Lilly Attacks Shayna Baszler, MVP Tries to Recruit Kofi, More WWE Raw Fallout
The June 7 edition of WWE Raw proved that the red brand is evolving with the promise of fresh stories to come.
No storyline had been set up more for this week than Alexa Bliss' feud with Shayna Baszler. The two finally met in the ring, although The Queen of Spades was not ready for the wrath of Lilly.
The Viking Raiders earned an opportunity at AJ Styles and Omos in a tag team Battle Royal. While teams like The New Day and R-K-Bro have had more build, Erik and Ivar have more than earned a shot to rebuild themselves in a Raw Tag Team Championships rivalry.
Kofi Kingston lost a major singles title opportunity to Drew McIntyre last week, and he fell short again this week when he missed out on a shot at the Raw Tag Team Championships alongside Xavier Woods. However, MVP came to the former WWE champion with an opportunity that could redefine his run on the red brand.
With Jimmy Smith continuing to develop a new voice for Raw at the announce table, the angles have taken an interesting route that has the chance to make the red brand interesting once more.
Lilly Has Replaced The Fiend as WWE's Strongest Attempt at Horror
Bray Wyatt's absence on Raw should be more pronounced, but WWE has replaced him with Alexa Bliss. It was not exactly subtle. Eventually, Wyatt will return, but he may need to find a new spot on the card as The Goddess and her demonic puppet friend, Lilly, have been established fully.
The main event segment felt like a true horror movie. Lilly stalked Shayna Baszler, trapping her alone to end the show. Unlike most scary films, though, WWE cannot just have Lilly end The Queen of Spades. Baszler will return.
With segments like this, it's important to keep focus on what can be done in professional wrestling. The Fiend was built as a dominant monster that Wyatt could actually play in the ring. Bliss cannot just become Lilly at this point.
Bliss vs. Baszler is a fascinating dynamic that is clearly established as a priority for the women's division given its spot on the card. Every week going forward should be fascinating to watch, but it will all depend on WWE's delivery.
The Viking Raiders Have a Chance to Re-Establish Themselves as No. 1 Contenders
The Viking Raiders fit in a difficult role in WWE as a fully established tag team. Erik and Ivar have never been able to work solo, so they must succeed as a duo. And any time they are not in the tag title scene, it leaves them off television entirely.
The two are immensely talented but often find themselves stuck in unexciting storylines. WWE does not appear to value the tag division highly, and it shows when talent such as Erik and Ivar are sidelined for lengthy periods.
However, the Raiders have earned the next crack at Raw tag team champions AJ Styles and Omos. While the challengers are unlikely to defeat the champions, this is a chance for them to prove to the company that they should remain on TV for the rest of the year and beyond.
With three hours of Raw every week, it is a mistake not to use the fringe talent available. The Raiders are one of the best tag teams WWE has, and that is a high honor despite the company's apparent lack of interest in the division.
MVP Could Turn Kofi Kingston into the Next Bobby Lashley
Kofi Kingston has made it clear that The New Day will never break up and he will not turn against Xavier Woods. However, it is worth considering if he could use extra help from MVP.
Kingston can cut a solid promo when he needs to, but MVP is one of the best in the business. He can add a fresh element to even the most tenured veterans in WWE, and he could help turn The New Day heel at the right moment.
This does not mean that it has to happen, though. The tease could just as easily be meant to reinforce Kingston's own mindset as a competitor. Last week, he left nobody in doubt that his family and friends were what made him better and could propel him to a second world title.
Regardless, Monday's segment makes Kofi all the more interesting. His story with Bobby Lashley gains more steam with every week. In some ways, it has overshadowed Drew McIntyre's feud with The All Mighty.
While Lashley vs. McIntyre made more sense to end in Hell in a Cell on June 20, Kingston feels more likely to pull off an upset and dethrone the WWE champion at the moment.
Jimmy Smith Proving to Be Immediate Upgrade on Adnan Virk
Much like Adnan Virk before him, Jimmy Smith was thrown in at the deep end.
It's a tough job as the play-by-play commentator on Raw, but Smith's experience in mixed martial arts has been a major benefit to him in the transition.
He sounds more confident in covering the action, even when he may not know everything he needs to in each match. He also fits better with Corey Graves and Byron Saxton in calling the action; he sounds legitimate and invested.
Most would not succeed in this position. Much like WWE builds wrestlers through their development systems, it would make more sense to build commentators for the spot on Raw or SmackDown. Instead, though, they face a steep learning curve on live television.
Smith has acclimated well to the role because he is more suited to the high-pressure situation. Hopefully, he can continue to grow and improve because WWE has struggled to find anyone who can work as well as Michael Cole on SmackDown.