The United States Champion is defended in an all-timer. Then the rest of the show happened.
Before we dig into the good, bad, and the ugly of Monday Night Raw, I want it on the record that Xavier Woods and A.J. Styles, two cats I adore in the ring, put on a pretty good match. The problem? I didn’t care. No stakes, no larger narrative, just two guys wrestling because hey, why not. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with WWE’s flagship show.
When a show clocks in at three hours, you gotta give me something to care about for every single match, not just when it’s convenient or accidentally. Until someone in WWE aka Vince McMahon decides to, I don’t know, put compelling reasons into every match on the card, then the show will continue to be the longest three hours of the week.
Oh, and not for nothing, but Monday Night Football starts very soon. As JAY-Z said about 20 years ago, y’all got a few weeks to get your thing together.
That said, don’t forget to follow along with Claire for insights and the best commentary on the internet.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get ready to rumble, shall we?
I’m a tad rebellious by nature so I normally roll my eyes when the crowd chants how awesome something is.
Not the case tonight.
Damian Priest opened Raw calling dudes out and putting them on notice that he’s here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And you know what happened to the bubblegum. His words brought out Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, The Almighty WWE Champ, and RK-Bro…for basketball reasons, I suppose. This led to Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce setting up a triple threat match between Sheamus, Drew, and the WWE United States Champion Damian Priest. When the match happened, it didn’t take long for the simple story to take shape: Three men just beating the snot out of each other for the right to be called “champion.”
If you like fights, this was for you. if you love fights, this is your match of the night. Sheamus and Drew came in ready to kill each other with Priest as the middleman hoping to survive. The longer it went on, the more he realized he was ready to do more than just survive; he can hang with these two cats and go blow for blow with them any day of the week. And twice on Mondays.
Each man took knockout shots and kept coming harder and faster. Brogue kicks, Futureshock DDT’s, oh my. Drew never managed to land a Claymore Kick until the final moments of the night. And when he did, he kicked Sheamus right out of the ring. Little things like that go a long way in storytelling because it shows just how evenly matched the competitors are and adds layers to a feud we never knew we needed.
Priest took advantage of his opening, hit Drew with a Reckoning, and that was all she wrote.
A solid story from start to finish about a guy realizing he can bang with King Kong and Godzilla and might be more powerful than both of them. Damian Priest’s United States title run just got more interesting.
Be Careful What You Wish For, Almighty
Bobby Lashley started the night talking about wanting two belts. While he didn’t get a shot at the United States Championship, he did try his luck at the Tag Team Championships with MVP at his side.
Sorry champ, just wasn’t your night, was it?
The difference between this match and any other match on the card, minus the triple threat, was emotional investment. You care about RK-Bro. I care about RK-Bro. We all care about RK-Bro. As WWE Champion is public enemy number one, especially for Goldberg fans. And MVP? Well, yeah, he’s MVP, so you know how that goes. I know who each of these four men are, I know what they want, and more importantly, I know what a W or an L means for each of them in the grand scheme of things.
See how easy it is to get invested in people who don’t walk around talking about “opportunity” every five minutes? Shocking, right?
MVP, the obvious weak link, milked his weak knee for all it was worth as Lashley did most of the work. No matter how dope Bobby Lashley is, there’s no way on this earth or any other can he beat the tag champs by himself. They’re the perfect odd couple who compliment each other. Plus, we’re all waiting for Randy to show his true colors and break up a good thing. With that added tension, every match is a must see. Throw in noted child assaulter in Bobby Lashley and baby, you got yourself a stew going.
Lashley did what he could until it came down to MVP and Riddle. Randy and Riddle played the divide and conquer game to a tee, keeping the WWE champ busy just long enough for Riddle to score the pin over MVP.
In a fit of rage—gotta rage against something—Lashley speared Riddle and caught an RKO for his troubles.
The crowd ate it up and the champ was on his back as the show faded to black.
It was the second best match of the night and, unsurprisingly, one the crowd was very into.
No doubt, Randy is entering the WWE Championship narrative. That RKO made him number one on Lashley’s kill list, while putting more doubt in Lashley’s head about his business partner, MVP.
