It is go-home week for Summerslam and I must say that the build has been quite nice. The Seth/Dominik stuff has gotten better with each passing week and I am actually looking forward to their street fight on Sunday. The Asuka feud with Bayley and Sasha Banks has been build great as well and I am looking forward in seeing how Asuka does in two matches on Sunday. Lastly, we got the Drew/Randy stuff and that has been built brilliantly and I am totally looking forward to their match. We have another week of Raw Underground to look forward to and I am finally comfortable enough to provide a grade for those segments. Plenty of other stuff to look forward to so let us see how Raw went home for Summerslam.
Drew McIntyre In-Ring
Drew came out to start Raw this week and he had some things to say about Randy Orton. He spoke about what Randy has done and how he is disgusted that he punted Ric Flair. Ric has done so much for Orton and for him to do what he did just irks McIntyre in every wrong way. McIntyre kept talking about Orton when things started to go a bit wrong. Camera angles kept changing at a very high rate and clips of things that were unrelated to what was going on were also being played. It was quite obvious who was behind this and eventually a cameraman would run to a production truck to show that Retribution had found its way into it. They were smashing things and telling the staff members what to do. Eventually one of the production staff members would cut the feed and Raw would go into commercial. Drew was great here even with all the chaos and I liked what Retribution did. Though I will reiterate that I still feel like they are more of a nuisance on Raw and are perceived as more threatening on Smackdown.
Drew & Roster Backstage
Some members of the Raw roster were backstage, and they were talking about Retribution. Drew McIntyre would come in and pretty much tell them that they need to take the fight to Retribution, and he would be more than happy to lead the charge. Seth Rollins and Murphy would end up coming in and Seth would say he is the true leader of the locker room and if anybody should lead, it should be him. Drew would take issue with that and even Ricochet and Cedric Alexander would have some things to say. They would each tell Seth that Rey Mysterio is said to be attending Raw tonight and that news did not look to sit well with Rollins. Drew and Seth would end up getting into a face to face scenario but would be separated by the roster members. Solid segment here and I enjoy when we see the roster members interact with one another.
The Hurt Business In-Ring
The Hurt Business came out to the ring and MVP had some things to say. He spoke about Retribution and even called them out, but they would not appear. He would then start talking about Apollo Crews and how he feels it is more than a coincidence that Retribution showed themselves the week that Apollo returned. He went so far as to say that Apollo, along with Cedric Alexander, Ricochet and Mustafa Ali, are members of Retribution and that Apollo did this because it was the only way he could beat him for the US Championship. This would of course bring out Apollo and he would have a back and forth with MVP. It would lead to Apollo upping the ante in his match with Shelton Benjamin and that would be that if he wins, Shelton and Lashley would be banned from ringside for their match at Summerslam. MVP would agree to that and the match would take place after the commercial break.
Apollo Crews vs Shelton Benjamin
This match was alright really. Shelton is pretty much the member of the Hurt Business that is there to eat losses because they want to protect Lashley and MVP. It is a bit messed up but that is pretty much his role. He can clearly still go in the ring, but it did feel academic that Apollo would find a way to win here. R-Truth would end up running through the ring as he was being chased by Akira Tozawa and his ninjas and that would be the distraction Apollo needed to pick up the win. Shelton and Lashley are now banned from ringside but they would attack Apollo after the match. Ricochet, Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander would come down to make the save and they would start to leave with Apollo. Truth would end up making his way back to ringside and Shelton would pin him to reclaim the 24/7 Championship. MVP would then issue a challenge to Apollo that he could pick any two men for a six-man elimination match for later in the night that Apollo would accept.
Angel Garza Backstage
I really have no idea why this woman from the Bachelor, I apologize because I haven’t caught her name, keeps coming back around. She really isn’t adding much, and I am not feeling it. Garza was sweet talking her when Ivar would make his entrance to the segment. Garza had offered her a rose and Ivar would give her a turkey leg. This was all basically a way for the two men to have some trash talk before their match.
