WWE Raw 9/4/2023: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Happy Labor Day to those of you living in the United States or celebrating in other parts of the world. I hope you enjoyed a well-earned day off from work, and I hope you appreciated every moment of it because, well, not everyone is afforded such luxury.


Professional wrestlers on "WWE Raw" and the many hard-working people behind the scenes and in front of the camera were among those who still punched a clock today. Some of your friends here at Wrestling Inc. did too, including me!

So, with a salute to all of those who work hard for their money out of the way, let's turn our attention to Monday night's episode of "Raw," headlined by a history-making title match between Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER and his challenger, Chad Gable (more on them in a bit).

This column is not intended to be a complete account of this week's episode of "Raw." You can click here for that. In the meantime, let's focus on the stuff from Monday's show that stood out the most to me, whether that be because I loved it or because I hated it.


Hated: A Decisive Victory...Leading To A Rematch?

Seth Rollins decisively defeated Shinsuke Nakamura at Payback over the weekend, but why let a result like that put a rivalry to rest? On Monday night's "Raw," Nakamura and Rollins were still at odds, as if nothing was settled at Payback.


Sure, we got to see that Nakamura attacked Rollins after the Payback broadcast ended Saturday night, but this matter was settled in the eyes of just about everyone who watched the event Saturday night.

WWE also posted a brief backstage interview clip with Nakamura to its social media later in the night. He wants to break down Rollins. He wants to take his title. We know, buddy. You told us this already...and then you lost the match.

This is the kind of feud that makes you feel like the creative team is just trying to kill time – running out the clock. Anyway, here we are, apparently set to run it back between these two when the matter is already settled.

Loved: Long Memories

Is there anything worse in professional wrestling than once-bitter rivals who suddenly put their differences aside with almost no explanation just because they happen to be aligned as babyfaces or heels? To me, it's a bit annoying, but on Monday night we got the exact opposite and I'm happy to see it.


Jey Uso made his triumphant return to "Raw," after quitting "SmackDown" and turning his back on The Bloodline and his twin brother just a couple of weeks ago. His friend turned rival turned friend again Sami Zayn was there to roll out the red carpet, but not every babyface on the "Raw" roster is in such a forgiving mood.

As Uso and Zayn were making their way backstage, they crossed paths with Drew McIntyre and Matt Riddle, two men who suffered bitter defeats last year to Roman Reigns and The Bloodline. It's clear that McIntyre and Riddle have not forgotten Uso's role in all of that. That's the kind of stuff I love to see. It makes these characters feel more real, and it helps convince us that what we're all watching now might still matter months or even years from now.


Hated: Ricochet's Post-SummerSlam Disappearing Act

Since his loss to Paul at SummerSlam, Ricochet has wrestled exactly two matches on "Raw," The one Monday night against Shinsuke Nakamura was the first singles match for Ricochet on "Raw" since SummerSlam.


As it always is in WWE, it's about more than just matches. After all, Ricochet didn't wrestle a single match on TV between Money in the Bank and SummerSlam and he was still heavily featured in segments building toward his match against Paul.

However, in the aftermath of SummerSlam, Ricochet has virtually disappeared from "Raw." He was missing entirely from the August 14 and August 21 episodes. He finally reappeared on last week's episode...for a total of eight seconds. Trust me. I keep track of this stuff.

The point I'm making – and this will be hard to swallow for some of you – is that Ricochet gained nothing from his high-profile storyline with Paul and their match at SummerSlam. He was merely a guy who was picked to have that match against Paul, and whether it's a result of his performance leading up to that match or not, he's right back where he was before Money in the Bank.


Loved: GUNTHER and Chad Gable deliver

This couldn't possibly miss the mark, right?

GUNTHER's inevitable march toward the record for the longest Intercontinental Title reign in WWE history cleared its final hurdle on Monday night's "Raw" and, as expected, it was a great match.


Chad Gable has been so great in his role as GUNTHER's final obstacle, bringing the right blend of intensity, enthusiasm, and in-ring credentials. It would've been easy to dismiss him in this title match, but Gable and GUNTHER were up to the challenge. They got the fans behind Gable and the arena was rocking during the closing stretch.

I can't let it go unmentioned that having Gable's family in the front row was a nice touch. It's hard to know exactly what you'll get from young children, but Gable's kids were into this match as much as anyone, and even my icy-cold heart was thawing when I saw them in tears after the match.

This was the biggest match of Gable's career and he absolutely delivered. Will he get another shot? Will he ever win singles gold in WWE? It's hard to say. At 37 years old, time does not appear to be on his side, but we see a lot of wrestlers still going strong well into their 40s. I think Gable's time will eventually come and I think he's earned it by virtue of this great feud with GUNTHER.


Hated: Shayna Baszler vs. Zoey Stark

The moment I saw this match announced on "Raw," I felt like it was a bad idea.

I think both Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark are tremendous talents, but this was not the time to be putting them in the ring together.


Stark just turned babyface (I think) at Payback when she took down Trish Stratus, but there's barely been any time for her to explain her motivations and solidify her new alignment.

As for Baszler, she's another one whose presentation has confused some fans. She beat Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam, but who were fans supposed to be cheering for, and should they be getting behind Baszler now?

Predictably – at least, to me – the live reaction didn't sound very lively at the start of the match. That said, I thought these two did a good job of at least getting fans into the action, even if they weren't sure who to cheer.

Loved: Shayna Baszler AND Zoey Stark

So, a funny thing happened on my way to dunking on the idea of a match between Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark.

I'll admit I was a bit annoyed by Stark relentlessly fighting Baszler's Kirafuda Clutch, but then we got to the post-match. Baszler told Stark she gave her more of a fight than Ronda Rousey. Stark told Baszler she put up a better fight than Trish Stratus (a little unfair considering their interaction at Payback was after Stratus was in a cage match, but I guess I'll let it slide). They exchanged a fist bump and just like that we have the potential for an intriguing new team of like-minded individuals for WWE's barren women's tag team division.


I think Baszler is better than this spot and one of the most complete packages in WWE's women's division. I think she should be in the hunt for singles gold, but if this is the way it has to be for her – working through a seemingly endless revolving door of tag team partners – it might as well be alongside Stark.