Is There A Tiger In The Woods? (The Raw Review)

This week’s episode of Raw was a hard one to get into at first. It had nothing to do with what was planned, but rather the news that came out on Monday. On Sunday, I saw news of a 10-year-old boy being save by lifeguards in Venice Beach and that his father was unable to be rescued and a search had begun. Unbeknownst to me was that the father in question was Shad Gaspard. That part of the news came to light on Monday and the story somehow became more tragic. The search continued until it was called off during the day on Monday. It is hard to imagine what his family and friends are going through right now and we all have them in our thoughts. That was what was on my mind at the start of Raw and I know others felt the same way. Shad was an immense talent with JTG when they were a team and he was a great man by all accounts outside of wrestling. This is a tragedy on every level and a reminder to cherish your loved ones because we never know what can happen in this thing, we call life.

As hard as it may seem, let us see what Raw had for us this week.

 

Randy Orton In-Ring

I don’t know why Charly was out there for this because she really served no purpose in being there. She once again talked about how a regular wrestling match between Orton and Edge could possibly be one of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time and she must be being told to say that because that is something nobody would spew repeatedly. I liked that Orton had some grey in his beard because it did add a bit to his veteran status. Orton continued to talk about how Edge was the better man but that he is the better wrestler because Edge cannot do the things he does in the ring. It was good stuff from Orton as this feud with Edge has brought out a side of Orton that we haven’t seen in quite some time. That side being the one of actually caring about a storyline he is in. Of course, Edge would come out to state whether or not he accepts the challenge made by Orton from last week. Edge started to talk about how this is all a game and paycheck to Orton and that is what makes them different. Edge spoke about how this is his life and how wrestling was Orton’s backup plan. Edge really brought the intensity when he talked about how Orton never had to fight back from a career ending injury and Edge would eventually say that he accepts Orton’s challenge. I am looking forward to that match and am curious to see how Edge does in a traditional wrestling match after 9 years.

 

Seth Rollins & Murphy Backstage

Sometimes things work better when few words are spoken and that is what happened here. Murph approached Seth backstage and simply put his hand on his shoulder. Seth would end up doing the same and tell him that he has had a revelation. He and Murph would start walking towards the ring as they would go to commercial. Again, not much said here but enough was said in the body language of both men.

 

Seth Rollins & Murphy In-Ring

I wish I could give this a higher grade, but I will explain why it got knocked down a bit. Seth came out with Murphy and he explained what the revelation he had was. It ended up coming at the expense of Rey Mysterio and he spoke more on that. He talked about how what he did last week was necessary for him to become the leader he knows he can be, and I love how delusional Seth is now. He believes every word he says, and it is just a joy to watch. He kept talking and the reason why this segment’s grade is lower would come out. Humberto, Chavo 2.0, Carrillo came out and just took me out of this whole thing. He just cannot cut a good promo at all and this was another bad one. He lacks all the charisma, conviction and gusto in the world to make these promos sound believable. He spoke about how Rey is his idol and that he would defend his honor for him. Seth offered up Murphy to fill that role and that match would happen after the commercial.

 

Murphy vs Humberto Carrillo

Honestly, not much to speak of about this match as it was rather short. Murphy is set to take on Aleister Black later in the night so of course this would not be a long match. Some back and forth and Seth would provide a distraction that allowed Murph to hit Murphy’s Law onto Humberto for the win. Murphy beat him down after when Aleister would come out to make the save and chase them away. Forgettable match really if I were to be honest.

 

King Corbin Backstage

Have I said how much I love King Corbin? The man is the best heel in the business and totally understands what his character is at every turn. He was belittling a stagehand backstage because he felt like he wasn’t being treated like a proper king and would do the same to a referee. This is top notch heel stuff from Corbin and people need to stop associating him with “go-away heat” and realize the man is the top heel.

 

Liv Morgan Promo

I honestly have no idea what to make of this promo. The production on it was nice but the content was just so head scratching. She spoke about how her mom is her hero and why that is. She spoke about her loss to Charlotte and how she will come back better after that and I am starting to lose faith in Liv sadly. She has improved a ton in the ring but this character stuff they are giving her is just horrid. It feels like she is getting new notes on stuff to try every week and none of it is landing. I feel like if she were in front of a live crowd with this stuff that she would be enduring the fans turning on her.

