This week’s Raw episode is just days away from the WWE draft, which is what everyone on the roster is preparing for. And after a grueling pay-per-view on Hell in a Cell just the day before, Raw had promised to be a wrestling exhibition of sorts.

From the Champions Showcase (Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champions Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs Women’s Tag Team Champions Kabuki Warriors) to the WWE Draft Showcase between Ricochet and Apollo Crews and a tag team title consideration match between The Viking Raiders and the WWE Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, it seemed that every wrestler had something to prove before draft day.

The Viking Raiders taking out Dolph Ziggler
via WWE.com
The Viking Raiders taking out Dolph Ziggler
via WWE.com

The WWE Draft Showcase with the best friends Ricochet and Apollo Crews was a fun watch as the two know each other so well that it was hard to predict who would walk out the winner. The Viking Raiders also made their impression by surprisingly defeating the tag team champs in the non-title contest, which I’m really hoping would finally mean they’ll set things right in the tag division soon and have an actual tag team as champs again.

Speaking of tag teams, if it’s not The Viking Raiders, there’s always AOP who can fit the bill. And fit they shall. AOP have already made their mark on the main roster after their impressive run in NXT but have yet to officially pick things up where they left off after the Super ShowDown in June.

Aleister Black kicking Samir Singh in the face while Sunil Singh recovers.
via WWE.com
Aleister Black kicking Samir Singh in the face while Sunil Singh recovers.
via WWE.com

But like Hell in a Cell, this week’s Raw has its meh moments. Moments that could have gone better if the talents were given a proper chance. Like Aleister Black’s challenge. This gimmick is getting super stale at this point, despite Black’s amazing in-ring skills. But this handicap match with The Singh Brothers was pointless and cringey. I honestly don’t know what to make of this. The only saving grace of it all is getting to witness Black’s unbelievable kicks and cool as heck standing modified dragon sleeper finish.

Same goes to Braun Strowman and Tyson Fury picking fights with each other. This all smells like marketing purposes, which I guess from a business standpoint, it makes sense to get more eyes on the product when Smackdown just debuted on a new network and the big WWE Draft is coming. It’s just that, I’m not a fan of giving away a TV spot to an outsider when you have plenty of talents waiting in the wings. But hey, that’s WWE.

At least there was some silver lining there, but when it came to some other parts of the show, I couldn’t see any. Like the whole thing with Rusev, his cheating wife Lana and her new beau Bobby Lashley in the show opener, it’s the worst thing ever. First off, the angle is just plain cringey and second of all, why is it still a thing? We’ve already seen Lana and Lashley’s awkward as heck makeout session last week and this week, we’re forced to sit through another awkward segment where they’re in bed together taunting Rusev. Then next week? I shudder to think. And this of course made Rusev snap and beat the sh** out of Randy Orton and King Corbin who were laughing at him behind his back. Sorry, I didn’t realise we’ve all gone back in time to see a rehashed WWE storyline from the past. Not only is it recycled, it’s dumb. Is there really no better story to give Rusev the motivation to be part of Team Hogan in the upcoming WWE Crown Jewel event? And I’m not the only one who hates this. See how other fans make fun of this stupid storyline.

To be honest, this week isn’t the best but there are good stuff from this week’s episode. Below are my fave moments from Raw.

Kairi Sane (background-left), Asuka (foreground-left), Charlotte Flair (background-right), Becky Lynch (foreground-right)
via WWE.com
Kairi Sane (background-left), Asuka (foreground-left), Charlotte Flair (background-right), Becky Lynch (foreground-right)
via WWE.com

Champions Showcase
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane)

It’s always great to see the female wrestlers putting on an important match like this. And even better when they’re four of the top women on the roster. At Hell in a Cell, Becky and Charlotte went to war in walking out the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion respectively while Asuka and Kairi Sane aka Kabuki Warriors returned after a long absence to capture the Women’s Tag Team Championship from Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. So to watch these four put on a solid match, it was a blessing. It’s made even more exciting when Kabuki Warriors came back as heels, which is a breath of fresh air for them after being gone for too long.

