We are now at the first Raw after Backlash and that was a fun show. It featured Edge/Orton and that instantly became my match of the year. We are also seeing the first Raw in the Prichard era and it will be interesting to see how he books Raw. Smackdown has been a bit hit and miss in comparison to Raw in my eyes, so I am interested to see his approach to the red brand. There is plenty to look forward to with this week’s episode as Asuka and Nia Jax are having a rematch for the title and Randy Orton will discuss what happened last night. Let us see what the first Prichard led Raw has for us this week.
Randy Orton In-Ring
Randy Orton’s promo work during this feud with Edge has just been fantastic and this was another great promo by him. He came out to talk about his win over Edge and it was great. He spoke about how he had to do this and how Edge tore his triceps and had surgery to repair it. Orton was just great here and he continued when he spoke about how Edge can now spend time with his family. He even added in how Edge can take him on again when he is cleared again in another nine years. That would bring out Christian and he had enough of what Orton was saying about his best friend. Orton was great here as he talked trash to Christian about always being second to Edge and how jealous he is of Edge that he was able to get cleared while he has not. Orton would eventually challenge him to an unsanctioned match and said the offer expires at the end of Raw. Orton and Christian were great here and this was a nice lesson in promo work by two legends.
Angel Garza & Zelina Vega Backstage
Angel is just blossoming before our eyes with each passing week and I love it. The man just oozes charisma and he truly does remind me of Eddie Guerrero. I know he said he hasn’t taken inspiration from him recently, but it is hard not to see the parallels. He spoke about how Andrade lost on Sunday and how he plans to beat Owens tonight and asked Charly to possibly give a special interview after. I love how he uses his charm on Charly and even started to use it a bit on Zelina. Andrade came in and wished Angel luck, but it didn’t sound genuine one bit. You can see how Zelina is getting fed up with them butting heads and I like it.
Angel Garza vs Kevin Owens
This was a fun little match, but this really was more about Andrade and Garza’s friction more than the match between Garza and Owens. Andrade came out early in the match to ringside to presumably put his differences aside with Garza and cheer him on. Solid back and forth in this match and Zelina would end up leaving during the match because she is sick and tired of the two men that she manages fighting. You never make a Latina mad because you know it will bite you in the butt and I love how Andrade and Garza both sold that feeling here. The match continued and Andrade would trip Owens to try and help Garza, but the referee caught wind of it. Andrade ended up causing a distraction that would allow Owens to pick up the win. Andrade and Garza continued to argue when Zelina would come back and whip her boys back into some shape. She told them to stop fighting and for them to put everything aside so they can work together. Seems like she has them on the same page for the time being, but we shall see what happens next week.
MVP & Lashley Backstage
MVP and Lashley were backstage talking about how MVP made his promise to Lashley to bring him to prominence when they were approached for an interview. MVP took issue with it but Lashley was the cooler head when he said they were discussing strategy. They were then asked about Lana and MVP said that Lashley was screwed out of the possible win. MVP said they were going to address everything right now and they headed to the ring. MVP and Lashley are certainly a good team because MVP does all the talking that Lashley is none too good at.
MVP & Lashley In-Ring
MVP and Lashley came out to the ring and continued talking about how Lashley was screwed out of the WWE Championship the previous night. MVP called Drew McIntyre a coward for not granting an immediate rematch to Lashley and put all the blame on Lana. That would of course bring out Lana and she had a war of words with MVP. MVP called her a “thot” that only cares about social media and Lana didn’t take too kindly to that line. Lashley would intervene and call out Lana for putting their lives out on blast on social media and Lana said she never meant harm by it. She said she didn’t do it for attention because she would have gotten with someone more famous if she wanted that. This would all lead to Lashley wanting a divorce and it is clear to me that MVP has broken up this marriage. We will see how this all plays out because I doubt this will go down civilly.
Viking Raiders & Street Profits Backstage
I was so ready to crap on all the Viking Raiders and Street Profits stuff but now I just want them to continue and never end. These segments have only worked because both teams are giving their all to it and I have loved it. They were backstage talking about everything that has happened when Akira Tozawa would appear with his ninjas. He said he wants a sequel and I love how Dawkins told him he wouldn’t be in it. This would all lead to Akira bringing out his giant ninja and this would seemingly set up a tag match between the two groups.