RK-Bro still have to deal with Omos and A.J. Styles, a fact the former champs happily underlined as they sat at ringside during the main event and occasionally interfered. One match. The right outcome. Multiple stories as a result of said outcome.
Sometimes, it really is that simple. Other times? Well, that’s what the rest of the show is for.
Charlotte is Thanos, Right?
Before the bell rang, Corey Graves called Charlotte Flair all of the nicknames they created for her over the years. He added that Charlotte is “inevitable,” reminding me of what Thanos called himself while trash talking a bunch of Marvel superheroes. Ironically, after toppling almost a superhero but still not a champion, Charlotte really does look like Marvel’s purple big bad. It’s hard getting truly interested in her matches because we know the way the story ends WWE is baking it into her presentation now. She’s a heel who dominates most of her opponents and rarely—if ever—even kinda cheats to win.
That’s why matches like tonight are rare.
Nia Jax and Charlotte tangoed in a non-title match. And it stuck to the script of most Charlotte matches. There were moments when Nia looked unbeatable, which I scoffed at. There were times when Nia handled Charlotte like a child, to which I shrugged my shoulders.
But then Charlotte got cockier than usual, ate a face full of turnbuckle, and got powerbombed straight to hell. More shocking? The referee counted to three.
I don’t know what they’re doing with Nia but she backed up every word she said Monday night. She left three women as splat marks in the middle of the ring and looks like only an army can defeat her. Or at the least a small militia.
If Charlotte is Thanos, maybe Nia has the infinity gauntlet to get the job done.
Or this is just another WWE pump fake and Charlotte winning any war she’s in is truly inevitable.
- The Rhea Ripley rehabilitation project continues and I’m still unmoved. Nikki A.S.H. has the juice now and WWE is hoping some of it—any of it—rubs off on Ripley. The crowd is going with it a bit but meh. Rhea beats Shaya after taking advantage of Shayna’s ego and Nia Jax crushes everyone.
- I’m not a fan of Goldberg because it’s no longer 1998 and I’m not 12 anymore. But he brought a little fire when he told the world he’s coming for Lashley’s soul. It was good. Not Shang Tsung good, but it got the job done.
- The raid is on, ladies and gents! It’s so obvious when WWE wants us to cheer for someone. Give the crowd something to chant, put it on a t-shirt, and watch the profits roll in. The Viking Raiders are getting into position to challenge RK-Bro for their tag titles because…yeah, there’s no obvious challenger at the moment. Almost as if WWE gave them the belts without an actual plan of what to do once they got them. But that would be plum loco, right? The Raiders made quick work of The Modern Day Maharaja and his
- Parkour in the Park with Reggie! Reggie dodged R-Truth and…Akira Tazowa in a dog costume. I can’t, so I won’t.
- Geno will have my head on several platters if I don’t mention Eva Marie. Probably stewing she’s not higher up in this recap actually, so if you don’t see me reviewing NXT tomorrow, you know why. Then again, you saw that “match” just like I did. She was ruled unable to compete against Doudrop, who quickly declared herself the winner just to mess with Ms. Marie. The only redeeming quality in this whole thing is Doudrop taking ownership of a name given to her by a bully as an insult. I say this in my best Martin Lawrence voice: You go, girl.
He-ManKarrion Kross beat up Humberto Carrillo. Carrillo had hope for about as long as it took me to write this sentence. I don’t care how strong they want Kross to look, he does not have the power.
- I don’t know who John Morrison’s acting coach is but he needs to hand that person a pink slip yesterday. Fighting Omos to prove to The Miz and your acting coach that you’re the bigger man? Props on calling Miz a “splashhole” but Omos turned that man into roadkill. I’d give America’s Moist Wanted props for trying but I don’t believe in participation trophies. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s still getting scraped off the mat like a Looney Tune.
Two matches saved this show. The main event and the triple threat were the only standouts in *checks watch* three hours of wrestling. I’m not good at math but even I know that’s a terrible average. Raw just doesn’t do it for me, which is sad because all of the tools are there for dope shows on the regular. But hey, if they won’t hear it from me, or the fans who sat on their hands for most of the show, then maybe the NFL is the rude awakening they need.
Who am I kidding? We know how this story ends. It is, in fact, inevitable.