AJ Styles Back in Title Contention, Mia Yim Debut Flops, More WWE Raw Fallout
There's nothing like opportunity for some. The November 30 edition of WWE Raw promised just that and delivered on it, especially for the biggest match of the night.
AJ Styles fought Riddle and Keith Lee in a Triple Threat match to crown the new No. 1 contender to Drew McIntyre. The Phenomenal One reigned supreme and decided he was ready to win back the WWE Championship as soon as possible.
To help his cause, he decided to help The Miz and John Morrison. This trio—along with the imposing Omos—could make a splash, but they'll need to do more than just attack the WWE champion, particularly since he has Sheamus watching his back.
The Original Bro fell short in his title opportunity, but another may be coming his way. He got on MVP's bad side, forcing Bobby Lashley to attack him. The United States champion has now established a new challenger who may be too much for him to handle.
Mia Yim had a huge opportunity to shine in her role as Reckoning from Retribution, but Dana Brooke embarrassed her. Meanwhile, Asuka continued to get more shots at gold, with The Empress of Tomorrow helping Lana defeat Shayna Baszler.
Raw may be too long and lack for strong consistent stories, but it always brings much to discuss.
AJ Styles May Salvage The Miz's Awkward Money in the Bank Run
AJ Styles managed to defeat Riddle with a Phenomenal Forearm after taking out Keith Lee, earning him a WWE Championship opportunity at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on Dec. 20. He then allied himself with The Miz, hoping The A-Lister would cash in on Drew McIntyre and give him an easier title match.
The night was big for The Phenomenal One, who is finally back in the spotlight. His alliance with Omos has made him dangerous, setting him up to reclaim his crown among the elite heels on Raw.
What was especially intriguing is that he is working with The Miz and John Morrison. Raw is already a stable-heavy show with Retribution and The Hurt Business, but The A-Lister and The Shaman of Sexy may be the most lethal heel team alongside Styles and Omos on the red brand.
Miz has been embarrassed repeatedly the past year, and he doesn't feel like a worthy challenger. Add in some fresh help, though, and he may do something interesting.
The odds are stacked against McIntyre with this group at his back. It should help solidify his second reign alongside a memorable title defense against Styles at TLC. This is the opportunity to revamp.
It all has to begin with building up The Phenomenal One along with Miz and Morrison. They can throw jokes around, but they need to win matches that matter. That way, it's clear they might together dethrone the WWE champion.
Raw Wastes Women's Division by Throwing Asuka into Tag Title Scene
Lana needed help, and Asuka stepped up to assist her. They teamed against Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. While The Ravishing Russian took a beating, The Empress of Tomorrow landed a well-placed kick on The Queen of Spades that allowed Lana to pin the WWE women's tag team champion.
The idea of top women in WWE supporting Lana when no one else would is an intriguing concept. It sets up a more natural turn for her. However, Asuka is the Raw women's champion; she should be defending that title, not working in tag title contention.
Much like when Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch teamed up while The Man was women's champion, this makes the division feel smaller than it is. No one gets an opportunity if all the opportunities are focused on a few people.
Naomi has not appeared on Raw since she was drafted at a high position. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans got spots at Survivor Series as last resorts when Mandy Rose got injured. Mickie James did not get drafted after she had her opportunities at Asuka go woefully short.
There are so many deserving names itching for an opportunity at gold, and someone else could have helped Lana fight the WWE women's tag team champions. Instead, Asuka is unlikely to defend her title the rest of the year so that she can help her new friend.
Mia Yim's Raw Debut Is an Unnecessary, Poorly Conceived Flop
Reckoning wanted to make a splash in her debut against Dana Brooke. Instead, she lost her mask, revealing herself to be Mia Yim. Ali then tried to help her, only for Yim to get rolled up by Brooke for a shocking loss.
Retribution has been an awkward concept from the start, but Yim felt like the one member who could legitimately break the mold. Instead, she has fallen short like the rest of the group, not even lasting three minutes with Brooke.
This was an embarrassing way to set up the rare woman on Raw with potential mystique. Reckoning was the ace, someone who could actually take down Asuka. Her first match was a litmus test for her future, and it did not promise good results.
Yim is one of the most talented women on the roster, and that is saying something given the level of ability on all three brands. However, she has yet to be truly highlighted as she deserves.
Reckoning should have been her fresh start. It is unlikely she will fall off the map, but she's already lost the edge that made her a real threat to The Empress of Tomorrow. She'll get her revenge, but will she fall into the background like so many other women on Raw?
Riddle May Be First Challenger to Match Bobby Lashley
Riddle annoyed many wrestlers backstage, but he brought his all when he stepped into the ring with AJ Styles and Keith Lee for a title opportunity. He fell short, though, and then got in the way of MVP. Bobby Lashley knocked out The Original Bro with the Hurt Lock.
Riddle has been rising in the ranks of WWE, and his recent matches have elevated his standing. While the company could not put him in WWE title contention, it makes sense for him to go after a secondary belt.
He and Lashley make for a fascinating pairing. Both have MMA experience. They are hard-hitting but also grapplers when needed. Their styles could mesh well.
This is a match that should elevate the United States Championship. Sadly, the title has been a forgotten part of Raw for months. The All Mighty is just a part of a whole for The Hurt Business and not even the most interesting member.
Putting Riddle and Lashley together should set up a fresh start, and they can elevate each other. Even if some would prefer The Original Bro remain out of any title scene, Raw is starved for interesting stories.
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus Will Carry Raw to Better Days
The Miz brought Sheamus onto Miz TV, trying to sow the seeds of dissent between him and Drew McIntyre. Instead, The Celtic Warrior made clear he was behind the WWE champion.
Earlier in Monday's broadcast, the Scot and Sheamus dominated as a team against The Miz and Morrison until AJ Styles caused a disqualification.
This story between McIntyre and The Celtic Warrior has built gradually, fueled by genuine friendship between the two men. Despite the pair working on opposite sides in many ways, their friendship keeps them together.
It is a nice story with intrigue. Will Sheamus turn on McIntyre? Could the WWE champion convince The Celtic Warrior to change his ways? Every week, this story remains the most compelling the red brand has to offer.
This story is all Raw has at the moment that feels genuinely must-see. While the red brand has so much talent as its disposal, the storytelling is lacking. The potential of McIntyre and Sheamus should be forcing the rest of the show to step up.
Instead, the two are just holding down the fort waiting for Styles, Miz and Morrison to become more of a competent threat. That may never happen, but at least Sheamus and McIntyre will have a great match when the time is right.