A look at the five biggest takeaways from WWE Raw on the final episode of the Red Brand before the 2020 draft.
There are multiple story threads emerging from the Oct. 5 episode of WWE Raw, including a title match at Hell in a Cell and intrigue around the Women’s Tag Titles. But nothing shocked wrestling fans as much as seeing Mustafa Ali join RETRIBUTION, revealed as their leader.
Here are five takeaways from this week’s episode.
Mustafa Ali’s involvement as saved RETRIBUTION on WWE Raw
Exclusive to the Raw brand for some reason despite being a chaotic faction a la Nexus, how RETRIBUTION is affected by the upcoming draft will be something to watch closely. Hopefully, they’ll give themselves the freedom to float among brands, in storyline.
Whatever comes next, RETRIBUTION seems to be saved. Mustafa Ali was revealed as the faction’s leader in a truly shocking moment on WWE Raw this week.
I understand the optics of Ali being the leader of RETRIBUTION, given that the faction is supposed to be Vince McMahon’s (deliberately) misconstrued idea of what “Antifa” is.
But with only limited characters in this piece, I’ll instead put over Ali as a wrestler. He is one of the most talented wrestlers on this planet. I am not mincing words here. I mean what I say. On. This. Planet.
Most 205 Live matches get tends of thousands of views. Ali’s matches regularly had millions, specifically the matches from his acclaimed feud with fellow Raw breakout star Murphy.
Even better than that, Ali is a brilliant promo. His charisma and control of his character in homemade video promos are a big reason why he got so over on 205 and became a quick sensation on SmackDown after his Daniel Bryan-influenced call-up.
If there’s anyone who can make this work and help get the most out of RETRIBUTION, which features some super-talented wrestlers like Mercedes Martinez and Mia Yim, then it is Ali. I am boldly saying that RETRIBUTION is “saved”, because I believe in the talent of these wrestlers, specifically Ali. He is a difference-maker.
The draft couldn’t have come at a better time for WWE Raw
Among WWE’s three brands, Raw has been putting out the least compelling content over the past couple of months, and it really isn’t close. NXT’s had a lull period, but TakeOver was a reminder that the Black and Gold brand can still deliver the best in-ring action of any show from top to bottom.
SmackDown has been the best weekly wrestling show in the world since Roman Reigns’ return, as he, Jey Uso, Sasha Banks, and Bayley are telling better stories than anyone else.
Raw’s story-telling, meanwhile, is non-existent. The Hurt Business has been the only real highlight in the disastrous Men’s Division, and they’ve been saddled by WWE recycling the same matches over and over again.
The Rey Mysterio/Seth Rollins storyline is an embarrassment. I cannot find another word to describe this amateurish storyline.
Even Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre is starting to feel stale, through no fault of the wonderfully talented men involved in the feud.
Raw needs something fresh that only a draft can provide. The draft will not solve what truly ails Raw, which is poor decision-making from lousy creative, but it will help the Red Brand.
WWE Raw needs to keep Braun Strowman
As my colleague Dr. Bruce Hazelwood wrote, Braun Strowman is one of a handful of wrestlers the Red Brand needs to draft this year. He’s been on Raw since two weeks ago when he had a program with the talented Dabba-Kato on Raw Underground.
Strowman just fits Raw. His best work has come on Raw, even though he held a world title on SmackDown. In 2018 after WrestleMania 34, Strowman was one of the most “over” babyfaces in the company, and he had his first rise to stardom on the Red Brand due to programs with the likes of Sami Zayn, Roman Reigns, and Bobby Lashley.
It’s easy to be critical of Strowman sometimes, but he’s a very talented athlete and constantly-improving pro wrestler. His place is on Raw, and I hope we get to see a great program between him and Keith Lee, sans DQs.
A Tag Title feud for the ages is emerging on WWE Raw
I thought Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott would win the Women’s Tag Titles this week against Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax, but it might end up being better that I was wrong. Jax and Baszler are such a dominant force right now, and it makes sense that if they can beat THE tag team in WWE in Sasha and Bayley (even if they were at less than 100 percent in their chemistry), then it should take a special effort from Liv and Ruby to win.
They are capable of doing that with their heart, determination, resiliency, and friendship. Liv and Ruby are the not-so-distant faces of the Women’s Tag Team Division.
The Riott Squad faltered this week in their tag title opportunity, as Liv watched Shayna choke out Ruby in the Kirifuda Clutch. But this loss will only serve to reenergize them and add focus to what could be a spectacular tag title feud. I can only hope Liv and Ruby end up with the gold. They have so much fan support right now, which comes as no surprise. Both women have been fantastic as a babyface tag team since reuniting on the Kevin Owens Show.
Seth Rollins needs to leave WWE Raw and only feud with Murphy
Murphy is no stranger to having great matches on SmackDown. Before the Blue Brand moved to Friday nights, he had an acclaimed television match with the legendary Roman Reigns, stepping up to the plate against the biggest male wrestling star in the world.
He’s ready to have more high-octane matches with Reigns’ former Shield brother Seth Rollins. Murphy and Rollins can steal the show at any Pay Per View, as they are two of the best athletes in the company and have surely developed great chemistry from their tag matches together.
This week, Murphy finally stepped out of the Messiah’s heinous spell, stood up for himself, and even forced a faux-apology from a frightened Rollins.
Murphy has found his power as a character. We need to see Rollins move to SmackDown for the first time since the brand split for something fresh, and it’s time for him and the Mysterios to move their separate ways. It’s all getting out of and.
But we still need a full-on Murphy vs. Rollins feud. It’s been bubbling for months.