I had no idea what to expect from this week’s episode of Raw because of all the COVID-19 stuff that has come out. I will say though that this episode was plenty of fun all around. I will also add that I noticed that more of the crowd at the PC were wearing masks and even the camera crew was. I don’t know if that is a new thing or not, but it was nice to see them in masks. I was intrigued by how they would handle the double contract signing because they rarely have multiple contract signings on one show. Spoiler for the review, I am leaving out the tribute to the Undertaker because anything I would have to say on the matter would be better served in a full article because none of us believe he is truly done. Let us jump right in and see what the red brand had for us this week.
Dual Contract Signings
Raw started off with a bang by having Asuka brawling with Sasha Banks and Bayley before the contract signing with Samoa Joe standing trying to get order. Joe called for the referees to come out, with a ton of authority in his voice to boot, and they would help break the ladies up. Samoa Joe would then take control and Dolph Ziggler would make his way out to the ring. Dolph would then be the one to introduce Drew McIntyre and the WWE Champion would make his way to the ring. Dolph would start talking and it was honestly hard to pay attention to what he had to say because he has little credibility nowadays. It did get better once Drew took to the mic because that man is totally nailing everything you want in a champion. Drew would end up telling Dolph that he will let him choose the stipulation for their match and Dolph tried to ham it up some more but Asuka would interrupt him. Asuka would sign her contract and say some words and then it was time for Sasha. I loved that Sasha busted out her old stamp from NXT to sign the contract because it was always a nice touch with her heel persona in NXT. Asuka would eventually knock Sasha out of the ring and Drew would toss Dolph out of the ring. The two champions stood tall in the ring and we would find out later in the night that the champions will take on their challengers in a mixed tag match later in the night.
Angel Garza, Zelina Vega & Andrade Backstage
This was a fun backstage segment and I liked how Garza was trying to smooth talk Jessika into possibly favoring his team in the match against the Viking Raiders. It did occur to me how she told Ivar that he was cute so maybe Garza was fighting a losing battle here. Zelina and Andrade would then pull up and Jessika would take that slight interruption to leave. Charly would then show up and you could see a hint of jealousy in her voice when she asked Angel what he was doing. Zelina would then tell her that Angel just wanted to make sure their match was called right now the middle and there was nothing more to it. The trio would then reiterate that they want a shot at the Street Profits and then the Big Show would come in and takeover the interview. He and Zelina had some back and forth and Show even threw some insults at Garza and Andrade. Show said he was there to say he was taking their spot next because he had some words for Randy Orton and that is what happened next.
Big Show In-Ring
Big Show as out in the ring and he was there to call out Randy Orton. Orton did not come out, instead Zelina Vega, Angel Garza and Andrade made their way out. Show didn’t have any patience with them and told them to leave unless they want to get some from him. He had some more back and forth with Zelina and even had some with Andrade and Garza. The two men started to surround Show around the ring when Ric Flair would come out. Honestly, it was hard to pick up what Ric was saying because it was so slurred and really sounded like an old man trying to speak when he doesn’t have it anymore. He said some stuff about Orton picking when he will fight and would eventually tell Andrade and Garza that they can attack Show. That would bring out the Viking Raiders to make the save and it would lead into their tag match.
Garza & Andrade vs The Viking Raiders
This was a fun tag match between these two teams. I know Lewis doesn’t like the tension between Garza and Andrade, but I am liking it. It is building like a nice bowl of chili over time and it is being done very well. It was no surprise how good the ring work was here given how great all four men are in the ring. I am a bit disheartened nothing happened between Ivar and Jessika but you could say she leaves her emotions at the door so she can call things fairly in the ring. Really fun back and forth and Andrade looked to be ready to walk away from the match but Zelina was able to bring him back for the rest of the match. I loved Zelina on commentary because she knows how to throw jabs at people with the best of them. Both teams looked to have the match won at various points, but the count always ended at 2.9 via a breaking of the pin or a kick out. Garza and Andrade would end up picking up the win when Garza would tag himself in to hit Erik with the Wing Clipper for the 3. Andrade did not look too pleased with Garza stealing his thunder but Zelina tried to assure him it was for the betterment of the team. Later in the night we would see Ric walk up the trio and propose something to them. That proposal would be a handicap match against the Big Show, and it would happen later in the night.
Ruby Riott Backstage
Oh, what a nice reminder that Ruby is golden on the mic. Ruby was backstage and the IIconics, two others that are golden, came up to her. They made fun of her because she has no friends and Ruby was quick to fire back at them that they lost last week in a tag title match. This was a fun back and forth and Ruby would eventually challenge one of them to a match and they could choose which one. I then loved how Ruby teased during their “IICONIC!” saying and pose but they told her not to. You can say what you will against them but do not take their catchphrase and pose. She ended up doing it and I loved Peyton and Billie’s reaction of disgust at it. All three women nailed this segment and I keep saying this, the IIconics are much better than many will try to tell you.
Akira Tozawa vs R-Truth
I have enjoyed Akira with the ninjas and this stuff with Truth, but this wasn’t it. I mean, it was okay but nothing special. Truth evaded the ninjas after he beat Akira and that was that.
MVP & Lashley Backstage
This was a nice segment here as Lashley showed his disdain for Apollo because he didn’t take MVP up on his offer to manage him. I liked how Lashley wanted to hear it from MVP that Apollo wasn’t getting any invites from him and MVP assured him that he was done chasing Apollo. They walked off and that usually would be it and the grade might be a bit lower, but they walked by Murphy and Seth Rollins. They exchanged looked and Seth would tell Murphy that he will need to deliver his most important message to date and that had me intrigued to see what would come after the commercial break.
Seth Rollins & Murphy In-Ring
This was a fun promo by Seth here as he came out to further explain why he is the Messiah and why Rey needs to embrace being a sacrifice. He did offer an apology to Rey but not for the things he has done, rather the things he will need to do if Rey does not accept his role in his mission. He spoke about how it will impact Rey and Dominik and the two would eventually appear on the screen. Rey flipped what Seth said and used it to say what he will do to Seth once he is able to get his hands on him. He spoke about how he was apologizing to Dominik because of what he must do to enact revenge on Seth on behalf of himself and their family. Dom accepted his father’s apology but would not accept Seth’s. Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo would eventually come out and chase Seth and Murphy from the ring. They would come back from commercial with Humberto and Aleister standing in the ring and Seth had some words for them. He asked them why they continue to help Rey when he doesn’t not reciprocate the same things to them. Humberto was first on the mic and I let out a groan because he is not very good. He was a bit better on the mic and that was primarily due to him speaking mostly in Spanish. Aleister would then take to the mic and explain how Seth is evil and he will make him pay for what he has done. Seth told Aleister he hasn’t seen nothing yet and the tag match between these two teams would be underway.
Seth Rollins & Murphy vs Aleister Black & Humberto Carrillo
As much as I will crap on Humberto’s mic work, I will never do that about his in-ring work. The man can get it done there, but he needs that mic work to be able to catch up to other Latino stars like Andrade, Angel Garza and Santos Escobar in NXT. This was a fun back and forth match between these four men and that should not be a surprise given how talented they all are in the ring. I loved that double team move by Seth and Murphy when Murphy had Humberto in the powerbomb position and Seth hit him with a knee from the top. That looked like a finisher, but it would not be the case. Plenty of back and forth in this match and Seth would end up picking up the win for his team. Aleister would attack Seth after the match but Murphy was able to save his Messiah. Seth and Murphy then worked over Aleister and would then turn their attention to Humberto. They would set him up to get his eye gouged but Aleister would come in for the save again. Seth would eventually hit the stomp onto Humberto on the ring step, Humberto was in a Rey Mysterio mask during this part, and he would retreat with Murphy after the act. I have enjoyed this story and look forward to where they go from here.
