1. Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley smashed through a wall of LEDs within the first few minutes of Raw
News broke last week that Vince McMahon had decided to put Paul Heyman (former ECW impresario, current day onscreen personality) and Eric Bischoff (former guy who ran WCW) in charge of Raw and Smackdown respectively. Like actually in charge, not fake on TV in charge. Nothing really says “there’s a new sheriff in town” like the traditional 10 minute talking segment opener of Raw being replaced by two huge dudes breaking shit and causing explosions. WWE color commentator Corey Graves said “holy shit” and everything. It was pretty sweet.
2. AJ Styles turned heel
After losing a solid as hell US Championship match against Ricochet in the main event of Raw, AJ Styles, joined by his [redacted] Club brethren Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, proceeded to be the sorest of losers and beat up the champ. Is this the first time AJ Styles has been a heel since Wrestlemania 33? It’s been a while either way. AJ Styles is a tremendous talent, but has never really shone in WWE as a babyface. To me, he works best as a contemptuous genius who another small, fast guy needs to figure out how to surmount. Which is exactly what they seem to be doing with him and Ricochet.
3. DILC: Dad I’d Like to Cuck
The mixed tag match segment on Raw started with Maria Kanellis challenging Becky Lynch and “[her] bitch” (Seth Rollins) to a match against her and “[her] bitch” (Mike Kanellis.) Her reasoning? Giving birth is a bigger victory than defeating Ronda Rousey. Maria then announced her (real) pregnancy as a way of getting out of tagging into the match, so Becky tapped out Mike instead! The real pièce de resistance had to be Maria crouching down over her defeated husband to tell him that next time she should ask Becky Lynch to get her pregnant instead. This was a doozy. (I loved it.)
4. Hey…Raw was actually a great time?
One reason I switched to this weekly recap format from the old format of recapping each individual show was that recapping all six hours of Raw, Smackdown and NXT was just too depressing to be sustainable. Raw was always the toughest. Now I mostly put Raw on in the background and perk up for parts that catch my interest. This week, I ended up sitting down and watching all three hours pretty intently. I mean, how often do I usually have this many things from Raw in my weekly recap? It’s pretty uncommon! But the Viking Raiders and Samoa Joe teamed up against the New Day, the Street Profits showed up and teased (a very tan) Paul Heyman, the Undertaker did his spooky bullshit and walked super slowly, I had a blast and did none of my laundry.
5. Kofi Kingston got edgy
After all that stuff about how fun Raw was, well… Like I said, Smackdown is now being run by Eric Bischoff, and uh… It wasn’t hard to watch in that way where it hurt to look at, but it was hard to watch in that I had to exert effort to maintain any kind of focus on it or retain anything I had just seen. Everything seemed more interesting to me than this episode of Smackdown, from looking out my window to scheduling doctors’ appointments to collecting empty cans of seltzer for recycling. I almost missed it when (in the second or third talking segment of the night) Kofi Kingston flipped off Samoa Joe! Kofi Kingston? The family-friendly WWE Champion and high flyer of the New Day? Doing a non-verbal cuss!? Wild stuff!
I guess if you’re a 10 year old this might be very cool, and, as I am reminded every time I go to Walgreens and see the action figures in the toy aisle, that is who this show is for. Is seeing someone’s middle finger on TV still cool now, though? I mean, kids are all extremely online these days. Aren’t they all on YouTube being radicalized into fascists or playing Fortnite or something? Is the fuck you gesture still as rebellious and awesome as it was when I was 10?
Are you a kid? Do you know any kids? If so, please comment below with whether or not this is cool to kids today.
6. Kevin Owens is a good guy again?
The other surprise on Smackdown (admittedly more of a “huh” surprise than a “wow!” surprise) was the decision to maybe turn Kevin Owens face? The first of the three talking segments was a Kevin Owens Show with Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre (ugh) where they talked about the Undertaker (UGH), and Kevin got to make fun of them for being cowards. Huh. He also made fun of Dolph Ziggler’s monologues and hit him with a stunner after they were forced to tag together. Huh, indeed. I wouldn’t say a midcard Kevin Owens babyface run against Dolph Ziggler is something I’m exactly clamoring for, but I can’t deny that it is both something that made me say “huh” and the only other thing about this week’s Smackdown that I remember.
7. Isaiah Scott and Cameron Grimes put on match of the week
I wasn’t surprised that this was good, but I was surprised by just how good it was, especially for a TV debut match. The WWE Performance Center has signed so many new people just this year that they’ve put eight of them into a tournament to just get them on TV. It’s called the NXT Breakout Tournament, and the winner gets to challenge for any title he wants, which is actually pretty cool.
This week’s match between Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (fka Shane “Swerve” Strickland) and Cameron Grimes (fka Trevor Lee) may have been the best debut TV match I’ve ever seen and completely stole the show. They have such good complementary energy and excellent chemistry. I really recommend checking this one out.