Welcome to The Raw Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.
Retribution starts things off with messing around with the WWE opening signature before the Raw opener opens the show. Phillips apologizes for the “technical difficulties” before going to the ring for Promo Time with Drew McIntyre.
Drew throws us to a long video package going over the Orton/Flair punt angle from last week. After the video package finished, Drew cut a good promo about what he was going to do to Randy when the technical difficulties started again and a cameraman went to the production truck and there’s Retribution causing issues eventually taking the show “off the air” (aka going to commercial). Well, it’s actually having Retribution do something of value on Raw. Most of their antics have been on Smackdown. Maybe Fox has an exclusive with them? At least this week they’ve done something other than mess with the lights. The WWE Thunderdome debuts on Smackdown so let’s see what they do with it there. I would venture to guess after Payback we would see our first locker room fight with the group. Maybe somebody gets unmasked then or hold it off for a couple more weeks after that. We will need an unmasking soon though.
Drew was shown backstage trying to rally the troops, a la Big E on Smackdown, when Seth Rollins questions Drew as a leader. I don’t think these two should feud any time soon. There are many others that he could feud with before revisiting that.
Promo Time continues with MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Shelton Benjamin in the ring with MVP complaining about how Apollo Crews is the leader of Retribution because he is scared of MVP. Instead of having a big group of Retribution come out and mop the floor with The Hurt Business, Apollo Crews comes out to lay out a challenge. If he beats Shelton Benjamin in a match, then Benjamin and Lashley are to stay in catering at SummerSlam during the US Title match. MVP accepts the match. The match starts and R-Truth runs into the ring with the 24/7 title, Tozawa, and ninjas to cause some confusion. Crews gets a jackknife cover on Benjamin for the obvious win. The Hurt Business triple up on Crews so Mustafa Ali, Ricochet, and Cedric Alexander run down to even up the odds and chase off the heels. R truth reappears and Benjamin pins him to recapture the 24/7 title. MVP then issues a 6 man elimination tag match for later with Crews and two partners of his choosing. Hopefully after SummerSlam, Apollo Crews and company can move on to something else. The repetitive feud is starting to drag.
Backstage, one of the blonde Bachelor rejects that’s been hanging around backstage the past couple of weeks is with Angel Garza and Ivar shows up to ask her to Raw Underground. Garza challenges Ivar to a match to fight over the girl. Hasn’t anyone told Vince that The Bachelor runs opposite Raw (Mondays from 8-10pm) on a rival network (ABC vs. NBC owned USA)? Why should we even care about her or this storyline? Also, why is this non-contracted extra getting more TV time than Titus O’Neil?
The Ivar/Angel Garza match was up and it wasn’t really much to write home about. It was too short to amount to anything with Garza picking up the win. After the match though, Dawkins was hanging out with the Bachelor chick (she sure does get around) and she congratulated Garza for his win. Dawkins implied Garza was also talking up Charly Caruso. Dawkins referred to some interesting security camera footage and Garza and company went to the back. Samoa Joe said he’s seen the footage and wow. At this point, why could Ali switch back to his hacker gimmick? It would have fit in perfectly here and save some long drawn outness.
Backstage, Garza and company show up going on about the footage. A conveniently placed Charly Caruso appears asking about the footage. The footage rolls and it shows Zelina Vega poisoning Montez Ford’s drink a couple of weeks ago. Charly asked Vega why did she do it? Vega said she did it for The Rock, err, because Charly was jealous that Garza was hitting on Blondie. Charly can do far better Vega. Montez Ford shows up to fight and it is quick like all of the matches so far tonight. Again, I have to ask, why was the hacker gimmick killed before doing this? It was perfectly laid out and would have saved time getting to the point.
Seth Rollins and Murphy come to the commentary table to question Samoa Joe repeatedly about how he knows that Rey Mysterio is going to show up later tonight. Joe said he wasn’t going to reveal his sources. While all of that was going on, Mickie James had made her in-ring return against Natalya and lost via countout in a Three Minute Raw Special. Could we have at least gotten the shamefulness of Mickie’s return match out of the way first before Rollins showed up? Are we really that pressed for time on a taped show? After the match, Mickie leveled Lana with a roundhouse kick and Rollins goes on to cut a promo on the Mysterios if they were to show up here tonight.
Sasha Banks and Bayley are in the ring to argue over who should lose to Asuka first before Bayley agreed to be the one to go first. I don’t believe Bayley has beaten Asuka in a one on one match and Sasha can never successfully defend a main roster singles title. They talk about the tag title match the following week at Payback before Shayna Baszler arrives to issue a challenge to the winner of the Raw Woman’s Title match. Asuka shows up and tells Shayna that she has to team with her before she can fight her. Shayna agreed, which is a good thing since the tag match between these four was advertised ahead of time and earlier in the show.
The tag match was pretty good and lasted longer than a couple of minutes, so there’s some progress. Along the way, Nia Jax shows up to further her feud with Shayna Baszler leaving Asuka in a handicap match. Asuka fought hard until Shayna returned and cleaned house. The ending had Shayna and Bayley in the ring with Asuka and Sasha on the floor. Shayna made Bayley tap to the Kirifuda Clutch while Sasha was tapping to the Asuka Lock outside. The match was really good and Asuka looked awesome as usual. The Nia part came a little too soon, as always with these suspension angles, but Shayna was established as a credible challenger to Asuka when she recaptures the Raw title at SummerSlam. I think we will be seeing Asuka Two Belts walk out at SummerSlam.