Drew McIntyre & Asuka Backstage
This was short but sweet and definitely a treat. Drew and Asuka were backstage discussing something when they were interviewed about their upcoming tag match. These two had some good chemistry with one another and you could just see they were having fun with this. Asuka said some things and then Drew took his turn to chime in. Drew spoke about Dolph and the reason he is leaving the stipulation up to him. He doesn’t want any excuses from Dolph when he loses so he is letting him pick the match type. Drew then said how Sasha isn’t ready for Asuka and I loved Asuka’s reaction to nailing her catchphrase. Asuka then told Drew that Dolph isn’t ready for him and that ended this fun segment.
Ruby Riott Backstage Warming Up
This low grade doesn’t go for what was said but more so the content of what was said. Lana probably was better on the mic here than she has been in months and Ruby sold everything she said very well. The problem is the person that Lana was talking about becoming a leader in the locker room was Natalya and she is someone I have no faith in that can pull that role off. Sasha and Bayley are doing great in their version of is and Madison Rayne was doing a great version of that as well in Impact. The segment was so meh that I forgot it happened.
Peyton Royce vs Ruby Riott
Peyton looked darn good in this match and I really want to emphasize that because so many people think that she and Billie Kay cannot work the ring, but they can. They have been asked to do the comedy schtick for so long that people forgot how good they were in NXT. Ruby is someone that has been underutilized and she clearly showed she can still do it in the ring here. Really fun back and forth match here and Peyton showed off some new stuff or at least stuff I hadn’t seen her do in awhile because of her and Billie being stuck as a comedy act. Billie would provide the distraction when needed and it was done well. Ruby did look to have the match in control, but the numbers game was too much and Peyton would end up hitting Ruby with a nice looking twisting brainbuster. It had some stank on it as well and this really feels like we are heading to a Liv Morgan/Ruby Riott reunion and I would not be opposed to that especially if it means we are getting another team for the women’s tag division.
Big Show Backstage
Big Show stumbled a bit here during this promo when he confused Garza and Andrade but rebounded enough to deliver a solid promo. He did speak about Randy Orton and how he wants a piece of him. I will say that it was distracting to see him drenched throughout the interview. Fine enough segment here and furthers Big Show wanting a piece of Orton.
Andrade & Angel Garza vs Big Show
This was a fine enough match but the real story of it was how Garza and Andrade continue to have friction with one another and seems inevitable that they will fight one another. Big Show was just there to further this story point, so the match was what it was. Show looked good in using his size but it would be Garza abandoning Andrade that would seal the deal. Garza would leave and Zelina would try to get him back, but he would not listen. Show would pick up the win and hit Andrade with the KO Punch for good measure after the match.
Apollo Crews & Co. Backstage
Apollo was warming up backstage with Ricochet and Cedric Alexander and huge props to Cedric for wearing a “BLM” armband. Apollo was talking to them and R-Truth would enter the segment and do what he does best. Truth asked if they were ninjas and called Cedric “Cedric the Entertainer” and called Ricochet “Richard O’Shea” and I was dying from it. I have no idea how Ricochet, Cedric and Apollo kept it together during this segment because I would have broken. Apollo told them that Truth knows what being a fighting champion is all about and Truth would agree with him before taking off.
MVP vs Apollo Crews
MVP and Lashley were the first to make their way out and MVP cut a promo before the match on Apollo. He spoke more about how he felt disrespected by Apollo for not accepting his offer and how it will come back to bite him in the behind. Apollo would then come out and cut a nice promo of his own to retort everything MVP said. Apollo said he is a self-made man unlike MVP, and he doesn’t need his help. Really solid promo work from both men before the match started.
