Welcome to The Nerd Hub where we’re ushering in the Ricochet Era as United States Champ. The One and Only picked a doozy of a first match as champ on Monday Night Raw. He took on AJ Styles in the main event of the Stomping Grounds fallout show in Everett, Washington. Without further ado, let’s go to the no-holds barred review of the show.
HEADLINE NEWS: RICOCHET-STYLES I WAS PHENOMENAL
AJ Styles looked every bit the Phenomenal One in his return. He took a few minutes in the early stages of the match to get warmed up. However, he and the new US Champion put on a tremendous show. Styles ducked a 630 Splash and then hit a Phenomenal Forearm to win the non-title match. Yet, this properly showcased Ricochet as a breakout Superstar on the rise.
Furthermore, this whet our appetites for when the two work together on a grander stage. WWE can build a program between the two possibly leading up to SummerSlam. In addition, a feud with a babyface champ would work if WWE turns Styles heel and reunites The Club as rumored.
Most importantly, Ricochet received a major upgrade from working the midcard with Cesaro. His victory over Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds for the title served as a surprise. However, that’s only because WWE hadn’t booked him as a serious title threat going into it. He proved in the indies and at NXT that he’s got all of the talent in the world.
BEST OF THE REST: USOS WIN TAG TEAM FEATURE MATCH
The Usos teamed up with New Day to battle both heel champion tag teams in an elimination match. Unfortunately for SmackDown Champs Rowan and Daniel Bryan, Raw Champs Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson took exception with them. Wilder got upset at Bryan and decked him with a stiff right. As a result, Xavier Woods rolled up Bryan for the first elimination. However, The Revival quickly evened the odds by hitting Woods with their Shatter Machine.
Once the SmackDown teams got eliminated, we were left with a showdown of Raw’s best teams. Then, Jey Uso scored the deciding blow. He nailed Dawson with a diving splash off Wilder’s back to get the 1-2-3.
The Usos and The Revival deserve all the time they can get with so many of Raw’s other acts floundering. These teams work well off each other and have delivered each time they take the ring. In addition, the inclusion of SmackDown’s best teams gave the match a unique feel. This segment served as one of the few times the wild card angle helped the show in recent weeks
BIG WINNER: 24/7 CHAMPIONSHIP STORYLINE
WWE finally found some semblance of interesting story for its 24/7 Championship. Following weeks of midcarder mobs chasing R-Truth and Carmella, we received an interesting angle with Drake Maverick. The 205 Live General Manager defeated R-Truth for the title and proudly wore it to his storyline wedding over the weekend. However, R-Truth crashed the nuptials and won his title back.
Then, Maverick used an interview segment with R-Truth and Carmella on Miz TV to demand a rematch. So, WWE announced a rare exception to the 24/7 rules and banned the mob from appearing at ringside. Thus, Maverick got a one-on-one shot with R-Truth. However, Truth quickly hit The Equalizer and defeated the dejected Maverick. As a result, Maverick had to watch “the love of his life” – the 24/7 title belt – leave with Truth.
The scene got chaotic from there. The mob rushed the ring after the decision against Maverick became official and chased Truth. This time, the 24/7 title pursuit interrupted a match between Heath Slater and Mojo Rawley. Slater took advantage by rolling up Truth to win the title. However, Truth quickly won the title back. Then, he ate a Lumbar Check from Cedric Alexander, who then became the champion. Yet, the former Cruiserweight Champ got ambushed by EC3, who then became champ. But Truth won the title back when Carmella distracted EC3 by grabbing the belt from him. As a result, Truth rolled up EC3 to become the nine-time 24/7 Champion.
As mentioned previously, I’m not a huge fan of this championship angle. However, WWE hit jackpot with the running thread between goofballs. Truth and Maverick actually could’ve received more time for their match. They certainly keep fans invested with their social media content.
BIG LOSER: THE MIZ
WWE went for the shock value and had Undertaker appear. The Dead Man provided the cavalry as Roman Reigns got mowed down in a handicap match. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre essentially announced a 2-on-1 free-for-all and lit up The Big Dog. Shane O’Mac hit Reigns with a spear and McIntyre followed up with a Claymore. Then, Shane loaded up for a Coast-to-Coast. However, the gong sounded and Undertaker cleaned house. Everyone at home had to delight at seeing Shane chokeslammed. We love to see an over-pushed McMahon get his just desserts.
