Raw had a better episode last week and I was hoping they would continue to build on that for this week. There were some things to look forward to like Woods taking on Riddle and Asuka taking on Charlotte since they always deliver. Some things to look forward to and the rest would unfold as the show would air. Let us see what Raw had for us this week.
MVP & Bobby Lashley In-Ring
I really wasn’t feeling much of this in the beginning because it was much of what we have seen from Lashley and MVP of late. I really think that is due to them being stuck in the mud with Drew McIntyre and he would come out. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Drew but he really needs to get out of the title picture. He has been in it for more than a year now and fatigue really is settling in. It really wasn’t until the New Day came out that I became invested in the opening. Kofi spoke some truth in saying that Drew continues to get shot after shot when he has yet to get one since he dropped it to Lesnar. I was there live and can tell you that nobody in Los Angeles loved that booking decision and we have all been wanting to see Kofi get another crack. Good stuff from Kofi and Adam Pearce would make a match between Drew and Kofi with the winner getting a title match against Lashley at Hell in a Cell.
Kofi Kingston vs Drew McIntyre
This was a darn good match and both really showed out here in the first match for Raw. I will say I am knocking the grade down a little bit because of the ending. Not that it was bad but I would have rather had a definitive winner. The action was great and Drew really did make Kofi look small in there. It is moments like this that really make you realize just how big Drew is compared to some of his fellow superstars. I also liked that Woods hung back and did not try to help Kofi win here because he knew that would cheapen the win. Lashley and MVP were on the stage with the ladies and would eventually make their way down to the ring because Drew would point at them? That was a bit awkward and would play into the finish. Kofi would hit Drew with a top rope move on the outside and came crashing into Lashley. Lashley and MVP would come in the ring and attack Drew and Kofi at the same time to get the match thrown out. Woods, Kofi and McIntyre would clear the ring and we will find out what happens because of this later in the night.
Charlotte Flair & Rhea Ripley Backstage
These two were shown bumping into each other backstage earlier in the day. They would have a back and forth and eventually Nikki Cross would walk up to them. How nice it was to see Nikki on tv again because she has been criminally underutilized. She would ask for a match between either of them and Charlotte would be quick to dismiss one. She said she had a match with Asuka and then would pitch to Rhea that she should give her a match. There would caveat and that Rhea would have 2 minutes to beat Nikki because Charlotte said that is how much time she would need to beat her. A bit random but I like seeing Nikki get some airtime.
Eva Marie Vignette
Nikki Cross vs Rhea Ripley (Beat the Clock Challenge)
I actually liked what happened here because it showed how Rhea let her emotions get the better of her. Nikki did bring a nice fight to Rhea but this was all about how Rhea lost focus when Nikki put it on her. I liked that because it plays into Charlotte possibly getting into her head and that is causing her to not perform well in the ring. Nikki would end up winning this because she lasted the full two minutes and I loved that she celebrated. It doesn’t matter how you win because a win is a win is a win. Charlotte would come out right after for her match with Asuka and I loved how she just mocked Rhea a bit for losing to Nikki. Rhea still isn’t there yet on Raw but this could be something they can use to give her better direction.
Adam Pearce, Kofi Kingston & Drew McIntyre Backstage
Kofi and Drew would enter Pearce’s office and would want answers for what happened earlier. Pearce would tell them that they will have a rematch next week and I liked that both men were quick to agree with that. Kofi wanted to make sure that Pearce finds a way to keep Lashley and MVP from interfering and he assured them he would. There was some nice intensity in the stare down between them as well and I am looking forward to the rematch next week.
Charlotte Flair vs Asuka
These two have that kind of chemistry wrestlers dream of having with a fellow wrestler because they go together like chips and salsa. That being said, I will say that it would have been more refreshing had we not seen this match last week. This match was still a really good one but it would be nice if we did not see this last week. I will say that I like that Charlotte is adding some of Andrade’s moves to her repertoire even though she still has a way to go to hit his elbow as smooth as he does. Her moonsault does look better though in doing the version Andrade does so there is that. It would also be fair to say she got his approval to do the moves too because they are so unique to him and people would recognize them easily. Again, the match was fun and was another good on in their story of great matches but we also saw this last week as well. Charlotte would end up reversing an Asuka Lock to a pin and got the victory here. It would be revealed later that Charlotte will be facing Rhea at Hell in a Cell and I am fine with that.
Adam Pearce, MVP & Bobby Lashley Backstage
Lashley was told by a stagehand that Adam Pearce wanted to see him prior to the commercial break and they would cut to this after the commercial. MVP and Lashley would enter and Pearce would inform them how Kofi and McIntyre will be rematching next week and the winner gets Lashley. Lashley and MVP were none too pleased about that and would be even less pleased when Pearce would make his next announcement. He would tell them that they will be suspended for 90 days without pay if they interfere in the match next week and MVP had to hold Lashley back. Nice way to make sure they do not get involved but I am sure they will find a way around that.
