We are now are the Raw after Payback and that show was actually pretty good. There were a few things to look forward to with this episode of Raw. Obviously, there was the possibility of Retribution showing up as one thing to watch for. There would also be a series of matches and the winners would face each other in a triple threat match to determine who will be facing Drew McIntyre at Clash of Champions. The IIconics were also set to take on the Riott Squad and the winners will face Nia and Shayna, but the losers will be forced to disband. Let us see what Raw had for us this week.
Randy Orton In-Ring
Randy Orton came out to the ring to start Raw this week and he spoke about how he punted Drew McIntyre three times last week. He reiterated that he did it because Drew offered him a rematch out of pity, and he is above that sort of thing. Orton was great here and he continued as he spoke about how he feels like he doesn’t need to jump through hoops to get another match with Drew, but he is still willing to play ball. Keith Lee would then interrupt Randy and he would give his thoughts on the matter. Botch mentioned how he loved the pacing of Keith during his promos and I have to agree. He is so unique, and it makes him stand out in the best of ways. Lee would speak about how he beat Orton at Payback and that means he should be the next in line. Orton was great in reacting to everything Keith was saying but Keith’s mic work would be cut short as he would be attacked by his opponent for the evening, Dolph Ziggler. Dolph would attack him as Raw went to commercial and when Raw came back, their match was what was happening.
Keith Lee vs Dolph Ziggler
When I saw that Keith was facing Dolph, it was easy to predict that he would be beating him. I was interested in seeing how the match would go since they would be putting Lee with the old reliable Ziggler. Ziggler did his best to bump and sell for Keith and that is always a pleasant sight to see. Lee looked great in there and the man is being booked strong as heck since making his Raw debut last week. This was a pretty good match even though I thought it may go shorter and be a bit more one-sided. Either way, good stuff here and Keith would end up winning the match and advancing to the triple threat match.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax Backstage
It is so obvious that they are trying to replicate Team Hell No with Shayna and Nia and I just am not buying into it. Shayna is showing plenty of personality here, but Nia is just being plain old Nia. I just am not into her at all and I am not a fan of seeing Shayna stuck with her. Both women took credit for their victory at Payback. Asuka would end up attacking Shayna after they took issue with her interrupting. Asuka would leave and that was that. I would much rather see Shayna chase Asuka right now instead of seeing her paired up with Nia.
Adam Pearce Backstage Pep Talk
Pearce gave security a pep talk about not letting Retribution in just like he did last week. He does not want them to interrupt the proceedings tonight and we shall see how that works out.
I hate that I have to rate something featuring Asuka so low, but it deserves it. Asuka came out to say what was next for her as champion and she listed off all the people she has beaten. I was totally expecting Bianca Belair to interrupt her, but it ended up being Mickie James. I actually did a facepalm when her music hit but that was not the last time I would do that. Mickie made her case to be Asuka’s next challenger and then she would be interrupted by Lana and Natalya. This would be the second facepalm I did, and they feel like Natalya should be next. None of these women should be next for Asuka and it should be either Bianca or Shayna but Shayna is sadly stuck with Nia so that isn’t happening anytime soon. This was not a good segment and a brawl would happen as Raw went to commercial.
Viking Raiders & Cedric Alexander Backstage
It was nice to see Cedric with this team and they spoke about their upcoming match with the Hurt Business. I liked that Cedric was selling the effects of the scrum he has in the Raw Underground. Demi Burnett then came in and had some words with Ivar. I seriously have no idea why she keeps coming back and it is also strange that no reports have come out as to why she is being used. It is a bit bizarre. Everybody would leave and Angel Garza would appear with a rose and has his eyes set on Demi.
Mickie James vs Lana
This was a match that happened, and Mickie won. Not even Asuka on commentary could save how skippable this was. SKIP!
