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Raw recap & reactions (June 5, 2023): Whose story is this really?

Seth Rollins defends his championship, NXT’s longest reigning tag team champs make their debut, and everybody really hates Dom on Monday Night Raw.

Took the Money to the Plugs House

Last week, I pondered Seth Rollins’ reign with WWE’s newly minted championship. Specifically, I wondered how WWE might create a story that elevates it to the Undisputed Universal Championship’s level. Maybe that story boils down to Seth putting on dope matches weekly with simple feuds. That obviously misses The Bloodline saga’s inherent drama but I get it.

But WWE hit something this week that made me wonder if Seth’s story isn’t really his story after all. Maybe Seth’s story is actually about Finn Balor’s ultimate redemption.

I know that sounds crazy but walk with me for a bit.

Seth opened Raw with his usual opulence and flamboyance. But he got serious for a moment and gave props to the Judgment Day. Yes, even Dom Dom. Seth singled out Damian Priest since Damian accepted the open challenge invitation. Damian heard his name, so of course ha and Finn hit the ring. During the exchange between two-fourths of Judgment Day and the champ, Seth threw several shots at Finn.

After telling Damian to leave his friends in the locker room and face him one-on-one, Seth noted that Finn doesn’t do well in fights against him and jabbed him in that shoulder Seth injured many moons ago. And when Damian talked about Seth going down in history as one of the shortest reigning champs ever, Seth remarked that either way, his reign lasted longer than Finn’s.

Ouch. Double ouch.

And during the very impressive main event between Damian and Seth, the champ hit Damian with a barricade bomb, which “injured” Damian’s shoulder for the remainder of their match. Stuff like that doesn’t happen accidentally in wrestling. It’s also no accident Finn showed his face after that spot, disobeying his partner’s wishes, and injected himself into the match. Ultimately, Finn’s presence meant nothing to the match as Damian’s shoulder hindered him from covering Seth quick enough after South of Heaven, and it stopped him from executing the Razor’s Edge. Seth saw his opening, hit a Stomp, and the ref held his hand high.

But then there’s Finn. Finn approached Seth as the credits rolled, making it clear he wants next.

It’s more than that though, right? Damian questioned Finn’s presence at ringside and while I don’t believe a Judgment Day breakup happens any time soon, there’s clearly a story there. Why did Finn show up when his friend asked him not to do so? Why didn’t he answer him? We know the answer to those questions but I want them verbalized on television. Finn’s issues with Seth run deep. That Seth makes light of Finn’s career mishaps and goads him for an unfortunate accident only twists the knife even more.

And Finn never got that monkey off his back. He not only never defeated Seth, but he lost his chance at redemption a few weeks ago when Seth defeated him in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament.

Triple ouch.

Of course Finn breaks his word for that; he’s emotional and not thinking. It’s easy empathizing with Finn. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Seth comes off as the bad guy in their exchanges simply because he relishes the fact he injured Finn and cut his dreams incredibly short. I know Seth isn’t the typical good guy; he’s still a bit of a head case. But that felt cruel and only made me cheer for Finn during their confrontation this week.

Whether it’s a match in the near future or one several months from now, Finn needs a W over Seth for that championship. WWE never really righted that wrong from 2016. And by that, I mean they rarely let Finn show some true emotion and demand a rematch or do everything in his power that might get his championship back. Wrestling works best when the wrestlers act like human beings.

I can think of nothing more human than Finn desiring a chance at knocking that smile off Seth’s face and holding that championship high. Not for the Judgment Day but for him.

Then again, maybe this is still Seth’s story. WWE might see this as Seth being a true babyface and hey, it’s just another lost chance for Finn. But that version of the story doesn't have the juice that the other version has in buckets.

Do the right thing, WWE.


Mo Money, Mo Problems

How do we present Sonya Deville as a credible threat, advance Becky Lynch’s beef with Trish Stratus & Zoey Stark, and make the audience question if Becky wins this MitB qualifying match?