Shelton Benjamin vs Cedric Alexander
Another fun match this week and this time it was courtesy of Cedric and Shelton. Cedric would cut a promo prior to the match that ran down Shelton and called him too old. I liked Cedric’s work here and Shelton did a good job in selling how he was ready to show Cedric he can still hang. The match itself was great and that is not a surprise considering how good both men are in the ring. Plenty of solid back and forth and Shelton would use his veteran savvy to get the upper hand at various points. Shelton looked to have the momentum but that would be taken away by an eye poke and Cedric would use that to get the win. I have a feeling they are not done with this quite yet and would not be surprised to see them have a match on the kickoff to Hell in a Cell.
Riddle vs Xavier Woods
This was easily the match of the night and one I dare say could easily have fit on a pay-per-view card. The quality of stuff was that good and Woods worked a bit stiff at times too which is something you do not see from him much. The action was great and so was the back and forth in the match. These two had great chemistry and really showed that Woods really could work as a singles competitor if he was ever given the chance to. Kofi and Big E have had their shots and I honestly think his shot is long overdue and I hope it does happen before he calls it quits. The transition Woods did for the suplex onto Riddle was a thing of beauty and the action was just great. Riddle would surprise Woods by hitting him with an RKO to get the win. There was much more that happened in this match and it is the one to go back and watch for this week’s episode.
Jaxson Ryker vs AJ Styles
It pains me to grade a match featuring a top-5 talent of all-time in AJ Styles this low but it really is that. I have no idea why they are continuing this and Ryker just looks horrible in the ring. When someone the caliber of AJ Styles cannot get something good out of you, that is a telling sign. Nothing really stood out about the in-ring work and Ryker would win due to interference from Elias. Omos would appear to chase away Ryker and Elias after the match and Elias did the old horror movie trope of tripping over himself to let the threat catch up to him to do damage. This feels like it is leading to a tag title match and I hope AJ and Omos retain because we need to see a program between AJ/Omos and R-K-Bro.
Sheamus vs Humberto Carrillo
Not much really to say about this match since Humberto is just devoid of charisma. Sheamus oozes it and at least the ring work was solid. The thing is that there really was nothing new here and Sheamus would end up winning here by grabbing the tights of Humberto. He would then beat him down after the match and Ricochet would come down to make the save for Humberto. I know many say Ricochet has no charisma but he showed some in the two weeks he worked with Sheamus which I cannot say for Humberto. I am guessing we are going to get a triple threat with these three somewhere down the line.
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler & Reginald Backstage
This was a nice segment and Shayna really showed just how much she is over having Reginald around. Nia couldn’t believe her ears and neither could Reginald for that matter. They tried to assure Shayna that everything would be okay but she was having none of it and told Reginald to stay in the back so they could focus on their title match. Nia would reluctantly agree and so would Reginald that he would stay in the back and Shayna would leave with Nia. Also of note, Lily was in the background throughout this and we shall see what that means during the match.
Eva Marie Vignette
Yeah, still not into any of these vignettes for Eva’s return. SKIP!
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs Natalya & Tamina (WWE Women’s Tag Titles)
As far as a match for the main event goes, this just didn’t have the oomph needed for it. The work was solid but nothing we have not seen before between these two teams in their previous encounters. Reginald was seen watching the match on a monitor backstage and Lily was in the background as well. Again, the work was solid but it was more of what we have seen in the past. Reginald would end up coming down to ringside and Shayna was clearly none too happy about that. She would yell at him when he distracted the referee and he missed her reversal of a pin. She would yell at him to leave to the back and he would but was met with flames at the top of the ramp. I still have hope that Lily actually has her eyes on him and that she and Alexa do not want Shayna or Nia. Natalya and Tamina would retain and Shayna would go grab Reginald after the match. It looked like she was checking on him to see if he was okay but it was more about if he was okay enough to hear what she had to say. She told him she was done with his presence and wants a match with him next week. Shayna is best when she brings that intensity and she did that here. I hope next week leads to Nia and Shayna parting ways and for Shayna to move into the Women’s Championship picture where she belongs.
Overall, this was a pretty solid episode of Raw with some really good matches. Drew and Kofi had a great match and Kofi really nailed it in the promo department as well. Charlotte had another good encounter with Asuka but they should pause on having more matches between them for a bit. Woods and Riddle had an absolute banger of a match and that really shines a light as to how good Woods could be if they took a chance on him as a solo act. Shelton and Cedric also had a nice little match and it was nice to see Nikki Cross get some ring time. The Eva Marie stuff is still something that is not gaining my interest and sadly the AJ match with Ryker was a dud. The main event wasn’t much to speak of but maybe we get some answers next week when Reginald faces Shayna. All in all, solid stuff from Raw this week and maybe they are finding a groove of sorts. Also, I did not include any of the promos of superstars talking about being back on the road because they were all skippable.