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Raw recap & reactions (Jul. 3, 2023): So judgmental

The Beast returns, Maxxine wrestles, and Damian Priest is close but no cigar on this week’s Monday Night Raw.

It’s Mine

How did we get to Dirty Dom vs. Seth Rollins? It all starts at the start.

Seth opened the show to more adulation than Jesus entering Jerusalem. And before he got to his point on the mic, Cody Rhodes’ music played!

Props to Cody for making that young woman’s year when he gave her his belt. She broke down crying and it’s one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. It truly warmed my heart. But I’m also a sap.

Before Cody even got into it, Brock Lesnar finally answered Cody’s challenge. The two fought, Seth left the ring, and Cody actually left Brock reeling with a Cody Cutter. Good action between these two as it shows Cody still knows where to push Brock and beat him.

Seth went for take two with all that drama over, and he found himself interrupted again.

Judgment Day entered the fray minus one member. One guess who didn’t show.

Damian Priest and Seth teased their eventual match, but the challenge this week came from another Judgment Day member: Rhea Ripley...on Dom’s behalf.

Although, let’s be clear, Rhea wanted to challenge him but her match with Nattie occupied her free time. Seth understands how the briefcase works and knew this smelled like a setup. But he took the bait anyway because everyone hates Dom.

Dom’s getting better in the ring and still knows how to take a punch with the best of them. That said, this main event between really didn’t concern Dom; it came back to Damian and Finn Balor.

In fact, knowing the Finn thing loomed over this match actually kept me intrigued because i cared about how he showed up and what happened as a result. Needless to say, although I will, Dom didn’t beat Seth. Shocking, I know. Damian interfered and Seth won by DQ. But then Damian pounded on Seth. He beat him up in the ring, out the ring, and set the stage for a cash-in. Dom and Rhea encouraged him to make it happen, with Dom playing head cheerleader. The fact Damian hesitated told us all what to expect.

Right before Damian got in the ring with the briefcase, Finn showed up and nailed Seth in the back of the head. Finn and Damian bickered, with both men now blaming the other for their missed shots and bad timing.

Dom tried playing peacemaker but caught a Pedigree for his troubles and Seth walked away as his two rivals argued amongst each other. Rhea consoled her man and tried focusing her two friends, who just kept going at one another.

Props to WWE for sowing seeds for this story weeks ago and letting them sprout accordingly. These shows under Triple H aren’t always the most exciting, but his devotion to storytelling wins me over every single time.

I legitimately understand both Finn and Damian’s perspective. They both have legitimate gripes with the other and fighting each other sounds like the only solution. This is professional wrestling after all. But where does that leave Judgment Day? And how does this fissure between them affect Rhea and Dom?

Damian said Finn is making this all about him and not Judgment Day, but one can argue Damian played that card first at Money in the Bank. The only two people who really care about the group right now are Rhea and Dom Dom, so maybe those two go do their own thing while their group mates work out their problems with one another. I do not want Judgment Day to end right now; it feels too soon. But a little drama never hurt anyone, especially when steeped in character like this particular brand.

As an aside, shoutout to the cat in the aisle seat wearing an Erol’s shirt and holding a “Mean Streets of Gaithersburg” sign. As a Maryland native and resident, I got the homage and the joke. As someone who used to work in Gaithersburg, the only thing mean about those streets is the commute.


Devil’s Pie

The best moment from Damian Priest vs. Shinsuke Nakamura came when Shinsuke got in Rhea Ripley’s face. The King of Strong Style mocked Rhea, flirted with her a bit (I think) and offended her oh so much. The way she went from her usual tough self to actually clutching her pearls made me cackle. I mean, look at it!

As for the match itself, Shinsuke and Damian put on a solid bout that built on Damian’s momentum. Shinsuke put up a fight, almost got the W on several occasions, but Damian proved he’s too good at the moment. That’s smart booking for both men but certainly for the the cat holding the briefcase.

