Top 10 Takeaways from Raw

Gunther takes next step toward becoming King of the Ring

Here are the Top 10 takeaways from last night’s Raw:

10.) Chad Gable finally gets through to Otis

Gable entered to defend himself against the label of “manipulative” that Zayn had ascribed to him, flanked by his Alpha Academy students, all of whom looked like they’d rather be anywhere else. He told Zayn that his issue wasn’t that he was manipulative, but rather he was too nice. He then went on to list every moment the Alpha Academy fell short in the last couple of weeks, and call each of them failures. Zayn asked them how much longer they would put up with Gable’s mistreatment, but Gable objected to him speaking to them like that. Zayn then challenged Gable to match that night.

During the match, Gable tried to play dirty. He distracted the referee and urged Maxxine Dupri to hit Zayn, but she could not bring herself to help him cheat. When Gable tried again, this time instructing Akira Tozawa to get involved, Tozawa would not stoop so low either. Gable ejected both Dupri and Tozawa from ringside, much like an official would if they had caught them attempting to interfere. This left only Otis at ringside, Gable’s “number one guy” who bore the brunt of his “tough love”. Once again, Gable distracted the referee while Zayn was in prime position for an attack from Otis. The big man wound his fist back, but froze. He could not pull the trigger, to the delight of the audience and the chagrin of Gable. After being chewed out and slapped in the face by Gable, Otis finally worked up the guts to punch Zayn in the face. With this surprise attack, Gable was able to pick up the win, building significant momentum towards his Championship match this Friday.

9.) LWO attacked backstage

Following Gable’s win against Zayn, he was interviewed by Jackie Redmond. The segment was cut short, however, by Zelina Vega rushing to look for help. She led the broadcast crew to a hallway where Cruz del Toro lay clutching his knee, having been attacked by an assailant who had already fled. Given their history, it was assumed to be the work of Carlito. Carlito has made it very clear that he wants revenge on LWO, and even sought help from The Judgment Day to help him in his quest. It would not be out of character for him to have carried out the attack.

8.) Bron Breakker sends a message

Bron Breakker had his Raw debut match against young upstart Kale Dixon. Anyone familiar with Breakker’s previous work on SmackDown and NXT would have been able to easily predict the winner of this match, but the extent of the damage Breakker dealt to his opponent was excessive, even for him.

Breakker began the match by ranting to himself in the corner. He was already frustrated when he was not selected for the King of the Ring tournament, and being booked against a no-name opponent in his first match on Raw did not do anything to lift his spirits. He turned around and immediately speared Dixon, a move which has won him many, many matches in the past, but did not go for the cover. Rather, he continued to cause his opponent more harm than necessary for a victory, like a cat toying with a half-dead mouse. The referee called for the match to end, declaring Breakker the winner as Dixon was unable to continue. But Breakker still wasn’t satisfied. He continued to brutalize his opponent, finishing the job by placing his head on the steel steps and slamming a chair down on his skull. The poor kid had to be carried away on a gurney and loaded onto an ambulance for further treatment.

When Raw General Manager Adam Pearce confronted Breakker about the crime, Breakker placed the blame on Pearce, saying he should have put him in the King of the Ring tournament. The attack was fueled by Breakker’s rage at being underestimated, Kale Dixon was just collateral damage.

7.) Lyra Valkyria advances to Queen of the Ring Finals

In the semifinals of the Queen of the Ring tournament, Lyra Valkyria faced Iyo Sky. Valkyria received a pep talk from Women’s World Champion Becky Lynch before making her way to the ring. On paper, Valkyria appeared to be an underdog. Sky is a former world champion in WWE, and Valkyria has only been on the main roster for three weeks. However, Valkyria proved that she could stand toe-to-toe with Sky in this match. In fact, Valkyria won the match, pulling off a massive upset and earning her spot in the finals of the Queen of the Ring tournament this Saturday. Here, she will face the winner of Nia Jax versus Bianca Belair, a match that will take place this Friday on SmackDown.

6.) Ricochet has unfinished business

Backstage, Kayla Braxton talked to Ilja Dragunov about the King of the Ring tournament, after he was eliminated from the tournament last week when he lost to Jey Uso. His answer was interrupted by Ricochet, who was eliminated in the first round of the tournament by Dragunov. Ricochet assured Dragunov that their business was not finished. However, he was cut off by Bron Breakker, still on the rampage he began earlier in the night, who speared him out of nowhere.

5.) Carlito remains on thin ice with The Judgment Day

The Judgment Day gathered in their clubhouse ahead of Finn Balor’s and JD McDonagh’s upcoming match, where Balor and McDonagh would challenge Awesome Truth for the World Tag Team Championships. World Heavyweight Champion Damian Priest approached Carlito to discuss the attack on LWO. Carlito told him that his plan was to lay low in the clubhouse, but Priest reminded him that they were not his own personal protection agency, and he needed to continue earning his keep.

