WWE RAW 8/28/2023: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s newly collaborative review of "WWE Raw!" After the stunning success of our new review format for AEW All In, which featured us having the brilliant idea of highlighting more than just one person's perspective (something that has 100% never been tried before) we are back to talk about WWE's three-hour Monday night show. This week's episode continued the build to WWE Payback, as well as setting up some matches for next week's "Raw," aka "the last episode that will have any creative effort put into it whatsoever until the end of the NFL season."


Jokes aside, most of us agreed that "Raw" was pretty damn good this week. Did that stop us from finding things we didn't like about it? HA. AS IF. What kind of wrestling fans would we be if we couldn't find things to complain about? What those things were, however, and what things, in contrast, we enjoyed, are about to be revealed to you. We will not be covering everything — if you want a comprehensive look at what happened, check out or live coverage. What you have here are simply three things we loved and three things we hated from the 8/28/23 episode of "WWE Raw."

Loved: Continued remembrance of a fallen friend (Jon Jordan, WINC news writer)

The loss of Bray Wyatt at just 36 years old last week brought the entire wrestling world to its knees. Scrapping previous plans and paying tribute to him just a day later on "WWE Smackdown" was absolutely the right call (as was including honoring Terry Funk on the same show). It was also great to see homage paid in various ways by AEW talents while overseas for All In, including Chris Jericho, FTR, House of Black, and a mention by the commentary team. And while I'd much rather not be writing this at all right now, for obvious reasons, I have to give kudos for the continued respect and appreciation shown Monday night on "Raw."


From Michael Cole's and Wade Barrett's opening statement, to memorial armbands worn by several talents throughout the show, to The Judgment Day displaying Wyatt-themed apparel in the background of their backstage segment and Seth' Rollins putting a Fiend sideplate on his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it was all very fitting in the service of honoring a man whose talents graced both of WWE's flagship shows for so long. (It will not be surprising at all to see something similar on "NXT" tomorrow night, either, given the impact The Wyatt Family had on the yellow brand, as well).

That the video tribute was the same one shown Friday is of no concern whatsoever. It was beautifully done and pulls off that unique human emotion roller coaster trick of making you smile one moment and tear up the next. (For the record, I'd rather watch this package every week forever than sit through the weekly "Raw" segment that just recaps what happened with The Bloodline on the previous Friday's "Smackdown.") That still picture montage, however, will likely get me every single time, especially the candid shots of Wyatt with friends, family, and most of all, his children.


Tonight, when the video wrapped, the original Wyatt Family theme played as Bray's iconic rocking chair sat unoccupied atop the stage in front of a sea of fireflies on the Titantron. The empty chair, sad though it surely is, serves as a fitting image for an exceptional talent impossible to replace, whose impact on the industry we won't fully appreciate for many years to come.

Hated: Sneaky Shinsuke Gets the Upper Hand on Seth Rollins (Daisy Ruth, WINC news writer)

While I don't hate Shinsuke Nakamura as a heel, and I certainly don't hate the fact that he's in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture against Seth Rollins at Payback on Saturday, the sneakiness is something I can do without, especially when he's talking smack about the champion's family — but can't seem to do it to his face. On Monday's episode of "WWE Raw," Rollins headed out to the ring to call out his opponent, complete with a new tribute sideplate to the late Windham Rotunda's "Fiend" character on his title.


Rollins opened his promo with a "Yowie Wowie!" but even that beautiful tribute couldn't save this segment entirely. Rollins said he'd sit back and pour himself a stiff drink and listen to the crowd sing his song all night long while he waited for Nakamura to come out and face him, before the titantron began showing a video package of Nakamura training and running down the champion in Japanese, with English subtitles. Nakamura brought up Rollins' wife, Becky Lynch, and their young daughter, in regard to the champion's back injury, saying Lynch would have to help her husband out of bed and he would never be able to walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding day, after Nakamura is through with him. Rollins responded by asking what had happened to the Nakamura who headlined the Tokyo Dome and "lit the world on fire" when he arrived in "WWE NXT," and said he wasn't going to let his back injuries keep him from beating down Nakamura at Payback. That's when Nakamura jumped the champion from behind.


Though it's a classic heel move, Nakamura is good enough on the mic, whenever he's actually given the chance, to face the champion on the go-home "Raw" before a premium live event and bring up his family to his face for the added heat that this feud desperately needs. The ending of the segment was also lackluster, with Nakamura putting the champion in a sleeper hold and seemingly putting him out immediately. This feud needed a big segment heading in to Payback, preferably with a war of words leading in to a pull-apart brawl when Rollins' family was brought up, but sadly, we didn't see that on "Raw."

Loved: Good impressions (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

Tales of veterans feeling unappreciated by the fans and the young talent who is more over than anyone else on the roster have been told countless times throughout WWE history (think Dolph Ziggler in 2017), but the one between LA Knight and The Miz has put a unique spin on things.


The Miz pulled a classic Monday night, coming to the ring to Knight's music and wearing his clothing. While I expected the segment to be your average "haha, the fans all suck" thing, I was pleasantly surprised with what Miz did next. It was admittedly a little hard to keep up with what Miz was saying during his Knight impression up until he grabbed a bag of free Knight t-shirts from the ring steps. After taking one of them out and acting like he would be tossing it into the crowd, he instead opted to throw it out of the ring and on the floor in a move which not only showed how little Miz thinks of Knight, but how little he thinks of the fans as well.

Miz's feelings towards Knight were further signified after he ripped off the shirt he was wearing haphazardly and transformed back into himself. While the impression helped Miz to garner the major heat he needed heading into the match, it also provided "The A Lister ” with an opportunity for fantastic character work. Having him explain that fans will cheer for anything and anyone can replicate Knight allowed for him to find his footing — even more so following a period where it felt like he was floundering on the roster.