I have often praised IIconics and how I feel like they have gotten a bad rap. They are supposed to annoy you and I find it funny that people confuse that for being bad when it is just them doing their job. They are also much better in the ring and on the mic than people give them credit for. This was definitely a nice showing on the mic for them. They spoke about their friendship and how long they have been friends for. If you know their story, they started off really disliking one another but eventually would become the best of friends. They are not ready to breakup and they plan on beating the Riott Squad and getting another crack at reclaiming the tag titles.
Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens
This was not much of a match, but it really was more about what happened prior to the match itself. Orton was seen coming out of Aleister Black’s room and you knew he made some sort of deal with him to do something to Owens. That ended up happening as Black would attack Owens while he made his entrance. Black would end up hitting him with Black Mass and throwing him in the ring for Orton to pick up the scraps. I will say I like that Black has added some dark make up under his eye patch wrap to sell the damage that was done to it. It is a little thing that I wonder if people noticed. The referee would ask Owens if he could continue and he would say yes. Owens gave Orton some chops, but he was too damaged as Orton hit him with the RKO for the easy win. Orton takes the second slot in the triple threat match.
Mysterio Family Backstage
Solid stuff from Rey and Dominik here as they spoke about Dominik’s big match against Seth Rollins tonight. Dominik was taking Rey’s place due to an injury that is rumored to be legit. You can just see how proud Rey is of his son and he mentioned that here. He is behind Dominik here and will be proud if he picks up the big win. Dominik said he has a 6-1-9 ready for Seth, and we shall see how that match plays out.
I have gone on record in saying they have overdone the VIP Lounge, but I will say I liked this one because this was all about the Hurt Business. I liked that MVP made the Tina Turner reference for ThunderDome and he would bring out Bobby Lashley. They all would then take turns in talking about how Lashley beat Apollo and how he brought that on himself for the way he acted towards MVP. Shelton said he was ready to beat down Apollo in the Raw Underground later and Cedric Alexander would make his way out. He reiterated that he isn’t joining, and the Hurt Business came out to jump him, but he said he was not alone. The Viking Raiders would show up form behind to attack them and a short brawl would happen prior to their planned match.
Cedric Alexander & Viking Raiders vs Hurt Business
This was a nice little match here, but I will say that I feel like the Vikings could use a change of scenery. They seem to be milling about on Raw and they could be used on Smackdown for their tag division. Imagine them going up against Cesaro and Nakamura and tell me that doesn’t sound like a good time. Back to the match and it was pretty solid. One of my favorite parts was seeing Shelton in matching Hurt Business gear and I always enjoy when groups have unifying wrestling gear. Solid back and forth in the match and Cedric would pick up the cheeky win by using the grabbing MVP’s tights when he rolled him up. I liked that MVP had a smile on his face and held back Shelton and Lashley because he feels like he may be getting through to Cedric.
Raw would go to commercial after the match and the Hurt Business would be seen beating up Cedric backstage. Seems like MVP wanted to beat a lesson into him, and they would eventually back off from him when Apollo Crews and Ricochet showed up.
IIconics vs Riott Squad
There is only one reason why this match is getting such a low grade and that is because they split the IIconics up. The women’s tag division is so shallow, and you are going to rob it of amother team? That’s just not logical as the Riott Squad may be the only real team besides Shayna and Nia, who just barely came together. Alexa and Nikki’s status as a team is up in the air with Alexa going a bit bonkers and Sasha and Bayley may be on the outs soon with all the teasing they have done on a split. Who does that leave for the division? The match was fine enough but that result just soured me on it. You could say I would have felt the same for the Riott Squad, but I wouldn’t have because they just got back together whereas the IIconics got screwed when they were champs out of a proper run. They were hardly on tv and not given anything to do until they dropped the titles. The IIconics could have had such a fun run as tag champs but they were screwed by creative because “they had nothing for them” and that is a load of manure. You should always have something for whoever your champions are and the fact that they didn’t have anything for them is downright disgraceful. The Riott Squad won, and they get a title shot so hooray for them, but they didn’t need to breakup the IIconics.
