This week put the spotlight on newly drafted Raw roster members like the returning Drew McIntyre, Aleister Black, Andrade and Zelina Vega, and Humberto Carrillo.
But the show opened in a pretty big way when “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair introduced McIntyre as the final member of his team at WWE Crown Jewel. McIntyre now joins Captain Randy Orton, King Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley and Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura. They’ll face Team Hogan that comprises of Roman Reigns (who recently replaced Seth Rollins), Rusev, Ricochet, Ali and Chad Gable. A match immediately follows up between McIntyre and Ricochet while an excited Flair watches from ringside. Every time McIntyre returns after an injury or something, he’s always given a significant amount of hype and this time was no exception and I was worried that this would be a squash match. Thankfully, it wasn’t as it showcased both him and Ricochet very well.
The rest of the draftees are all from Smackdown too except Carrillo who came from 205 Live. For Carrillo, he definitely made an impression against Universal champ Seth Rollins. I hope to see more of him in future matches. The Raw audience is no stranger to Andrade and Vega, who had a fantastic rivalry with Rey Mysterio not too long ago, and Black who made his main roster debut earlier this year on Raw before moving to Smackdown. While Andrade hasn’t been in any title contendership, the matches he’s been in have been pretty solid. Plus, Vega being the talker and the one cheating to help him win makes them an entertaining duo.
But Black, whose “I’ll wait here in the shadows for a challenge” gimmick has gone stale, is due for something fresh. And I thought with the draft, they’d change things up for him but he continues the same tired shtick though this week, he faced a local wrestler named Jason Reynolds. As impressive as Black is as a competitor, this match was just like the rest. Please don’t keep on wasting his talent, WWE! With Buddy Murphy drafted to Raw now, perhaps they could have a feud of sorts. With their similarly explosive styles, I’ll bet they’ll put on amazing matches together.
The rest of the Raw episode saw more previews of Crown Jewel. The Raw tag team champions The Viking Raiders destroy yet another team, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins. Ryder and Hawkins are a skilled duo but they keep coming up short. Then Shelton Benjamin, the bully of short guys, tried to intimidate Rey Mysterio in the ring when Cain Velasquez came to basically choke him out, which sent as a double statement to his future opponent Brock Lesnar. If you’re invested Lesnar’s career and his UFC past with Velasquez, you might find this feud interesting. But it isn’t for me. I’d rather see Mysterio versus Lesnar, especially after what the WWE champ did to him and his son. That would make for a more compelling story. But perhaps Lesnar vs Velasquez is more appealing to the Saudi audience (insert shrug emoji).
Besides some of the questionable stuff that happened, Raw still had good matches. This may not be their best episode but it’s worth to check out the matches, like my top 3 listed below.
Drew McIntyre vs Ricochet
As mentioned above, I thought this match would be a squash but I’m so glad it wasn’t. McIntyre is no doubt an impressive addition to Team Flair for Crown Jewel and his performance in the ring really backed that up. However, Ricochet is no slouch either and if there’s anyone who could hold his ground against someone like McIntyre, it’s Ricochet.
As the commentators love calling him a real-life superhero, Ricochet managed to pull off very precise kicks and a perfect shooting star press that slowed down McIntyre. But the Scottish wrestler kept getting back up and somehow still have the strength to toss Ricochet shoulder-first into the turnbuckles. The battle did look like it could go on forever, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats. But alas, McIntyre’s strength is no match for Ricochet as he came out on top after taking him out once and for all with a nasty as heck Claymore kick. Yet that doesn’t satisfy McIntyre as he picked up Ricochet again post-bell and basically doled out more punishment, including his Future Shock DDT and a reverse Alabama Slam into the steel steps.
I don’t remember watching a great opening match like this on a Raw episode. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the show.
You can watch the heated match here:
Andrade vs Sin Cara
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Sin Cara match and it’s wonderful to see how the time away from the ring since June didn’t slow him down in any way. In fact, he looked pretty good out there against Andrade, including a springboard crossbody and moonsault that even surprised Vega who’s watching from ringside. His resilience shone through even after Andrade put him through the wringer with the Three Amigos.
But Andrade and Vega had more tricks up their sleeves as she took down Sin Cara with a hurricanrana off the apron behind the referee’s back. Andrade then executed his Hammerlock DDT finisher for the win. It’s obvious that Andrade and Vega make for a pretty good team and with Vega showing off her own wrestling skills, I hope that we’ll see Andrade with a title soon and maybe be an official mixed tag duo or have Vega start competing in singles competition too. That would be a very cool progression for the two.
The Street Profits vs The O.C.
I’m a huge fan of both teams and to see The Street Profits main eventing against The O.C. in their second Raw episode as official roster members was a huge treat! The way they set up for this match was random as Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson just happened to vent their frustrations on Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford after a few bad weeks. But if this match is the result of that, I’m not complaining.
The Raw audience are no stranger to The Street Profits either since they started appearing on the show hosting backstage segments. Their charisma and in-ring chemistry make them easy favourites against the notorious O.C. Knowing fully well that AJ Styles would interfere in some way, The Street Profits recruited Kevin Owens, a fellow new draftee to the Raw roster, to distract Styles. It all proved successful as Owens came out to take out Styles with a huge Stunner, allowing The Street Profits to finish off The O.C. and secure their first victory on Raw.
Relive the feel-good moment here: