Aging Goldberg Struggles, Karrion Kross Loses Again and More WWE Raw Fallout
WWE Raw may have promised to take a step up with a live crowd on the road to SummerSlam, but the August 2 edition felt like the same old, same old. It was the same red-brand experience as always.
Nikki A.S.H. fell to Charlotte Flair last week, but this time she wanted The Queen in a No Holds Barred match and managed to overcome her rival.
Karrion Kross wrestled Keith Lee for the second week in the row. The Limitless One reversed last week's defeat with a win on Monday, underlining that this match was a bad idea for both men.
Meanwhile, WWE put on matches such as John Morrison vs. Damian Priest and Mustafa Ali and Mansoor vs. T-Bar and Mace in front of a rowdy crowd that did not care for the contests. The fans at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois were far more interested in Bray Wyatt, who was unexpectedly released by the company on Saturday.
It did not help that Goldberg returned to Raw to continue his rivalry with Bobby Lashley. The WWE Hall of Famer was not comfortable on the mic but did deliver his customary Spear to MVP.
Monday's show did not inspire much confidence in WWE's future. The crowd quickly turned against the company, which remains more interested in overusing the talent it has in uninteresting spots than delivering a product genuinely worth watching.
Goldberg No Longer Even in Shape to Cut Promos
It's no secret that Goldberg is past his prime. Even at his peak, he was never a workhorse in the ring or on the mic, but he could deliver what was expected of him. However, he can barely do that anymore.
Segments like this week reinforce that the 54-year-old is out of his depth in the role of a top veteran in WWE. It is becoming difficult to believe that a dominant champion like Bobby Lashley should even see him as a threat.
Raw is already in a bad state, but WWE will continue to release potential top talent and pay exorbitant amounts for a man who can barely survive standing in a five-minute segment.
Even if Goldberg loses at SummerSlam and raises the profile of Lashley, the match feels unnecessary. It could have happened on a lesser show, opening a spot for a talent who can actually compete with The All Mighty.
Chicago Crowd Lashes Out at WWE over Bray Wyatt Release
For weeks now, WWE has been building up the importance of returning to live crowds. Fans bring an energy that changes an event, but that is also something which is hard to control.
This was clear in one of the loudest wrestling markets in the United States: Chicago. Wrestling fans been known to resent the company in the past, such as for its treatment of CM Punk in the past.
However, WWE will have been less prepared for the chants in support of Bray Wyatt. The recently released star was one of the company's most popular due to his natural charisma and unique characters. It remains unclear why Vince McMahon and Co. let him go, which built up a resentment in a vocal crowd on Monday.
It is vital WWE takes note of these chants, especially since it turned the crowd volume down throughout the night. If the audience matters, so do the opinions of the crowd at a show.
Raw would have been much better if Wyatt had returned on Monday night. The show lacked a spark that The Fiend previously provided.
WWE cannot have it both ways, though. It can't rely on the crowd for energy and then act outside of its interest.
Karrion Kross Booking Takes Away from His Spotlight in NXT
Karrion Kross remains undefeated in NXT—but he has a losing record on Raw. Worryingly, this feels like a company looking to send an internal message.
While WWE continues to treat All Elite Wrestling as no competition at all, it does appear to want to embarrass NXT, a brand under its own banner.
NXT was once treated as a third brand but may be falling back into the role of a developmental area as Raw and SmackDown return to the road.
The NXT champion should be a much bigger deal than he has been on the main roster. He is likely to lose to Samoa Joe at NXT TakeOver 36 on August 22, but the title change will mean much less when Kross cannot defeat Jeff Hardy or Keith Lee, a man he has beaten before.
There could be a larger story at play, though, especially if there is a plan to bring up Scarlett to help Kross. Part of his power and influence is clearly missing in the transition. However, the timing has been terrible. This story should have begun after Kross dropped the title, not before.
Omos has gone undefeated on the main roster with far less in-ring ability. Kross does not need to be torn down to be built up.
Nikki A.S.H. Earns a Big Win That She Needed
The night culminated in arguably the biggest match of Nikki A.S.H.'s career. She fought Charlotte Flair in singles competition—and won.
While her Raw women's title might not have been on the line on Monday, a loss to The Queen would have drastically affected her popularity and prestige.
Defeating Flair remains a serious challenge for any member of the women's division. Both Rhea Ripley and Asuka have struggled to beat her during their time with WWE, but Nikki could be the one to have The Queen's number.
The Raw women's champion must be able to win big like this. She has a fresh story to tell that is still only beginning. While she took some serious punishment throughout the match, she won with her finisher when it mattered rather than by roll-up.
Nikki will face another major challenge in a Triple Threat against Flair and Ripley at SummerSlam. While a surprise at the event is always possible, it would mean so much more if she could pin The Queen on such a major stage.