Raw is pretty hit or miss at best currently and that makes getting excited for an episode that much harder. Nothing really stuck out too much for what Raw had going tonight that got me interested in it. Sure, there was the battle royal but we all know the state of the tag division. I guess the upcoming Shayna/Alexa stuff had me interested but that is about it. Let us see what the red brand had for us this week.
Tag Team Battle Royal
Looking at the teams in the battle royal, only the New Day and R-K-Bro interested me at all. It sucks to say that but the team of Mace and T-Bar haven’t been quite as interesting as I hoped once they split from Retribution and can also say the same for the Viking Raiders because they haven’t done anything since the return of Ivar. Lince was going it alone for Lucha House Party which confused me a bit. AJ Styles and Omos would come out prior to the battle royal starting and would cut a promo on the teams involved. New Day would have some good comebacks and I loved Riddle and Randy’s part in this. Riddle is such a goof and you could tell Randy had to compose himself at one point with the random ramblings of Riddle. The Miz and John Morrison would come out and Miz talked about being injured and the Morrison would be competing on behalf of their team. Some funny spots here but also not the most interesting way to start Raw.
The battle royal itself was fine but the best parts had to be when Morrison used a water gun to fend off elimination but it would not work against Mace and T-Bar. It would come down to the New Day, R-K-Bro and the Viking Raiders. The Viking Raiders would eventually win and that is nice because it is a tad too soon for R-K-Bro to face the champions and New Day have had plenty of chances.
Adam Pearce & Sonya Deville Backstage
Sonya and Pearce were talking backstage when Charlotte Flair would approach them. Charlotte would talk to them about possibly getting her loss to Nikki Cross stricken from her record but they were having none of that. It is strange, they were teasing Pearce and Deville with some tension but that seems to be gone in recent weeks for the most part. I actually enjoyed that and I hope they didn’t ditch it. Rhea Ripley would eventually come in and this would all lead to Pearce and Deville announcing that Rhea and Charlotte would be teaming up to face Nikki and a partner of her choosing in a tag match.
The Viking Raiders Backstage
I wasn’t really feeling this whole segment but it is nice to see Raw using the Vikings once again. AJ and Omos would come by during their celebration and mocked Erik and Ivar about being real Vikings. The segment was fine enough but the chemistry just didn’t feel there with everyone.
It sure is nice to see Elias back to being a solo act without that deadweight Ryker. I think Elias will get his momentum back once he is in front of a crowd because that is where he shined and he isn’t the same act without an audience. Elias would talk about why he ditched Ryker and then Ryker would attack Elias from behind. He would be pulled off by referees and it is clear they are still trying to paint Elias as the heel and Ryker as the face. The problem? Nobody is buying that one bit and get prepared for Ryker to endure that “go-away” heat that many claim King Corbin garners.
Elias vs Jaxson Ryker
Nothing about this match did anything for me. Elias was the one hurt and even got the referee checking to see if he could partake in the match spot. That is a spot reserved for babyfaces so how is it that Elias is the heel here? The match was nothing special and Ryker would win when Elias would flee to the back. I really hope the reports that Ryker will be getting a massive push don’t come to fruition because there is nothing about that man that screams, he should get such a thing.
McIntyre vs Lashley Contract Signing
This contract signing was okay and I thought it would have been interesting had Lashley and MVP not come out at all for it and made that the story. Instead, we had Drew on the mic talking about becoming WWE Champion again and told us a story from Scotland. Lashley and MVP would eventually come out with the ladies and we would get a familiar back and forth between all the parties. Drew would predictably demand the match be inside Hell in a Cell and they would accept. Lashley and MVP would also predictably say that this would be McIntyre’s last shot and that was that. McIntyre would take his sword and split the table in half and that concluded the segment. Not the best contract signing but also not the worst.
Nikki Cross Backstage
It sure is nice to see Nikki Cross getting used on a weekly basis. I know some are not liking how she is being used but I will take it as their way to rebuild her. In fact, I will say that Nikki is the early favorite to win MITB this year on the women’s side. She would talk about her wins over Rhea and Charlotte and who her partner will be tonight. She would reveal that Asuka will be her tag partner and both are excited about the pairing.
Ricochet vs Humberto Carrillo
This match was made to determine who will face Sheamus for the US Championship and I loved how Sheamus was selling his broken nose. He was very apprehensive while also being angry that was done to his face by Humberto. He cut a promo on it and then I liked how he sold being scared to get hit in the face by Humberto and Ricochet as they teased it. Ricochet would then use the distraction to get the early advantage on Humberto.
The match itself was what you would expect from these two. Both are excellent in the ring and they had a chance to show it here for as long as they got. The match would end in a draw though as both men were unable to make it back into the ring before the ten count by the referee. I think this may be the first time I have heard WWE call a match a draw and I do not mind it. Sheamus would mock both men for that finish as he left and WWE logic would dictate this will end up being a triple threat down the line.
The New Day Backstage
This was a nice segment here as the New Day spoke a bit before they were going to go into their locker room. Kofi would then be stopped by MVP and I always like how Woods will ask if he needs him there because that is true friendship to see if your friend needs backup. Kofi assured him he could handle it and would have quite the interesting conversation with MVP. MVP did give him props over his major WWE Championship win at Wrestlemania and how it brought him to tears. That is a great video to see by the way as MVP and the late Shad Gaspard each were overcome with emotion watching the history making win. He would then talk about how Kofi lost it and how he seems comfortable being a loser. Kofi wasn’t having any of that though as he would reply to him and seems like this could be the start of something and hopefully it is Kofi getting a program with Lashley because that can be fire based on what I am seeing here.
