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Raw recap & reactions (Sept. 11, 2023): An Uso without a country

Friend or Foe ‘98

The ballad of Jey Uso continues this week. Kevin Owens wasted no time making his presence felt and his feelings known. And I’m thrilled they got this out the way quickly. After Sami Zayn’s warm welcome last week, I wondered how this might complicated things with KO. While he seems okay with Sami’s position, KO has no love for Jey. That said, he related to Jey’s circumstances. Much like a later moment with a different wrestler, Kevin kept it real about his past transgressions and complexity. He understands that no sins go unpunished and he certainly paid his dues for his. But he also informed Jey that a lot of the locker room wants the former Bloodline member out of Raw immediately.

Yeah, about that.

The Judgment Day’s offer still stands and they spent most of this early segment, and the rest of the night, selling themselves to Jey. They actually worked like demons in horror movies: isolate the main character and leave them no other choice.

It started with the impromptu match that saw Jey team with a very reluctant KO against Finn Balor & Damian Priest.

Jey & KO got along and worked well together until the former accidentally kicked the latter in the mouth. Now, it looked inadvertent even while Jey ponders Judgment Day’s offer. In fact, my one criticism for this opening match was the lack of tension on that front. It didn’t take anything from the match and obviously they still got to the main point, but I’m always down for more logical suspense.

But after the kick and KO taking the pin, Jey tried explaining what happened. But his track record works against him. Would KO or anyone trust his word? The Judgment Day might and they made sure they let him know that they’re fans too. Even after that match, they want him on their side. And still, Jey seems open to the idea. He’s making too many enemies at the moment, and we still don’t know who SmackDown gets as compensation, meaning that enemy list won’t get shorter any time soon.

I don't know if Judgment Day works with Jey and on the real, the man is crazy over as a face right now that it seems silly putting him with anyone else. But I’m curious how long they play this out. And yeah, I’m interested in seeing him as part of that group, even if it’s for a few weeks.


Return of the Funky Man

Nia Jax is back and in full effect. And she wants the Women’s Heavyweight champion.

How did we get here? Well, it started with the championship main event match between Rhea Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez. For those who missed it, this served as Raquel’s rematch after Dirty Dom did dirty things at Payback. Adam Pearce banned Dom from ringside, which left Rhea all by her lonesome. How would she handle Raquel without Dom?

They booked the match perfectly at the start. Raquel showed power and aggression early while putting Rhea on her, back. Rhea looked human and confused. While I never saw a title change happening, I enjoyed seeing Rhea look vulnerable.

Eventually, the champ found her footing and it became an excellent back and forth contest between two powerhouses that rocked my world. Rhea even pulled off a Frog Splash, complete with a top rope shimmy. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below. Just reminds the world again that her relationship with Dom is one of the best things going today.

This is the second match on this week’s card that deserves your attention. Not really for the finish but for everything preceding it. Rhea and Raquel killed it and gave us a memorable main event.

Now, let’s get to Nia. She showed up months ago and then disappeared but now she’s back for good. At least I think. She attacked Raquel during the match behind the ref’s back and snatched away all of her momentum. Rhea handled her easily at that point and secured the W with a Rip Tide.

Nia, rocking purple by the way, stepped in the ring while Rhea celebrated. The two almost gave each other props but Nia ended that blissful moment with a headbutt. Then the beatdown commenced and she ended it with her own Banzai Drop on the champ.

Rhea handled Raquel, although Ms. Rodriguez clearly has clause for another rematch given Nia’s actions. But now with Nia on her radar, how will Rhea react to this new challenger?

Massive Attack

I like them reestablishing Miz’s bullying antics. That’s the only reason he not only faced Akira Tozawa, but hit him with not one, not two, but three Skull Crushing Finales.

I do wish we got a more effective version though. Beating up on someone like Akira has a payoff when the true challenge is in the building. LA Knight’s nowhere within the vicinity, thus not around for a save. But, that’s just a barrier when building a feud between two cats on two different brands.

Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

Tommaso Ciampa seized his moment.