Ivar vs Angel Garza
I really enjoy seeing Ivar work the ring because he is able to do things not many men of his size can do. It makes me wonder what kind of matches we could get between Ivar and Killian Dain or Bronson Reed down in NXT. The match was fun, and it is nice to see Ivar work the ring with someone as good as Garza. There would be some other things going on as Angelo Dawkins was seen talking to that woman backstage. Plenty of back and forth in this match between both men but Garza would be the one coming out the victor. Dawkins would then appear on the screen and say that he had some security footage that would reveal plenty. Garza would run to the back and then Zelina would ask Samoa Joe at ringside if he knew what the video was. Joe would tell her that it is something to behold and Zelina would quickly walk off with Andrade. We will see how this plays out in after the commercial.
Angelo Dawkins Backstage
Zelina and crew would join Dawkins backstage and they tried to get whatever footage Dawkins had found away from him. Charly Caruso would even appear, and this would lead to Dawkins showing the video. The video would show Zelina seemingly being the one that poisoned Montez Ford’s red solo cup and she still tried to deny that was what was on the footage. She blamed Charly for doctoring it, but Dawkins wasn’t buying any of that. This would lead to Montez making his return and the Street Profits would attack Andrade and Garza. They would run off and the Street Profits would stand tall.
Natalya vs Mickie James
You may be wondering why this is getting two separate scores. Well it is quite simple because the match was a total waste and worthy of a SKIP! Natalya would win the match, but it is still a SKIP!
Now the second grade is all about what was going on outside of the ring at the announce table. Seth Rollins would show up with Murphy and would try to get information from Samoa Joe. Joe would egg Seth on by saying he looks shook and Seth would deny it. I loved Joe just egging on Seth over how worried he looked that Rey Mysterio would be returning to Raw. This would lead to Seth saying that Rey and Dominik would regret it if they showed up and that they would not even make it to Summerslam. I also loved how Phillips got up and Joe told him to sit back down and this is a little thing that may get overlooked. Phillips clearly still is a bit shook from when Seth confronted him, but Joe is there to always have his back.
Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Asuka & Shayna Baszler
Bayley and Sasha were the first to come out and they spoke about how they are the hardest workers because they appear on every brand and that they feel confident they can beat Asuka at Summerslam. They then had a little back and forth to figure out who will face Asuka first and Bayley would be the one to offer. Shayna would then come out and say that she will face whoever is the Raw Women’s Champion next after Summerslam and then Asuka would come out and tell Shayna that they are partners right now, but they will be opponents after Summerslam. Like stuff before the match even happens.
I enjoyed the match itself, but I just shook my head at the fact that Nia Jax appears and attacks Shayna but no DQ happens. The match was in progress but no DQ was even teased. Shayna would leave fighting Nia and that would leave Asuka in a handicap match for the majority of it. It was still fun but that little lapse in logic did take me out of the match a bit. Great back and forth and Shayna would return to the match. Shayna would end up picking up the win for her team by making Bayley tap and Bayley seems to be the one struggling at the moment while Sasha isn’t as much.
Cedric, Ricochet & Ali Backstage
I like this little bit of storytelling and it certainly reminds me of what happened with Dakota Kai in NXT. Apollo would show up while the three men were talking, and he would name who he chose to be his partners. He would pick Ali and Ricochet and that would leave Cedric feeling left out a lot like how Dakota felt when Rhea Ripley didn’t pick her for WarGames. Cedric tried to explain why he should have been picked but the other guys assured him this was for the best. We shall see if more comes out of this and I am wondering if this will lead to a heel Cedric. Randy Orton would appear after and it looked like he had some things on his mind.
McIntyre & HBK Backstage
I always love that whenever Shawn Michaels shows up on WWE television that he is wearing some NXT merch. The man clearly loves working in NXT and will always take the time to rep it. I liked the back and forth Shawn and Drew had here. The two reminisced a bit and Shawn tried to give Drew some advice. He told him to stay focused and to not let his emotions get the better of him because Randy will use that to his advantage. I did love how he gave props to Drew and told him that he truly is a guy worthy of being WWE Champion. Drew returned the favor by talking about how Shawn has been there for him since his return to the company and this was a nice segment.