We get a full video package on the Rollins/Dominick angle from last week. That leads us into Apollo Crews picking Ali and Ricochet for the six man tag because Cedric had been put in the Full Lashley (seriously?) earlier and Apollo wanted him to rest his neck. Cedric agreed and walked off dejectedly. Given Lashley’s recent past with Lana, should we really be calling the full nelson finisher the Full Lashley? It sounds more like a really bad porn flick.
Shawn Michaels is backstage to give Drew McIntyre a good pep talk before the IIconics make fun of the Riott Squad. Billie Kay asked who’s that and we see Shayna Baszler with MMA Four Horsewomen buddies Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.
Hey look, another video package! This time we shall recap all of the comings and goings of Retribution, who seemed to have vanished since the beginning of the show. Oh well.
The Peyton Royce/Ruby Riott match was next and we get another Three Minute, did somebody say three minutes?, Raw Special with Peyton picking up the win after causing a collision between Ruby and Liv Morgan. There are days I wish Three Minute Warning was still with us.
The Giant Ninja has been promoted to Jordan, Head of Security as we are ready for Raw Underground.
Raw Underground starts with Erik from the Viking Raiders in total beast mode on some poor dude, perhaps the Creative scrub who came up with the Viking Raiders gimmick, and beats him easily. Erik is a legit beast and it’s good to see that here. Dolph Ziggler runs down Erik and gets challenged to fight. Ziggler shows off his impressive amateur skills, which may make the audience care about him, and beats Erik in cheap fashion with a thumb to the eye and sleeper. Afterwards, Ivar bulldozes Ziggler into the crowd and we have a match for next week.
Promo Time with The Mysterios is next. They recap what happened last week before Rollins and Murphy show up. The Mysterios bail and Dominick attacks with kendo sticks from behind. Rollins got isolated in the ring and took a few kendo stick shots before Murphy could help him escape. Rey will be in Dominick’s corner at SummerSlam. I’m guessing Seth puts Dominick over.
MVP was shown backstage trying to stir the pot with Cedric Alexander before leaving. I don’t think a heel turn would work for Cedric but let’s see where this winds up.
Back to Raw Underground with Arturo Ruas squaring off against Riddick Moss. I like Ruas and can see him doing good things within the WWE. I’m not sure why we have Moss back, but I guess he looks like a fighter that would fit in here. The fight goes to a draw after they tumble into the crowd and start fighting the crowd.
The six man elimination tag match is up next. If you were expecting something great out of this match, you would be disappointed. Ali, Ricochet, and Benjamin were all eliminated within a minute or two after taking just a couple of moves. Cedric Alexander appeared and busted out the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Benjamin after he was eliminated to capture the 24/7 title. Hey Cedric, aren’t you supposed to be selling the Full Lashley? Cedric taunted MVP at the top of the ramp afterwards. MVP and Apollo were competitive before Apollo toss powerbombed MVP to eliminate him. Lashley then squashes Apollo to pick up the win. Why are we still trying to make Lashley look important? He lost in his WWE Title match and I don’t think he will go for the US title. Apollo needs the win more than Lashley. At least the entire match went longer than three minutes.
We get two 24/7 title matches with Cedric beating Tozawa and Benjamin beating Cedric. No sign of R-Truth anywhere.
Back to Raw Underground and Marina Shafir beat some woman up. Nia Jax then shows up to attack Shafir and Duke before running away when Shayna challenged her to fight. Not much to see here outside of some storyline progression. That does it for Raw Underground this week. Next week, Ivar takes on Dolph Ziggler.
Our main event has Andrade losing to Montez Ford in another Three Minute Raw Special. Seriously, where’s Three Minute Warning when you need them to make things a little more interesting? Bianca Belair did show up during the match to take out Zelina Vega, so I expect a match between the two at Payback.
Our final segment for the night is Promo Time with Shawn Michaels to talk about what Randy Orton has been doing to people lately. Shawn promised Orton some Sweet Chin Music before eating an RKO. Orton got off a punt before Drew chased him off. Shawn didn’t sell the punt like death so Drew beat Orton up a bit before falling to an RKO to close out the show. Why was Shawn able to get up from the punt while everyone else had to stay down? That kinda hurt the story a little bit.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
The Sasha/Bayley vs. Asuka/Shayna match was really good. Best match of the night and likely the longest match as well. The Nia Jax interference wasn’t needed here but would have fit in the Raw Underground segment.
At least Retribution actually did something on Raw this week. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do with The Thunderdome Friday on Smackdown.
The whole show was Three Minute Raw Specials basically. It was an absolute shame that Mickie had her return match in the middle of a Seth Rollins promo. Who thought that would be a fantastic idea?
Michaels not selling the punt like death really hurts the move. Why was he allowed to get up from that when everybody else couldn’t? That continuity hurts the story a little bit.
Please remember to stay safe out there.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.