 

Charlotte Flair vs Ruby Riott

I decided to put together the promo from Charlotte before the match and the actual match itself into one grade. Charlotte spoke about how great she is again, and I am honestly getting a bit tired of it. It is all feeling a bit one note and she needs to add something extra to it, so it doesn’t all sound the same. The part that had me questioning it this promo too was when she called out Ruby, she said that Ruby would have some things to say and she said nothing. I guess she could have meant her fists but that is not what it sounded like to me.

The match itself was solid for as short as it was. I have said time and time again that Ruby can be a star if they give her the chance. She shows it in the ring, and she has delivered solid promos as well. I really wonder if her look is so against the norm that Vince just does not see her as someone that can be a star. Again, solid enough match and I loved the joint manipulation Ruby was putting on Charlotte’s hand throughout. Charlotte would end up winning though with the Figure 8 and Ruby continues to look rather weak since returning from injury.

 

Bobby Lashley Backstage

Lashley was set for an interview when MVP would come in. Asuka is the clear MVP of all the empty arena shows but MVP is another person that has shined in this setting. I really doubt WWE planned on using him this much on-screen, but he has made the most of it. He came into the interview to give Lashley a pep-talk of sorts and tried to motivate him to aim for the top rather than be stuck in the middle. You could see MVP’s words hit Lashley and we will see what happens later.

 

Axe Throwing Part 1

We were introduced to the first part of quite a few parts of axe throwing videos featuring the Street Profits and the Viking Raiders. The Profits arrived at a camp and saw the Vikings there with some others and wondered what was going on. I love how the Vikings literally brought some smoke and that Montez stopped Dawkins from disrespecting them by correcting them. They would then show them that axe throwing would be the event and we would see how this plays out.

 

Asuka Championship Celebration

I enjoyed this celebration for the most part and it totally had to do with how much fun Asuka and Kairi Sane were having. Kairi hyped her up and Asuka came down to the celebration. I loved the joy the two had here and how Kairi played Asuka’s theme on a recorder. Kairi listed off Asuka’s accolades, by which there are many, and Nia Jax would eventually interrupt. I honestly don’t care much for Nia and just roll my eyes and sigh every time she comes out. She talked some trash and Asuka would dispose of her from her celebration. Looks like we are getting Asuka versus Nia and I am feeling very meh about it.

 

King Corbin Backstage

Once again, King Corbin is the best heel in the business, and he showed it again in this promo. He was backstage and was interviewed about his upcoming match with Drew McIntyre. He spoke about how the two were running mates for a while and that he is the reason Drew has risen to these heights on Raw. He did give him props for beating Brock, but he will beat him tonight. I loved the line of when he said he would beat him tonight and they would face each other for the title at next year’s Wrestlemania. I would honestly be totally down for that and I am sure I may be one of the few. I liked that Drew was watching on a monitor the whole time and the reactions he gave to what Corbin what saying.

 

R-Truth vs Bobby Lashley

So, can someone explain why Lashley hates Truth? I mean, there is no reason for it in any sense. Truth did what he does best and that is crack everybody up. I loved his promo before the match, and I loved how he called Lashley Deebo from Friday. The match was a squash and MVP came out to the ramp to give Lashley some props after the match. Lana was then shown in the back throwing a fit over this and I guess they are really going to break them up. Also, that Pretty Ricky stuff with Truth is just not working. I am sure someone in the back, Vince, is laughing at it but I sure am not.

 

Bliss & Cross vs The IIconics

This match was disappointing because of how short it was. I was totally rooting for the IIconics here, I have no shame in admitting that, and hated the outcome. Peyton and Billie cut a nice promo before the match and then the match would get under way. Some decent enough back and forth action and Bliss looked to get the win after hitting Billie with Twisted Bliss. Peyton would come in to break up the pin and would throw Alexa into the ring post multiple times. She did it one too many and the referee would disqualify them allowing Bliss and Cross to retain. I boo that result but if it leads to them winning the titles at Backlash, all will be forgiven.

