Xavier Woods Challenges Bobby Lashley, MITB Qualifiers, More WWE Raw Fallout
This week's WWE Raw pushed forward toward Money in the Bank with a series of qualifiers for the same-titled matches at the pay-per-view on July 18.
While Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton and AJ Styles got chances to qualify, it was their less-experienced opponents who took the wins. Riddle, John Morrison and Ricochet made statements that could lead to a shocking victory in the men's MITB match.
Bobby Lashley put McIntyre behind him at Sunday's Hell in a Cell, but he had another rival waiting. Kofi Kingston made his intentions clear to The All Mighty to start the show, while the WWE champion made his own mark by brutalizing Xavier Woods.
Eva Marie teamed with the former Piper Niven, but the newly renamed Doudrop seems to already be done with All Red Everything. She walked out on her mentor, costing them both a spot in the women's MITB match next month.
However, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss earned their places in the women's contest, although it did come with an awkward superhero setup for the Scot, who is being further hampered by awkward WWE booking.
With Money in the Bank ahead, Monday's Raw began to reshape the roster ahead of a return to live crowds.
Xavier Woods Deserves Chance to Be More Than Kofi Kingston's Teammate
Xavier Woods is, arguably, the least-renowned member of The New Day. The main reason for that is a lack of opportunities. He only really took off in WWE in 2014 when he helped bring together Kofi Kingston and Big E, who had both already won singles gold.
Kofi is on the rise toward a WWE Championship match against Bobby Lashley while Woods is simply the support. He got a chance to main-event against The All Mighty and looked good, but there was just no drama.
It is clear that Woods will never be a priority as long as Kingston is around. Woods has teased wanting to be involved in a King of the Ring tournament, and he might get a chance to take the final spot in Money in the Bank with his New Day teammate occupied elsewhere.
Hopefully, Kingston will get his chance to challenge Lashley and Woods will get his own opportunities as he is a rare talent in the ring with his speed and power.
Fresh Competitors in Money in the Bank Makes the Match More Engaging
Money in the Bank qualifiers can often lead to predictable results, but Raw did not hold back this week.
Ricochet defeated AJ Styles, John Morrison managed to steal a victory off Randy Orton, and Riddle caught Drew McIntyre to pull out an improbable win.
The three victories are an indication that WWE is willing to take chances. The Original Bro has been a recent focus of WWE programming, but both The One and Only and The Shaman of Sexy have been afterthoughts.
Ricochet is the type of star who is ideal for Money in the Bank as he has the high-flying skills to do something truly memorable. He is unlikely to win, but he will make an impact. Morrison can do some incredible things in a ladder match himself and is more likely to pull out the victory.
However, Riddle is a complete unknown in this type of match, and that makes him a fascinating addition after delivering every week recently against top competitors in the ring.
What matters most is that these are fresh stars who have limited experience in matches this high on the card. Hopefully, SmackDown will also bring in fresh names for the match.
Eva Marie's Story Is Already Falling Off the Rails
Last week, Eva Marie debuted in a unique way: Doudrop won on her behalf.
This week, however, the two women broke up. This made no sense and showed WWE has little idea what to do with the returning Marie.
After a month of buildup, it would make sense that WWE would have a clear plan for All Red Everything. Perhaps this was always the idea, but it is hard to trust that this angle is going anywhere positive.
Doudrop (assuming she keeps that name and does not return to Piper Niven) has enough talent with or without Marie. She can make it work without a manager, but she certainly would have been able to draw more heat with this angle running longer.
WWE should be able to tell more cohesive stories with talent. Convoluted angles that change week by week do not draw excitement. It is more likely to convince viewers to tune out.
Nikki Cross Gets the Worst Kind of Gimmick Change
Nikki Cross has recently beaten both Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley, but each victory has been flawed. It seems that the whole angle was to build the Scot toward a new superhero gimmick given her new outfit, which was debuted on Monday night.
This is a waste of Cross, who has never been allowed to be her best self on Raw after being massively over in NXT playing the chaotic spitfire. While she might be able to make this superhero gimmick work, it is too over the top to take seriously.
Fans will want to root for her regardless, but there is no reason she has to be the next Hurricane. No one has been able to make that character work except Gregory Helms.
The Raw women's division was in need of a shake-up, but the recent moves do not feel like the right way to invest fans in the action. In fact, it may be the opposite.