Viking Profits vs Akira’s Ninjas
That is a title I thought I would never name a segment/match but here we are. I love that the Profits did their full crowd entrance and I have to think they had to get clearance to do that with everything going on. This wasn’t much of a match as the Viking Profits took care of Akira’s ninjas with ease and those four men have some good chemistry with one another. Akira brought in his giant ninja and the Viking Profits retaliated by summoning their own giant, the Big Show. Akira would retreat with his giant ninja while Show cleared the ring of the rest of the ninjas. These two segments were just a lot of fun and that is what you have to remember. All too often we want our wrestling to be serious, but we need these moments of levity because you just cannot take life all too seriously all the time.
Seth Rollins Backstage
I have said it once and I will say it again, Seth is totally nailing this role of his. He is nailing this cult like leader way better than another person that is trying a gimmick similar to this one in another company that used to be with WWE. Seth showed joy in knowing that Dominik would be appearing on Raw and said that he could even sense him around the area. He said he had Murphy and Austin Theory searching the premises so he could know when Dominik arrived. Seth is just on another level with this character and I really think this is my favorite version of Seth in WWE. He said he was going to come out to the ring because he had something to say and that is what he went to do.
Christian was backstage and he was on the phone discussing the challenge made by Randy Orton. He sounded conflicted on what he was going to do because he isn’t cleared to compete. I liked it and this won’t be the last time we see Christian trying to figure out what to do.
Seth Rollins In-Ring
Seth came out and spoke about how he invited Rey Mysterio to Raw this week and how he invited Dominik as well. Seth continued to talk about how Rey was sacrificed for the greater good and how Rey declined the invite. He then moved on and spoke about how Dominik came to Raw on behalf of his family and Rey Mysterio would appear on the screen. Rey spoke about how he didn’t know Dominik was coming to Raw and that he would have stopped him has he known. This is probably the best Rey has been on the mic in a minute and Seth was stellar as usual. Seth spoke about how he wanted Rey to talk Dominik to join Seth’s group, but Rey was going to do that. Seth then said that he may have to sacrifice Dominik if he will not join the group. Seth would end up getting down on his knees and Dominik would appear behind Seth and he would attack Seth. Dom looked great in attacking Seth and he would be able to evade Theory and Murphy at ringside. Dom looked quick as well and it is clear he has been putting in work on his body and his in-ring stuff. This was a solid segment and I loved how angry Seth was over the actions of Dominik.
MVP & Lashley Backstage Again
I am really bumping this grade up for one reason and that is because of R-Truth. I will keep saying that I think he is a hall of famer and I hold true to that statement. The one thing that he has in his favor for the possible future induction is that he constantly is able to make Vince laugh and if he is continuously on Vince’s good side, that could mean he gets enshrined. Back to this segment, and Truth approached MVP and Lashley backstage about what has been going down with Lashley and Lana. Truth was his usual hilarious self but Lashley and MVP had no time for that. They teased that they would beat him down and Truth took off before that could happen and Raw would go to commercial.
They came back from commercial and MVP and Lashley found Truth under a ring and Truth was fighting off ninjas under there. That was hilarious and MVP and Lashley looked ready to beat him down when Drew McIntyre would appear. This led to a back and forth between them all and MVP would propose a winner take all match with the 24/7 Championship and the WWE Championship on the line in their tag match. Before Drew could really answer, Truth jumped the gun and said they were on. Drew reluctantly agreed and he did not look happy about that.
Liv Morgan & Natalya vs The IIconics
I will be honest here, most of the grade for this is because of the IIconics and their promo after the match. I have no clue why Liv and Natalya are a team because Natalya is beyond boring at this point. Liv could be a bigger star, but they have stuck her with some weird gimmick that makes no sense. This match wasn’t that long, and this really was just for the IIconics to get another win. They would indeed pick up the win and Natalya didn’t look happy about it. Peyton and Billie would then get on the mic and talk about how they just made short work of Liv and Natalya. They then said they want another shot at Bayley and Sasha Banks and called them out because they know they are out there. They did not come out and the IIconics would then say they know some people that can make the match for next week. The IIconics are getting better and better and are reminding me of their old selves in NXT that we all fell in love with. Peyton and Billie are knowing when to be serious at the right moments and I am sure they are winning people over now. At least I hope they are because they have clearly put in the work.