 

Kairi Sane Backstage

A bit earlier, Kairi and Asuka were shown backstage continuing their celebration of Asuka being champion and would go their separate ways. Nia Jax was showing leering in the background and she would walk after Kairi. Kairi was then shown playing her recorder and Nia attacked her. The attack was short so Nia couldn’t have possibly botched anything so there is that. I just do not like seeing Kairi used in such a weak way. She is tougher than that and shouldn’t be made to look so weak.

 

IIconics Backstage

Now this was interesting, and I know people will wonder why because it is the IIconics and people love to hate them. Peyton and Billie were clearly distraught over losing the match and Billie seemed to blame Peyton because she caused the DQ. Peyton told Billie she got caught up in the moment and Billie would surprisingly slap her. I thought this would lead to a fight but instead Billie quickly apologized and the two hugged it out. I am hoping they are able to come together and get another match against Alexa and Nikki because they are the only real team that can feud with them. Plus, the IIconics are awesome and I will continue to say that.

 

Kairi & Asuka Backstage

This scene completely played out like something you would see in an anime. Friend is hurt, hero goes to check on them, friend says it was the big enemy, hero gets mad and goes after said enemy. It played out like that exactly and I loved it. Asuka would eventually find Nia and get in her face. Nia tried to be dismissive of Asuka but Asuka threw her down and hit her with a kick. Looks like we are getting the more aggressive Asuka and Nia is being Nia.

 

Shayna Baszler vs Natalya

This might honestly be the worst submission match I have ever seen. This had all the makings of being a good one but boy did the ball get dropped here. The match wasn’t given any time and there was no room to breathe. It became evident how this match was going to go and that worked to the detriment of it. Natalya looked decent at first, but Shayna took over and made her tap with the Kirifuda Clutch. This match was just bad, and it was by no means Shayna’s fault or Nattie’s for that matter. This was just a poorly booked match and one that this episode could have gone without. Natalya had another weak sauce tantrum after the match and she really needs lessons in how to throw a tantrum from Alicia Fox. NOBODY threw tantrums better than her.

 

The Kevin Owens Show

Man was it nice to see Owens back in the ring this week. He has been taking some time off to deal with an ankle injury that seems like wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I loved how he looked around at the mess left by Natalya and just had that look of “nothing has changed” on his face. He introduced his guests for the evening, and they were Zelina Vega, Andrade, Angel Garza and Austin Theory. They were shown arguing again prior to coming out and Zelina had to get the in check. Spoken as someone that has been around many Latinas in his life, you do NOT want to get a Latina angry at you. I love how Zelina tried to get ahead of Owens and say that she would not let him stir the pot to drive a wedge between her guys. She told Owens that he was being disrespectful by standing on the apron and I love how Owens said there was a simple reason for that. He said he had another guest and introduced Apollo Crews and he came sprinting to the ring. He went right for Andrade and the two had a fight. Owens and some of Zelina’s guys tried to break up the fight as they went to commercial.

 

KO & Apollo vs Andrade & Garza

This match was a lot shorter than I expected but that ended up being for a reason. Owens looked great in his first match since Mania and Apollo looked great as well. That man has clearly hit another gear and feels nothing like the man we saw in 2019. Some fun back and forth action and some miscommunication between Theory and Garza would allow Apollo to hit him with his finisher for the win. After the match is when things got interesting as Andrade and Garza would beat down Theory. They have kicked him out of their group and Zelina gave the seal of approval by slapping Theory as Garza and Andrade held him. It sucks to see Theory get kicked out, but he didn’t really fit that group anyways. Maybe they will recruit someone else or maybe they will stand pat with what they have.

 

Drew McIntyre Backstage

Drew was interviewed backstage about his upcoming match with King Corbin and I loved it. He spoke about how dream matches can happen with the brand to brand invitational and I loved how he mocked Corbin being king. He did give Corbin props because he knows how dangerous he can be because he will do whatever it takes to win. Drew then showed his confidence by saying that he will defend his home turf and had a Claymore with his name on it. That is a match I am certainly looking forward to.

