WWE Raw: Fans are behind Damian Priest, and rightfully so

Damian Priest, WWE (photo courtesy of WWE)
Damian Priest, WWE (photo courtesy of WWE) /

Damian Priest has been a force on WWE Raw the past few months, putting on solid matches and emerging victorious.

The reaction from the crowd on the Aug. 9 episode of WWE Raw shows that the crowd is behind Priest, and it’s deserved.

It’s not just that Priest keeps winning his singles matches, but it’s also in how he’s been winning and, maybe more importantly, how he’s not reacting as a face in WWE.

Take last night’s match with John Morrison, for example. An expected rematch considering Raw is basically 80 percent rematches every week, it was still a good and fun match. What really helped sell Priest as a force and someone to invest in is how he reacted to being sprayed with the Drip Stick by The Miz.

Instead of being distracted and going after The Miz like pretty much every other face, Priest just smiled at The Miz, hit The Reckoning finisher, and won the match! What a novel concept!

He even thwarted The Miz’s attempt to spray him after the match, then dodged an attack from Sheamus, sending the latter to the floor and infuriating the United States Champion.

Too often, faces in WWE do the exact opposite of Priest from last night. They would go after The Miz and lose the match or fall prey to Sheamus’ attack. However, Priest keeps showing that he’s both capable and smart.

Based off last night alone, Priest is the type of babyface wrestlers like to support: confident, legitimate, intelligent. What really came through watching him is just how comfortable he looked last night, like he was made for the spotlight of Raw. He looked to be in his zone the entire time he was on television.

He’s a good (if not great, but improving) promo, and his little quip in Spanish popped a good portion of the crowd last night. His confidence and comfortability were evident in his promo last night, and coupled with his ability to connect with a segment of the Spanish-speaking and Latinx population (he is a Nuyorican, a Puerto Rican from New York), he is that much more endearing.

Damian Priest overcame concerns about call-up

To be fair, there was a time not too long ago when there were concerns over Priest’s future on Raw. After teaming with Bad Bunny to defeat The Miz & John Morrison on night one of WrestleMania (you can read my report of night one here), he lost to them in a handicap match two nights later on Raw.

Many, including myself, thought WWE failed to capitalize on the Bad Bunny rub for Priest. Luckily for Priest, they’ve kept him at a slow build which has helped him gradually improve and adjust to Raw, notably in his promos. His Spanish seemed a bit forced in the past, but the effortlessness of dropping in the Spanish last night, to me, shows marked improvement.

Further, according to Cagematch.net, since leaving NXT, Priest has only lost three matches. The first was his debut on the “main roster” in the Royal Rumble match. The second was the aforementioned handicap match. The third was an over-the-top battle royal to qualify for the last chance triple threat match heading into Money in the Bank.

That’s it; he hasn’t lost a singles, tag, or six-man tag match, only matches where the odds were stacked against him.

He’s had 19 televised matches since the beginning of the year, including the three losses above and last night’s match (17 on Raw, two on pay-per-views). He’s defeated The Miz in three singles matches, once in a tag match, and once in a six-man tag match; Morrison in five singles matches and two tag  matches; Angel Garza in two singles matches; Elias and Jaxson Ryker both in a singles match and six-man tag match; and Sheamus in a singles match and tag match.

Take out the gimmick matches and Priest is essentially undefeated. It’s been a quiet streak insofar that not much seems to have been made of his prowess since joining Raw. It’s not like Goldberg in the late 90s or The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak (at least the latter years).

He’s at a point now where he’s saying what the fans are thinking, especially when it comes to the annoyingly asinine The Miz & Morrison (which is their job, so kudos to them I guess?). He calls out their ridiculousness and The Miz’s selfishness, doesn’t fall victim to being sprayed or being overly distracted by it, and most importantly, wins.

He’s not a pure babyface by any means, but if my ears didn’t deceive me, he’s receiving a better babyface pop than the character billed as a pure babyface in Women’s Champion Nikki A.S.H. She’s the only comparison point as there are no real true babyfaces on Monday nights outside of A.S.H., unfortunately.

I wrote last week how the 50/50 booking is hindering A.S.H.’s reception from the audience; it doesn’t help to have DQ finishes like last night either, even if she was in control at the time. What we have in Priest is the complete opposite of 50/50 booking and I think it’s inarguable that it’s working for Priest.

When I was on Wade Keller’s post-show last night for PWTorch.com, I said Priest is probably someone who can dominate the mid-card title scene and top out as a WWE/Universal Champion challenger at a B level PPV. I added I can see him winning Money in the Bank like Big E and be the face who holds the contract, potentially winning a title that way (regardless of how Charlotte Flair feels about cashing in).

However, if they continue with this build and the fans stay supportive, he may organically reach the top without the need for a Money in the Bank match win. Maybe he doesn’t even need a Royal Rumble match win, but that certainly seems to be a more defined marker of greatness than winning Money in the Bank, so it wouldn’t hurt.

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Priest is confident, cool, and comfortable. Most importantly, he keeps winning, buttressing his victories with good promos and intelligent actions. This seems to be leading to a United States Championship victory for Priest at SummerSlam against Sheamus, but we’ll see.

What I do know is that Priest is one of the acts I tune in to watch on Monday nights, and that’s probably the best praise I can give to Priest.