Christian was backstage still contemplating when the Big Show would walk in. Show offered up some advice as to what Christian should do and warned him how dangerous Randy is right now. He said he would not let go of anything Randy said and that he would accept his challenge. Show is unsure whether Christian should, but it looks like he is figured out what his answer is.
Natalya & Liv Backstage
I could honestly care less about this segment. Natalya blamed Liv for the loss and said she has no respect for what she has done. Okay…? This was just not very good and that is truly because Natalya is just not good on the mic at all. Lana then appeared and chimed in about how Lashley is leaving her. I guess these two will become a team of sorts now. I honestly have no interest in seeing Natalya in stories anymore because she just cannot match what the other women on the roster can do on the mic. Liv actually said more with silence in this than Natalya did with words. That is telling of how bad she is at promos.
Christian Gives His Answer
Christian made up his mind and he was on the entrance ramp to give it. He was joined by Charly and he said he accepts Randy’s challenge for an unsanctioned match tonight. I like that he didn’t drag it out and was straight and to the point. You don’t always need long winded promos when keeping it short and sweet will do the job.
Apollo Crews Backstage
Now this was interesting because of what would follow. Apollo was working out a bit backstage when he was approached by MVP. MVP tried to impart some advice on Apollo about how to keep a title in WWE. MVP spoke about how Apollo cannot keep doing the same things he is doing because eventually it will cost him a match and the title. MVP offered up his services, but Apollo declined because he feels like he can do it. MVP didn’t look too angry about the decline from Apollo and that may be because he knows something we don’t.
Ric & Charlotte Flair Backstage
I have no idea what this segment was about or what its purpose was on Raw. This just felt like a random reason to have Charlotte on Raw and that’s about it. SKIP!
Apollo Crews vs Shelton Benjamin
Apollo has new music and I must say that I dig it. I enjoyed his old theme because it felt like something you can workout to but this one is also good. I had honestly forgotten that Shelton was on Raw and was a bit surprised he was out for this match. This match possibly could be a good one, but it was given no chance for that. It was fine but also short and it was more about Apollo than anything. MVP was shown in the back watching this match and I was wondering if he would come out at any point. He didn’t but I have to imagine he was happy with the way Apollo picked up the win. Apollo would rollup Shelton and hold onto the ropes in order to win. A bit of heelish tactics by Apollo and we may be heading towards that long-rumored heel turn for Apollo.
Truth was backstage getting ready for the tag match when Akira would come up to him with his ninjas. He even had a ninja referee and it was clear he wanted the 24/7 Championship. I love how Truth was ready to take them all on, but they would leave once Drew McIntyre appeared behind him. Drew talked to him and asked him to get serious because of what he had to tell him. Drew told him that they could both lose their titles and Truth looked like he understood him. He told Drew to wait there because he knew what to do and he walked off.
Asuka is just a ball of energy and she brings that to interview segments as well. She was asked about the upcoming rematch with Nia and she said some things in Japanese like she always does. She then said she was ready to end things with Nia and that was that. Another short and sweet segment and it was done nicely.
Drew McIntyre Backstage
Drew was waiting for Truth backstage and Truth would inform him of what he did. Truth got the 24/7 Championship removed from the match, but the WWE Championship was still on the line. Drew did not look too pleased at that news, but Truth tried to reassure him that he can step up when needed. I love how Truth mixed in humor and seriousness here because it just showed the range that man has. He has been doing the comedy stuff for so long that you can forget that he can totally bring it on a more serious level. Check out his work in TNA before coming back to WWE if you want to see how well he can do that if you ever get the chance to.
Viking Profits Backstage
The Viking Raiders and Street Profits were backstage, and they were trying to figure out how to settle their series to find out who is better. They each had their own ideas when the Big Show would come up to them. They thanked him for helping them out and he in turn thanked them for the merch. Show would then say that the games should stop, and they should settle things by having a Raw Tag Title match next week to see who the better team is. That match would be made official and should be a good one.