 

Axe Throwing Part 2

The Viking Raiders were showing their prowess in throwing axes and I loved how the Street Profits knew they may be in over their head here. That didn’t stop them though as Montez stepped up and said he would get his Tiger Woods on. That is when Ivar had me dying by being worried there was a tiger in the woods. Montez then threw a bit too hard as the axe he threw went flying into the distance and missed the target by a whole lot. They would cut to commercial and come back to see Dawkins give his try at throwing an axe. He tried but let go before he could give a proper swing and would hit a barrel of what I assume was mead. Ivar and Erik had to hold everybody back from attacking the Profits because they were not too happy about that.

 

Murphy vs Aleister Black

I was excited for this match, but the excitement quickly changed when I noticed Austin Theory was still ringside. I instantly had flashbacks to when Murphy became a disciple of Rollins and pretty much figured it was going to happen again tonight. Solid stuff from both men as they have amazing chemistry with each other. Rollins made his way to a fallen Theory and you could see he was slowly working his magic on him to make him a believer. Rollins picked up Theory and told him that he knew what to do and he attacked Aleister. That would cause a DQ, but it didn’t stop Murphy and Theory to double team Aleister. They beat him down and Theory would hit him with his finisher. Rollins would embrace Theory after the match and Murph did not look all that pleased to see a new disciple enter the ranks. This could lead to Murphy turning on Rollins and maybe even a feud between the two down the line. Imagine how great those matches would be.

 

Axe Throwing Finale

The Vikings were clearly the better of the two teams in axe throwing as they outdid the Profits when the challenge finally happened. I did like that the Profits hit the target a few times, so they weren’t completely shut out. The police would eventually come and ask who threw an axe through their windshield. They said there was only one way to prove that and it was to see someone throw an axe. I was confused by that but it did lead to Dawkins hitting the target by throwing an axe over his shoulder so there was that. A female officer would eventually let them off with a warning because she found Ivar cute. She couldn’t say the same for Erik and I wonder how any of them could keep a straight face there.

 

Apollo Crews Backstage

Who would have thought that if you let a guy talk and stop being a smiling babyface that he could be this good? That is exactly what is happening with Apollo and we are seeing him blossom before our very eyes. The man is coming into his own and he made it clear that he wants another shot at Andrade and the US title. Zelina would walk in and ask him if that is what he really wants because Andrade will not take it easy on him. Apollo said he knows what he wants, and he wants the US title. The match would be made official for next week and that is sure to be a good one.

 

Drew McIntyre vs King Corbin

This ended up being a pretty good match and made me state in the DD that Corbin is highly underrated in the ring. Before getting into the match though, MVP came out with Lashley before the match and MVP cut a promo. He pretty much made it known that Lashley wants a shot at Drew and he wants the WWE Championship. They would stay atop the entrance ramp for the entirety of the match. The match itself was pretty good and Corbin has some good chemistry with Drew. I will say this that I think Corbin is the Miz of this generation. By that I mean a solid worker that is a great heel and is totally underrated and people do not realize how good he is. People didn’t wan to admit how good the Miz was until his legendary promo on Talking Smack and I hope we don’t have to wait that long for the masses to acknowledge how good Corbin is. Again, good stuff between Drew and Corbin here and it did look like Corbin was on the verge of winning here. That ended up not being the case as Drew hit him with a very good Claymore and picked up the win. Drew talked some smack to Lashley as Raw came to a close. Looks like we are getting Lashley versus Drew and this will work while they wait to build Jinder versus Drew for Summerslam. Yes, I am still willing it to existence, and I will not stop!

 

Final Statement

Overall, this was a solid Raw with a clear lull during the second hour. They haven’t had many of those in recent months, so it is a shame that it happened this week. The main event was solid and so was the opening segment. I enjoyed the Viking Raider/Street Profits stuff with axe throwing and I enjoyed Apollo showing his development. Theory joining Seth has me intrigued and I will love to see how he meshes with Murphy. It was also great seeing Kevin Owens back and I hope we can see more of him. Outside of that, there was plenty of meh level stuff and I really disliked the submission match between Shayna and Natalya. Again, solid Raw that clearly had a better first and third hour compared to the second hour. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and make sure you join me next week for another Sovereign Statement.