Obviously, WWE will use this to build Undertaker and Reigns against McIntyre and McMahon. Presumably, the team up happens as quickly as Extreme Rules. Any Undertaker sighting usually wows some fans. However, he and Goldberg just struggled through a match at Super ShowDown where both could’ve gotten seriously hurt. I know the prevailing sentiment puts the responsibility for much of that on Goldberg. But part-timers in their 50s making several appearances in a short time screams a problem.
Moreover, the history between Reigns and Undertaker made this a head-scratcher. Reigns defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania and dealt him a storyline injury that kept him out of WWE for over a year. If you’re Undertaker, does that sound like a guy you want to help?
In fact, WWE already had a full-time talent that would’ve suited this role much better. Miz still has plenty of heat for Shane McMahon. The A-Lister and Reigns already teamed up in shows prior. It makes far more sense to include Miz in this than Undertaker. As a result of this oversight, Miz once again gets used primarily as a prop for another segment. Creatively, this reeked of bad planning by WWE.
Baron Corbin-Lacey Evans – The heel tandem no one wanted at Stomping Grounds opened the show. Much to the angst of fans, they challenged Universal Champ Seth Rollins and Raw Women’s Champ Becky Lynch to a match at Extreme Rules. It didn’t take long for Twitter to light up with fans bemoaning a continuation of these feuds. Lynch and Evans started right after WrestleMania. Rollins and Corbin had plenty of matches going back to 2018. Besides, both Evans and Corbin just lost twice to the champs on pay-per-views. However, WWE added a twist. Corbin said the match would carry a Winners Take All stipulation. Therefore, the heels would win both the red belts with a victory at Extreme Rules. Let’s pray to God that doesn’t happen.
Samoa Joe – The opportunistic former US Champ took his shot at WWE Champ Kofi Kingston on Monday Night Raw. He waited until Kingston wrestled singles matches against both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Then, The Destroyer ambushed Kingston, laying him out with a uranage and the Coquina Clutch. This provided an interesting twist to the Kingston-Owens-Zayn dynamic. We’ll need to stay tuned to see if Joe gets the next shot at the WWE Champion.
Alexa Bliss-Nikki Cross – The execution of the segment came off disjointed. Bliss started off with a singles match victory over Naomi. Bliss commenced with a post-match beatdown of The Glow Queen. Though Cross didn’t rush to join The Goddess, she got involved when Natalya came out to help Naomi. As a result, Cross and Bliss teamed up for another victory. However, the result continued to further their storyline. Cross hit the decisive swinging neckbreaker, but Bliss made a blind tag to get the glory of the pinfall.
Kofi Kingston – The WWE Champ continues the push to the moon. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn picked up a rare victory over New Day at Stomping Grounds. However, each took a turn putting over Kingston on Raw in back-to-back matches.
R-Truth-Drake Maverick – As mentioned above, the two guys gave the 24/7 Championship race an interesting story for the first time. These two continue to make it their mission on social media to drive interest for this gimmick. They deserve more time to work together in the ring.
Braun Strowman-Bobby Lashley – WWE booked a tug-of-war contest between its resident behemoths. This came on the heels of an arm-wrestling competition recently. They should book the limbo next. However, it’s hard to imagine things getting lower for either one of these guys.
The Good Brothers – Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson got good news this week. They made it on to WWE TV. Unfortunately, they served as a squash match loser to the also infrequently-used Viking Raiders. WWE seems to be sending mixed signals with these guys. Are they trying to get them to stay by reforming The Club with Styles? Or are they pushing them out the door like they did with don’t-call-me Dean Ambrose? This match seemed to point toward the latter.
The Viking Raiders – Sure, they got a win in quick fashion. However, the former NXT Tag Team Champs make such rare appearances that they don’t get the credibility they should from their main roster dominance. They get booked to look impressive in romps. Unfortunately, it’s led them nowhere to this point.
Mojo Rawley – You have to feel for a guy that doesn’t actually get a TV match even when one’s announced. The audience knew to expect a curveball when he and Heather Slater were in the ring. Yet, it must sting for a guy who seemed to be building toward a second-chance push with months of promos to get nothing.
Naomi & Natalya – We received confirmation both of these former women’s champions are alive. That’s a positive. Yet, nothing good happened outside of appearing on TV for the first time in weeks. In fact, Naomi got to eat two L’s for her trouble. Outside of Becky Lynch, Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, hardly any Raw women appear on TV. You have to feel both the Glow Queen and the Queen of Harts.
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