This week’s Sovereign Statement is going to be a bit different because I was able to attend Raw live in Los Angeles so my viewing of Raw was different than most. First off, the atmosphere was amazing and the crowd in LA was hot throughout the night. The other great thing was that Raw delivered a really solid show from start to finish and that is a good since this was the go-home for Stomping Grounds. So, let us dive in and talk about Raw.
Elias kicked off Raw and the crowd was hot for him and booed everything he said. Elias revealed that he agreed to be the special guest referee and Seth Rollins would come out of nowhere and attack him with a steel chair. The LA crowd loved every minute of this and I was right there with them. Rollins stated that every person that would agree to be Corbin’s referee, that person would receive the same thing as Elias. Then, the five members of the fatal 5-way came out and hit their finishers on a battered Elias and we all loved it. This was a great way to get the crowd hot and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Some great things about attending a tv taping is that you can see things that happen during the commercial break and they add a nice wrinkle to everything. During the break, Cesaro and Lashley were on the outside and each did push-ups with one another. It was a cool thing and I thought I should mention it. Samoa Joe also cut a fantastic promo prior to the match that wasn’t shown on tv and he received a massive pop from the LA crowd when. Strowman made short work of Cesaro and Lashley as they were the first two men to be eliminated in this match. Cesaro and Lashley then teamed up to help eliminate Strowman as the attacks allowed Ricochet to hit the 630 senton on him. During the commercial break, Samoa Joe cut another promo on the remaining men and it was fantastic as always. Those were promos I wish were shown on tv because Joe delivered as usual. Ricochet ended up picking up the win and earned a shot at Samoa Joe. Joe then attacked Ricochet from behind, but Ricochet was able to fight him off and stood tall at the end.
Becky Lynch In-Ring
When Becky’s music hit, LA went crazy and she received quite the pop. Becky was strong here with her promo and she called out Lacey Evans. Lacey then came out and she really did well here. The LA crowd did what many crowds have done, and they gave Lacey the “What?!” chant treatment. She handles the chants very well and she doesn’t let them rattle her. The two had a good back and forth and Becky would eventually hit Lacey with a Suplex and stand tall while wearing her hat. This was a really strong segment between the two and was so much better than the interview segment from last week.
The Revival Backstage
The only reason I am downgrading this segment is because the audio guy didn’t cut out Becky’s theme quick enough so much of what was said was lost on me until I watched it back on my DVR. I loved the Revival here and I think this pairing with Shane is actually benefiting them. As a side note, the friend I went with watched wrestling but has fallen out of it and he could not recognize Shane. He asked me who that authority figure was, and he couldn’t believe it when I told him it was Shane. It was a real shock to him and made him realize how long it has been since he has seen much of WWE.
Baron Corbin Backstage
I have said it once and I will say it again, I love the chemistry between Charly Caruso and Baron Corbin. They play off of each other so well and I do no want anybody else interviewing Corbin besides her. Baron was complete and utter slime here and I loved how confident he was about finding a new special guest referee. Seth Rollins then came from behind and nailed Corbin with a steel chair. I loved this story of Seth taking out Corbin’s potential special guest referees and really gives Seth that extra edge to him.
The New Daniel Bryan & Rowan Promo
I have loved Bryan in this character and to experience his heel character live was fantastic. We all booed him when it was right, and he did a good job getting a reaction with every line. This was a solid promo from Bryan and I enjoyed the brief stare down between the Planet’s tag team and the Viking Raiders.
Viking Raiders vs Local Talent
This was basically a squash match and it reminded us that the Viking Raiders exist. The Raiders should be in the tag title scene with the Usos and Revival and I think if they were in that scene, we could get some greatness like we saw with the Usos, New Day and the Bar on Smackdown last year. You may be wondering why I graded this so high and I will explain why. In a segment that didn’t air on TV, Sarah Logan came out and talked about how she used to be in the Riott Squad and how she is a Viking. It made me curious because the promo was so close to when the Viking Raiders came out and I wonder if they may pair her up with them. I think adding her to the Viking Raiders would be fun and interesting.
