Welcome to the “season premiere” of “Raw”. Yeah, it’s silly but whatever. I mean…how many TV series you know that begin in late October? Of course, this is the Botching one with another edition of “The Getback”. Let’s get started, shall we?
In my personal opinion, the new theme is trash. It’s nowhere near as “in your face” as the others have been. Wrestling themes should be loud, forceful, and they should demand your attention. This one does none of those things. Our own Lord Lewis likes it but…I feel differently. It’s just…weak for the beginning of something like “Raw”. They really blew it here from a theme perspective.
The Fiend, Alexa Bliss, Retribution, and the Hurt Business
The Fiend’s theme just hits so hard. It renders Raw’s new theme totally inert, honestly. Interesting storytelling going on here. I love that Fiend & Alexa just stood there unaffected by the fact that Retribution was stalking them. Cedric looked really good there. I normally hate dives because they’re basically a headlock at this point but there are some that really do them well and Cedric is one of them. He never looks awkward doing them and they always dazzle.
Vignette – Matt Riddle
Why are we getting a vignette for him after he’s already worked matches on SD? Is it that Raw doesn’t think we don’t watch SD? I didn’t hate it; it was just weird.
Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin, MVP, Bobby Lashley, & Cedric Alexander) vs. Retribution (T-Bar, Slapjack, & Mace)
Slapjack’s (that name…LOL!) mask is just insipid. At some point, it’s gonna come off given the way it’s attached to his head. It just looks loose and he kept adjusting it while he was being worked over. For those unaware, Mustafa Ali spent years working as a heel on the indies. Of course, his is the first time he’s worked heel in WWE and it’s fun to see how changed his work is. Love that they protect him at all costs. Mace was, of course, Dio Madden/Brennan Williams and he decided to leave commentary because he really just wanted to wrestle. Looks like he’s getting his wish now and I’m genuinely happy for him.
What I’m less than thrilled about is why on Eartha Kitt did Retribution lose clean? There’s no reason for it. Worse yet, The Fiend came down and took out Retribution all by himself. Like…what? The only one who looks like anything is Mustafa Ali. The rest basically got steamrolled by one Fiend.
I do love seeing Fiend and he’s the only thing that kept this from getting the skull. He’s high theater and I always enjoy him. Alexa mouthing “let me in” was fun. They’re both killing it right now. Just mind-boggling choices made here and ones that hurt Retribution immensely going forward.
AJ Styles (w/ Jordan Omogbehin)
YES!!! So happy for Jordan. He’s been in WWE’s PC for a long time and then showed up as the bouncer in the ill-fated and equally ill-conceived Raw Underground. Great to see him getting something more. I’m always happy to see someone new really get a shot and it appears Jordan is getting one. Better yet, they’ve done nothing to his name; he’s just using his own. It can’t last but it was fun to see it. He stood there stoic and barely blinked. The ref begged him to leave the ring when he wouldn’t. It was really fun and sold dominance. AJ’s promo was as it always is. He tells the story well.
AJ Styles (w/ Jordan Omogbehin) vs. Matt Riddle
Fun match. It was all you’d expect from these two. You don’t see gut wrench suplexes often and Riddle gave us three in a row. I dearly love the Styles Clash and it was a great way to finish this one. Jordan added some extra dimension here. Love that he just stepped up in Riddle’s way to keep AJ from getting attacked on the outside. Riddle’s face really sold Jordan well there. He wanted none of Jordan and Riddle really sold it well. The commentators kept talking about him too so WWE’s getting behind him. He did it at the end of the match too – really distracting Riddle so that AJ could finish him off. I would have been very easy for Jordan to go too far with the intimidation but he did his part perfectly. Good nuance. Nice work from all of them here.
Backstage segment – Drew McIntyre
He does this kind of thing so well. Love that he asked for Charly’s mic so he could just go. He’s become one heck of a storyteller and he nailed here. Nothing else could really do.
Lana vs. Asuka (w/ attack by Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax)
I’m so glad Lana is rid of Natalya. Natalya comes off like a very likable and wonderful human being but she’s utterly vanilla on the show. Lana didn’t deserve to be saddled with her. She was whatever charisma that team had. I’m was interested to see what would actually happen here. Asuka is just so much fun. Loved watching her mouth her introduction with the announcer. LOL! Lana acquitted herself fairly well and the story told here was decent. I never expected Lana to win and figured this would be a short match. I was right on both counts. This now makes five times that Lana has gone through the announce table. They’re trying to make Lana into a babyface but I’m not sure that’s happened. What they’re attempting is tricky and it’s likely going to take more than this to make that happen.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
I love that they don’t get along at all. Based on the verbiage used, it seems they’re only going to be defending them on Raw & Smackdown. No NXT defenses for us.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs. Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce vs. Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan)
Def Rebel hooked Mandy and Dana up with a new theme and I kinda like it. Peyton got one too. Lacey & Peyton…LOL! Loved how they kept trying to upstage each other’s entrance. The premise under which this match is taking place is dubious at best but okay. Worth mentioning too is that have already been more women on this episode of Raw than in a month of AEW Dynamite.
This match went so fast it was hard to keep up with. I mean that in a good way. This was just fast. The dissing way they kept going in and out of the ring was really fun. Nia took it with a Samoan Drop and I like that she’s using it as a finisher. It’s effective and she looked vicious doing it. Good stuff.
The Elias Concert – Elias
So much YES here! “Universal Truth”. The cover of the album just wins. Turns out Elias’ band was actually Def Rebel. Those paying attention know that Def Rebel is responsible for WWE’s music these days now that CFO$ are gone. This was a lip sync job but it was fun. Elias was awful “tuned” here and I could do without that too. Autotune is a pox on music and he doesn’t really need it. Part of the fun of Elias is the raggedness. Still, this was fun and totally unique. It seems he’s back to being heel. That poor Mexican Fender strat. We hardly knew ye. It wasn’t decimated though so it can at least be used again.
Backstage segment – Miz, John Morrison, & Tucker
I didn’t care about this at all. This would be so much more fun if Morrison hadn’t been there. He just murders anything he’s in. Tucker’s getting a new tag team partner. That’s a good thing. I’d hate to see him totally wiped off the face of the wrestling earth. Little did I know what that would mean…
Backstage segment – Elias
We’re getting Elias & Jeff at HIAC. Cool! I love flustered Elias. Flustered Elias is fun Elias.
Kofi Kingston (w/ Xavier Woods) vs. Sheamus
I just have a say a few words about that segment (you know which one) on SD on Friday night. It was just incredible. It worked as well as it did because it was 100% real. Their tears really registered with me. That’s how big hearted people are and I’ve always been that. If we’re really your friend, we have you.
I love that Woods was wearing an UpUpDownDown shirt. LOL! Sheamus, of course, played on what happened on Friday and did it perfectly. New Day are just complete fools and I love every second of it. This interaction between Sheamus and the New Day is something I never knew I needed. Sheamus has become absolutely gold. It started with him dragging Jeff Hardy through their feud and it’s continued. Of course, New Day is money whether Big E. is there or not. He made a brief cameo (see what I did there?) in Thunderdome too so that was fun.
This really was a physical match. They both went at each other and this is about all you can ask for as far as matches are concerned. Love that E. was egging Kofi on via his spot in Thunderdome. There’s no way this wasn’t going to be a fun match. It’s interesting how well you can hear the shouts of encouragement from whoever is at ringside. Woods could be heard quite clearly both cheering on Kofi and refuting Joe on commentary. Kofi took the match but I wouldn’t have been mad if Sheamus had instead. Really solid match.
Backstage segment – Retribution
Mustafa Ali was the hacker. I know that shocks you. He did all he could here and it should have totally sucked me in. He told a really nice story about how they’ve all been mistreated and how they were coming to get what’s theirs. I can get with that totally. The issue is the “by the week” booking that’s obviously been going on here. As a result, Retribution is no longer the least bit threatening…and they’ve just barely gotten started. I want to give this a solid grade because of how good Mustafa was but I just can’t. None of this is his fault – neither is it the fault of any other member of Retribution. This one’s on the booking and it’s been just terrible.
Backstage segment – Hurt Business & Titus O’Neil
Titus was a little dry here but he wasn’t the point. This was just to sell the Hurt Business. Poor Titus. He took a beatdown fairly well. I’ll give it that. Quick and relatively effective.
Miz & John Morrison vs. Tucker & El Grand Gordo
Tucker did just fine here. He brought out El Grand Gordo and I died. I love the he had new music. Miz & Morrison were fine. This was a comedy match but it was somewhat fun. It doesn’t make me care about this storyline…but it was sort of fun. I was totally fine with R-Truth and challengers running through the match too. Lucha House Party made an appearance because…reasons.
Is it wrong that I just wanted more of R-Truth? I doubt anyone disagrees with me.
Tucker, El Grand Gordo, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, & Mandy Rose
Total silliness…and I loved it…so there. LOL!
Firefly Fun House
The props killed me. This was bizarre from beginning to end. Alexa could be really fun here. She’s become a total sidekick and I think I’m here for it. Poor Ramblin’ Rabbit. He just wants to be loved – is that so wrong?
Braun Strowman vs. Keith Lee
Yes, I still absolutely hate Keith’s theme music. LOL! Had to go there. Okay, the match. This was what you’d call a “hoss fight”. They really went at each other. The odd thing was the cheap shot when Braun went low with the headbutt. Guessing that Braun is going utterly heel now. This brought out the evil in Lee – a side of him we hadn’t really seen yet until tonight. He returned the favor in dramatic fashion. Thus, the feud continues. I like it.
In-cage segment – Randy Orton & Drew McIntyre
When Randy cares, his storytelling is as good or better than anyone else. He’s cared for a good long while now and we’re all better for it. We are seeing the absolute best of him. Drew coming down as we knew he would and grabbing bolt cutters was fun. The cliffhanging of it all!
All told, this was a fun episode of “Raw”. The Retribution storyline has been hobbled by bad booking and we got even more of that here. Still, the rest was fun and I’m glad I took the time to view it. Hopefully, you are too. See you next week for another edition of “The Getback”.