Photo Credit- WWE twitter account
Last week’s episode of Raw was a massive improvement over the last several installments. A slew of great Money in the Bank qualifying matches, surprise winners that will move on to the titular match and a great hell in a cell match, Raw managed to put on an enjoyable show. However, the question remains: can they keep this streak alive? Let’s find out!
GREAT: To open the show, Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville announce that Randy Orton is unable to compete tonight and say that a battle royal will take place right now to determine his replacement in the last chance triple threat. Riddle shows up with a “letter” from Randy saying that Randy has “agreed” to let Riddle take his place in the triple threat. If Riddle wins then Randy will be in the ladder match. Pearce and Sonya see through the deception and know Riddle wrote the letter himself. However, instead of being in the match itself, they allow Riddle to compete in the battle royal to earn his way in. It’s very odd that they never explicitly said the reason why Randy can’t compete (perhaps it’s a legitimate reason?) However, a battle royal is a good enough way to potentially get a new talent a shot at the ladder match and Riddle’s attempts at taking Randy’s spot was legit hilarious. The battle royal itself was really good too, having little interweaving storylines within the match like Mustafa Ali and Mansoor and Cedric Alexander and Jeff Hardy. Drew Gulak wins the 24/7 championship from Akira Tozawa after they’re both eliminated. R Truth then pins Gulak to win the belt, but is immediately beaten again by Tozawa. Omos eventually comes out and eliminates both members of the Viking Raiders, continuing that feud. The match comes down to Riddle and Damien Priest who have a very fun and suspenseful conclusion to the match. Riddle eventually eliminates Priest to win the match and move on to the last chance triple threat. What a fun way to end the match and a fun way to start the show. Post match, Riddle plays Orton’s music and does Orton’s poses and pyro which was a cute touch to the RKBRO storyline. Riddle continues to be the star of money in the bank season in my opinion.
Result: Riddle wins after last eliminating Damian Priest
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
AVERAGE: Nia Jax and Reginald talk to Shayna Baszler and apologize for what happened last week in the tag match. Shayna understands and says that Alexa is getting in their heads and says she’ll take out her frustrations on Nikki Cross later. The trio leave as the camera shows Alexa standing in the background, seemingly listening in on the conversation the whole time. A decent little segment with a cool ending.
GOOD: AJ Styles and Omos are interviewed about Riddle being added to the match later tonight. AJ says that it’s unfair that Riddle got added because since Orton can’t compete, it should’ve been Drew vs Styles. Omos is also asked about his actions in the battle royal earlier tonight, to which he says he was simply “scouting” the competition. AJ says that Omos’ actions are justified because of the Raiders costing him his match with Ricochet last week. AJ says that Patrick is a hypocrite for bashing Omos’ actions and praising the Raiders for doing the same thing. Styles then reevaluates his position, realizing that Drew and Riddle are injured due to previous matches. A good segment with AJ supplying great logic to both his match later tonight as well as the Viking Raiders storyline.
GOOD: Nikki Cross is interviewed backstage about her new superhero persona. She says that she’s excited to qualify for the money in the bank match, saying she’ll be an inspiration to children everywhere. She’s excited at the thought of becoming Raw women’s champion, but calms down to focus on her match with Shayna. She also says that her new name is Nikki Ash and that she’s not quite a superhero yet, but she’s almost a superhero. Last week, I was a lot more critical of the Nikki Cross gimmick mainly due to the sudden change. Nikki clearly has a great deal of passion with this gimmick and I respect the hell out of that. She has all the potential in the world to make this gimmick work. While I’m still not crazy about the gimmick change, I am much more open to the idea of her winning me over and I support her journey in winning over the rest of the WWE universe.
AVERAGE: Up next is Shayna Baszler vs Nikki Cross. The story of this match is basic but effective, Shayna manhandling Nikki while Nikki plays as the underdog that has to work her way back up to a victory. Alexa Bliss comes out and distracts Nia, Shayna and Reginald, allowing Nikki to hit a crossbody to all three of them, giving her her first hope spot of the match. Alexa and Nia have another moment in the match where Alexa tries hypnotizing her, but Reginald puts a stop to it. Alexa takes down Nia and kicks Reginald in the groin. Nikki eventually takes advantage and defeats Shayna once again. A fun little match, but more of the same in terms of the Alexa shenanigans. Not to mention the finish to this match was almost identical to the finish from the tag match last week.
Result: Nikki defeats Shayna via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.5 stars
MUST WATCH: Up next is the face-to-face with Kofi Kingston and MVP. Kofi talks about last week and says that hearing Xavier screaming in pain when he could do nothing hurt him. Kingston says that people need to put respect on Woods’ name for his performance last week and vows to make Lashley pay. MVP comes out and scoffs at the idea of Kofi beating Lashley to become champion. MVP says that Lashley enjoyed hurting Woods last week and says what he did will be nothing compared to what he does to Kofi at Money in the Bank. Kofi brings up the point that Lashley is going soft and that he is slowly losing pieces of himself and will become a shell of what he used to be. Kofi says that he deserved becoming WWE champion and talked about how he took the title everywhere, including to Ghana and vows to do it again. Kofi says that Woods will be back next week and questions the legitimacy of MVP’s injury. MVP says he is hurt, but tries attacking him anyways and gets a trouble in paradise for his troubles. This was a fantastic segment all around. An amazing, impassioned promo from Kofi and a great heel promo from MVP to get heat on Lashley for destroying Woods. An excellent segment that really got me hyped for the eventual championship match.
AVERAGE: Up next is a rematch from last week with Eva Marie and Doudrop taking on Asuka and Naomi. Eva and Doudrop are interviewed before the match about what happened last week. Eva says that Doudrop made a rookie mistake last week and was simply caught up in the allure of the Eva-lution. The match itself was nothing special but absolutely solid booking for Piper Niven. Eva tries costing Piper the match by refusing the tag but Piper manages to win anyways. A decent match with great booking for Piper. Post match Eva declares herself the winner, much to Doudrop’s dismay.
Result: Eva and Doudrop win via pinfall after Doudrop pins Asuka.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.25 stars
GREAT: Up next is John Morrison vs Ricochet. Before the match, Morrison and Miz are being interviewed backstage about qualifying for money in the bank. Miz talks about how he’s gonna help Morrison win due to his experience being a two time money in the bank holder. However, they’re interrupted by Ricochet who says that he’s gonna win the ladder match and prove himself. He reveals that he stole Morrison’s drip stick and chases him off. Ricochet sprays Miz with the stick and goes off to his upcoming match. The segment itself was whatever but in no way took away from the actual upcoming match. Ricochet has a very fun spot where he rebounds off of Miz’s wheelchair and hits a hurricanrana on Morrison. This is the Ricochet I know and love. The finish to this match was ABSOLUTELY crazy where Morrison is sitting on the barricade and Ricochet springboards onto Morrison. Both men end up getting counted out but this finish was so perfect it doesn’t bother me at all. Great match and another amazing showcase for Ricochet. More of this please.
Result: Both Morrison and Ricochet are counted out, resulting in a draw.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.75 stars
SATISFACTORY: Up next is a six woman tag team match as Charlotte flair teams up with the women’s tag team champions Natalya and Tamina as they take on Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke and the Raw Women’s champion Rhea Ripley. Right off the bat I’ll say I am very confused as to who the faces are and who the heels are in these two feuds. The ladies immediately start with a brawl, which is a fine way to add some immediate heat to the match. The match itself was nothing special but nothing bad either. Post match, Rhea chop blocks Charlotte and gloats.
Result: Charlotte, Natalya and Tamina win via pinfall after Charlotte pinned Mandy.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.25 stars
AVERAGE: Jaxson Ryker is backstage once again striking himself with the strap in preparation for his upcoming match when he’s interrupted by R Truth chasing Tozawa. Truth questions what Ryker is doing and asks if he can use the strap to beat up Tozawa. Ryker stays quiet and Truth simply leaves. A decent segment but Truth is funny as always.
AVERAGE: Up next is the strap match between Jaxson Ryker and Elias. Elias starts off with some much needed intensity, immediately beating down Ryker. There are a few decent little spots with the strap but nothing too major or wildly creative. A decent, short match to hopefully end this feud.
Result: Ryker defeats Elias via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.5 stars
GOOD: Riddle is backstage prepping for his match later tonight. Damian Priest shows up and tries talking to Riddle, however he says that he’s not Riddle he’s “Randy Orton.” Priest tries talking to “Randy” and eventually brings out Riddle again. Priest admires what Riddle is doing for Randy and says that, if anything, Randy is lucky to have Riddle for a friend. I really enjoyed this. This came off as very genuine and added an extra layer to the RKBRO story. Riddle acting like Randy gives off this impression that he’s almost lost without Randy, that the friendship is more than just a friendship. It also comes off as Randy mentoring Riddle to become better and the star that he’s destined to be.
MUST WATCH: Finally, we have the last chance triple threat match where the winner will receive the final spot in the Raw side of the money in the bank ladder match. AJ styles takes on Drew McIntyre and Riddle where if Riddle wins, Randy Orton qualifies for the ladder match. Drew is interviewed backstage and says that while he knows he’s still not 100% he’s still gonna go out there and qualify. AJ and Riddle put Drew through the announce table, creating this great story of AJ isolating Riddle, targeting his knee. This ties perfectly into AJ’s promo from earlier about him being the only fresh man in the match. Riddle seemingly injures his foot when he accidentally kicks the steel steps after AJ moved out of the way. Riddle is carried away, screaming that he can’t let Randy down and begs to continue. Absolutely brilliant stuff from Riddle. Drew and AJ have a great back and forth until Riddle somehow manages to come back out and have one more hope spot of making Randy proud. Omos screwing Riddle out of his last chance at a victory only for Drew to steal the victory is a masterful finish. Drew qualifies for Money in the Bank. An absolutely fantastic match from start to finish and a brilliant way to end the show.
Result: Drew wins via pinfall after pinning Riddle
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 4.5 stars
Raw, last week you impressed the hell out of me by putting on an entertaining show. Somehow, some way not only did you manage to match the quality of last week’s show, but you managed to put on my favorite episode of Raw in months. This show was so enjoyable. A fun battle royal to start the show, a crazy match between Morrison and Ricochet and an excellent triple threat main event. Tonight’s show might as well be called Monday Night Riddle because this man absolutely stole the show. My only complaints with the show are that the lower midcard needs work and the women’s division can be a bit confusing at times.
Show Theme & Presentation: 6/10
Show Production: 9/10
Storyline progression: 8/10
Crowd reaction: 6/10
Overall show rating: 7.2/10