Hated: Reed gets robbed (Jordan)

Let's get a few things straight here: I love Tommaso Ciampa. I love Johnny Gargano. I loved DIY and I loved the "NXT" era that featured the feud between the two. Hell, I even love the impact Bronson Reed has been making since he's been on the main roster (despite the unnecessary "Big" qualifier). But I hated this segment.


The work was fine. These two are excellent in the ring, so that's to be expected. But there are three problems. First, the match only got about five minutes of TV time, give or take (I couldn't find my stopwatch and my phone is dead, but I can't be far off). Second, Ciampa's been doing a lot of what he said recently on "Out of Character" that he does in times when he isn't given much creatively, which is take to social media on his own to further an idea. Lately, it's been the "Where Is Johnny Gargano?" stuff (and I'm starting to wonder where Gargano is myself). Amid constant rumors of a DIY run on the main roster, to tease it for weeks and weeks to no avail just isn't cool. And third, Reed was emerging as a dominant force. His Tsunami finisher is uniquely delivered and gets a reaction every time. I don't think he should be losing to anyone, anyhow, in five-ish minutes at the moment.


Should Ciampa have lost? I'd love to say no. But what's he doing right now, anyway? I know he said via pretape not too long ago that he's here on "Raw "to capture championships and all that, but with DIY seemingly (I hope?) on the horizon, a loss to the "Big" man (see how pointless it is?) in a competitive match isn't going to hurt anything.

So, damn it, let's get going with the DIY reboot already. And then, ideally, they can break up (again) and kill each other for a good six months or so one more time. That was just beautifully awful magic. Meanwhile, let's get Bronson Reed back to smashing people on the regular ASAP. There's some Bam Bam Bigelow in this dude, and that's not a compliment I'd throw out lightly.

Loved: WWE Is Getting Behind Ludwig Kaiser (Matthew Carlins, WINC News Editor)

I've been a fan of Ludwig Kaiser for a while, and it's now apparent that those in charge at WWE are, as well.

Look no further than the stark difference in how Kaiser is presented alongside Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER compared to the third wheel in Imperium, Giovanni Vinci. While Vinci often stands by silently, Kaiser gets to cut promos. He's involved in a storyline with Maxxine Dupri, which may or may not be a mere side dish to the larger title feud between GUNTHER and Chad Gable. And on Monday night's "WWE Raw," Kaiser got to showcase his in-ring skills as well, as he and Gable faced off in a match that spanned three segments across two commercial breaks. The end result was a disqualification victory for Gable thanks to outside interference from Vinci, but Kaiser got to show he is the technical equal of a man who's considered to be one of the best bell-to-bell performers in the company.


The first time I can recall seeing Kaiser in action was at an "NXT" live event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, back in September 2018. It was only a few months after he signed his developmental contract with WWE, and he was still using his real name, Marcel Barthel. The future Kaiser entered the arena to virtual silence. He then did something I didn't expect — he milked it. Without saying a word, and with most of those in attendance not knowing him, he tactfully worked the crowd into booing him, displaying the poise and skill he'd accumulated during nearly a decade working across Europe and beyond. It was far beyond what you'd expect from a typical talent in WWE's developmental system. I was instantly convinced he was a prospect who couldn't miss.


Now firmly established on WWE's main roster, Kaiser is making me feel like a genius for buying in so many years ago. He's so polished that I don't expect any missteps from him. He's healthy, in great shape, and at 33 years of age, in the prime of his career. There's seemingly no limit to how high up the card he can climb.

Hated: You might be running too many interference-based storylines if... (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

So let me see if I have this straight. Sami Zayn has a match with Damian Priest, which is admittedly pretty good, because it's a match between Sami Zayn and Damian Priest. Then JD McDon'tGoogleMe interferes AGAIN, giving Priest the win. But Priest is mad about this, pushes JD down, and doesn't help him when Sami and Kevin Owens kick his ass, because somebody needs to sit JD down and tell him The Judgment Day is just not that into him.


Which, sure, I guess, though at this point it's really beyond me why the thing that's finally tearing The Judgment Day apart is a creepy Irish guy whose obsession with anatomy apparently didn't teach him how to read body language. But whatever — the point is, they're splitting them up, because Rhea Ripley tells Priest and Balor there are gonna be problems if they don't walk out of Payback with the tag titles, which I assume means they're losing. Fine. But then Zayn and Owens cut a backstage promo about how they're constantly being attacked during their matches, both by wannabe Judgment Day members and by original flavor Judgment Day members. And since they're going to be in Pittsburgh, aka the Steel City, they're going to fight Priest and Balor in ...


... now, I assumed they were going to say "steel cage," because of the steel connection, and also because that's typically how you keep irritating members of heel stables out of your matches. But instead they said "Steel City Street Fight," and it took me a minute to realize that's because Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus is taking place in a cage, also to keep someone (Zoey Stark) out of the match. So they're doing a street fight, in which outside interference is explicitly legal, and hey look none of this makes any sense.

A quick tip for WWE: Either just go full TNA Lockdown and have ALL the matches happen in cages, or maybe cool it with feuds that involve constant outside interference. You already have The Bloodline, which has turned outside interference into a legitimate art form — do you have to do the same thing every time? Like, you'd think Sami would have some sympathy for a desperate, pathetic weirdo trying to be friends with people who clearly have no interest in keeping him around and are definitely going to beat him up soon, right? I know it's not explicitly the same thing, but still, it's similar enough. Although at least McDonagh is the only person doing something like that at the immediate OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, SHUT UP, MATT RIDDLE.