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Monday Night Raw Review: McMahon-Levesque Era Begins At MSG

Roman Reigns, Rhea Ripley and Rey Mysterio highlight five main points from the start of the McMahon Levesque Era

The tricks and tropes that WWE relies upon to get through their hours of programming will likely remain for some time, but their execution and subversion can be improved. That is what has been tasked to new creative lead Paul Levesque aka Triple H. Levesque has been given this charge by his wife and new CEO of WWE Stephanie, who officially took over for Vince McMahon after his shocking retirement / resignation on Friday. On his first night as Head of Creative, Levesque did a serviceable job at the very least. This episode was the go-home show to SummerSlam for Monday Night Raw, and it will be interesting to see if business will continue as usual, or if the premium live event will serve as a major launching point. That will remain to be seen, but while, we wait here are five talking points from the Monday Night Raw that serves as the beginning of the McMahon-Levesque Era.

5. Brand Split, Bland S**t 

Stephanie and HHH can make meaningful short-term changes by removing the brand split. We can still have the draft and mainstays for the shows, but allowing more movement between Smackdown, Raw, NXT, and NXT UK allows for fresh matchups and extra excitement. 

The Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley vs. Theory and Sheamus match was a good example of this. During the initial McIntyre vs. Theory singles match, Drew was attacked by Sheamus and his brawling brutes, which brought out Bobby Lashley for the save. The four were booked for a tag match during the commercial which is a long-standing WWE move. As basic as it was, this booking made sense for me and helped move a number of stories forward on both shows. 

Seeing former adversaries Bobby and Drew as now both important faces together gave Lashley’s good guy turn legitimacy. McIntyre still looked strong as a probable strong contender for Roman (if still champ) at Clash At The Castle, and added anticipation to the McIntyre-Sheamus match on Smackdown. In the end, Dolph Ziggler showed up, slightly distracting Theory which allowed Bobby to put the Hurt Lock on Theory for the win. Making Lashley look strong is a positive. As Theory left, he was attacked by the Bloodline, who looked to deter Theory from cashing in the briefcase at SummerSlam. All of this was an effective way to use your upper card of talent, which is more credible than the use of the same talent in the previous creative regime. 

4. Logan Paul and The Miz Begin Raw Hot But Cool Down 

This was an exciting way to join the show. The crowd was active right away and primed for the rest of the evening. The segment was fairly short and cut quickly to the next, but I enjoyed having a little variation to the opening. 

Later in the evening, we lost a lot of positive momentum. Paul hosted surprise guest Maryse on imPaulsive TV. Maryse came to the ring with a pair of disco-ball-like faux genitalia. There was a lot of talk of the Miz’s testicles, which brought out Miz balls and all. This went too long for how juvenile and stupid it is. I guess Miz’s balls are one joke that is, unfortunately, surviving the Vince era. This was easily the weakest point of this edition of Monday Night Raw.  

3. Rey Mysterio Is A Lucha Living Legend 

If anyone on the current WWE roster is with celebrating, it’s Rey Mysterio. For 20 years, Mysterio has been a source of wrestling magic, and it was great to see him receiving his earned flowers in real-time. Just watching Rey name his friends/rivals to the adoring MSG crowd was incredible. With Dominick beside him and his family backstage, this was a special night for Rey. 

The Lucha Legend looked as spry and quick in the ring as ever, as The Mysterios faced the Judgement Day. The father and son team protected one another from the evil designs of Finn Bálor and Damian Priest. Following a bit of lying and cheating, a double 619 by the Mysterios gave Rey a career moment that he will never forget. Viva Eddie Guerrero and viva Rey Mysterio. 

2. Rhea Ripley Is Back to Judge 

After The Mysterios big win, a celebration was in order. The party was just getting going when a returning Rhea Ripley and her Judgement Day cohorts rudely interrupted. Finn was much more interested in celebrating his birthday instead of Rey’s anniversary. Rhea had a stare-down with Aalyah Mysterio and was the one to attack Dom and draw Rey out for the sneak attack. This animosity was a continuous story all night, as Rhea also attacked Rey later in the evening. Ripely is one of HHH’s favorite protégées, and should be a major force in the company’s future. The Mysterios will face Judgement Day in a No DQ match at SummerSlam, an excellent booking decision in my humble opinion. 

1. The Bloodline Still Run The Show 

It is clear that for now, no matter who is running creative and the company beyond, Roman and his Bloodline backing are still the WWE’s main on-screen boss. Roman explicitly told Theory that Vince isn’t around to protect him anymore and that he runs the show. 

As commentator Jimmy Smith put it while Roman Reigns and The Usos strutted to the ring, “Six titles, three men. That’s control.”

Reigns had complete control of the New York City crowd during his opening promo, as the Garden chanted his name and raised their fingers in salute. Paul Heyman was in prime form, roasting a sound guy as a New Jerseyan, and selling Roman-Brock as if his life depended on it.

Reigns and Paul Heyman are the ultimate pair on the microphone, and The Usos are in contention for the second-best tag team in the world (no one is touching FTR). The four men have a great level of connection and relevancy. 

As for the Bloodline’s opponents of Riddle and the Street Profits on Monday Night Raw in New York, there may be no more beloved faces. The Street Profits rocking Knicks’ blue and orange gear was a great look, as was Montez Ford’s dive to the outside. 

The main event was an excellent match, and we even got some color. Future of the company Ford was bleeding from the eye during his beat down, which endeared him to the crowd even more. After an exciting sequence, Roman caught and countered a Riddle RKO, and hit the bro with a massive spear for the win. After the match, Seth Rollins came out, gave Roman a short staredown and attacked his Summerslam opponent Riddle. I think Seth could be the one to finally beat Roman, and would be very happy with that choice. 

My fantasy booking of Reigns-Rollins aside; here are some questions. Do Steph and Paul see Theory in the same way as Vince did, and could they trust him enough to become a world champion, whether at SummerSlam or after. Theory took quite a beating from both the crowd and his long list of rivals. We’ll have to see if it was worth it for the young Money In The Bank holder. As strong as Jimmy and Jey have been, SummerSlam could be the moment for the Street Profits. How to handle the Undisputed Tag Team Championship picture is both one of Paul’s biggest challenges and biggest opportunities. Will the Profits win or will they split? What if Roman loses his titles and the Usos are the only ones left with gold? What happens to The Bloodline if they lose all of their championships in one fell swoop? These questions are solidify in play, and I for one am intrigued how the new leadership handles them. 

Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I thought this episode of Monday Night Raw was pretty good, and provided excitement for both SummerSlam and WWE moving forward. The execution of segment to segment was mostly strong and sensible. The pacing felt much improved. I didn’t feel that this show dragged, and I enjoyed that important stories got time and multiple segments. Comment with your thoughts and check out all of Sports Obsessive’s upcoming SummerSlam, WWE and wrestling coverage! 

Written by Joel Kananen

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