WWE Shows Lack of Respect for Keith Lee, Cedric Alexander, More Raw Fallout
A new energy has returned to WWE Raw with the return of live crowds, and the July 27 edition offered the fans a look toward SummerSlam with more storytelling at its core.
It was also a night that focused on returning names: Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin were back to confront Bobby Lashley, while Keith Lee lined up against Karrion Kross for his second match after a lengthy injury absence.
However, these wrestlers did not get the expected spotlight, with all of them losing big. It was an unfortunate showcase of how little WWE cares about many of the stars who could add depth to the roster.
Damian Priest did win big against Sheamus to set up a future United States Championship match, and Riddle has drawn the ire of AJ Styles and Omos to set up his own rivalry with the Raw tag team champions.
Mansoor and Mustafa Ali won their first match as a team, creating a fresh dynamic that could play a role in redefining the tag team division.
This roster is flush with talent, but the red brand continues to struggle in delivering for them. Monday's show was a showcase of where new talent can go but also why so many continue to struggle.
WWE's Lack of Respect for Roster Is Reason for Unnecessary Turnover
WWE has released a variety of wrestlers this year who have gone on to thrive in other promotions, and it has also seen top names walk out on the company for other opportunities.
Fans can point to many different sources for this turnover, but Monday's Raw offered a clear indication that WWE does not respect the talent on its roster. While top stars will always be given their due, the talent that does not will always suffer.
Keith Lee is a charismatic performer who should be far more popular than he is, but he has returned after five months out to no hype and lost his first two matches. Karrion Kross, who was beaten in his first match on Raw last week, was booked against The Limitless One in a match where both needed to win. But only the NXT champion was successful.
It was worse still for Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. Since WWE erroneously broke up The Hurt Business, neither man has had much respect on Raw. Monday was the worst example yet, though, as they were squashed by Bobby Lashley for seemingly no other reason then to humiliate them.
WWE has one of the deepest rosters in its history in terms of pure talent, and Lee and Alexander should at least be among the reliable midcard names for a red brand that feels strangely devoid of depth.
Instead, though, the company seeks to squash their momentum for the sake of already-established talent or to compensate for mixed booking.
Damian Priest Is the Right Man to Carry WWE United States Championship
The U.S. Championship has felt largely redundant since Bobby Lashley lost the title at Elimination Chamber in February. While Sheamus is one of the best WWE has, an unfortunate injury and lackluster booking has left the current holder without direction.
Something fresh needs to happen to revitalize the midcard focus of Raw, and Damian Priest seems like the perfect man for the job. Unlike most on Raw, he has been protected during his run with the red brand.
The Archer of Infamy feels dangerous to anyone; with the gold, he would be a fresh challenge for just about everyone. He can even stand as a challenger to some of those that WWE has not given many chances to along the way.
Sheamus and Priest showed some interesting chemistry to begin this feud. And The Celtic Warrior can unlock the full potential of his new rival, who can then start a new journey with his first title run on Raw.
Mustafa Ali and Mansoor Have Surprising Chemistry
Mustafa Ali and Mansoor worked together on Monday night as an unlikely duo against T-Bar and Mace. And thanks to some clever ingenuity from the former and sheer grit from the latter, they pulled off an improbable victory.
These two have begun to tell an interesting story together: Ali has been trying to convince the younger star to take short cuts to succeed, and Mansoor has tried to find success without sacrificing any part of himself.
Something is going to give along the way, though. If this is a tag team set for a lengthy run, one of them will turn eventually. But they do have serious potential as a tag team.
Mansoor can learn so much from Ali. The veteran cruiserweight may not have gold to his name, but he has repeatedly overdelivered in WWE and knows how to compete at the highest level. Mansoor has a potentially higher ceiling due to his relevance in Saudi Arabia, and Ali may be able to carry that momentum to success.
RK-Bro May Be Missing Piece to Raw Tag Team Division
The Raw tag team division is a mess. The Viking Raiders were set up as serious challengers but ultimately did not pose a serious threat to AJ Styles and Omos in two title matches.
The problem there was that the Raiders did not have much story to tell, but Riddle though has single-handedly built up the story of his team with Randy Orton. The Viper is likely to return soon, just as Styles and Omos have begun to feud with The Original Bro.
This feels like the SummerSlam match for the Raw tag team division. The two teams have the most character of any in the division, and the feud will give the division a spotlight on Raw for awhile.
What matters is if a win from RK-Bro can give more to the titles. Orton and Riddle must be allowed to shine as much as The Original Bro has without the gold. This is an essential part of making the red brand more interesting in the coming months.