R-Truth and Carmella In Disguise
I had to explain to my friend why the locker room were chasing R-Truth and told him that the 24/7 Championship is like the Hardcore title but without the hardcore rules. Truth and Carmella were in costumes, sitting ringside and I was dying at this. When they puled out Titus, everybody around me, including myself, just burst out laughing. My friend found this hilarious too and I have totally fallen in love with the 24/7 Championship.
Shane’s Private Party
Heath Slater walked into Shane’s private gathering with the Revival and McIntyre and he asked for a raise. I loved how Shane felt a kinship with Heath because they are both fathers, but he ultimately denied his request. McIntyre then walked out of the room and told Heath that he could loan him some money if he really needed it. Heath said it was okay and then Drew attacked him and had to be pulled off. I loved that the Revival pocketed the money Dawson and Wilder are really showing some good comedic timing. When we saw this in the arena, the crowd started chanting “3MB!” and it was a shame it wasn’t picked up on the tv broadcast.
The Kevin & Sami Show
Prior to this segment, I got to see the ring crew bring in the stuff for the Kevin & Sami show and I wondered why they walked off with the signs. Owens later referenced that they messed up and they should have had new signs made for this, but they didn’t. What sucks is that Sami cut a great promo to the crowd and talked about his and Kevin’s time in PWG and how they really honed their craft in southern California. I loved how Sami heeled it up there and it was perfect. Sami and Owens introduced Baron Corbin as the guest for the evening and he was out there to introduce his newest pick for special guest referee. I loved Sami calling the segment in the ring as a safe space and his heel work has been superb. Corbin then introduced EC3 and Seth wasted no time in beating down EC3 with a steel chair.
The New Day then came out and they got a good pop from the crowd as usual. I loved that EC3 was still on the ground after the attack from Seth and it played into what was coming. The New Day traded barbs with Owens, Zayn and Corbin and were challenged to a 6-man tag team match. They then wondered if there was an official who could make the match official and they grabbed EC3’s prone body and pulled a Weekend at Bernie’s with him and made the match official.
AJ Styles & Good Brothers Backstage
This was probably the weakest segment in an overall good Raw for me. I liked seeing AJ and the Good Brothers interact, but it really did highlight something we all have known. The Good Brothers came into WWE with a lot of hype from NJPW but have yet to do much since. AJ pointed it out and both Gallows and Anderson vowed to prove they are something in their match later tonight with the Usos.
The New Day vs Corbin, Owens & Zayn
This was a great 2/3 falls match and I really enjoyed getting to see Xavier Woods work the ring live. He is one of the most underrated main roster workers that is featured prominently, and he really had a chance to shine here. There was actually some good chemistry between Corbin, Owens and Zayn and that was pleasant surprise. The New Day took the first fall after Woods rolled up Zayn for the fall. This was a great match and, as much as fans want to say they hate Corbin, the heat he garnered from the LA crowd during this match was 100% genuine heel heat. Things broke down towards the end of the match when Corbin accidently hit Zayn with a punch and Owens took offense to that and hit Corbin with a superkick. He and Sami would walk off on Corbin and Kofi was able to hit Trouble in Paradise and get the win for his team.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross Backstage
I absolutely love this story between Alexa and Nikki and how Alexa is just manipulating Nikki at every turn. The two were backstage and Alexa surprised Nikki with a women’s tag team title match that would take place later on in the night. Alexa then continued to talk about how Bayley is talking trash and I just love the glee from Nikki. I also love how Nikki gave Alexa a look of “oh God no” when she said that maybe she should switch to decaf. Really good stuff from both women here.
Paul Heyman In-Ring
This was my first chance to hear Heyman deliver a promo live and I know how good he is on tv, but man is it something else to see in person. With all that in mind, this wasn’t one of his stronger promos he has given. I’m not saying it was bad, but it just felt more middle of the road to me. The rest of the arena reacted to it good enough so take that for what you will. Botch asked me backstage if the crowd thought he was bombing live and I told him that the crowd reacted to him good. Overall, not his best promo but not his worst either.
Eric Young & Corbin Backstage
The one thing I will say about this Corbin guest referee thing is that is has given some of the members of the locker room that haven’t been used much something to do besides chase R-Truth for the 24/7 Championship. I, along with many of the LA crowd, popped to seeing EY talking to Corbin about the guest referee spot. We all knew Rollins would be coming soon and he walked right up to Young and asked him if he was considering taking the offer. Young, in fear of getting hit by a steel chair, told Seth that he wasn’t going to accept, and it looked like he would walk away free. That was until Seth came back and just laid into him with the steel chair. My friend leaned over and likened what Seth was doing during Raw to a hitman from a mafia movie and that was the perfect way to explain Seth’s actions. Seth was taking out people whether they accepted or not because he wanted to put the fear in anybody that was considering it.
