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Raw recap & reactions (June 12, 2023): Where’s the real Finn Balor?

Finn Balor makes a challenge, Rhea Ripley gets a new belt, and Matt Riddle gets his revenge on Monday Night Raw.

Bring the Noise

We almost got a moment between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. You know, the one I feel like I wrote about weeks ago. The Kansas crowd saw fit that Finn got no words in edge wise, which seemingly threw him off. While I’m all in on the crowd enjoying themselves when they pay good money for those seats, there are times when their participation interrupts the television show that is wrestling. And hearing something Finn said sat in his stomach for seven years catches my attention a lot more than a crowd singing Seth’s song.

Yeah, Finn said something. He talked about his injuries from that night seven years ago in Brooklyn and how it derailed his career. He’s not mad about the injuries though, he’s just mad at everything Seth took from him. Seth robbed his momentum.

I think in a different environment, those words strung together in a compelling narrative not interrupted by a crowd and with no pauses, along with a more serious approach from Seth, probably hit harder. But as is, they came off as whining. And Seth responded as such when he said he got better and Finn got bitter. Within the context of that crowd and Finn interacting with them while Seth smiled and laughed, yeah, he looks incredibly bitter. That’s not the look I like for Finn and I’m not entirely sure it’s what WWE intended either.

To clarify, I’m referring to the optics and not to Seth’s words. Seth calling him bitter is fine because he’s the face so of course. Seth saying he wants the old Finn back because that guy has a chance while this new guy doesn’t stand even half a chance also works. That feels like a better route for the next few weeks than simply painting Finn as a bitter guy who never got over the past.

Talking about how he probably lost his edge or even some of his focus though? I’m into that. There’s some sophisticated storytelling chances there if WWE applies the same love and care to their rivalry as they do anything involving the Bloodline.

What stopped Finn from reaching that precipice again? Why did he go back to NXT? Why did he wait seven years to say it with his chest? These are great in-universe questions that I hope this feud addresses. I’m not entirely sure they will since we only have a couple weeks and Seth’s current iteration rarely leaves space for any seriousness.

Hope springs eternal though. But I hope the story plays out in front of a less raucous crowd. Or, at least, WWE has a backup plan because everyone seemed flat footed this week.


Tha Crossroads

First off, shoutout to WWE for finally rectifying this Women’s championship situation once and for all. Rhea Ripley is now the Women’s World champ. The belt looks like Seth Rollins’ belt and all is right in the world.

Speaking of all is right, Dom vs. Cody Rhodes at Money in the Bank is official. Dom continues getting incredible heat and he knows what to do with it. The Kansas crowd cheered Cody harder simply because Dom exists. That’s every heel’s number one job and he succeeds with flying colors every single time. That match in front of a hot London crowd? Sign me up.

That opening segment between Cody, Rhea, and Dom Dom devolved into a Miz sneak attack on Cody. Which led right into the opening match between Miz and Cody.

Solid. Nothing more nothing less. Cody started on top, Miz made it interesting in the middle, but Cody got the W.

Oh, and Cody noted Brock Lesnar’s lack of juevos. Something tells me the Beast won’t like that at all.

Bet Ya Man Can’t (Triz)

I got a little nervous when Zoey Stark got into her promo against Becky Lynch. She took it to 11 way too early and that usually play into Becky’s hands. Zoey sounded like a badly written comic book villain and Becky, like me, looked shocked she took it there. BUT, once Zoey threw down the fight gauntlet, Becky switched into fight mode. So that saved her. Also, the point about Becky blowing up because Nia Jax broke her nose is a tired note already. Trish saying it worked but making Zoey say it truly makes her sound less like her own person and more like Trish’s lackey.

As for the match itself? Once again, solid. Chelsea Green isn’t presented as someone on Becky’s level but she fared well here. While the match never hit the level that Becky vs. Sonya Deville achieved last week, we got something serviceable that kept Becky hot while Zoey looked on perched from a ladder.