MVP & Lashley vs R-Truth & Drew McIntyre
This was a fun match and I loved how upset Drew got with Truth when he tagged himself in. Truth reputation of being a comedy act and not the serious in-ring guy reared its head and Drew was dismayed when MVP and Lashley took control. This was a fun match and I had an inkling that Truth would be the one to score the win for his team and show Drew that he can step up when needed. The heels did a good job in beating down Truth and Drew came in strong when he was back in the match. The match would be won when Truth was able to evade an attack from Lashley on the outside and that caused a distraction for MVP in the ring and allowed Drew to hit him with a Claymore. Drew would then tag in Truth and launch him from the top rope with a big splash onto MVP for the win. Drew retains the title and Truth gets a moment to shine as well.
Christian Getting Ready
Christian was getting ready backstage for his unsanctioned match with Randy Orton when Ric Flair would walk in to try and talk him out of it. Christian wasn’t having any of that and told Ric that this was something he had to do. The problem with this is that it was so hard to understand anything Ric was saying, and I think he is at that age where doing things like this is just asking too much of him.
Sasha Banks & Bayley In-Ring
I think I enjoyed this segment more than most people did. I know some do not like Bayley, but I think she has come into her own as a heel. She has that arrogance of thinking she is the best and that she is a perfect role model down easy. They came out to speak about how they won at Backlash and the IIconics would eventually come out to interrupt. They made another claim for a title match, but Bayley and Sasha were not interested in that. Peyton and Billie then pointed out how they beat them last year at Wrestlemania and how it made Sasha and Bayley breakdown. Sasha and Bayley didn’t like that, and it would all eventually lead to Peyton slapping Sasha. Bayley would then agree to the match and Sasha didn’t look too, happy that she accepted the challenge. I totally want the IIconics to win the titles and be given a proper run with them. Also, I think the IIconics owned this segment and are really showing their mic skills are great whether doing comedy or getting serious.
Nia Jax vs Asuka
Honestly, I think this match was worse than their match at Backlash. It was clear that something screwy as going to happen that allowed Asuka to win and I do not know how I feel about that. Asuka should be booked strong and this finish was kind of weak. She and Nia had some back and forth and Nia would eventually push the referee. He was about to ring the bell for the DQ when Asuka would roll up Nia and he gave a bit of a quick count to allow Asuka to retain. I am sure Nia will use this as fuel to get a match with Asuka at Extreme Rules, but I am not looking forward to the prospect of that. Asuka should have won this match clean and moved on to her next challenger.
Christian vs Randy Orton
I knew we were in for something when I saw how much time was left. Both men came out to the ring and Ric Flair would come out to try and talk Christian out of the match one last time. Christian was having none of it and said he was going through with the match. The bell rung and Ric would hit Christian with a low blow and walk off. That would allow Randy to hit Christian with the Punt and he would pick up the win. Christian doesn’t look like he is cleared at all and you could tell that by the way Randy executed that Punt. He made sure not to get anywhere near possibly messing that kick up to protect him. Randy would then talk to the knocked out Christian and tell him how he didn’t want to do that, but he had to. The medical staff came in to help Christian and I love how Randy continued to talk to him as they helped him. He even told them that they need to help him all the way until the end of Raw. Randy is just on fire this year with this character and I wonder who his next victim will be.
All in all, this was a fun episode of Raw and a good start to the Prichard era. The only real low points were the Asuka/Nia match, that random Charlotte and Ric Flair segment, the random team of Natalya and Liv Morgan and the Natalya stuff after that. The IIconics were a definite highlight and so were the Viking Profits. The story with Randy and Christian was my favorite part of Raw and I thought the story was told very well. I enjoyed the Garza/Andrade stuff as well and I also dug the Seth Rollins stuff with Dominik. The MVP/Lashley stuff was great with Drew and Truth and I am curious to see what comes of the possible heel turn for Apollo and a possible partnership with MVP. Once again, fun episode of Raw this week and there are some good stories being build. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and make sure you join me next week for another Sovereign Statement.