Give It Up Fast

Well, that didn’t go the way I assumed. Shayna Baszler hit the ring after Baltimore greeted Ronda Rousey with boos. Shayna got on the mic and said she speaks for everyone in that she’s tired of seeing Ronda try to speak on the mic. Baltimore erupted. The hits kept coming as she ran down the favoritism passed Ronda’s way, and she even apologized to everyone for bringing Ronda into WWE.

What looked like a heel turn a few days ago now seems like a face turn. I doubt it’s just Baltimore on Shayna’s side so I’m curious how WWE plays this going forward. The two got into it after Shayna knocked Ronda down several pegs on the mic, and it almost ended with Shayna putting Ronda in the ankle lock. Ronda escaped but Shayna came back with more fire and kicked that woman square upside her head. I laughed.

Shayna walked away while Ronda yelled at her to come back and face her.

So. Much. Weird. Energy.

Respect Mine

Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville earned the champs’ respect this week. The two Karens participated in tag team turmoil match for a number one contender spot and pretty much dominated. Indi Hartwell & Candice LeRae? Dominated them. Tegan Nox &...Dana Brooke? Yup, obliterated them. And they ran through the newly minted team of Emma & Nikki Cross (Possibly only because Nikki spent more time worried about Candice’s health than the match). Kayden Carter & Katana Chance gave them an actual match, almost beat them too. But Sonya & Candice showed their smarts and willingness to play underhanded.

The one issue I have here is the Women’s tag division really needs some stories and development. The crowd seemed not to care and I get it. And before someone says they get development on The Bump, socials, or something else ancillary, that’s supplemental to television, not the other way around.

The Art of Disrepekinzation

While Chelsea & Sonya earned some respect, Becky Lynch showed none to Zoey Stark & Trish Stratus. Trish showed up in a face mask, typical heel move, and the two exchanged insults as they usually do. Becky wants a fight and Trish said nah. So next week, it’s Becky and Zoey. I expect plenty shenanigans.

As an aside, is Zoey’s logo just an homage or copy of the Z Fighters’ logo from Dragon Ball Z? Every time I see it that’s what I think of. Or maybe it’s Zyuranger logo. Something is familiar and I need someone to tell me if I’m bugging.

Thank You

It’s all about Maxxine. That’s the reason Alpha Academy vs. The Viking Raiders existed this week and she delivered. Did she do a lot? Of course not. A few arm drags, a vertical suplex, and a very dope looking Worm. She pinned Valhalla with a pretty Sunset Flip and got the W for her team. They celebrated like she won the olympics and the crowd ate up every single second.

Surprise Party

Nattie tried a very different tactic for her third Women’s World Championship match against Rhea Ripley: sneak attack.

Rhea bombarded Nattie twice in a row so it only makes sense that she turn the table and put the shoe on the other foot. And whew, did she give Rhea a scare. These two put on my favorite match of the night and really told a story worthy of a championship. Nattie kept pushing and rarely let up. Even when Rhea found her footing, Nattie withstood so much punishment and dished out her own. Nattie’s resilience only angered Rhea more but that mattered not to Nattie.

Just watch the match. It’s worth your time if you like this thing called wrestling.

Rhea attacked Nattie post match because of course, which elicited a save from Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan. I expected a cash-in tease from IYO SKY but that didn’t happen. I’m actually disappointed we got nothing from IYO here. We got it post match, however. Just an (un)pleasant exchange between IYO and Rhea.

Warrior Song

Drew McIntyre, fresh off returning at Money in the Bank, showed up at Raw this week after Matt Riddle made quick work of Giovanni Vinci.

Drew continues his chase for GUNTHER and the Intercontinental champ, at least thus far, shows no sign that he wants the static. That will come but next week, it’s Matthew & Drew vs. Imperium.

A fun and solid show with an intriguing main event angle, and a lot of set up for next week: Ciampa vs. Miz in a No DQ match, Ricochet and Logan Paul doing...something, and a tag match. But the real story is what happens with Judgment Day and Seth Rollins. I can’t call it but I can’t wait to see it.

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