Eva Marie Vignette
So, Eva will be making her re-debut next week and I am overcome with the lack of caring about it.
I am really intrigued by this Mansoor and Ali stuff. Mustafa came up to him as he was warming up for his match and would impart some more words of wisdom. I like how Mansoor sells it because you can see he is unsure about trusting Ali but knows he is saying things that make sense. It will be interesting to see if this is a feud or the start of a partnership.
Jeff Hardy vs Cedric Alexander
So, they are going with the whole “Cedric doesn’t respect veterans” angle here and I am not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, this means Cedric will get some airtime but on the other it means he is stuck with something we have seem time and time again. The match itself was fine and dandy but also not the greatest thing in the world. Cedric should be working with someone whose body is not as broken as Jeff’s is. Not that Jeff looks horrible in the ring but it is evident which one is in the prime and which is not near that. The other thing is that Jeff would win here and that really feels like it undercuts the whole story of Cedric proving he is better than the older talent.
Rhea Ripley & Charlotte Flair Backstage
I liked this segment a bit as Rhea was warming up and Charlotte tried to tell her that she should follow her lead in their tag match. Rhea didn’t give Charlotte the time of day as Rhea would tell her that she is champion and that she should be the one following her lead. This is the closest that I have seen Rhea look somewhat like her NXT self and that is a good thing.
Asuka & Nikki Cross vs Rhea Ripley & Charlotte Flair
The best part of this match was the constant arguing between Rhea and Charlotte because they found interesting ways to show it instead of the typical stuff we are used to seeing. The match itself was also solid as the women worked well together. That is also saying a lot as it seemed like Rhea and Asuka had no chemistry but it seems like they have started to develop some. Nikki was her usual spitfire self in the match as well. Charlotte and Rhea’s disagreeing would get the better of them as they came to blows and Charlotte would eventually hit Natural Selection on Rhea and that would allow Nikki and Asuka to get the win. I loved how they celebrated the win and Nikki is on a win streak. I am sure Rhea will try to get Charlotte back next week during the go-home episode.
Mansoor vs Drew Gulak
There really was no doubt as to who would win this match here. I will say that it was nice to see Gulak not getting humiliated with a rose this week but the match was pretty standard. Mansoor would end up getting the win and Ali was seen in the back watching the action.
Riddle & Randy Orton Backstage
I absolutely love the interactions between these two and they are the best part of Raw most of the time. Randy would hand the key to Riddle so he could unzip and I loved how you could tell he instantly regretted it. Riddle would do his ramblings and Randy would do his best to try and understand what he was saying. Randy would eventually tell him to zip it up and Riddle would ask him if he was going to be at ringside for his match before he zipped it. Randy would tell him that he would think about it and Riddle would take off. Fun stuff again and I cannot wait until they get that eventual tag title match and win.
Riddle vs Kofi Kingston
This was easily the match of the night and was quite good. These two have some great chemistry and Kofi brought a bit of a strong style to this as well with some of the chops he delivered to Riddle. The action was great with the back and forth and Randy would eventually make his way to ringside to support Riddle during the match. I liked that he took out Woods during the match because he was distracting Riddle. There was one scary moment during a hurricanrana by Kofi onto Riddle that looked like it could have gone a different way. Riddle would build momentum and Randy would tell him to finish things but Riddle would go a bit overboard and leave himself open to get countered by Kofi which allowed Kofi to get the win. Randy looked disappointed in Riddle and Riddle felt bad for letting Randy down. It will be interesting to see where they go with this next week.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler Backstage
Nia and Shayna would bump into each other backstage and they would have some words. Shayna is clearly still upset with Nia over the Reginald stuff and Nia is not happy that Shayna beat him down last week. Nia still tried to be a good friend and tried to warn Shayna about what Alexa may have planned for her. Shayna would shrug it all off and would leave without taking anything Nia had to say seriously.
I am a horror movie fan and this just got me in the horror feels. This pretty much had some classic horror movie tropes in it and I liked it. I know some people may not be into this but this was just the right amount of horror movie cheese for me. Alexa would talk to Lily and would ask Shayna to apologize to Lily over her actions from last week. Shayna would decline and would talk to Alexa about how she was the reason her and Nia lost the tag titles and this would lead to a bit of a brawl between the two. Shayna would be left in the ring with Lily and threaten to step on her and would eventually do so. Shayna would walk off but not before being met with flames along the way and it seemed like Alexa and Lily are not happy at all. Shayna would reach the back and would have to start dodging multiple things falling onto her. She would eventually find a room and locked herself in it. Shayna committed two horror movie mistakes here by making the demonic doll angry and by locking herself in a room with no way out. Both are things you should not do in a horror movie so we know where this is heading. Shayna would look in a mirror would see Lily in it. She would smash it while telling herself that Lily is just a doll and the lights would cut out without us knowing the fate of Shayna. Again, as a horror fan, this checked all the right boxes for me and I liked it.
Overall, I really do not know how to feel about this episode of Raw. There were some things I enjoyed like the closing segment with Alexa and Shayna and the match between Riddle and Kofi. Speaking of those two, Riddle has some great stuff with Orton again and Kofi had an interesting interaction with MVP. It is nice seeing Nikki Cross being used on tv and I hope she can build on this even more. Everything else felt kind of middle of the road except for the Elias/Ryker stuff and the Eva Marie vignette because those were the skippable things of the week along with the Mansoor/Gulak match because it was far too predictable. Next week is the go-home for Hell in a Cell so it will be interesting to see what Raw has for us.