WWE RAW 7/3/2023: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Saturday's WWE Money in the Bank had a profound impact on the landscape of "WWE Raw." Seth Rollins remains World Heavyweight Champion, but Damian Priest and his newly-won briefcase are already on the hunt, potentially leading to fractures in The Judgment Day. Meanwhile, we have new WWE Women's Tag Team Champions after the implosion of Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler, while GUNTHER retained his Intercontinental title but was subsequently stared down by a returning Drew McIntyre. There's a lot going on, and Monday night provided some very interesting movement on several of the company's biggest storylines.

Our live coverage is available for those who just want the names and the numbers; this is where we do the reviewing and the analysis. How well did the Money in the Bank fallout show work for us? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 7/3/2023 episode of "WWE Raw."

Hated: The art of fighting because fighting

Seth Rollins technically opened this week's "WWE Raw," but the actual show-opening angle involved Brock Lesnar returning to fight Cody Rhodes. That was actually pretty much it; Cody had interrupted a Rollins promo before Rollins could speak, but then Lesnar interrupted Rhodes before Rhodes could speak, and the two brawled for a while until Rhodes nailed a Cody Cutter in the ring, sending Lesnar scampering away. It's a fine enough excuse for these two to be going at it again — Cody had issued an open challenge to Brock before the feud with Dominik even began, and we've pretty much established they don't like each other, so sure, why not — but that doesn't mean it leaves with much to have thoughts or feelings about. It's just a thing that happened that we all know will lead to another match, with the biggest surprise being that Lesnar arrived a day later than some expected instead of showing up in London.

Of course, Rhodes had to come out again later on, crowd singing his song and all, to cut a brief promo about how he'll fight Lesnar any time, anywhere, in any situation. Could we possibly be in for a SummerSlam Hell in a Cell match? Time will tell, and this latest incarnation of the feud still has plenty of time to grab us, but for now, Lesnar returning to battle Rhodes remains a thing that happened, and we're moving on.

Loved: The women's division takes center stage

Not sure which deity heard our prayers, but there was so much stuff involving the women's division on this episode, and with one notable exception (more on that later), it was really good!

There were two women's matches on "Raw," and we'll talk about them shortly, but one of the major stars of the show were the stories being told in this division via promos. If we didn't expect Shayna Baszler to turn on Ronda Rousey at Money in the Bank, we really didn't expect Baszler to come out in response to Rousey's industry standard "tell me why" call-out and cut what was, at least to us, a fiery babyface promo about loving wrestling and paying her dues instead of just walking into WrestleMania the way Ronda did. It was great. Baszler essentially told Rousey she was only here because of Baszler, that bringing her in was a mistake, and that Baszler was the woman to take her back out again, and it was awesome. The crowd was into it, to — when things got physical, Rousey got the upper hand for a while, but Baszler countered and applied an ankle lock with the crowd shouting "tap!" the whole time, then delivered a nasty knee to the head. Did Rousey almost immediately no-sell that knee and start yelling for Baszler to come back because they weren't finished? Yes, of course she did. But it was important that Baszler came out on top after cutting that promo, and you know what, if the last act of this Ronda Rousey WWE run is to put Baszler over on her way out, bless her for it. We need this version of Shayna Baszler back on TV.

Meanwhile, Becky Lynch called out Trish Stratus, heralding the return of Facemask Trish! It's like it was 2004 all over again, and so was Trish's mic work, in the best possible way. You'd think she was a time traveler who had brought her old character 20 years into the future. Lynch's promo was also excellent, and even though Stratus and Lynch ultimately backed down from the fight, it was an overall great segment that made us way more interested in the continuation of the Lynch/Stratus feud than we had been 24 hours earlier.

And beyond that, we even got the in-ring debut of Maxxine Dupri during a six-person mixed tag match! Maxxine is still pretty green, but she got the hot tag, got the crowd behind her, and won the match, and everybody went home happy. Just maybe tell her not to try doing the Worm again.

Hated: Tag teams, in turmoil

It's honestly little wonder Rousey wanted out after experiencing a taste of the WWE women's tag division — or maybe WWE just saw her as too big-time for it and pulled her. Either way, we got another very clear picture this week of how the company views the idea of women's tag teams, with the #1 contender's tag team turmoil match. Hope you were ready for another round of "wait, they put who together" because our crop of tag teams this week included the seemingly random pairings of Tegan Nox and Dana Brooke (what?) and Nikki Cross and Emma, alongside the first main roster appearance of Indi Hartwell, teaming up with Candice LeRae. Granted, you would have to be paying attention pretty closely to know all this, since the entrances for the Nox/Brooke team and the Hartwell/LeRae team happened in picture-in-picture. We did get a glimpse of the storyline LeRae and Cross have been trying to tell for months now, even though their segments keep getting cut, which seems to involve Cross being emotionally obsessed with LeRae even though LeRae now has her old tag partner back the form of Hartwell. Nice to at least get the CliffsNotes version of this, we suppose.

Anyway, Hartwell and LeRae are former "NXT" Women's Tag Team Champions and LeRae is a former "NXT" Women's Champion, so naturally they get put in the match first and get eliminated after about 90 seconds. Okay then. At least they're not Nox and Brooke, who got eliminated during a commercial break. You'd think Hartwell and LeRae would have been allowed to get in the ring with Cross and Emma to continue that storyline, but nope, they got eliminated and then Cross and Emma got eliminated when Cross got distracted by a hurt Candice and leaves Emma to fend for herself. I guess that would induce some feelings in me if I had any idea what this story actually was. This was like those little subplots in some Tarantino movies that you catch glimpses of but are never actually explained.

The only tag teams who mattered in this match (according to the people booking it) were Katana Chance and Kayden Carter, who continue to be booked strong right out of the gate, hit an awesome tag team hurricanrana off the top rope during their time, and will probably be tag champs before the end of the year, and Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green, who actually ran the gauntlet and defeated all four other teams. Props to some dominant gauntlet match booking you don't usually see, but we're not sure this was done to make Deville and Green look strong; it looked more like it was done because WWE doesn't think you need to care about the majority of these women. If we're still going to have a women's tag team division, can we get some time investment in some of these teams? Maybe have some of them stick around for a while? Maybe? Please?

Loved: Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya

Fortunately, there was one more women's division match coming, and it absolutely ruled. We said in our Money in the Bank review that it might be time to focus on Ripley having matches rather than Dominik having matches, and while Dom technically main-evented, Ripley vs. Natalya was the unquestioned match of the night. Things started strong with Natalya beating down Rhea during her entrance — which was cheating a bit considering the lack of heat for this match, but we're certainly not complaining, and it importantly set the tone for the rest of the contest, i.e. this was going to be a fight.

Part of us — the part that's a fan of most of the talent in this division and wants to see them used to the best of their abilities — isn't entirely sure why Natalya got this spot instead of Emma or Tegan or Nikki or Candice, but to be honest, by the end of this absolute slugfest, we didn't care. This was actually a welcome reminder that Natalya actually can still go in the ring; she and Ripley were absolutely laying into each other in a match that involved tons of brutal strikes and made it look like Rhea had to work to retain her Women's World Championship in a way she hasn't had to since WrestleMania. This should probably have happened on a PLE, with the squash match version happening on "Raw" instead of at Night of Champions, but it was one hell of a capper to the WWE women's division's extremely good Monday night.

Also, the fact that the squash happened first made this match feel like it had a really interesting story lurking below the surface — one about Natalya the Veteran giving it everything she had in what one has to presume will be among her final shots at a championship. The involvement of Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez at the end seemed to further the idea of Rodriguez being Ripley's next major challenger (which is weird because she's one of the tag champs, but fine) but it also furthered the idea of the young babyfaces having respect for Natalya and helping her out before and after the bell rang. Overall, this match spoke to us of Natalya briefly recapturing all the fire and energy that made her one of the greats, and for one night, it was nearly enough.

Hated: Everyone stop coming out to save Matt Riddle from Imperium

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens weren't around this week (which honestly is worthy of a Hated in and of itself) but that didn't matter for the fate of Matt Riddle; the tag champs' role as official Savers of Riddle from Imperium has been officially taken over by Drew McIntyre, who returned at Money in the Bank to confront GUNTHER and repeated the act on Monday, staring down the Intercontinental Champion once again and delivering a Claymore kick to Ludwig Kaiser. Which, fine, whatever, but why does everyone feel the need to come out and save Riddle, of all people? Babyfaces get beaten down on this show all the time and nobody comes to help, but lay a finger on Riddle and suddenly he's got an army behind him. Is it just that he has really good pot?

Anyway, this is obviously building toward GUNTHER vs. McIntyre for SummerSlam, which we completely support, but we're not exactly thrilled about the Drew Mac/Riddle pairing (they're teaming up in a tag match next week) and we're also not necessarily looking forward to McIntyre having to fight his way past Kaiser and Vinci to get to GUNTHER, which is what everyone has to do. It's like MJF putting you in a gauntlet match while you're feuding with him — if you didn't know it was coming, do you even watch the show?

Still, we suppose that's just the price of having to stretch a build between MITB and SummerSlam. The eventual IC title match is going to slap, but so far we're not loving the journey to get there.

Loved: Judgment Drama

The main event of the show was technically Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio, but really, the main event was DRAMA IN THE JUDGMENT DAY. This is basically exactly what we were hoping for when Priest won the briefcase; Judgment Day interrupted Rollins early in the show (after he had recovered from the brief and sudden Brock appearance) but didn't have Finn Balor with them. Nor was he with them later on, when they came to the ring for Dom's second straight match against one of WWE's top stars. Putting aside the fact that WWE suddenly wants "Dirty Dom" to happen (it's not going to happen), it was a perfectly serviceable match, in that it existed only so that Priest could attack Rollins and cause a disqualification (though not before Rollins inexplicably transformed into late-aughts Chris Hero, hitting Dom with a rolling elbow followed by a Death Blow) after which The Judgment Day proceeded to collectively beat down Rollins.

It should be noted that this was all extremely predictable (which isn't always a bad thing) but going in, we figured there were two main outcomes. The first, which didn't happen, involved Zayn and Owens, who hadn't appeared on the show, running in to save Rollins, allowing Judgment Day to get a tag team feud with the champs going while Priest remained a constant threat to Rollins. The second, which did, essentially involved Judgment Day feuding with itself. After giving Rollins a fair brutal beating (by WWE standards) outside the ring, Priest seemed ready and willing to cash in his contract and win the World Heavyweight Championship. But before he could, Balor finally appeared, attacking Rollins and distracting Priest, which ultimately allowed Rollins to Pedigree Dominik and escape with the belt. Balor and Priest were audibly yelling at each other afterward, each accusing the other of costing them the world title.

We're hoping this means we're not finished with Rollins vs. Balor after their lackluster Money in the Bank match, and we're living for the idea that Priest sees Balor's obsession with revenge on Rollins as getting in the way of Judgment Day's goals, while Balor sees Priest as wanting the glory and the title for himself. And of course, it's all going down with Dom and Rhea stuck in the middle. Considering how amazing the Bloodline story has turned out to be, we can't blame WWE for going back to the well of "heel stable begins to fracture internally," and so far, we are once again here for it. Drama, interpersonal conflicts, heated emotions — feed them to us.