High Spots: We have officially entered the latest post-draft era of Monday Night Raw with Big E firmly put in place as the face of the show and the reigning, defending WWE Champion. And to kick this “season premiere” off, four worthy championship contenders stepped up to challenge him. I’m a bit tired of the “revolving doors contenders” set up at this point since WWE relies on it too damn much, but I wasn’t too mad at this one since everyone featured during the segment is sitting atop my favorites list. We ended up getting a ladder match out of that whole exchange, which turned out a very gratifying ending to this episode of Raw. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Finn Bálor, and Rey Mysterio pulled out all the stops during a highly competitive multi-man affair that featured your usual array of ladder-assisted bumps. As far as 2021 Raw main events go, that ladder war was certainly among the best of ‘em. “Drip King” Seth nabbed the championship contract and now we’re due for a title match between him and Big E at some point in the near future. Consider me a very happy man in that regard!
Even though this is supposed to be a new era of Raw, three SmackDown teams that have been at each other’s necks for the majority of the year reignited their grudges here. While it wasn’t exactly all that fresh watching The Street Profits vs. Alpha Academy vs. The Dirty Dawgs, I was still into everything all three teams did during their high-octane triple threat match. And based on what Omos did to Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford near the end, the red-cup boys are gonna want all the smoke with the angry giant and his man AJ Styles. Now that’s a brand new feud I could get into! Due to their victory here, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode competed later in the night for the Raw tag team straps. What they managed to produce during their match against RK-Bro was quite compelling. The fast and furious finish was easily the best part - Randy Orton and Riddle continue to gel well and age like fine wine as a tandem as evidenced by their work here during this match.
Damian Priest and T-BAR (ugh, that name will forever suck hippo turds!) had a quick little match that reminded me of just how good both men were during the 1.0 era of NXT. T-BAR pulled off a sweet moonsault, which you rarely see from the big guy. The match ended with a disappointing DQ finish, but the post-match destruction Damian delivered to T-BAR was pretty hype! Damian has this whole “crazy man mental switch” deal that I’m really digging. Setting him up as a madman that can become unhinged at any given moment works for me. The rehabilitation of Keith “Bearcat” Lee is still going strong, it seems. That whole roaring bear thing at the start of his theme is pure cringe, but I’m still happy to see Keith getting refocused on being unstoppable once again. He dominated the homie Cedric Alexander, which left me a bit saddened since I think the Hurt Business stable member deserves more than just being cannon fodder to the stars. But I get it - Keith is a runaway train that’s on the road to greatness, so him crushing Cedric just had to be done.
We got a nice showing of the future of WWE as Austin Theory and Dominik Mysterio clashed in a decent little sprint. I wish Austin would adopt a more lethal and better-looking finisher, but at least he’s racking up some victories now that he’s back on the main roster. His whole “wait...lemme take a selfie!” shtick is simple, but it’s completely sensible for a super cocky youngster of his caliber. Now let’s get Austin vs. Rey Mysterio ASAP, WWE!