2— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
Zoey Stark picked a fight with Nikki Cross. It’s her first night on Raw so why not? If you missed Zoey on NXT, picking fights is pretty much her thing.
Not only did she pick a fight, but she won it as well.
Another short women’s match that I wish went longer. It’s great they made Zoey look dope in her debut but Nikki deserves a little better than that. Right? And the division as a whole does too.
Will the duo of @DomMysterio35 & #SmackDown Women's Champion @RheaRipley_WWE be too much for @AustinCreedWins tonight on #WWERaw? pic.twitter.com/nr5vUiaiuT— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
Dom is the most hated man in WWE. Well, on camera anyway. That man has enough heat to power my entire county. Dom Dom picked a fight with Xavier Woods when the latter interrupted Mami’s backstage interview. Xavier challenged Dom to a match and Mami accepted on his behalf.
Dom gets better in the ring every time I see him, combining his great character work with the in-ring action.
Dom picking up the W makes sense here because they need to ride this Dom thing until the wheels fall off. They protected Xavier via Rhea interfering and Dom having a fist full of tights on his roll up pin.
Does this set up a longer feud with New Day and Judgment Day? Xavier didn’t look like a man ready to just move on and let bygones be the thing they normally are.
If there’s one negative criticism for the segment, it’s that Nattie didn’t show up. She already poked her nose in Rhea’s business once, why not do it again?
The Choice is Yours
Has this ever happened to you?#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/5CaWwGEBVn— WWE (@WWE) May 9, 2023
Otis has a decision to make pretty soon. The big man wrestled Mustafa Ali and found himself on the wrong end of a butt whooping. He has Chad Gable in one ear and Maxxine in another, which confuses him and, more importantly, distracts him.
I thoroughly enjoyed Raw this week. The tournament matches rocked the world. stories moved along, we got some debuts, and a big return. I wish the women’s matches went longer and we didn’t get as many recaps of past action, but there wasn’t a lot of fat on this episode. For a three hour show, that’s sometimes all I ask.