Asuka and Kairi worked so well together and it showed in the match against Becky and Charlotte who displayed some tension. It was clear that they worked separately during the match. When Charlotte was taking on the Kabuki Warriors, Becky was nowhere to be found. And vice versa. And that worked to Warriors’ favour as Asuka managed to spray the green mist in Becky’s face behind the ref’s back which allowed the tag champs to win. I’m really enjoying the new attitude from Asuka and Kairi and can’t wait to see where they go from here. Especially when Paige is no longer their manager and spokesperson. They proved that when they came out prior talking in Japanese in a mocking tone, a clear sign of newfound confidence.

After the match, Alexa and Nikki came out to attack the tag champs so it looks like there’s a war brewing on the horizon between the two teams. Meanwhile, the only concern for Becky and Charlotte right now is the possibility of them being drafted to the same brand. And that would make for an interesting development as tensions continue to grow.

Watch the last few minutes of the match:

Lucha House Party hitting a triple moonsault onto The O.C.
via WWE.com
Lucha House Party hitting a triple moonsault onto The O.C.
via WWE.com

The O.C. vs Lucha House Party

This match was pretty much used to give The O.C. a win, but it still turned out decent. The team of Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado and Kalisto never fail to put on a breathtaking performance that wows the crowd and this week is no exception. Plus with in-ring styles that clash with the team of AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, you can expect nothing but a good fight. My personal fave is Gran Metalik who always makes it so easy hopping from rope to rope or even stepping onto Dorado’s shoulders. And a picture-perfect moment during the match was when Lucha House Party hit an impressive triple diving moonsault from the top rope to The O.C. standing below.

But their time in the limelight didn’t last as Gallows turned the tide to his team’s favour. After getting a near fall, Kalisto looked for the Salida Del Sol but Styles countered with an emphatic Pele kick. Then it all went downhill from there as Styles followed up with his Phenomenal Forearm for the victory.

The O.C. continued with a post-match beatdown though, no doubt making an even bigger statement to the rest of the roster and possibly for the sake of the big draft. It finally ended with Styles taking down Dorado with a huge Styles Clash from the second rope.

Lacey Evans (left), Natalya (right)
via WWE.com
Lacey Evans (left), Natalya (right)
via WWE.com

Last Woman Standing Match
Natalya vs Lacey Evans

I’m not the biggest fan of the feud between Natalya and Lacey Evans, but this match was said to be the final one. And I thought them ending it with a Last Woman Standing match was interesting. It’s not the most exciting, to be very honest, but there are good parts that satisfy the overall storyline.

For the most of the feud, Lacey was made to look really good as the undefeatable heel while Natalya struggled with her dirty tactics. It was obvious that Natalya could more easily beat Lacey in a pure wrestling match but Lacey kept coming out on top by cheating. In the end, to settle things once and for all, she challenged Natalya to a Last Woman Standing match where she vowed to take out the trash that is Natalya. At this point, I’ve forgotten why Lacey harboured this much hatred towards Natalya but alas here we are. The match was pretty much in Lacey’s control as she tossed and slammed Natalya around the ring and outside. Natalya took a lot of punishment in this round, including getting thrown into the steel steps and ring post and trapped in a chair with a kendo stick so that she couldn’t get up to beat the count. Nice work, Lacey! Yet despite all that beating, Natalya somehow could get to her feet in the final second every time. It was almost funny to see because it got predictable and it happened many times. It was like Natalya was actually a machine and not a human.

Then the fight made its way to the stage area where Natalya was thrown a few times to the half-pipe-looking Raw set. Things continued to look bleak for her until she got her opening with a snap suplex counter on the stage. After that, it was bye bye Lacey as Natalya powerbombed her off the stage and into the table below. It was the first time Lacey found herself on her back and that was all it took for Natalya to finally walk out the winner.

While the match and feud have their faults, I can see that the whole thing was no doubt served as a way to build up Lacey more. And seeing how her character has successfully grown as an improved heel, I’ll say they did it!

Watch the best parts here: