The landscape of professional wrestling is changing…again…maybe?
After a few years of watching WWE programming and not feeling great about myself, the last week of programming has given me some hope for the future of sports entertainment. Yes, AEW had been filling a void, but my soul was pained to know how many talented stars were wallowing with no direction in the biggest wrestling company in the world.
Understandably, many are questioning whether the new WWE regime is really all that new, but Summerslam and the August 1 edition of RAW has sparked a tiny light at the end of a very disturbing tunnel. With that said, let’s review some of the high points from this week’s Monday Night RAW!
My Big POPS!
Bayley Takes CONTROL!
At Summerslam, Bayley, Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky (fka Io Shirai) shocked the world with their return to confront retaining RAW Women’s champ Bianca Belair. The just-defeated Becky Lynch attempted to stand up to the surprise guests, but couldn’t do much with a seriously separated shoulder. On RAW, Big Time Becks officially came back around to the Face side, and praised Belair before heading backstage, where Bayley and her new friends were waiting for the obligatory “superstar is injured so they need to be written off TV for a while” beatdown.
This chain of events would go on and on…and on throughout the night. Asuka and Alexa Bliss would even be brought into the scrum as Bayley’s group (who appear to be heading toward being called Control) jump into the match and attack both Asuka and Bliss, bringing out Belair for more scuffling.
The payoff for this whole deal was a match between Sky and Belair, which would also end in chaos as Bayley, Dakota, Alexa and Asuka would all get involved and cause a No Contest. This was sort of a mess, but I’m okay with it. “Control” is being presented as a chaotic sort of invasion scenario, so that supports the schmozz angles, but hopefully the matches get a little cleaner as we go along to showcase the talent of all involved.
Fun With Three-Ways and Ciampa Makes His Name
(Tomasso) Ciampa would start the night as an accessory to The Miz, but he would end it as a serious contender for the United States Championship. First, we were treated to a pair of impressive triple threat matches featuring some talent that needs to be given more to do on WWE programming (and The Miz). These matches functioned as a mini-tournament to determine Bobby Lashley’s next U.S. title contender.
Mustafa Ali, AJ Styles and The Miz provided the most exciting spot of the night, when sentimental favorite Mustafa Ali delivered a picture perfect 450 Splash only to bounce off The Miz into the arms of AJ Styles who promptly dropped Ali on top of the must-see Miz and scored the pin to advance to the final match.
Sidenote: I love these tournament style matches when a winner has to go on to wrestle again for some kind of major stakes. The continuity of the already-tired competitors toughing it out for the prize really works well, especially during a show as long as RAW.
The second three-way featured Ciampa, Dolph Ziggler and Chad Gable in what many would call a dream match, as these three are all incredibly talented and I think they worked ok together, but it may have been a case of too much talent in the ring at once. Gable was allowed to show off his mat wrestling know-how and Ziggler had some famously great sells. In the end, though it was good to see Ciampa get a win and earn some more of the spotlight. He was a true standout in his NXT days and his main roster run hasn’t been amazing.
That all appears to be changing, though, as Ciampa went on to defeat AJ Styles in the final and he is now going to challenge Lashley for the U.S. strap. AJ saved some face with the Miz interference, and I think that will come into play if Ciampa wins the belt and Miz demands his shot, claiming Ciampa is nothing without his help. Alex Riley and Bryan Danielson may want to have a word if that is what develops.
Another sidenote: WWE presented a pretty serious history piece about the U.S. title, which makes me think they want to do something new with it, and Ciampa may be that something for a while. Perhaps taking on an old rival/tag team partner?
Montez Looks to Profit off of Rollins
The Street Profits have been in a very strange holding pattern as Montez Ford is growing in both buzz and muscle mass, but the team as a whole just kind of exists as cannon fodder for teams like The Usos. On RAW, though, Ford took a step forward in the direction of a singles run, much to the delight of the Internet (yes, trust me, all of them).
Seth Rollins hit the ring to boast about his impromptu fight with Riddle and his attempt to break his neck (kind of a weird flex), but he was interrupted by the Street Profits because, you see, Riddle’s their friend and they don’t think it’s nice to try to paralyze their friends. Seth summarily laughs the whole thing off, and Angelo Dawkins challenges Seth to a singles match. In some shenanigans, Montez tricks Angelo into letting him run in for the match and we the bell rung before anyone knew what happened.
This led to a pretty great match that certainly made Ford look pretty good (right, Internet?) but Seth still got the win after another Curbstomp. Dawkins came in to save his partner after the match, but Ford had that look in his eye. How long before the Profits break up and have to determine custody of the Solo cups? Time will tell.
- Edge comes back to RAW with his iconic music and a short message letting Judgement Day know they done messed up and he’s after them. Later in the night, Judgement Day would continue their assault on La Familia Mysterio before Edge came to the rescue. Rhea Ripley causes her trademark chaos by making Dominik take an Edge Spear. Will he understand it was Rhea’s fault or will he predictably get mad at Edge and turn on the Rated-R Superstar?
- The Usos win again. That was basically all they were there for. They beat the Mysterios so Judgement Day could attack.
One could be upset at the lack of stories that happened in a three-hour timespan, but one would be wrong because the stories all featured superstars that had been languishing under previous management. A year from now, we may be looking back at August 1, 2022 as the first day of a new era.
Or in a few weeks, I’ll curse myself for taking on this column. Let’s find out together!