I honestly had no idea what to expect from this week’s episode of Raw, but man did they deliver with some great segments to start and end Raw. That is not to say the middle was bad but those two segments, especially the ending, were superb. Asuka was taking on Bayley with the ability to secure a title match against Sasha Banks if she came out the victor. There was also Randy Orton versus Kevin Owens to look forward to as well. Bianca Belair was set to take on Zelina Vega and if you have not seen her attack Zelina during a Twitch stream, do yourselves a favor and do so because it is amazing. We also had more of the Raw Underground to look forward to and we would see what Retribution would be up to. Enough with the intro and let us see what Raw had for us this week.
I just love that Samoa Joe is the one serving as moderator for this contract signing because he added so much to it. I loved how he mentioned what happened last week and that he must remain impartial since he is not cleared to compete currently. I certainly feel like the seeds are being planted for an eventual Seth/Joe feud and I cannot wait for that. This was a very nice contract signing and I loved that Dominik Mysterio came out with a kendo stick. I liked the theme they had for him too, but it could be better as they say. Dominik was out there to sign two different contracts as one was for the match against Seth and the other was for him to become an official WWE superstar. Really good stuff from Seth here on the mic and I loved how Joe had retorts for what Seth had to say. Dominik was much better this week than he was last week, and I wonder if he does better when he has others around him opposed to being by himself. He is young so he can get the hang of it, but it is nice to see his confidence grow a bit on the mic. Both men would sign the contract for their match and Dominik signed the one to become an official member of WWE. I enjoyed how Seth told him to bring the kendo stick and any other weapon because he cannot beat him in a traditional match. He then told him to get out of the ring and watch as he beats Humberto Carrillo in his match that was coming next. Really solid opening segment here and continues the nice build for their match.
Seth Rollins vs Humberto Carrillo
Honestly, I have lost all interest in Humberto and he really needs something to bring it back. The man is just so devoid of personality and he needs something to bring it out. He is fantastic in the ring, but he needs that other thing to take him to that level of Andrade, Angel Garza and Santos Escobar. In fact, send him to NXT and have him join Escobar’s stable so he can learn a thing or two about charisma. This match was fine enough, and I knew that Seth would most likely win because all Humberto does is lose nowadays. That would indeed happen as Murphy tried to get involved but Dominik would hit him with the kendo stick for his troubles. That wouldn’t bother Seth though as he powerbombed Carrillo and would hit him with the Stomp for the win. After the match is when things got really good.
Dominik Mysterio Beat Down
This was both amazing and brutal to watch. Murphy would attack Dominik after the match and Dominik would fight back but the numbers game was too much. Dominik did try his best against Murphy and Seth, but the odds were against him. Things then took a turn to the brutal side as Seth would just lay into Dominik with the kendo stick and gave him some serious welts. Seth would continue to beat him down as he would tell Murphy to join in when they tied him up in the ropes and had ripped his shirt off. Murphy would attack his back and Seth would attack his front and continue the beat down until Dominik broke free of the ropes due to the beating. Seth would tease a Stomp but would leave him laying in the ring. I loved that Seth would talk trash to Rey Mysterio in the camera in between shots and Seth was in prime form as a heel here. This was a tremendous beat down segment and Dominik has certainly earned his first stripes in WWE. Not many young talents in WWE would probably do something like this, especially a legacy talent, but he did and took this like a champ.
Andrade vs Angelo Dawkins
This was a nice little match, but the story really was about the promo Zelina Vega cut before the match. She and Angel Garza accompanied Andrade to the ring for his match and Zelina would reiterate that she did not poison Montez Ford last week. She is really making it known that she did not do it and I kind of believe her. I mean it would be predictable for it to be her or one of her crew, but it would be nice if it was someone we did not expect. Dawkins would then come out and the match would commence. Solid enough match and I like that Dawkins is getting a chance in a solo match against one of the best workers on the roster right now. Zelina would try to get involved but Bianca Belair would come out to put a stop to that. I liked how quick Garza backed down from her because he didn’t want none of Bianca. That distraction would prove beneficial to Dawkins as he would hit Andrade with his finisher for the win. Big win for Angelo and Bianca would throw Zelina into the ring for their match as Raw went to commercial.
Bianca Belair vs Zelina Vega
Nice little match here but you could see some obvious spots where each woman was waiting for the other one to get in position for their next spot. That little thing would take me out of it, but it was still a nice match. This match does bring up the thought that Zelina should get more in-ring time, but she is such a perfect manager that it will always take precedent over her ring work in WWE. I loved that Zelina would yell to Bianca that she didn’t do it every chance she got, and I have not heard “I didn’t do it!” that much since the episode of the Simpsons where Bart became famous for saying his catchphrase on the Krusty the Clown Show. Good enough match and Zelina looked good there. Bianca was able to show off her power, much to the delight of the master of the power game Samoa Joe, and that power is what got her the win. Bianca and Dawkins would give an interview after the match and I really liked how Bianca says she and Montez keep their business separate but sometimes they have to come together. Dawkins would then be the one to give an update on Montez and said he would be ready for the tag title match at Summerslam.
