Keith Lee's Messy Debut, Aleister Black's Heel Turn and More WWE Raw FalloutAugust 25, 2020
Keith Lee's Messy Debut, Aleister Black's Heel Turn and More WWE Raw Fallout
Following up a well-received SummerSlam 2020, WWE Raw needed to get people talking and build toward Payback on Sunday. But the August 24 edition delivered on only some of the promises made.
Monday's show came off awkward from the start, relying on the hottest angle on the red brand to carry the load. Randy Orton attacked Drew McIntyre repeatedly and sent him to hospital, which led to Keith Lee stepping up to The Viper.
The Limitless One certainly wanted to make an impact in his first night. However, a few awkward booking and presentation decisions may lead to him losing momentum faster than he should.
Retribution also continued to attack WWE Superstars. Their latest victims were Rey and Dominik Mysterio. However, the focused attack only seemed to further emphasize that no one has any clue what the group is truly after, especially since they skipped SummerSlam entirely.
After a month of buildup, Nia Jax returned from suspension and decided to work with Shayna Baszler rather than fight her. This decision came out of nowhere and may be a last-minute choice by WWE to build a new women's tag team.
Aleister Black made an impact in his return to the ring. With one eye covered, he came out and spoke loudly with his actions, taking out Kevin Owens with a spinning back elbow and Black Mass.
Monday's Raw did not deliver on much of the promise from the buildup, but it did leave a few lasting impressions.
Keith Lee Given a Big Spotlight but a Potentially Dangerous Rebrand
After Randy Orton took out Drew McIntyre with two punt kicks, he stood in the ring to brag, only for Keith Lee to interrupt.
The Limitless One offered a match to Orton, which The Apex Predator agreed to for later in the night.
McIntyre attacked Orton during the match, causing a disqualification. The Viper then punted the Scot a third time. This time, it was announced that the WWE champion had a skull fracture. Lee stood up for his friend and demanded a rematch against the heel at Payback.
This was a huge moment for the incoming NXT Superstar. He debuted against the biggest name in the business. The Viper is approaching 20 years in the business and competing for the WWE Championship. It's hard to find a bigger first opponent.
However, the presentation came off all wrong. Lee's signature entrance theme was scrapped for generic music. His attire did not look to fit properly, and he was awkwardly shuffled into the McIntyre-Orton feud in which he might be more of a sacrificial lamb to build The Viper.
This all amounts to WWE making an easy story difficult. While the show was filled with bad booking decisions, changing Lee's entrance was a deliberate decision, likely set up weeks in advance. His DQ loss may not matter in the long term, but his presentation could make or break him.
The Limitless One has a signature presence and aura, and he needs to carry that forward. The last thing WWE can afford is to fumble one of the most popular acts in the company by presenting him as just another guy.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax as Tag Team Makes Little Sense
Nia Jax's suspension was lifted, allowing her to immediately get into an argument with Shayna Baszler. During The Queen of Spades' match with Bayley, The Irresistible Force attacked Baszler, causing a disqualification.
The Role Model and Sasha Banks also got involved, attacking Baszler. This set off Jax, who did not like getting ordered around. The Queen of Spades and The Irresistible Force sent the WWE women's tag team champions running up the ramp, setting the stage for a tag title match at Payback.
However, going from a rivalry to a tag team so swiftly does not work. There is no reason why Baszler and Jax should want to work together. They should be fighting against each other at Payback.
Instead, WWE went with the team that should be the last to earn a shot at the champions over established tandems such as The IIconics or Ruby Riott-Liv Morgan. That's not even considering the NXT and SmackDown talent.
This is a waste of time for everyone involved. If Baszler and Jax pull off the odd title win, it will be a rushed move that means nothing to the division. If Bayley and Banks win, as they should, they will do so against a dysfunctional team after putting no focus on the tag titles over the past month.
Baszler could be finishing her feud with Jax and moving onto Asuka. She deserves that spotlight sooner rather than later.
A Heel Aleister Black Could Finally Get the Spotlight He Deserves
Kevin Owens asked Aleister Black about his mindset after Murphy stabbed his right eye into the steel steps last month. The Dutch Destroyer had little to say but took down KO with a back elbow and Black Mass.
Clearly, there is a plan in place for Black going forward. For whatever reason, his old character was not working for WWE, but this new one certainly has potential. He just needs motivation behind his actions, and that could lead to something big.
His attitude brings to mind an old nickname Black used to carry: The Harbinger of Fury. If he has been lost in his anger since his injury, he could turn that rage on those who try to help him. He can take out KO, Humberto Carrillo and maybe even the Mysterios.
The Dutch Destroyer could get over in a major way in a feud with Owens to start. The Prizefighter should be doing more than he is at the moment, and this might be his opportunity to shine again.
This is an interesting opportunity for Black to take back the spotlight on Raw. He may be one of the most most naturally talented performers on the red brand, so let his talent shine through.
Retribution Continue to Move Backward Rather Than Making a Serious Impact
After disappearing for SummerSlam, Retribution waited until the end of the night on Raw to attack.
They got involved in the main event, beating down Rey and Dominik Mysterio. Seth Rollins laughed with Murphy at the top of the ramp as the faction made their statement and stood tall to end the show.
It seems the anarchy of Retribution has become selective. After repeatedly attempting to destroy WWE's programs, the group chose to sit out Sunday's pay-per-view and wait until the main event on the following night's Raw to focus their attack purely on the Mysterios.
It came off less chaotic and more personal, which hasn't been the direction for Retribution so far. If there is a plan for this group, it feels like WWE is failing to bring it together. While it would have made for a worse show at SummerSlam, an attack on Superstars at the PPV would have made more sense.
Monday's show gave a clearer view of six members of the group, who are likely NXT talent rather than anyone from Raw or SmackDown. If they are members of the group, top NXT stars such as Dominik Dijakovic and Mia Yim are potentially involved in this angle. It would be best not to mess this up for them.
Retribution needs a voice soon. Someone needs to start explaining what they are after. Otherwise, they are just another group of masked attackers on a brand that already has ninjas.