The Usos Backstage
I love these types of promos from the Usos because they are so unique, and I don’t see anybody else really able to pull it off. Maybe Roman could if he were to ever form a faction with his cousins but other than that, I don’t see anybody who could. Great stuff as usual from Jimmy and Jey and they kept it nice and short and to the point.
The Usos vs The Good Brothers
I was looking forward to this match because, if given time, these two teams can put on one heck of a match. The crowd was hot for the Usos and the Good Brothers and we all were into the match for as long as it went. It was a shame that this match didn’t get more time, but it is what it is and the Usos picked up the win. This was something I didn’t see until I saw Raw when I got home that AJ was watching the match backstage. Maybe we will get a Club reunion in the near future….
Roman Reigns In-Ring
When Roman Reigns made his entrance, I wondered how the crowd in LA would react to him. I thought I would hear some boos, but the LA crowd was firmly behind Roman and he got one of the loudest pops of the night. I always talk about how Roman takes too long to get to the ring with his walk but after seeing it live, his walk to the ring is filled with a lot of swagger. It isn’t a slow walk like Randy Orton but really is a walk filled with swag. I was able to see Roman’s reaction when they replayed the match he had with Shane at Super Showdown and I loved how he sold his displeasure in how it went. Roman could have just sat back and waited for his cue but he stayed in character and gave the live crowd a little extra. Roman got on the mic and talked about how he was ready to beat down somebody. Shane then came on the tron and talked about how that wasn’t going to happen. Drew McIntyre then started to talk, and he said how Shane talked him out of beating down Roman and then he decided to mention Roman’s children. That was enough for Roman and he made his way to the back to confront Shane and McIntyre. The Revival went to head off Roman, but he made quick work of them and made it into the private room where Shane and McIntyre were waiting. Roman was able to take care of McIntyre and put him through a table. He then gave chase to Shane who ran back into the Staples Center and Roman leaped over the barricade and took down Shane. Roman took it to Shane and hit him with a Superman punch and a Spear in the ring and stood tall. This is the Roman we all want, and this is the Roman that can win over the fans. Another thing that wasn’t shown on the tv broadcast was that McIntyre came down to the ring to help Shane to the back and Shane got on the mic and said that was okay. We all laughed, and some fans started a “Na na na na, hey hey hey, good-bye” chant at Shane.
The IIconics vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
The IIconics came out and they actually got a pretty good reaction from the crowd. I will continue to say how huge of a fan I am of them and it was nice to see that I am not alone. They cut a promo prior to the match and talked some trash about LA and the Lakers. The crowd didn’t like it but when it came time to say their “IIconic” line, the crowd went right back to being behind them. Nikki and Alexa then came out and both received rather nice pops form the crowd as well. Bayley made her way out to the ring before the match and cut a promo on Alexa about how everything she is saying to Nikki is a lie. For some reason, they decided not to show that on tv and that was a shame because Bayley actually cut a good promo. The match itself was actually pretty solid and it was probably on of the best IIconics matches on the main roster. Both Billie and Peyton looked good in the ring and it looks like they are putting in work to get better. Bayley ended up costing Nikki and Alexa the match by getting into it with Alexa and causing Alexa to not be able to break up a pin attempt in the ring. This Alexa/Bayley feud is already leaps and bounds better than their prior program with one another.
Alexa & Nikki Backstage Post-Match
It seems that Alexa’s plans of getting Nikki to be on her side to help her win has come to fruition because Nikki is fully behind her now. Bayley costing them the Women’s Tag Titles was all it took for Nikki to fully believe everything Alexa has been saying about Bayley and I love it. I really am enjoying where this story is going and cannot wait to see what happens next.
Firefly Fun House
I had to explain to my friend what the Firefly Fun House was because he doesn’t follow WWE much these days and I explained it simply as a dark, twisted and creepy version of Mr. Rogers. So right with that premise alone I was wondering how he would react to it and he enjoyed it like so many of us have. This was a really solid edition of the Firefly Fun House and I love how he kind of poked fun at people that believe the Earth is flat and dinosaurs. The way this ended had me thinking that Bray is close to returning to the ring and I cannot wait. This Firefly Fun House might be the best thing to happen to Bray because it has reinvigorated him for the better. It will be interesting to see who his first feud will be against because your guess is as good as mine.
The New Daniel Bryan In Gorilla
Bryan on the mic is simply masterclass and he showed it once again here. I love that he poked at the logic of nobody taking the chair away from Seth. The confidence he showed in knowing that he will beat Seth was perfect and he had some great intensity as well. Really good stuff on the mic from Bryan throughout the night.
Seth Rollins vs The New Daniel Bryan
I didn’t know this match was happening until Raw started and the graphic was on the screen and I couldn’t wait to see these two. Seth and Bryan have been two of my favorite workers over the last few years, so it was a treat to see them work the ring live. It was also great to be a part of the “Burn It Down!” during Seth’s theme and it was pretty loud in the arena when we all said it. This was a solid match at the start and then Rowan hit Seth with his finisher and caused a DQ. We were all mad at this and were hoping we would not get robbed of seeing Seth versus Bryan. Rowan and Bryan continued to beat down on Seth and the New Day then came out to help Seth. Owens, Zayn and the Revival then came out to even the odds for the heels and then the Usos came out to even the score. This was chaotic and we all wondered what was going to happen after the Usos took out the heels with dives in stereo. Luckily, the match would be restarted with all the people on the outside banned from ringside.
When we got back from commercial, the match was restarted, and boy was it a good one. The crispness and grace these two work the ring is amazing to see in person. You can notice it on tv, but man is it quite the sight live. Great stuff from these two and that comes at no surprise. Great back and forth action and it looked like Bryan would make Seth tap out at different points, but Seth was able to survive and hit Bryan with a Curb Stomp to win the match. Seth then was walking up the ramp and was attacked by Baron Corbin with a steel chair and Corbin would stand tall as Raw came to a close.
Becky Lynch vs Lacey Evans (Dark Match)
This didn’t happen on the broadcast, but I felt like I had to talk about it because much has been made about Lacey’s ring work since being called up to the main roster. Lacey and Becky had a street fight for the Raw Women’s Championship after Raw went off the air and it was a darn good match. Lacey hasn’t looked the best on tv in the ring, but she really looked good here. Not many weapons were used besides a kendo stick, but it was a good and physical match. Lacey looked really solid and she was hitting moves that she has struggled with during her tv matches. Obviously, Becky Lynch picked up the win here, but this match really made me a fan of Lacey. What I saw there was someone that is putting in the work and can put on a good match but has been saddled with the title of “not being main roster ready” because of a few botches. If people give Lacey time to see what I saw during this dark match, they will be pleasantly surprised.
Usually I talk about the highs and lows from Raw in my Final Statement, but this was one of the best episodes of Raw this year. I attended Raw with my friend and his two younger brothers and my friend, who doesn’t really watch wrestling anymore, told me how this was an entertaining show and he enjoyed it. Now maybe all those AEW fans who are ready to write off WWE after one show can please take a step back because WWE can still put out a great product. I also wanted to talk about some segments that happened for the live crowd that didn’t make it on tv that I found great. Sarah Schreiber brought up two young boys to guess wrestlers by their nicknames and they would win a prize. After the contest, Drake Maverick came out and asked the boys if they had seen R-Truth and handed each of them a flyer of R-Truth that he has been passing around. Speaking of Truth, we got to see Truth get chased by the locker room in another segment and it was hilarious as usual. Elias also came out tried to play us a song but sadly he said he was just to hurt to do so. He then said, “Thank you, goodnight and I love none of you” that had all of us in attendance dying of laughter. Lastly, Mojo Rawley came out for a promo and nobody in the crowd reacted to it. They didn’t even bother with a “what?!” chant and that just shows how much the fans do not care about Mojo. This was a great episode of Raw and was such a fun experience live. I haven’t been to a live wrestling event since the 90s, so I was happy that WWE had a good showing. Make sure to join us this Sunday for Stomping Grounds and I will see you next week for another Sovereign Statement.