I have been digging MVP with the Hurt Business, but I have not been digging how often they use the VIP Lounge. I have spoken about it before and will continue to say they have used it too much and it has lost a bit of its luster. That being said, I did enjoy it once Apollo Crews would eventually join in. MVP blamed his loss last week to Apollo on the lights and says there is a conspiracy against him. I guess that could be true, but a loss is a loss is a loss. MVP would call out Apollo and he would make his way out. I will say that the new US Title isn’t all that bad looking the more I have gotten to see it but that could just be me getting used to it. Either way, this segment really was brought up by Apollo and he had a bit of that champion’s swagger. He told MVP he continues to make excuses for his losses and bragged about carrying around the new US Championship. They continued with the back and forth and Apollo would eventually get in the ring and clear it. He really did clear it too because he would chuck a couch from inside the ring to the outside as Raw went to commercial.
Apollo Crews vs Shelton Benjamin
This match was fine and nothing really that special to speak about honestly. The work was fine, but nothing really happened other than seeing Apollo lose to Shelton because of shenanigans. Again, the work was solid but just wasn’t the most interesting thing that happened. The stuff after the match was more interesting as Lashley went to put Apollo in the Full Nelson but MVP would stop him. MVP would tell Lashley that he needs Apollo to be healthy for their match at Summerslam. Lashley would let Apollo go but MVP would try to sneak attack Apollo. That attempt would be thwarted though as Apollo would kick MVP and escape from any harm from the Hurt Business.
Yeah, I am going to forgo a grade for the Retribution stuff again this week because I just don’t know how to feel about group. This week they started by throwing a cinderblock through a glass door and I guess that was supposed to be menacing. It really came off as more of an annoyance and inconvenience and I just do not know what to feel about the group so far.
Mickie James Interview
I’ll be honest here, I completely forgot about this segment. Mickie was welcomed back on tv with this interview and she was interrupted by the pair of Lana and Natalya who were dressed in matching dresses. Yeah, I just did not care for this segment at all and I guess it is leading to a match between Natalya and Mickie. Lana was the one with the most charisma here, followed by Mickie and then Natalya. Sorry, I just don’t buy Natalya in this role and this whole thing fell flat.
I love how they have made Ivar into a ladies man and did it without taking away any of his aggression as a member of the Viking Raiders. He has simply bought in that the ladies think he is cute, Erik not so much and it is great. I mean this was a throwaway segment with Erik, Ricochet and Cedric Alexander telling him to get ready, but I did like that little bit with Ivar and the woman.
Cedric, Ricochet & The Viking Raiders vs Akira & Ninjas
This was a match that happened, and the faces won. Yeah, that basically sums it up because nothing happened during this match. The only reason this does not get a zero skull is because R-Truth would regain the 24/7 Championship by disguising himself as one of Akira’s ninjas and rolling him up on the ramp. Outside of that, nothing much to see here.
Drew McIntyre Interview
Have I mentioned how much I love Drew on the mic? I have? Well I will say it again here because he was great on the mic. He spoke about Randy Orton and how he has not helped out any of the young talent like the veterans that came before him. He mentioned how he has done that so he can survive at the top and I liked the logic there. Drew would even mention how Randy was given the torch by Mick Foley and how he has not passed it on to anybody. Drew plans on taking that torch from Orton at Summerslam and that seemed to be the end of the segment. That was until Charly mentioned that what if Kevin Owens were to beat Orton tonight and Drew would simply say that he would have to have a talk with Owens. Nice interview segment here and Drew continues to look like a million bucks as champion.
Liv Morgan vs Peyton Royce
Honestly, my favorite part of this match was the promo by the IIconics prior to the match. I know I have stated how much I enjoy the duo and I think they are unfairly ripped on but that is because you can see the talent there. They were serious in the promo and I loved it. They know how to jump from being a comedy act to a more serious duo quite well. They spoke about Liv and Ruby’s back and forth between being friends and enemies and even ended with a more serious version of their catchphrase. The match itself was fine enough and Peyton would end up picking up the win with her finisher. It was caused by a distraction as Billie Kay would try and be the distraction but Ruby Riott ended up being the true distraction that would cost Liv the match. Maybe things are not all that peaceful in Riott Squad-land quite yet.
Raw Underground Part 1
Just like last week, I am going without a grade here. It is just so hard to come up with a grade for these Raw Underground segments because I do not know what to make of them. I would like to know what the end goal for this is because it just feels like random time filler right now. I will say though that this did more for Riddick Moss than being partnered with Mojo and being 24/7 Champion ever did. He showed a more vicious side and really took it to his opponent. I will also add that I do enjoy that they keep the segments short. Sorry for no grade again but I just cannot figure out my feelings on it.
