It pretty much is clear among fans right now that Raw is a distant third to NXT and Smackdown right now and I cannot blame them for feeling that way. Raw only gets to being good and hasn’t reached a really good height in quite a few months. I know some are fatigued over the Alexa stuff but I am fine with it because it seems like they finally have some direction since she split from Bray. This is also the go-home for Hell in a Cell so let us see how the red brand went home for Hell in a Cell.
Alexa was in her playground to start Raw and she recapped what happened between herself, Lily and Shayna Baszler last week. She said she had to put Lily in timeout over what happened and then Nia Jax would show up. Nia just felt like she was going through the motions with her lines to me and it was Alexa that kept me engaged by her reactions to what Nia said. Nia told Alexa that Shayna will see her at HIAC and spoke about how they used to be friends. Alexa would correct her and say they would never friends and this would lead to Nia challenging Alexa to a match tonight. Alexa would feign that she didn’t mean to hurt anybody but would laugh it off and accept the challenge. Alexa was the best part of this and Nia, not so much.
Nikki Cross vs Charlotte Flair
This match was better than their “beat the clock challenge” one and was a nice one for as long as it went on. Rhea Ripley would come out during the match and clearly Charlotte kept her on eye on her throughout the match. Charlotte also cut a promo prior to the match in Gorilla about how she will beat Rhea on Sunday and how she didn’t need to have a match before HIAC but chose to do so. Again, the match was good and Charlotte would lose via count out when she was distracted by the presence of Rhea on the outside. Charlotte would attack Nikki after the match but would eat a Riptide from Rhea soon after. Nikki is on that winning streak and I would not be surprised to see her win MITB.
Riddle & Jeff Hardy Backstage
Riddle is such a riot but man was Jeff stiff as a board here with his lines. He has never been the greatest on the mic but it really showed here when he is with someone with as much charisma as Riddle. Riddle asked him advice on tag team wrestling and Jeff would tell him that he needs to listen to Randy Orton. Riddle would then ramble about having multiple limbs and starting a band when Jeff would leave. Randy would then show and tell Riddle that he needs to just be himself and not be like him. Riddle promises to Randy, he will not let him down this week and we shall see how that plays out.
John Morrison vs Jeff Hardy
This match was fine and what really stuck out was how much smoother Morrison is in the ring than Jeff. Jeff doesn’t look horrible by any means, but it is clear how all the damage done to his body over the years has taken its toll. The match was fine enough and Cedric Alexander would come out during it. Morrison would end up getting the advantage and would get the win here. Feels like it has been a bit since I have seen Morrison get a pinfall win so that was nice to see.
Cedric would cut a promo on Jeff after the match about how he should have shown him some respect but took it back because he felt like Jeff was a sore winner last week. He told Jeff he wishes he would have sent him into a retirement home and Jeff would challenge him to a match in where if he loses, he will retire.
Jeff Hardy vs Cedric Alexander
This match just didn’t work for me. The stipulation added to it really made it obvious that Jeff was going to win because there is no way WWE would have him retire in a random match like this. The action was solid enough but Jeff would end up getting the win even though he had just wrestled a match right before. I really do not think this is doing Cedric’s character any favors by having him lose twice to Jeff after all that smack talk, he did about legends taking up spots. Kind of makes him look weak and so does the tape on the back of his shirt to hide the “Hurt Business” logo because that is still from his time in the group.
Naomi vs Eva Marie?
So, this is the big re-debut of Eva Marie and meh. I just am not into this and I guess I will give her credit for taking credit for the win even though she didn’t do a thing. I am happy to see Piper Niven get a shot on the main roster and maybe she can show Nia how to be a bigger woman and be a good worker in the ring. I will say I do not like that they did not call her Piper and maybe they have a name planned for her but I do not think it will be as good as “Piper Niven” is of a name. This avoids a skull because of my glee for seeing Piper even though it isn’t in the way I wanted.
Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke Photoshoot
Mandy and Dana were doing a photoshoot and took offense to Natalya and Tamina working out in the ring nearby. This whole segment was just a big “SKIP!” because nobody looks that smart here. Dana and Mandy should have known someone would work the ring right by their photoshoot, so why are they mad? Natalya and Tamina calling them out for not working the ring felt off because they have and told them about it. Mandy and Dana doing the whole “last name is why you got here” thing and that is a very tired trope in wrestling by this stage. They brawled and I guess this is the tag feud because there are no teams in the division.
Drew McIntyre Backstage
I am a Drew fan but this just felt like many promos he cuts prior to a big match. He spoke about how he is having a match while his opponent chooses not to prior to a PPV. It was solid but then he regaled us with another story from Scottish history. I do not mind a history lesson but that seems to be WWE’s go-to right now with Drew and I am not quite into it. Drew is confident he will win and is not taking his opponent lightly tonight because he knows what he is capable of.
The New Day vs RK-Bro
Before I talk about the match, I love that RK-Bro is their official name and they are being introduced as such. The Bar was never given that and I have no idea why given how over they were. This was a great match and definitely the best part of Raw up to this point. The chemistry is there between these teams and I like that Orton and Riddle are starting to mix in some tag team moves into their move set. We all know how great New Day is as a team so they brought it as well. I did like that Woods did the “tranquilo” pose when teasing a dive to the outside with Kofi and I think Woods would actually be a fun member of Los Ingobernables if that ever happened. Good stuff from both teams here and the action was very back and forth throughout the match. Orton would end up hitting Woods with the RKO and that was that.