Damian Priest and Matt Riddle killed it this week. I’m not surprised. Neither are you. Damian’s on a serious tear right now and Matthew proved the perfect dance partner. Both men presented equally in a back and forth affair, although the ending surprised me.

WWE set up the idea that Matt might win the briefcase and challenge GUNTHER. That’s not only different for a briefcase winner but makes sense because GUNTHER called him out. That disrespect makes Riddle choosing GUNTHER over Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins pretty logical because he is, in fact, choosing GUNTHER and not the Intercontinental Championship. I can’t imagine anyone liking when standing down from that type of energy.

In short, I expected a Matt win.

BUT, Damian winning sets up more intrigue with Judgment Day as a rift between Dame and Finn Balor looks like a thing. We saw Finn looking very pensive and contemplative this week. We also saw Dame throw the Prince some side eye. After Finn secured his shot at Seth, Dame kept it real with his man: End all this at MitB because it’s causing tension between them.

GUNTHER and Ludwig Kaiser did beat down Matt after this match, “picking the bones” as Dame put it. I foresee revenge. Or, as Doc Holiday put it, a reckoning.


Ricochet vs. Bronson Reed was never about the match. All the back and forth sowed seeds for an eventual three-way brawl between the two men and Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke sauntered ringside and sat at the commentary table. Bronson did what he does best, which means choosing violence, and involved Shinsuke. Shinsuke, tired of Bronson’s crap, attacked the big man and gave Ricochet the L.

Obviously, Ricochet hated that and went back and forth with Shinsuke for a bit. Only a bit because Bronson interrupted their shouting match with more violence. He set up Shinsuke for a Tsunami but Ricochet intervened. Then Shinsuke, with Ricochet’s help, hit the damndest Superplex ever and dropped the big Aussie on his back in the middle of the ring.

But Ricochet and Shinsuke clearly aren’t feeling each other. Ricochet demanded a rematch with Bronson but Bronson’s busy with Shinsuke next week. Shin and Ricochet probably trade blows before MitB, although I think it’s best holding off until the match itself. Let their beef spill over into that match and serve as the reason neither man wins. Then we get them in some ridiculous match at SummerSlam.

Cheat on You

Raquel Rodriguez lost her tag championship with Liv Morgan on the shelf but WWE keeps telling us about her greatness. Example? See this week where it took both Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey to defeat her in a one-on-one match against Shayna. The match didn’t last long but it got the point across. Didn’t do much for me though.

Teacher, Teacher

Chad Gable is a great teacher and Maxxine vs. Valhalla gets one step closer. That’s all you need to know here. That and Maxxine executed an Arm Drag against Valhalla outside the ring during Chad’s match with Erik. The same Arm Drag Chad executed against Erik during the match and the same one he demonstrated to her earlier in the night.

Chad got the win with a Sunset Flip but the real reason for the season was Maxxine and Valhalla.

Eye for a Eye

Couple things I wondered during this week’s main event: How do they protect GUNTHER and when does Matt Riddle show up?

WWE killed two birds with one stone during the third act of a very good main event. Ludvig, the legal man in the ring, fell victim to all the chaos taking place outside the ring when Matt showed up with several WWE officials surrounding him. GUNTHER took his eyes off the tag team championship prize and made a beeline for the Original Bro. Matt fought through WWE’s keystone cops and DDT’d the Ring General on the floor.

That took him out, provided an opening for a red hot Sami Zayn, who finished the match with a Blue Thunder Bomb and retained the Undisputed Tag Team Championships for he and Kevin Owens.

Hopefully this means KO & Sami are done with Imperium, although I’m not sure where they go next at this juncture. GUNTHER’s trajectory is much clearer. He started a fight with Matt and now it’s time to cash that check his mouth wrote. I love the passion and aggressiveness Matt shows here, so I look forward to all the violence their eventual match brings.

I liked Raw this week. Didn’t love it. We got several solid matches and two really good matches sandwiched around okay storytelling. I still lament that segment between Seth and Finn because I refuse to believe that’s what WWE had in mind. But if they did? Whew. Lord help us all.

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