Seth Rollins vs Dominik Mysterio
It is scary how well Dominik has taken to wrestling because he is darn good right now. He still has plenty to work on, but he has the foundation set to really have a bright future. Seth was the first one out and I loved how he went off on Murphy. He blamed him for their loss at Payback and he doesn’t even want him at ringside because he feels like he will cost him the match. He yelled for him to leave and didn’t even let him get a word in. The seeds are certainly being planted for him to stand up to Seth and attack him. Seth would smack him on the back of the head as he left to really put an exclamation on this. Dominik even attacked him when he was leaving before making his way into the ring for the match. The match was another really good one in Dominik’s young career and Seth has don a great job in guiding him in these matches, so he doesn’t fall on his face. Yes, Dominik is really good early on but I do have to acknowledge that he has benefitted from sharing the ring with one of the best right now and that is good for him because he is probably learning from Seth at the same time. Good stuff here and Seth would end up winning and securing the final spot in the triple threat match.
Raw Underground Part 1
You know what, I really dug seeing Titus O’Neil in the Raw Underground. The man hasn’t done much, outside of his amazing charity and community work, so it was nice to see him unleashed a bit here. He took care of the first two opponents rather easily until Riddick Moss stepped up to him. This was much more competitive, and Riddick would end up getting the better of him. I totally like this version of Riddick and that shows that maybe the Raw Underground can help some of the talent that have been middling about.
Street Profits Backstage
Fun stuff from the Profits as usual here as they spoke about their opponents for the evening. The spoke a bit about them and then Dawkins would provide his scouting report with some hilarious things written under each picture. I loved that he was questioning whether Andrade really is tranquilo and if Garza is wealthy because of his tracksuit. Funny stuff from both guys here and they really are one of my favorite acts in WWE. I will also say I liked that Montez had lips on his jacket and that is clearly a nod to his lovely wife Bianca Belair.
Akira Tozawa Arriving
I go back and forth with how I feel about the 24/7 Championship and this week I loved it. Akira arrived at the arena in an SUV with his ninjas and he would be stopped by security because he was not on the list. He would get out of the SUV and check the list only to see that it was blank. He then undid the jacket and saw that the security guard was a referee. R-Truth was creeping in the background this whole time and rolled him up for the win and reclaimed the 24/7 Championship. He ran off and I loved how Akira just threw the referee into the SUV to chase Truth. That did cause one of his ninjas to be left behind though and that sucked to see. I guess it is every ninja for himself when it comes to that title.
The Street Profits vs Andrade & Garza
I will fully admit that I am getting a bit tired of seeing these teams tangle with one another. They have good chemistry, but the feud has been pretty one sided with the Profits winning the big matches. Demi Burnett would accompany Garza when they made their entrance and I feel like someone on the staff told her to smile a lot and they should probably tell her to tone it down a notch. It looks like it hurts when she smiles because she is probably doing that far more than she ever has before. The match was fun as it was under “tornado tag rules” or AEW rules since there were no tags. The match was fun, but the lights started to flicker, and I could not help but laugh because the referee “noped” right out of there. Garza would also follow suit as he grabbed Demi and booked it right out of there. Retribution would come out and the Street Profits and Andrade did their best to fight them in the ring, but the numbers were too much. I loved that Zelina got into the mix as well and had a “screw it” look right before she threw hands at the female members of Retribution. The attack by Retribution is why this match/segment gets a bump in the grade department.
Adam Pearce Backstage
I love that Pearce was tearing into security because they had one job and they blew it. I really wouldn’t mind if he became a GM of either Raw or Smackdown and he did it like William Regal does in NXT. Only show up when they need the authority figure to set everything straight and don’t overstay your welcome.
Raw Underground Part 2
The second part of Raw Underground was all about the women as Jessamyn Duke was the first to fight here. She made easy work of her opponent and even gave her some shots after. That didn’t sit well with one woman as she came in to tell her to stop but that would bring in Marina Shafir. Shafir would end up fighting her and making quick work of her as well. The IIconics were there as well to take in the action and Shane wondered if anybody would step up to either Marina or Duke next. Peyton and Billie would share a look and Peyton would throw Billie into the ring. She would be knocked out by Duke and I loved how she was screeching at Peyton over what she did. The look of betrayal was perfect, and I guess that was Peyton’s way of telling her that it is time to move one. I do wonder if they will put them on separate brands now because of the split.
