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Raw recap & reactions (Aug. 14, 2023): Briefcase full of blues

Judgment Day get back on the same page, Matt Riddle gets a new partner, and Trish Stratus & Becky Lynch have another false start on the latest Monday Night Raw.

Box in Hand

Pulp Fiction famously features a briefcase at its center for a few segments. What’s in the briefcase? Who knows. Well, Quentin Tarrantino knows, but the mystery remains for the rest of us. What we do know is that, and what matters, is that it means a lot to one Marcellus Wallace. And because it means everything to him, it takes even more gravity for everyone else in his world. People die, partnerships dissolve, and people change their entire life trajectory over this golden briefcase.

That’s where we are with Damian Priest’s briefcase. At least that’s what it looked like.

Judgment Day opened Raw as per usual with Finn notably absent. Rhea Ripley and Damian both took turns on the mic, with the latter airing Judgment Day business in front of the world, much to the former’s dismay. This isn’t particularly new, but Damian going against Rhea so publicly does smell like a new car. The big man’s frustrations clearly boiled over, which put Rhea’s frustrations front and center. She noted the group lost their edge; too many distractions and too much drama. Damian, for his part, just wants all the beef off the grill; he loves Finn but also wants the Prince to take responsibility for his own shortcomings.

Read into the next section to see how that all turned out, but just know Finn never showed. Instead, JD McDonagh walked to the ring. He spoke for his friend, but Judgment Day told him nah. JD’s motivation here remains foggy, at least for me. He obviously holds down his boy, Finn, but is it just that? Does he want in the Judgment Day? And if he wants in, does he want someone out? JD’s checkered history makes Damian rightly look at him side ways, and I do as well. He helped them big time during the main event when he repaid Sami Zayn in kind, which aided Judgment Day, but he still played an outsider.

Yes, Cody Rhodes beat Finn. Even worse, Damian and Finn got their timing with that briefcase all wrong. Again. Damian slid it into the ring but it went right under Finn’s legs and into Cody’s hands. You know the rest from there.

But Finn and Damian didn’t go to blows. Instead, they went off on Cody and showed a lot of Queen Latifah. Finn hit Cody with two coup de grace’s, Damian dropped him through a table, and everything seemed right with the world. JD watched the Judgment Day celebrate in the middle of the ring. They hugged, they smiled, they looked happy. For at least one night, Judgment Day regained their edge.

For how long though? The JD McDonnagh plot point looms large, and that briefcase is still the devil. I didn’t imagine WWE using the briefcase like this but I’m happy they are. On an uneventful show that felt like a three-hour lullaby at times, the show ended strong with some mystery.



Sami and JD wrestled a certain wrestling sub-genre: the injured wrestler vs. the fully healthy cat.

After that Judgment Day kick off that JD interrupted, Sami came through for a little revenge best served cold. Judgment Day let him handle his business since the Irish Ace clearly isn’t their man. Finn Balor’s appearance during the match juxtaposed that scene nicely. Oh, and also the fact that Finn stayed away when the group opened the show, but showed himself when JD got in trouble. Clearly letting his actions speak pretty damn loudly.

As for the match itself, Sami gutted out the win in a solid affair. JD looked good and showed why he’s ready for the big stage. It is weird that he lost to a man with one arm so decisively. That’s something I’ll never fully understand in wrestling because Sami losing doesn’t hurt him at all since, you know, he only has one good arm.

My disagreement with the finish aside, enjoyable opening match that set up more intrigue for the rest of the night.

It’s Not Right

Alpha Academy fought two-thirds of IMPERIUM this week. Chad Gable defeated Giovanni Vinci in the typical thing that happens when a challenger faces a champion with a couple underbosses. Giovanni put up a great fight and put in a lot of workout fell victim to a Chaos Theory that didn’t quite land perfectly. He actually landed a little awkwardly, but nothing damaging or life threatening.

What I loved is the character stuff IMPERIUM did before that match and after, because yes, there’s more.

Ludwig continues his advances on Maxxine. So much so that part of me thinks she might turn on her crew if they weren’t so popular together. He said the usual things about her not fitting in with Otis and Chad, but added a part about them both having perfect genetics. I wondered why Otis sat back while another man talked to his partner like that, and that point hit harder with Chad standing between Maxxine and Otis. But I got my answer: Maxxine speaks for herself and can handle her damn self. She slapped fire out Ludwig’s mouth. Great moment for her and for the group as a whole. Maxxine asserting herself not only in matches but in moments like that helps her along and makes Alpha Academy stronger.

As for the next thing, GUNTHER, incensed about Giovanni losing, challenged Otis right there on the spot. Otis accepted and, of course, took the L. Necessary because it gave us the ending where Chad stepped in after the match and defended his partner by German Suplexing the Ring General. Chad sent a message through his actions and it sets up a compelling championship match. GUNTHER felt that message and challenged his boys after they disappointed him. Sounds like the Intercontinental championship match is happening next week.

Is This Da Part

This thing with Drew McIntyre and Matt Riddle confuses me. Matt asked Drew for his hand in tag team partnership. Drew reluctantly accepted when he saw Matt step inside the ring by himself with the Viking Raiders. And they won. But I expected Matt on his back and a knife in Drew’s hand. That didn’t happen and I guess that’s a good thing? They hinted at a betrayal that never came and I wish it did because it became a nothing segment.

The best part happened backstage when The New Day approached them and challenged them with...folding chairs in hand. Fantastic. Everything they said after that didn’t even matter but just know they came with folding chairs.

Double Hockey Sticks

Rhea Ripley did what she does against Indi Hartwell, but got a taste of her own medicine afterward. Candice LeRae and Indi double teamed her for a little payback for how Rhea treated them last week.

Okay, cool.

Favor For a Favor

What did Shinsuke Nakamura whisper in Seth Rollins’ ear? That’s the other news from their standoff in the ring. The big news? Seth gave Shinsuke the championship match he wants and Shinsuke laid the champ out for his kindness. When is the match happening? Who knows. That’s up to Shin and he didn’t say for what I can only assume are basketball reasons.

I don’t really know what to say other than that. I do hope the whisper becomes a thing though and not just thrown aside next week.


Yeah, this wasn’t great. All this build towards this big match between Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch and we got...a double count out. Steel cage match at Payback I’m sure. Fine, whatever, but not like this. You keep them off SummerSlam for this big match in Trish’s home country...then do that. I’m over it.

I didn’t even get into the way Piper Niven crowned herself Chelsea Green’s new partner. It’s lazy and unimaginative. That mirrors my feelings for most of this show. Nothing besides the things I noted truly moved me and the show just lacked momentum. For the most part, it held serve and lacked excitement.

What say you, Cagesiders?

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