Riott Squad Backstage
Ruby and Liv were backstage when they were approached by the IIconics. Billie and Peyton would continue their trash talking of them that they have been doing for quite some time now. Billie would also say how Peyton would be taking her place in her match against Ruby and I liked how Peyton was surprised by that but rolled with it because that is what good friends do. They would have some more back and forth and that seemed to be it. That was until the IIconics pointed in a direction and the camera panned to it to see Shayna Baszler talking to Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke. We will see what happens with them later in the night.
Ruby Riott vs Peyton Royce
Of all the versions of this match we have seen so far, this was probably my least favorite one. The ring work was fine enough but there just wasn’t enough heat to the match. I think they may have run Ruby versus the IIconics to the ground already and adding Liv Morgan to the mix hasn’t done much to bring it back up. Peyton would end up winning when Billie helped to cause a distraction on the outside that allowed Peyton to knock Ruby into Liv. Peyton would win and they continue to tease that things may not be completely fine in Riott Squad Land.
Raw Underground Part 1
I said I would start grading Raw Underground and here it is. I think the first few weeks were all done to establish it and now we are starting to see some stories unfold in it. Erik of the Viking Raiders was the first to fight and he made short work of his opponent. Dolph Ziggler was by Shane McMahon during this and would say that he was not very impressed by Erik’s performance. That would lead Erik to challenging Dolph to a fight and Dolph would oblige him. This was a nice and physical fight that Dolph would end up winning. Ivar would not take too kindly to the loss and he would pounce Dolph out of the ring and onto some of the spectators. I did enjoy this one and like that some story development is happening now and it isn’t something that is random.
Rey & Dominik Mysterio In-Ring
I liked that Rey had something covering the right eye opening of his mask and not just a blackening of it to sell that his eye was gouged out. Dominik also did a good enough job to sell the kendo stick attack from last week as well. They came out and Rey spoke about how he hated seeing his son take the beating last week because he should not have to witness something like that. He did give Dominik props though in standing up for his family’s honor and I liked that. Rey would eventually tell Dominik that he will be in his corner at Summerslam and that Seth will not win. Dominik would then talk and pretty much say that he is ready for this and that he will beat Seth. Seth and Murphy would then appear on the screen and Seth would laugh at the two injured superstars. Rey would call out Seth and Seth would tell him that if they come out there that they may not make it to Summerslam. They would oblige them by coming out, but this would be revealed to be part of the Mysterios’ plan because Dominik would provide kendo sticks and they would use them on Seth and Murphy. Really great way to cap off this feud before the match at Summerslam.
Cedric Alexander Backstage
Cedric was backstage and it was clear that Apollo not choosing him was still a bit on his mind. MVP would approach him and would continue to make his case for his services. He would end up telling him that the offer to join the Hurt Business is still there and I liked how Cedric tried to tell him why he won’t join but it would not deter MVP from making his case. MVP would eventually leave Cedric by himself and Cedric would slam his water bottle in frustration. It seems like Cedric doesn’t know what to do because he wants to be loyal to his friends, but he knows this could be a big opportunity to be elevated with the Hurt Business.
Raw Underground Part 2
This was the second Raw Underground segment and this one featured Arturo Ruas taking on Riddick Moss. This has a nice level of physicality in the fight and this really has made Riddick look so much better than when he was just Mojo Rawley’s friend. Ruas is someone I have liked, and I am enjoying seeing him get TV time. The fight would be a draw though as both men would end up on the outside and would fight the spectators. Shane would call it and the fight was a draw. I guess that was done to try and protect both men.