Apollo, Cedric & Ricochet Outside Raw Underground
These three were outside the entrance to Raw Underground and they had some words for the Hurt Business. Apollo spoke about how he was a different man and how the old version would take this in stride, but the new version wants to take it to the Hurt Business, and he wants his title back. Ricochet also had some words and he took issue with MVP trying to recruit Cedric even though Cedric has declined his offer at every turn. The three of them would enter the Raw Underground as Raw went to commercial. It was interesting to note though that Cedric didn’t have anything to say and I wonder if that was him taking a step back to let them speak or that he was thinking about MVP’s offer and that he may reconsider his stance on it.
Raw Underground Part 3
One of the reasons why I have decided I have become a bit of a fan of these segments is that they are weaving in stories to them. It isn’t just random segments anymore and they are making it more than this random thing that happens in the third hour. Apollo took on Shelton here and it was a rather competitive affair. The action would spill to the outside where MVP and Lashley were standing and they would join in. Ricochet and Cedric came in to help Apollo and things would really break down here. All six men would fight but the Hurt Business would be the ones standing tall in the end of this week’s Raw Underground.
Garza & Demi Backstage
Call me crazy but this short segment deserves all the crowns. I know Garza says that he is not drawing inspiration from the late Eddie Guerrero, but this was totally something that gave me flashbacks to Eddie. The two were walking backstage after running from Retribution and Demi wondered why Garza ditched everybody. He told her they could take care of themselves and he was worried that she would get hurt. They looked to be in the clear until Retribution showed up. This is where this segment earned its crowns because Garza wasted no time in ditching Demi and saving his own skin. Demi then took a second and realized she had to leave, and she booked it as well. This had me dying and Garza totally pulled an Eddie type of move by looking out for himself even if it may get him in trouble with his lady friend.
Lee vs Orton vs Rollins
This was a fun main event for the evening, and this continued to do a good job in building Keith Lee as a legit threat on Raw. I loved that Orton left Seth in the ring and how Seth took issue with it because he thought they had an understanding about how they would deal with Lee. Rollins would try telling Orton to listen to him because he is the Monday Night Messiah, but he could not get that last little bit out because Lee would grab him and pull him into the ring. That is where the title of this week’s Raw blog comes from if you wondered. Again, this was a fun match and Lee was really made to look like a big deal with how Rollins and Orton tried to take him out of the equation. He would be gone for a bit during the match and Seth and Orton had the ring to themselves. Solid back and forth in the match and Lee would return to the action and it looked like he was going to win the match after hitting Seth with the “Spirit Bomb” but that would not be the case. Orton would sneak in and hit Lee with the RKO, but he would pin Rollins instead of Lee for the win. Lee doesn’t eat the pin and it puts over how devastating his finisher is that it kept Seth down that long for Orton to sneak in for the victory. It totally makes sense for Orton to face Drew at Clash of Champions and I wouldn’t be surprised if he dethrones Drew as well.
Overall, this was a pretty solid episode of Raw this week. The only real low points were the whole Mickie/Lana/Natalya thing with Asuka and the IIconics breaking up. There is no real reason for the breakup other than “reasons” and I am not a fan of it. Each qualifying match for the triple threat had its own good stuff in it and I liked that they are continuing the Black/Owens stuff. The main event was solid as well and Orton getting another crack at Drew makes all the sense in the world. I dug the Raw Underground stuff and am liking the direction of the Hurt Business with Apollo and the possibility of Cedric joining them. The 24/7 Championship stuff was funny and makes me wonder what they will do at Clash. I enjoyed this week’s Retribution attack because it gave us the gold of the fleeing Angel Garza and Demi Burnett. All in all, solid episode of Raw this week. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another Sovereign Statement.