Rhea Ripley Backstage
Pretty standard stuff by Rhea here as she spoke about her upcoming match with Charlotte. She spoke about how Charlotte isn’t focused and that does not bode well for her. She plans on beating Charlotte on Sunday and send her to the back of the line when she retains her Raw Women’s Championship.
Asuka vs Rhea Ripley
Asuka and Rhea haven’t had the best matches when put together but this was by far their best encounter. The chemistry was finally there and they were able to put on a fun match. Very solid back and forth and both women looked good in there. Rhea throwing Asuka atop the barricade was done very well and this was quite the fun match like I said. I did wonder if Charlotte would come down to ring to possibly distract Rhea like Rhea did to her earlier in the night but that did not happen. Asuka seemed to have the momentum but Rhea would grab it and hit her with the Riptide for the win.
Rhea would not have much time to celebrate though as Charlotte Flair would come out and the two would have quite the nice brawl. Charlotte’s nose would end up being a bit busted and that bit of blood added to the brawl. They fought through the referees and producers to get a piece of each other and it was fun to see. Charlotte would eventually be the one to get taken to the back while Rhea stood somewhat tall in the ring. Good match and good brawl after the match.
MVP & Lashley In The Suite
Like with Drew, this was pretty standard stuff from MVP and Lashley here. MVP and Lashley were asked about Drew’s match with AJ Styles and the upcoming HIAC match. MVP said Lashley doesn’t care about Drew’s match with AJ and his focus is all on Sunday. MVP says he cannot wait to see Lashley dispose of Drew and Lashley would get on the mic to say more of the same.
Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax
I wasn’t expecting much from this match and it wasn’t bad by any means. It has been some time since Alexa has been in the ring and she doesn’t get in as much because of her previous concussion issues. The match itself was fine and Alexa added a few new moves and movements to her arsenal in this one. Nia used her size but it wasn’t enough as Alexa would get the upper hand and seemed to have the match won after hitting Nia with Twisted Bliss. That would not happen via pin fall as Reginald would pull her off causing the DQ. Alexa would then seemingly hypnotize Reginald before scurrying off. I am all for Reginald being hypnotized by Bliss and becoming part of the Playground because I think the pairing of him and Nia has run its course and this could be interesting to see Alexa do to Reginald what Bray did to her.
New Day Backstage
This was a great segment as the New Day were backstage and MVP would approach them. He would once again try and talk Kofi into splitting from Xavier Woods by trying to drive a wedge between them. He blamed Woods for holding Kofi back and he will continue to be a loser as long as he stays in a team. Kofi would fire back and MVP by telling him he is wrong and that he will not do that to Woods. Great back and forth and I loved how MVP wished Kofi luck on Sunday and was quick to then remind him that he doesn’t have a match at HIAC. I know some fans are wondering if this is leading to Kofi turning on Woods but I hope it is not that and rather, this is leading to Kofi being in a real program with Lashley for a few months that includes a match at Summerslam and not just a one-off at MITB.
Elias vs Jaxson Ryker
I have no interest in this feud at all and the match darn near played out the same as last week. They continue to try and push Ryker as the face, he isn’t, and Elias as the heel, which he isn’t, and it is not working from this narrative standpoint. Ryker won the same way as last week so SKIP!
Drew McIntyre vs AJ Styles
I knew there would be some shenanigans in this one when I saw how much time was left and boy were there a plenty. People got involved and the match would not end clean as Lashley would cause the DQ. The match itself was good and that is to be expected given how many times these two have faced each other. Solid ring work from both men and pretty much what you have seen from them in the past. Lashley would cause the DQ and a ruckus would ensue that would lead to a six-man tag match being made that would take place after the commercial break.
Six-Man Tag Match
Solid six-man tag match here to end Raw this week. Lashley went to the back to change into his gear which provided a bit of a disadvantage at first but he would eventually come out. The action was nice and hard hitting at times and I like how they use Omos. They use him to cause havoc and they do not overexpose him. It is clear he is the least experience of the bunch and they did a good job in using him in the right moments. I was pretty sure we would see Drew pin Lashley here as that is the typical formula WWE goes with during go-home episodes in which the champion is involved in a match with the challenger. Still some good stuff in the match and Drew would hit Lashley with the Claymore for the win and stood tall as Raw came to a close.
Overall, not the best go-home episode but also not the worst one. This was a bit middle of the road but did have some really good stuff in it. The tag match between RK-Bro and the New Day was great and so was the match between Asuka and Rhea. Rhea and Charlotte’s brawl after the match was plenty of fun too and that little bit of blood added to it. The interaction between the New Day and MVP was also really good as well. Everything else was pretty middle of the road to meh to bad. The Ryker/Elias stuff isn’t working and I am not totally hating the Eva Marie stuff but that is because of me being a fan of Piper Niven. The Women’s Tag Title scene is a mess and that segment did nothing. I am intrigued by Alexa hypnotizing Reginald and am interested in seeing where it goes. All in all, this was an okay episode of Raw this week.