Apollo, Ricochet & Ali vs The Hurt Business
This match was fun but like many elimination style matches, it did take a minute before it really got started. The action was fast, and the eliminations were as well. Ali would be the first one gone, and he would be followed by Ricochet. Apollo stands all alone against the three members of the Hurt Business and we will see how it plays out. Apollo would end up eliminating Shelton and then the losses would continue to Shelton as he would get pinned by Cedric Alexander on the outside to lose the 24/7 Championship to him. Apollo would continue to fight by eliminating MVP, but the numbers game had taken its toll as Lashley would pin him to get the win for the Hurt Business.
Cedric Alexander vs Akira Tozawa
Not much to say about this match as it was for the 24/7 Championship. Akira would try to use his ninjas but that did not work out for him as Cedric would end up beating him with the Lumbar Check. Speaking of that, it really did look like Akira was close to landing on his head during that move and that might be the scariest bump I have seen someone take of that move since I have seen Cedric using it. Shelton Benjamin would end up coming out after the match and pin Cedric to reclaim the 24/7 Championship.
Raw Underground Part 3
This might have been my favorite of the Raw Underground segments. Marina Shafir was the next to take to the ring and she would be fighting a woman that I would find out after Raw was Brandi Lauren. Brandi was a talent in EVOLVE and had a killer match with Shotzi Blackheart at the EVOLVE Anniversary Show. Brandi has a huge upside and I hope this is a possible sign that WWE want to keep her around and possibly put her in NXT. Marina would end up making short work of her and she would be blindsided by Nia Jax. Shayna would then enter the ring to challenge Nia but as soon as the bell rang, Nia left instead of fighting Shayna. Nia would give one last kick to Marina as she left, and I have a feeling that we will see Nia and Shayna tangle in the Raw Underground.
Montez Ford vs Andrade
This was Montez Ford’s first match since the poisoning incident and the man is just so gifted in the ring. Andrade is as well and that made for a fun but short match. Montez is able to do things that not many can, and I really do want to see a match between Montez and Kofi Kingston one day. Heck imagine a match between Montez and Cesaro because Cesaro can work with anybody, in any style. Again, the match was short and Zelina tried to get involved but Bianca Belair would show up to take her out of the equation. That distraction would allow Montez to get the sneaky win on Andrade. The Street Profits seem to have all the momentum heading towards Summerslam.
Shawn is one of the greatest to ever do it and I did enjoy his promo here. I liked how he spoke about how much Ric Flair has meant to the industry and how he has influenced many superstars throughout the years. I liked how he mentioned Randy Orton in that list, but that Randy does not have the same feelings towards Ric because he punted him. Shawn didn’t waste any time in saying that Orton would meet his justice with a Claymore or Sweet Chin Music. I was surprised that he mentioned his move and I know some in the IWC wonder if this could lead to a match between the two. Shawn would start to leave but Randy would come from behind and hit him with an RKO and a punt for good measure. Drew McIntyre would come down and a fight would happen between Drew and Orton. It seemed like Drew got the better of the exchange, but Orton would have the last laugh by hitting Drew with and RKO. I will say that I did wish that Shawn sold the pun a bit better than he did because he seemed more coherent than everybody else that has been hit by that move. Orton has the momentum heading towards Summerslam and we will find out how much he keeps when he faces Drew at the event.
Overall, this was a very solid go-home episode for Summerslam. I am finding myself becoming a bit of a fan of the Raw Underground stuff but becoming a bit more annoyed with some of the Retribution stuff. I can see the potential, but I do not like them being treated like an annoyance on Raw rather than a more credible threat. I enjoyed the closing segment but felt it could have been better. The women’s tag match was fun even though the lack of the tease of a DQ didn’t sit right with me. I dug the stuff with the Hurt Business trying to recruit Cedric while having this battle with Apollo. The back and forth Seth Rollins had with Samoa Joe was great as well and so was the segment Seth had with Rey and Dominik Mysterio. All in all, solid go-home for Raw. Make sure you join us this weekend as we will have Dignified Discussion for TakeOver XXX on Saturday and Summerslam on Sunday. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another Sovereign Statement.