Before the intrigue, GUNTHER celebrated his historical reign and even got a little emotional. But he didn’t break character completely so props to him. And even more props for his loafers with no socks look. GUNTHER has style and I respect that.

What came next though let me know that when he loses that championship, it belongs to Chad Gable. Chad interrupted GUNTHER’s celebration and talked about their last bout. He talked about coming up short but also pushing the champ further than anyone else. He also referenced the tears that rolled down his daughter’s face when she watched GUNTHER beat her dad. And as a father, he can’t abide that.

GUNTHER called Chad a great competitor but a terrible father. And yeah, a fight ensued. So I firmly believe this championship goes to Chad because he vowed to do so for his kid. And, as GUNTHER put it, there’s no one left for him to beat. Or is there?

Cue Tommaso.

Adam Pearce challenge him to take a shot and that’s what he did. That resulted in a very fun six-man tag with Imperium on one side of the ring and Alpha Academy & Tommaso on the other.

The best moment occurred at the finish: Tonmmaso hooked GUNTHER in the Sicilian Stretch while Chad locked Giovanni Vinci in the Ankle Lock. Tommaso made GUNTHER watch his partner tap and rendered him utterly useless. Loved that so much.

This little union between Tommaso and the Academy totally comes a part the minute both he and Chad want GUNTHER’s belt. A triple threat match this fall sounds great. Doesn’t it?

Dead Homiez

Well, I didn’t see this coming. Xavier Woods approached Drew McIntyre this week. He took plenty umbrage with Drew’s comments about Kofi last week, and Drew compounded that disrespect with more vitriol thrown Kofi’s direction this week!

Habitual line stepping at its finest.

But Xavier threw all that shade right back at Drew and called him jealous. Of what you may ask? Of the fact that Kofi won his championship in front of a sold out audience while Drew settled for an empty Performance Center.

We do know Drew never got his moment in front of thousands, so yeah, I buy that to an extent. Either way, that gave us this fantastic match between X and Drew.

Go watch it and watch it now. Drew got the W and set his sights on Jey. Next week, he takes on Jey, a man he does not trust and doesn’t believe can stand on his own two feet.

We shall see.

But the bottomline: These two tore it up in Norfolk and it’s worth all your time.

By Your Side

Remember last week when Zoey Stark and Shayna Baszler wrestled and seemingly joined forces? Well, that possibility became reality this week.

Shayna wrestled Chelsea Green, who hit the ring with a returning Piper Niven. Thank God she’s back.

After Shayna summarily handled Chelsea and finished her off with her version of Piper’s Pit (she says the move is hers because shes the baddest woman on the planet now), Piper attacked her because, well, she’s Piper. Zoey hit the ring for the save but focused most of the attention on Chelsea. Then, illustrating just how intimidating Zoey & Shayna are together, they told Piper to leave the ring. No fists, no kicks, just tough talk. And Piper listened.

That’s a good moment. Backing down one of the strongest and toughest women on the roster shows how tough and strong they are.

Maybe they’re next in line for the championships? Actually, yes, I assume so.

Ready or Not

This thing between Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura still holds my interest. I like Shin’s promos where he keeps it real about Seth. Seth is, at his core, villainous. It seem small pointing that out but it continues his overall theme of exposing Seth to the world. And that goes beyond his injuries.

Seth, to his credit, responds by accepting those flaws and faults. He admitted he’s everything Shinsuke says he is, but he’s also a dad and a fighting champion. He’s showing complexity that few characters in wrestling get the chance at exhibiting. But it all boils down to fighting. Seth called out Shinsuke one more time. And just like last week, Shinsuke declined. But this time he involved Ricochet in his response. Shinsuke’s made Ricochet his Seth stand-in; he issued the customary backstage beatdown to Mr. O’Shea. Next week, we get Ricochet vs. Shinsuke, and I’m sure Seth will make his presence known.

Solid Raw with at least two dope matches worth your time. Stories moved a long, Tiffany Stratton and Becky Lynch signed their contract (without a fight), and Dom even interrupted Cody’s Jey Uso promo. They packed a lot in three hours but it never felt smothering or rushed. We got hooks for next week’s show too, so no complaints at all from me.

What say you, Cagesiders?

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