WWE found a way with a fun opening match between Becky and Sonya! No knock on them but given Sonya’s booking lately, I didn’t expect anything this long or compelling. I expected a Trish & Zoey sighting and we got it. My only issue is they didn’t get physical with Becky. Your arch nemesis stands outnumbered in a match for her shot at your division’s prized championship. Go make her life miserable! Although one might argue them lying in wait now means they strike in London when it hurts more.

But Sonya looked good. They booked her, and Chelsea Green, as more than a cakewalk for The Man. Becky worked for her spot and that’s only fitting for a match where nothing is given.

Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours

Kevin Owens and GUNTHER put in work. A match that evolved from a backstage argument between the tag champs and IMPERIUM turned into a high water mark for the rest of the show and possibly the rest of the week. Brilliant top to bottom. GUNTHER dominated early, KO made an incredible comeback, IMPERIUM got involved in the third act, and GUNTHER got the cheap win thanks to his boys. KO took his eyes off the prize and fell victim to the dreaded roll up.

No shame in KO taking this loss in this way, and GUNTHER keeps his streak alive.

This also tied into Matthew Riddle’s story as well. During a backstage interview, Riddle detested the fact GUNTHER takes shortcuts and has help. In fact, he believes without that help, GUNTHER isn’t champion.

Looks like we might see how that works because Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci approached him and Matty Ice lost it. He rarely shows that aggression and anger, so IMPERIUM clearly hit a nerve. Matt possibly took Giovanni out of commission with an ankle lock. If so, that might bring us one step closer to GUNTHER going it alone vs. Matt. I’m curious how WWE plays that. Is GUNTHER unstoppable because he has help or is he just unstoppable?

Queens Get the Money

I love Kayden Carter & Katana Chance. We got an announcement video this week from NXT’s longest reigning Women’s tag champs and I thought “Oh, cool. Maybe next week or later this month.” Yup, don’t take me to Vegas because they showed up this week. Specifically, they challenged the Women’s tag champs!

I initially hated them challenging the tag match because I doubted a title change. And while my heart wishes they got the championships, I knew better. That said, they showed why they belong on Raw and did everything they did well on Tuesday nights in Florida. They even hit their finisher and if not for a very close save from Shayna Baszler, we have new champions.

They looked great in their debut, took the champs to the limit, and came within an eyelash of winning championships on their first night. Props to the queens for showing and proving.

On another note, Kevin Patrick is having a rough go as Raw’s lead commentator. I don’t want to kick the guy when he’s down though so I’ll just leave it at that.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Murda, Mo’ Homicide

Bronson Reed is a killer. Yeah, yeah, we got a match between Ricochet and Shinsuke Nakamura. But Bronson cut it short. He hates the they’re in MitB and he’s not. So yeah, choose violence.

I prefer that ending to one that sees either Shinsuke or Ricochet taking a pin before July in London. And Bronson is a violent anarchist. So yeah, blow up everyone to get what you want.

Money Talks

Zoey Stark made the right choice. She aligned with Trish, got into a MitB qualifier match, and Trish helped her defeat Nattie. That’s really all there is to that. Continuing the story and getting Zoey and Becky in the same match at a big event.

Money Maker

Miz TV had a lot going this week. But the headline is Dom Dom thinks Cody is a deadbeat dad. Why? Dom heard Cody challenge Brock Lesnar and all the cities Cody listed. All that time chasing Brock means less time with Cody’s daughter. And Dom just can’t sit by...nope, can’t type that without laughing.

Dom, Rhea, and Cody shined in this segment. Dom got to play the Rey Mysterio tune, Rhea intimidated everyone, and Dom looked awful hiding behind his woman after slapping fire out Cody’s mouth.

The one touch that rubbed me wrong? Cody hitting Miz with this cast. I get it, Miz is a jerk and seeing him humiliated always gets a laugh. But it looked like Cody hitting Miz because he couldn’t hit Dom. Rather than go after the man who hit him, he sucker punched the guy who simply instigated.

Other than that, fun segment.

Raw kinda rocked the world this week. Not a perfect show but interesting story progression, a good opening match, great match between KO and GUNTHER, a tag team debut, some fun backstage segments, and a good closer that ended on a cliffhanger.

Consider me sports entertained. Let’s keep this momentum going for the rest of June!

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