Asuka vs Bayley
It is just amazing how Asuka can work with just about anybody in the ring. That isn’t to say that Bayley isn’t great, we all saw her classics in NXT, but it just says that Asuka can get the best out of her opponents as long as their name isn’t Nia Jax. Really good match here between these two and plenty was on the line as well. Asuka needed the win so she could get her rematch with Sasha Banks and Bayley was trying to prevent that from happening. Really good back and forth in this match and the two really worked well together. I did love how Bayley would mock Kairi Sane at times and she really has grown into a proper heel. Asuka was a bit more vicious in this match too and it reminded me a bit of her NXT run. I loved the finish of the match because it looked like Bayley would have the momentum for the win but Asuka would hit a beautiful transition from armbar into the Asuka Lock for the win. Asuka gets her rematch at Summerslam and the two-woman power trip may be in trouble.
Raw Underground Part 2 & 3
This was the next Raw Underground segment and this one featured Arturo Ruas. Ruas spent time in EVOLVE and NXT and he does have some talent in the ring. He got to show it off here as he made quick work of his opponent. I will say that I liked how Shane McMahon hyped him up and listed his accolades prior to the match/fight.
I decided to group the third part with the second part because it happened after the commercial break. Babatunde is now known as “Dabba-Kato” and it isn’t the worse name they could have chosen. He would make quick work of his opponent and I loved that Shayna Baszler would step up to him. Shane would end up telling Dabba-Kato to back down and Shayna would go searching for someone to take on. She would eventually take on one woman and then another and then another. Eventually she would take all three on at once and make quick work of them all. Shayna is a fighter, and this certainly highlighted that for sure.
Retribution Outside Again
I just really do not know what to think of this group so far. They were by a flipped over car and were banging on it a bit in celebration. The visual was okay but needed more to be taken seriously. They should have been throwing Molotovs at it to really make a point in saying they are doing something. This worked even less for me than the previous segment in the night, but I will hold out my judgement on the group until I see something more from them on Raw. Unless this is all we get from them on Raw and they save the big stuff for Smackdown.
Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens
This was the main event match of the evening and it was quite the solid one. Orton has somehow found new life in 2020 and has really upped his game. Owens is great in the ring and it is not shocking to say that he helped put in a good match. Solid back and forth between the two and I liked how they each went for their finisher early in the match. Good work from both men in this match and I wondered if we would see Drew McIntyre make an appearance at any point during this match to maybe cause somewhat of a distraction to Orton. That ended up not happening and we got a rather clean match from both men here. Like I said, solid back and forth and Randy would end up picking up the win. That wouldn’t be all though as Randy would tell Ric Flair, who accompanied him to the ring, to stay put because he had to discuss some things with him as Raw went to its final commercial break.
Orton & Flair In-Ring
No words, absolutely no words that I type will do this segment any justice. This is simply one of the best segments of the year and one that must be seen with your eyes. Orton and Flair killed this segment and you just could not take your eyes off of what you were witnessing. I have stated how 2020 is the year of Orton and he proved it again tonight. He was on fire here and spoke about his history with Flair and how Flair wishes Orton was the son he never had. I have been critical of Flair on the mic since being paired with Orton, but he dug in deep and showed why he is one of the all-time greats with his mic work here. Flair mentioned how he loves the spotlight and that he isn’t the same man anymore because he is just simply Charlotte’s dad now. He mentioned his health issues and how much he loves the people around him that includes Orton. He told Orton he wants to be around to see him break his title record, not John Cena’s, because he deserves the record. The two would end up to seemingly embrace with a hug and that would be it but there was more to come. Orton would end up hitting Flair with a low blow and set up for the punt in the corner. Orton would run towards Flair as the lights cut out, but you could hear the impact of the punt and the lights came back on to show a laid-out Flair in the ring. Orton sat by him but would quickly leave when Drew McIntyre came sprinting to the ring. Referees and medical would join him as he stared daggers into Orton and Orton would do the same. McIntyre would talk to Orton and question why he would do that to Flair as well and that he would take it out on Orton as Summerslam. This was just an amazing ending to Raw and I really did give you the cliff notes version of it. There is so much more to this ending that must be seen, and I sincerely hope you see the segment if you have not already because it is amazing on every level.
Overall, this was a very good episode of Raw that had three fantastic segments. The opening contract signing was great and so was the beat down of Dominik Mysterio by Seth and Murphy. The closing segment between Orton and Flair was simply amazing and created one of the best endings to any show across any company this year. The Asuka/Bayley match was a lot of fun and the Orton/Owens match was plenty of fun as well. The stuff between Zelina and Bianca was great, and I enjoyed that McIntyre interview segment as well. Still do not know what to make of Raw Underground or Retribution but I hope to come to some idea about both things in the coming weeks. I will say that I did not see any go-go dancers this week for Raw Underground and I hope they leave them out because they are not needed for it. All in all, really solid episode of Raw this week. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another Sovereign Statement.