4.) Awesome Truth finds a new ally

Prior to their World Tag Team Title defense, The Miz approached R-Truth to discuss their opponents. In last week’s match to determine the number one contenders, Carlito interfered to help The Judgment Day pick up the win. This week, the numbers would once again be on The Judgment Day’s side, so Awesome Truth needed a strategy. R-Truth told The Miz that he got Andre the Giant to agree to back them up in their match tonight. The Miz informed Truth that Andre had been dead for about thirty years, but Truth insisted, and so Miz dropped it and hoped for the best.

During the match, Carlito made every effort to make good on his promise to The Judgment Day and earn his keep. He attacked Awesome Truth when the referee wasn’t looking, and covertly put McDonagh’s foot on the rope to break up a pinfall. With both him and Dominik Mysterio at ringside, Awesome Truth were clearly outnumbered, and their odds did not look good.

That was until Braun Strowman, whom R-Truth believed to be Andre the Giant, rushed out to even the odds. With the threats at ringside neutralized, the Awesome Truth was able to win the match and retain their titles.

3.) Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan meet ahead of their Women’s World Championship match

Women’s World Champion Becky Lynch stood in the ring to talk about her upcoming title defense against Liv Morgan at King and Queen of the Ring.

She reminded the audience of the long history she had with her challenger, but in all of that time Morgan had never gotten the best of Lynch. She also brought up Morgan’s recent actions, accusing her of cowardice as she had been running away from fights.

Morgan interrupted to set the record straight. She reminded Lynch that the fight she ran away from had nothing to do with her in the first place, as Damage CTRL had sought to attack Lynch specifically. Morgan has her sights set on the Women’s World Championship and finishing her revenge tour, and would not be distracted by getting involved in tangential conflicts. Lynch congratulated Morgan on finally finding her purpose, but that was something that Lynch had found for herself when she was a teenager. That purpose was all of her accomplishments in WWE, including being an integral part of the Women’s revolution. According to Morgan, Lynch was delusional for actually believing this “purpose” was more noble than Morgan’s, as she did all of those things selfishly, not for the fans or for the women’s division.

This set Lynch off, and she challenged Morgan to a fight right then and there. Morgan declined and avoided yet another fight, this time to ensure she was at one hundred percent ahead of her championship opportunity this Saturday. She made her exit, leaving Lynch seething in the ring.

2.) Four-Way determines number one contender for Women’s Tag Team Championship

Prior to the fatal four-way, Sonya Deville approached Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark. Deville made the appearance after being absent from television for about nine months with an injury. Though Deville reached out her hand to introduce herself to Stark, Baszler ushered her partner away from Deville, telling her that they were not buying whatever she was selling

This match saw the teams of Baszler and Stark, Kayden Carter and Katana Chance, Maxxine Dupri and Ivy Nile, and Damage CTRL’s Dakota Kai and Kairi Sane battle for a shot at the Women’s Tag Team Championships. Kai and Sane may have been at an advantage, as not only have both of these women held these titles in the past, but Sane held them more recently than any of the other competitors. Carter and Chance are also former tag team champions, and they had the advantage of winning those titles as a team. Though Dupri and Nile have not had great success as of late, they had the external pressure of proving themselves to Chad Gable as a motivator.

Baszler and Stark, though, have had an impressive string of wins in recent months. Their vicious approach to competition and their technical skills carried them to victory, and a title opportunity.

During a backstage segment following the match, Stark and Baszler could be seen in the background talking to Sonya Deville. Though their conversation was inaudible, it was clear that they were much more open to hearing her out than they were earlier.

1.)  Gunther advances to King of the Ring finals

In the semifinals of the King of the Ring tournament, Jey Uso faced Gunther. The last time these two squared off, Uso took Gunther to the limit. By Gunther’s own admission, Uso came closer to beating him than any other competitor. In fact, had it not been for interference by Uso’s brother, Jimmy, he likely would have bested the Ring General. No one will ever know how that match actually would have ended, but this rematch would give us an idea of what might have been.

Much like their previous bout, the two appeared very evenly matched. Uso was dominant for much of the first half, but it did not take much for Gunther to turn things in his favor. When he did regain control, Gunther took notice of Uso treating his right arm gingerly, and decided to target the injury. The Ring General is a master of identifying his opponents’ weaknesses and exploiting them, a tactic which contributed to his becoming the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time. Uso worked through the pain, and fought to get a leg up on Gunther, a task that would be insurmountable for most other competitors.

Gunther and Jey Uso
Gunther and Jey Uso / WWE

The odds began to shift in Uso’s favor when Gunther began arguing with the referee, distracting him while he was in perfect position to receive a spear. The odds turned back to favor Gunther just as fast when Uso hit him with the spear, knocking him into the referee. Uso soldiered on, climbing up to the top rope to deliver a splash and cover Gunther, but the referee had been knocked a little silly and was unable to begin counting the pinfall. Those few moments of delay allowed Gunther to collect himself and kick out at two. The match continued, but Uso was spent. Gunther locked his opponent in a sleeper hold, and it did not take long for Uso to lose consciousness. As Uso was unable to continue the match, Gunther was declared the winner.

He will advance to the finals of the King of the Ring tournament on Saturday, where he will face the winner of Tama Tonga versus Randy Orton, a match that will take place this Friday on SmackDown.

Noelle Perry