Dolph Ziggler Challenged WWE Champion Drew McIntyre to a Match at Extreme Rules
Ziggler going to Raw was rumored as recently as last week, but it was made official here that he and Robert Roode were traded to the red brand in return for AJ Styles going to SmackDown (which hardly feels like a fair trade to me). They acknowledged their history from a few years ago here, but that's about the only reason why Ziggler should be feuding with McIntyre at the moment. Other than that, he's done nothing to earn a title shot and isn't a compelling challenger in the slightest. McIntyre vs. Ziggler sounds like a main event on Raw, not a WWE Championship match on pay-per-view.
Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair Brawled
Jax vowed she wouldn't leave the ring until she was granted another shot at the Raw Women's Championship after what transpired last week. For a split second, I thought she would win the 24/7 Championship from R-Truth (who interrupted her first), but that was just a red herring. The Flair and Jax brawl was fine and established that Flair would be going into her Raw Women's Championship clash with Asuka at a disadvantage with the hurt shoulder. Flair vs. Jax is likely a lock for the upcoming pay-per-view, though I'm not sure who viewers are supposed to cheer for.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Street Profits def. The Viking Raiders
The competition segments between these teams that have been airing over the last month have been hit or miss for me, but I've appreciated their effort to go outside of the box and try something different. They have terrific in-ring chemistry, but this is what we should have seen more of from them. At the very least, WWE could have had them blow off their program at Extreme Rules or given them more time here, but it was fun for what it was. Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza could be fantastic.
Raw Women's Champion Asuka def. Charlotte Flair
Asuka and Flair always work well together and this as another enjoyable outing from them, but I would have saved it for SummerSlam or even Extreme Rules. I assume WWE did it here and advertised it in advance in an attempt to boost the rating for Raw. Flair tapping out clean was what surprised me most, but she has an out for losing because Jax "injured" her shoulder earlier in the evening.
Akira Tozawa def. R-Truth to Win the 24/7 Championship
This crap needs to die a death, like, yesterday. It's made for terrible television and makes me fearful for Bruce Prichard writing Raw going forward if he's the one behind it. Thankfully, Bobby Lashley storming down to the ring and laying everyone out (excluding Tozawa) prevented the scheduled bout between Truth and Tozawa from going longer than it needed to, but Tozawa winning the title likely means this ninja garbage is just getting started. Ugh.
Natalya def. Liv Morgan
Natalya and Morgan have traded wins recently on WWE TV and unsuccessfully teamed up last week on Raw, but I can't bring myself to care about their "feud" at all. This was way too short to be anything of note and the only purpose it served was establishing the new alliance between Natalya and Lana. They're two of my least favorite characters on Raw right now, so as you could probably tell, I don't have high hopes for them. Morgan could be soon reuniting with Ruby Riott, though, so at least that gets her back on TV in a regular role.
Big Show Interrupted Randy Orton and Ric Flair
I was hoping Orton would lay out Flair either last week or in this segment, but no such luck. In fact, it looks like Flair may be managing Orton for the foreseeable future. Of course, Orton doesn't need him, but they have history and I'm curious to see where it leads. Unfortunately, I have less than zero desire to see Orton vs. Big Show at Extreme Rules (assuming that's where they're going with this). I'd be fine with it as a Raw match, but on pay-per-view, no thanks. Hell, they faced off at the 2013 installment of Extreme Rules and I was bored by their rivalry even then, so what's going to make this any different?
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and SmackDown Tag Team Champion Bayley def. The IIconics
It's nice to see the women's tag team scene getting shown a lot more love lately and the entertaining run Banks and Bayley have been on has had a lot to do with that. This was a well-wrestled match while it lasted and I'm glad Banks and Bayley retained as it would have been too soon for them to lose. Although they teased Banks challenging Bayley for the SmackDown Women's Championship afterward at Extreme Rules, it was pretty obvious she was talking about Asuka instead. I don't at all see Banks leaving Extreme Rules with the Raw Women's title considering she's still a SmackDown Superstar, but it should be an excellent outing, nonetheless.
MVP Hosted The VIP Lounge with United States Champion Apollo Crews; Crews def. Shelton Benjamin (Non-Title)
The ongoing angle with Crews and MVP has been compelling so far. Crews has now denied MVP's invitation to join his stable two weeks in a row, but I hold out hope that's where he'll wind up eventually. MVP is a tremendous talker and Crews came across well here, too. The subsequent match between Crews and Benjamin was fine, but Benjamin losing decisively did nothing to make viewers think he'll either join MVP or remain in the United States Championship hunt. Rather, Bobby Lashley is moving into that spot. Lashley needs a big win following his failure to become WWE Champion, but I also don't think it's time to take the title off Crews yet.
Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo Saved Rey Mysterio and Dominik From Seth Rollins, Murphy and Austin Theory
From Rollins and Mysterio's mic work to Dominik getting physical to Black and Carrillo making the save for Mysterio and his son, this entire segment was very well done. I thought for a split second that Dominik would turn on his dad when he was shown standing behind him when Rollins came out, but that turned out not to be the case. All signs point to Mysterio and Dominik facing Murphy and Theory at some point, but only after Mysterio teams up with Black and Carrillo against the heel trio first.
Raw was back to being dull for a few weeks there leading into Backlash, but all things considered, I actually enjoyed this episode and found that three hours flew by more than usual. That's likely because so many matches and segments were advertised in advance, so there was always something to look forward to. Plus, the Extreme Rules card started to take shape, even if I'm more excited some matches (Asuka vs. Banks, Street Profits vs. Andrade and Garza if it happens) more than others (McIntyre vs. Ziggler, Orton vs. Show if it happens). Not every angle is lighting the world on fire (that Tozawa trash needs to go away forever), but the show doesn't feel like a chore to sit through as much as it used to.
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