With the news of Paul Heyman taking over creative for Raw, I was wondering how big of a difference there would be. It is no secret that Raw has been struggling but they have put on some solid shows in recent weeks. So, did Raw change for the better or did we get the same Raw that we have had for some time now? Let us find out and see what the Heyman era of Raw had for us this week.
Braun Strowman vs Bobby Lashley
I have had zero interest in this first from the start, so I was not looking forward to this match. They added in the “falls count anywhere” stipulation so that made me a bit more interested but not by much. The match started off okay but when it got to the outside, that is when things really picked up. They fought on the outside of the ring and went into the crowd to continue with some near falls. They then made their way to the entrance ramp and that is when things really picked up and set the tone for Raw. Strowman drove himself and Lashley through part of the stage and there was an explosion because of it. Corey Graves let out a swear and the crowd followed suit with the chant of the same swear. They cut to commercial and came back with medical staff attending to Strowman and Lashley and they would stretcher each of them out and put each man into an ambulance. This was such a great way to get the crowd hot and show that Raw is not the same old Raw we have come to know.
Viking Raiders vs New Day
I knew when this match was announced that some sort of shenanigans would happen to prevent the Viking Raiders from eating a loss here and that is what happened. Before I get to that I will say that the match was very good. That should come as no surprise considering how good both of these tag teams are. Seeing Big E go up against the size of the Viking Raiders was something I liked and something I hope to see more of in the future. The match was going along when Samoa Joe would come from the crowd and attack Xavier Woods and that would cause Kofi Kingston to come out for the save. We all knew a Teddy Long special would be coming after the commercial break.
New Day vs Viking Raiders & Samoa Joe
As fun as the tag match was, for however long it went, this six-man tag match was superb. There was so much action to behold and it did a better job at establishing the Viking Raiders than all of their squash matches combined. I even liked the pairing of Samoa Joe with them because it gave them another wrinkle of dominance. The New Day are one of the best well oiled machines in the company and it is always a nice sight to see them in this type of match. Really great match that ended when Kofi went to sleep from Samoa Joe’s Coquina Clutch. I also liked that Graves hinted at a possible ladder match between Kofi and Joe at Extreme Rules and I for one hope that it comes to fruition.
Drake Maverick Honeymoon
Drake Maverick is proving that he has such a great mind for this business with everything he is doing with the 24/7 Championship. He brought his wife, fellow wrestler Renee Michelle, to Dallas for their honeymoon and her face when she took off the blindfold was perfect. I love that she is totally buying in to this and it just adds that much more to this story. She gave him an ultimatum and of course he chose her over the 24/7 Championship. R-Truth happened to be there to see that and he would take advantage of this throughout the night.
Good Brothers & AJ Styles Backstage
I just love the interaction with these three and you can see how much they love being in segments together. Both sides were giving each other slack over their matches from last week. AJ gave them gripe over losing to the Viking Raiders and the Good Brothers returned the favor by saying how AJ barely beat Ricochet. Karl Anderson then upped the ante by offering up his hot Asian wife to AJ if he could beat Ricochet for the US title. Of course, AJ would take the bet and that was it for this fun segment.
No Way Jose vs Cesaro
Well it was supposed to be Jose versus Cesaro, but the match never took place. Drake and his lovely wife were sitting in the front row and R-Truth started his tempting of Drake by coming out with Jose’s conga line and laying on the barricade to tempt Drake to try and pin him. Drake would not give in and the locker room came out from the back to chase Truth away. Cesaro then attacked Jose before the bell could ring and would hit him with the Neutralizer on the outside.
Street Profits Backstage
This segment was just pure joy and it was hilarious. The Street Profits completely owned this interview segment with Charly Caruso and her smile never left her face once they started talking. Just amazing and I hope WWE sees something great in them because I certainly do.
The Miz Backstage
It honestly has been hard for me to stay fully invested in the Miz as a face because he has lost so many matches. I like the fire he has in his promos, this was another example of that, but it is hard to buy in to what he says because he loses so much. Good promo but the Miz has done better than this one.
Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre In-Ring
The only, and I mean only, reason why this segment does not get a zero from me is because of Drew McIntyre. Drew is a star waiting to happen and I enjoyed what he had to say. The only problem is that everything he had to say had to do with the Undertaker. I have absolutely no interest in Taker anymore and none of this has done anything to change that. Shane and McIntyre had some words and Undertaker came out. I honestly was not paying much attention to anything Taker said because I simply do not care. He said some things that led to him saying his signature phrases and that was it. I never thought I would see the day that I would not have any interest in seeing the Undertaker, but we have arrived at that date and that makes me sad.
Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans Backstage
Now this I liked and have enjoyed this pairing so much. Corbin and Lacey are heat magnets and they work off of each other pretty well here. The cockiness they showed in thinking the extreme rules stipulation will benefit them was perfect. The way they play off of each other would have you think they have been a tandem for some time and not just two weeks. Solid promo that made me forget of the boring Undertaker one that happened right before it.
Lacey Evans vs Natalya
This was quite the short match and I think Lacey looked good here. When I think about it, I think Lacey is slowly improving in the ring with each passing week. Baron Corbin had accompanied Lacey to the ring and he would provide distractions throughout the match. Corbin would trip Natalya and that would leave the door open for Lacey to hit the Woman’s Right to get the pin for the win. Not the best match but did a good job in establishing Corbin and Lacey’s growing relationship.
Ricochet is not the strongest on the mic, but he was very solid here. He talked about his match with AJ Styles from last week and how he would beat him if they were to rematch. The Good Brothers then walked in and took over the interview from Charly. The way they goaded Ricochet into giving AJ another shot was perfect. This is the Gallows and Anderson I have been waiting to see and this was a nice story to see throughout the night.
AJ Styles Backstage
The Good Brothers reported back to AJ about their talk with Ricochet and the way they twisted the words of Ricochet was perfect. The way they said that they miss the old AJ was great and AJ sold it very well too. AJ went up to Ricochet to ask him if everything that Gallows and Anderson said was true and Ricochet gave him the match for the US title. Ricochet offered a handshake to AJ, but AJ slapped him instead. Ricochet then returned the favor and the intensity on both of their faces sold this so perfectly.
The Miz vs Elias
This match wasn’t bad by any means, but I have seen this so much over the last month or so that it is hard to be invested in it. WWE have run the 2 out of 3 falls match concept to the ground and I do not want to see that match again for some time. I know they did it because of Vince’s decree of no wrestling during commercials but we need a break from them. Again, the match wasn’t bad but just something we have been overexposed to. The Miz would pick up the much-needed win and hopefully he can build on this momentum and continue his growth as a face.
Becky Lynch & Seth Rollins Backstage
This was quite the segment and one where I could totally see the Heyman influence. Seth and Becky were getting interviewed by Charly and I loved the playfulness between Becky and Seth. I love that they told the other about how either one of them should not cost the other their title. Then to my surprise, Maria Kanellis would step into the frame and she totally owned this. The way she talked about how herself and her husband Mike Kanellis was great, and I didn’t mind when she called Mike a b****. She challenged the couple to a mixed tag match and Becky would accept. Seth capped it off by saying, “y’all done messed up” and that was perfect.
Becky Lynch & Seth Rollins vs Maria & Mike Kanellis
I had no idea what to expect from this match and by the end of it, there was no way I would have expected any of this. Mike looked pretty good in there with Seth and I hope this is the start of something for him. Seth would force Mike to tag Maria and she would run away and get on the mic and that is when things would make quite the sudden turn. She told Mike that he disgusted her, and Becky went to strike her but before she could, Maria announced that she was pregnant. Mike started yelling at her and questioning how she was pregnant, and Maria told him that he wasn’t man enough to do that. Becky would pull him into the ring and make Mike tap out. Maria then came into the ring and said she would rather have Becky been the one to have gotten her pregnant and I was left speechless. Maria is total slime, and this cemented every bit of it. This was quite the segment and one I do not think we would have gotten without Paul Heyman if I were to be honest.
Paul Heyman Backstage
Speaking of Paul Heyman, he would come up to Charly who was backstage and get on the mic. He did his intro shtick and you could see a smile come across his face when he did it. I can’t help but think he smiled because he was happy with the way Raw was turning out and how the fans were happy about it. He started talking about Brock and to my delight, the Street Profits came in and totally owned the segment. This topped their earlier segment and they were just a ball of energy throughout this. The hilarity was so great that Charly could not keep a straight face at all. She tried but it reminded me of Chris Farley on SNL when he would see a cast member, mainly David Spade, crack and would not let up. Eventually she just gave in and left that smile on her face because the Street Profits are just that hilarious.
A Moment of Bliss
A Moment of Bliss is very hit or miss, and this was just okay. Alexa continued her manipulation of Nikki and before she could go any further, Carmella came out to interrupt. Carmella questioned why Alexa is getting the title shot and not Nikki, but Alexa was not having any of it. Carmella would challenge Alexa to a match and that would take place right after.
Carmella vs Alexa Bliss. Carmella vs Nikki Cross
I decided to group both matches together since the Bliss/Carmella one was so short. That match was blink and you miss it because it was over that fast. Carmella won with a roll up and they would go to commercial right after. When they came back from commercial, Carmella was in the ring with Nikki Cross and those two would have a match. Nikki and Carmella had a pretty good match even though it didn’t last that long. I love how this partnership with Alexa has given Nikki a chance to shine because she more than deserves it. The two would then be in the backstage area walking after the match when Sarah Schreiber would come up to them and tell them how the fans want Nikki in the match at Extreme Rules and not Alexa. Before Nikki could say a word, Alexa said no comment and dragged Nikki away. Really good stuff here to further this story with Alexa and Nikki and I cannot wait to see where they go from here.
Drake Maverick Backstage
Drake Maverick and his wife Renee were leaving the arena and heading to their honeymoon and his wife decided to go freshen up before they left. The locker room superstars that were chasing R-Truth then ran by Drake and Truth would emerge from behind something as he gave them the slip once again. Drake told Truth that he just wanted to go on his honeymoon and as Truth walked away, Drake hit him from behind with his luggage and would become the 24/7 Champion once again. This was such a great pay off to this 24/7 story from Raw and both Drake and Truth deserve all the credit in the world for making this title everything that it is.
Ricochet vs AJ Styles
Their match from last week was great and this week’s match was great as well. This is a match up I can watch over and over again and not be bored by it. Really great back and forth action throughout their match that saw AJ get the pin on Ricochet to become the new champion. At least that is what AJ thought but it was revealed on the replay that Ricochet had his foot under the rope and another referee came back to explain it to the referee for the match. They would go to commercial and when they came back, the match would be restarted. Gallows and Anderson also made their way down to the ring to watch the match and they would not play a role in the match itself. Once the match restarted, the great back and forth action would continue. I will also say that no matter how many times I see Ricochet in the ring, I am still amazed by how good he is in there. Ricochet would roll up AJ for the win and he would retain his title. It looked like AJ would pay respect to Ricochet this week but that would not be the case. After AJ shook Ricochet’s hand, Gallows and Anderson got on the apron and AJ would attack Ricochet. The Good Brothers would join in on the beat down and would hit Ricochet with a Magic Killer. AJ then got on the middle rope and would hit Ricochet with a Styles Clash to cement his heel turn. They beat Ricochet down some more and would stand tall as Raw came to a close.
I do reserve highs and lows for my Final Statement, but this week only had one true low point and that was all the Undertaker/Shane/McIntyre stuff. Outside of that, the first episode with Heyman heading Raw was a resounding success. The Strowman/Lashley opening was something that made me actually care about that feud and kicked off Raw with a bang. The Street Profits totally stole the night and the 24/7 Championship stuff was amazing as usual. Ricochet and Styles closed the night and rightfully so because they delivered another great match. Overall, this Raw was one of the best episodes of the year so far and I would put it right up there with the one I attended live. I hope Raw can continue to build on the momentum from this week’s episode because I think that will finally shut the haters up for a bit. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another Sovereign Statement.