AJ Styles turns heel and reunites the Bullet Club in WWE! Two major NXT stars debut on the main roster! And the Raw stage has been potentially been destroyed. But we’ll be right back after this match restarts. And Paige shoots on WWE creative!
Click the timestamps in the video description below to go straight to any of those stories.
I’m Oli Davis, urging you to have a superclick party – SUPERCLICK – by giving us a subscribe, pressing the thumbs up button, and answering our question of the day in the comments: What do you want to see from Paul Heyman booking Raw? Because I’ll be replying to people FROM OUTTA NOWHERE! And click the ‘i’ above my head to give your rating of the show – where you can choose from: RawSome, Cor, AVRAWGE, Poor and RawFul – as I review the 1st July episode of Monday Night Raw!
After a rivalry that’s seen arm wrestling contests and tug of war battles, Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley opened the episode in a Falls Count Anywhere, But Mainly Before Every Commercial Break Match – which quickly saw Braun spectacularly tackle Lashley through the LCD screen, causing the whole set to black out and setting off the last few years of pyro WWE have been storing up.
WWE are literally now chucking ideas at a wall.
It was so shocking, Corey Graves said holy s-word, and later on, Michael Cole uttered a team even more non-PG… hospital.
But this was a genuinely amazing visual and a wild start to the episode – particularly how they held on one static shot backstage for ages with no commentary team, for Braun and Bobby to eventually be stretchered off. Where, for even more realism points, Strowman didn’t flip any ambulances!
After that settled down, we got the Viking DON’T MENTION THE WAR EXPERIENCE Raiders vs The New Day for a few minutes before Samoa Joe attacked Xavier Woods, meaning this match will be restarted after this commercial break with Kofi Kingston and Joe joining the faces and heels respectively.
Even though Joe has been completely botched by this year’s booking. And last year’s booking. And the year before that. He’s such an intense performer he made you believe in his and Kofi’s feud just a week in. And he even gave Kingston his first match loss since becoming WWE Champion, choking him out in the Coquina Clutch- a vital victory to make us believe he could beat Kofi at Extreme Rules.
…Drake Maverick finally took his blindfolded wife on their honeymoon… to reveal it’s just backstage at Raw – where she gave him the ultimatum of it’s either her or the 24/7 title.
Cue a series of skits of R-Truth taunting Maverick for choosing his wife like a loser… until …Drake Maverick snapped at the end, hit Truth with his luggage and regained the 24/7 Championship!
Then we got Mean Charly Caruso badly segwaying from how in demand the 24/7 title is, to the WWE main roster’s latest debuts also being in demand (come on Buddy Murphy, please finally be Buddy Murphy)… The current NXT tag champions the Street Profits.
STOP DOING NXT WRONG.
Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford proceeded to cut a charismatic promo, and then later butted in on her interview with Paul Heyman to do the same.
Despite this episode somewhat feeling like a soft reset of Raw, it unfortunately wasn’t resett-y enough to rid us of The OmniShane!
Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre cut an in-ring promo trashing Roman Reigns and The Undertaker, which brought out the Deadman to cut a promo about souls, blah, eternal damnation, blah blah, please let me retire, blah, I’m worried I’m ruining my own legacy, blah blah blah, rest in peace.
From one Midcard Vortex to another, Lacey Evans took on Natalya with Baron Corbin in her corner. Lacey and Baron’s in-ring styles are actually quite similar. Their individual spots are quite cool, it’s the long stretches in between that drag. Baron tripped Natalya to give Lacey the win.
Elias and The Miz both got a fall each early on in their, yep, you guessed it, random 2 out of 3 falls match, for Miz to win overall. There are a lot of falls in WWE now, and Miz and Elias sadly might be two of the biggest – trapped in a repetitive series of matches since WrestleMania as just a proxy for Reigns and McMahon.
Then if Raw wasn’t weird enough already, WWE put on the oddest part of the show. In a stilted backstage promo with Caruso, actual real-life couple Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins continued to show no onscreen romantic chemistry, where they awkwardly bantered and smiled about their relationship’s power dynamics. Which I presume Seth eventually won by just bringing up his bank account. Smash that glass ceiling, Becky Lynch.
But really the two top champions in their respective divisions on Raw was just a backdrop to burying Mike Kannelis – a man who had the audacity to re-sign with the company just two weeks ago.
As a poster boy for those who choose to stay with WWE rather than jump ship to AEW, Mike’s loyalty was repaid by having Maria Kanellis call him her bitch, him tapping out to Becky’s Disarmher… Disarmhim… Disarmperson in their following intergender tag match, and then Maria faked she’s pregnant to stop Lynch beating her up – which Mike got really excited about… until she told him he’s not man enough to get her pregnant. Maybe she should get the Man Becky Lynch to put a baby in her next time.
This was fascinating. In a way that drunk people having sloppy, shoving fights is fascinating. In that it’s perversely entertaining, but ultimately, rather sad.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross continued to play out their tired story that ruins one of their characters in A Moment of Bliss segment next, which turned into Carmella rolling up Alexa in seconds, and then Nikki beating Carmella. This is a terrible storyline.
But the main event, and the night-long story building it up, was genuinely really well told. Building off AJ Styles criticising his former Bullet Club partners Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for not taking themselves seriously enough, Galanderson flipped it around and stirred the pot between AJ and Ricochet.
AJ’s insecurity and rash-decision making – which is a long term part of his character, no matter how many times they seem to drop it – prompted him to challenge Ricochet to another match, but this time for the US title – which they both agreed upon with the age-old show of respect, slapping each other in the face.
They got the main event spot – continuing WWE’s build of Ricochet while Aleister Black feuds with a cupboard – and AJ shockingly won with a Phenomenal Forearm just a few minutes in. Ricochet’s foot was under the ropes, though, so this match will be restarted after the commercial break! After which Ricochet rolled AJ up to retain his title. But then Styles turned heel beating down Ricochet and reuniting with The Club, and hitting a Styles Clash from the 2nd rope!
Finally a real main event heel faction! Save us, AJ! He’s the only one strong enough to escape the gravitational pull of Baron Corbin’s Midcard Vortex!
This was a very entertaining episode, with the chaotic opening, AJ Styles’ heel turn, and the weird Kanellis stuff. Even randomly calling up the NXT tag champions didn’t fill me with dread. This week’s Raw – for the first time in ages – is Cor!
Now over to Luke with the news…
Great review, Oli – but how much of an impact did Paul Heyman have on the show?
Well according to the feedback we’ve had from the Swaft Nation, quite a bit. With a few noticeable differences like the Falls Count Anywhere madness at the top of the show and the random cameo from NXT Tag Team Champions Street Profits. Even former ECW colleagues of Heyman have said that his fingerprints were on the show. With former ECW Champion Taz tweeting that Heyman struck again after the Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman angle, and WrestleTalk Superfan Lance Storm urging his followers that he can feel Heyman on the show already. What’s wrong with saying “urge”?
However according to PWInsider, this likely isn’t the case. Mike Johnson noted on his website that from those he spoke to backstage at Raw, “there was no real discernable difference compared to the last few weeks of TV tapings with the addition of Paul Heyman as the Executive Director of the brand.” When Heyman and Eric Bischoff were announced to be overseeing the creative of Raw and Smackdown last week, one report suggested that we wouldn’t feel their influence right away – likely not until after Extreme Rules in a couple of weeks. Johnson has doubled down on this report, saying that, “Heyman’s new ideas and direction will be implemented slowly.”
Dave Meltzer on Figure Four Online has conversely reported that Heyman did have more influence on last night’s Raw episode, however he does add that it’s not his show completely at this point.
The same goes for Eric Bischoff. Although he was advertised for this week’s Smackdown in an email blast last week, there is no confirmation that he’ll be on the show as an authority figure – and reports suggest that his fingerprints definitely won’t be felt until after Extreme Rules. Bischoff will be at Smackdown this week, but Meltzer claims the episode will not be his.
One of the big changes we might see is a new set design for Monday Night Raw – with the very reliable WrestleVotes posting on Twitter that the opening Falls Count Anywhere match might have kickstarted the replacement process. They tweeted: “WWE was / is in the process of having a new stage designed and built. I wonder if this speeds up its debut.”
Someone who feels more needs to change than just the set is Paige. It seems that every week in 2019 has seen different names crop up in the WrestleTalk News about their frustrations with WWE creative – with Jon Moxley tearing into the creative process on Chris Jericho’s podcast, and Luke Harper publicly tweeting about his frustrations and desires to leave WWE, along with a slew of names who also have reported grievances backstage.
Paige is the latest name to join this list, recently being interviewed by British tabloid and purveyor of lies The Sun to promote the home entertainment release of Fighting With My Family. During the interview she was asked about her tag team of Asuka and Kairi sane not being used on TV much since their debut after the Superstar Shake-Up and she said, “If we don’t get used I get really frustrated because we’re a good tag team and we need to be utilized. Sometimes the writers have so much on their plate with everyone else’s storylines, they put things on the backburner. I have to remind them, ‘Ok, but there is a women’s tag team title… I’m like, ‘What the hell dudes? Let’s make something happen.’”
She does add however that in WWE, it’s just a case of speaking to the right people. She added, “It frustrates me but once you actually get to speak with Vince [McMahon] and [Triple H] about your problems and frustrations, they’re always the first to say, ‘Let’s change this.’ If you go up to writers it’s like talking to a brick wall sometimes, whereas if you go to Vince and Hunter they’re like, ‘If you have a problem we can change that for you.’”
Thank you for watching and a special thank you to our Patreon Pledge Hammers, some of which you can see scrolling their way into my stomach. Get your tickets to Will Ospreay’s Frontline show and WrestleGate’s Pro this coming weekend by using the links in the video description below, and click the videos over there for more great WrestleTalk content. I’ve been Luke Owen and that was wrestling.