Raw Underground Week 2, Retribution Causes More Chaos and More WWE Raw Fallout
For the first time in what felt like months, the majority of the segments and matches on this week's WWE Raw were entertaining and provided a lot of storyline development for all of the big feuds heading into SummerSlam on August 23.
The show began with Seth Rollins and Dominik Mysterio signing the contract for their match at SummerSlam and the segment ended with The Monday Night Messiah beating his young rival with a kendo stick until his entire body was covered in bruises.
Apollo Crews and MVP continued their feud this week as they build toward their United States Championship rematch in two weeks.
We also saw more from the new Retribution group, Shayna Baszler put on the most dominant performance we have seen on Shane McMahon's Raw Underground yet, and Randy Orton officially ended his relationship with Ric Flair in the most brutal way imaginable.
Let's take a look at the biggest moments from this week's Raw.
Seth Rollins Gives Dominik Mysterio a Dangerous Option
Monday's Raw opened with a contract signing between Rollins and Dominik, with Samoa Joe overseeing the segment to make sure everything stayed civil.
Dom knew he would also have Murphy in the ring so he made sure to bring a kendo stick for protection. Joe loved it, but it ended up inspiring Rollins to pitch an idea.
He said Mysterio Jr. could bring the kendo stick to their match at SummerSlam because he doesn't want there to be any excuses when he ends his career before it even begins. This implies the match will have some sort of hardcore stipulation.
Considering WWE actually went through with the Eye for an Eye match with Rey Mysterio, anything is possible with this bout. Dom is not going to be a full-time performer after the pay-per-view, so there could be a big injury angle planned to make The Monday Night Messiah look even more dangerous.
He made quick work of Humberto Carrillo in a match following the contract signing. This allowed Murphy to get the jump on Dominik so he and Rollins could beat him down with the kendo stick. They left him battered and bruised after hitting him dozens of times in the back and ribs.
If Rollins does something heinous at SummerSlam, it could be what brings Rey back to get revenge for both him and his son, possibly at Survivor Series later in the year. One more showdown between the elder Mysterio and The Messiah is needed to close out this program the right way.
MVP Wants Apollo Crews Healthy for SummerSlam
After defeating MVP last week, Crews became the rightful United States champion and claimed the newly designed belt for himself after a competitive match. But Mr. 305 is not about to let this go.
After Benjamin and Crews had a match this week, Lashley and the rest of The Hurt Business attacked the champ, but MVP stopped them from going too far.
He said he wanted Crews to be healthy for SummerSlam so he wouldn't miss their match like he did at Extreme Rules. This allowed the titleholder to hit a jumping kick and escape the ring.
The feud between MVP and Crews has elevated the champion while letting everyone know MVP has plenty of life left in his career. This program has been great for both Superstars.
The best part about what we have seen is how much the U.S. title means to MVP. Midcard titles often feel like props, but he makes it feel like a prize worth winning. Even if he loses in the end, MVP has helped elevate the importance of the United States Championship and the man who holds it.
Raw Underground Could Be Here to Stay
Shane McMahon's new Raw Underground venture is still very undefined by design. He is holding these rule-free fights in the back of the Performance Center, so he isn't doing this on his own at some undisclosed location without Vince's blessing.
The short fights have their good and bad sides.
On the one hand, guys like Riddick Moss and Arturo Ruas have gotten their first televised wins in months during these segments. Anything that helps get new stars over can't be all bad; on the other, though, why should we get invested in seeing someone wrestle a 15-20 minute match when all of these other fights are over in seconds?
The concept is intriguing but has flaws. Is this fight club supposed to be like its own outlaw promotion? Will WWE management punish Superstars for competing in these fights instead of appearing in the ring? Does Vince care this is happening on his watch?
Is this designed to be a permanent addition to WWE programming? If so, will it eventually have its own special championship? WWE needs to start answering these questions before the entire concept becomes a joke. It has our attention but needs to capitalize on it before the WWE Universe loses interest.
The most interesting thing that happened during the segments this week was the emergence of Baszler. She dominated three women at once to put on the most impressive showing so far. If she becomes a staple of this new division, it has a chance to be something unique.
Retribution Causes More Chaos
A new group has emerged in WWE that appears bent on causing nothing but mayhem. These men and women in hoodies and masks have been calling themselves Retribution but have yet to tell us what their motives are.
These segments began last week with a few technical glitches, and this week they graduated to throwing bricks through windows and turning over cars in the parking lot.
A lot of fans assume this is WWE's take on Antifa, but they aren't doing anything different to what other stables have done in the past. Groups like DX, New World Order and Nexus thrived on causing property damage and attacking people when they least expected it.
The introduction of this new group comes at a strange time when many cities around the country are still seeing protests and occasional riots. Until WWE outlines what this stable stands for and why they are doing all of this, fans are going to make assumptions that could end up burying the group before it has a chance to take off.
How WWE uses Retribution will be crucial in the coming weeks. Property damage and technical issues aren't that interesting. It's the motivation behind those actions that we need to understand.
Randy Orton Is Truly a Legend Killer
Orton defeated Kevin Owens in the main event of the show, but what happened after the match is what will have people talking until SummerSlam.
The Viper said he couldn't be mad at Ric Flair but he also couldn't help but blame his ego for putting him in the match with KO in the first place. This led to Orton unleashing a tirade of insults at his former mentor.
The Nature Boy, never one to be outdone on the mic, gave a passionate speech about how lucky he is to be where he is today and how all he wants is to see Orton break his 16-title record. The tears he shed seemed as genuine as could be.
Orton hugged him to get his guard down before hitting a low blow followed by a punt kick that was cleverly masked by the flickering lights from Retribution's activities throughout the show. It was a brutal attack that left Flair in need of medical attention.
This segment not only painted Orton as the biggest villain in the company, but it also made his storyline with Drew McIntyre a little more interesting. The WWE champion showed up to drive The Viper away but it was too late. The damage to Flair had been done and now the Scot and The Legend Killer have nothing standing between them and their showdown at SummerSlam.
We all criticize WWE for its storytelling sometimes, but when it does something right, it knocks it out of the park. This was one of those times.