The match itself was fine and served more to further this ongoing story of Apollo versus MVP/Lashley. I will say that MVP has looked better in the ring the last couple of times he has been out there, but you can still see a bit of age on him in certain moments. Apollo looked as crisp as ever and looked to have the match in hand when Lashley would distract him. That distraction allowed MVP to gain the upper hand and the victory. Apollo would attack MVP after but Lashley would put him in the Full Nelson to save MVP. Ricochet and Cedric Alexander would come down to save Apollo from Lashley and that would set up the next match after this.
Ricochet vs Bobby Lashley
I thought this would be a squash match, but it was far more than that. Lashley looked a bit unhinged at times and we have been missing that aggression with him since he returned. He has had moments of it, but this was a nice prolonged display of aggression by Lashley. I haven’t seen Lashley look like this since he was in TNA/Impact. Ricochet does make a good foil to take damage and he sold and bumped like a boss for Lashley here. Ricochet did have moments where he would make comebacks but Lashley would find a way to shut him down. Lashley started bleeding pretty bad from his ear at one point and I have to assume it was his cauliflower ear bursting a bit to cause that much blood to flow. It is common for MMA fighters to get that condition and have it burst a bit during fights and it would appear that was the case here. Especially when you saw where the blood was concentrated after the match and it appeared like cauliflower ear bursting to me. Lashley would end up beating Ricochet with the Full Nelson and would put Cedric in it too after the match. I will say that the blood just added to the heightened intensity I saw from Lashley tonight.
Dolph Ziggler, Bayley & Sasha Banks Backstage
Dolph tried but he was totally clowned on by Sasha and Bayley here. He tried to act like he was in charge and the two ladies just owned him by pointing out how much he was losing on Smackdown before coming to Raw. They told him to essentially listen to them because he had no advice to give to two champions. I did love how Dolph looked a bit dejected because he thought he had something to offer when he really didn’t.
Asuka & Drew McIntyre vs Sasha Banks & Dolph Ziggler
This was quite the fun main event and Drew really did work over Dolph’s chest with his chops this week. I would imagine they looked red, but it was hard to tell because of the spray tan all over Dolph. The chemistry was good with everybody here and it made for some fun sequences. I loved how Phillips looked dejected as heck when Bayley came over to the commentary table to join them because he sold his disdain for it so much. Like I mentioned last week, Bayley has begun to win me over and she has really grown into this role now. It is almost as if someone told he to just get loose with the character and that is what you are seeing now. I loved it when she distracted Asuka at one point and laughed at her for falling for it because she couldn’t believe she did. Drew basically owned Dolph throughout this match and Doph offered little to nothing in regard to winning this match. Sasha did all the heavy lifting and carried her team to victory. It reminded me a bit of how her team with Bayley is and it makes me wonder if this is a concerted effort to make Sasha look strong in these tag matches so she can use it in her promos whenever she and Bayley have their feud that they seem to have been building to for months now. This was a fun main event and Sasha would pick up the win by pinning Asuka. Sasha looks to be on a bit of a roll, and we will see what happens in her match with Io Shirai on Wednesday.
Overall, this was a fun episode of Raw with not much to complain about for me. The opening segment and main event were a ton of fun and did a good job in building to the respective title matches. I will also add that I loved Samoa Joe in the opening segment. He really sounded like an authority figure and it reminded me of William Regal in NXT. Maybe Joe could become that type of figure somewhere down the line in WWE. I am also enjoying seeing Andrade and Garza continue their bickering because Zelina is caught in the middle and you have no idea which way she is swinging on this. The Peyton/Ruby match was fun as well and so was the segment between the IIconics and Ruby before the match. The Viking Raiders match with Garza and Andrade was solid as well. The Seth stuff between him and Rey was great and the tag match and subsequent stuff after was great too. The MVP/Lashley feud with Apollo is building nicely and I liked seeing this aggressive side of Lashley come out in his match with Ricochet. I could take or leave the Big Show stuff because I don’t think it worked as well this week because Randy wasn’t there. I did not care for Lana hyping up Natalya and the 24/7 Championship stuff was a bit forgettable too. All in all, good episode of Raw this week. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another Sovereign Statement.