Cody Rhodes’ Weak Booking, Nia Jax Returns to No Fanfare and More WWE Raw Takes
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Nia Jax made an impact by costing Raquel Rodriguez her title shot before laying out Rhea Ripley.Credit: WWE.com.
WWE Raw again delivered a quality night of professional wrestling for its September 11 show at Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.
Rhea Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez ended the event with a notably better rematch than their clash at Payback. But the headlines will focus on the return of Nia Jax, who cost the latter her match and then laid out the former.
Cody Rhodes continued to focus on his uncertain future. Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh took offense to his comments about The Judgment Day and Jey Uso, but The American Nightmare laid them both out.
Drew McIntyre defeated Xavier Woods in a memorable but short match. The Scot’s frustration continued to build with his current situation, teasing a future heel turn.
Gunther celebrated his landmark victory over Chad Gable until Gable, Otis and Tommaso Ciampa got involved. The Blackheart picked up a big win in a six-man tag team bout against Imperium that could earn him a title shot.
WWE has continued to deliver quality episodes of the red brand, though the future of the top names on Raw remains uncertain.
WWE Has Taken Perfect Approach to Drew McIntyre’s Slow Heel Turn
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Raw needs another top heel, aside from The Judgment Day, and the most obvious choice has been Drew McIntyre since his return at Money in the Bank on July 1.
The Scottish Warrior is a top name who has been treated as a secondary performer over the past year. He has spent too much time finding his way in the tag team division between attempted alliances with Matt Riddle and Sheamus.
However, it seems his current storyline with The New Day and The Viking Raiders will not end with Riddle and McIntyre as a babyface team.
With every passing week, the Scot has grown more frustrated with Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, and he can now add his insistence that he will not forgive Jey Uso for his involvement with The Bloodline to the mix.
When McIntyre eventually explodes and turns heel, it will be expected but set up well. Fans will be more committed to the moment because Raw has built this over time. It will make sense and not require a long promo to explain.
WWE should consider using this heel turn as a template for future character stories. It is better to build the moment rather than shock fans with a sudden change.
Cody Rhodes Has Been Wasted Since SummerSlam
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Cody Rhodes is, arguably, still the top babyface on Raw, but his booking after defeating Brock Lesnar clean at SummerSlam would not indicate that. Instead, he has spent the past month with no direction beyond occasionally interacting with The Judgment Day.
The American Nightmare has played a support character to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in that feud with the heel faction. And his promo time recently has focused on Jey Uso without directly interacting with the former Bloodline member.
WWE could have used this time to give Bronson Reed, Apollo Crews, Johnny Gargano, Dexter Lumis or Indus Sher time to work with a top name.
If Rhodes was fully committed to The Judgment Day rivalry, possibly setting up a one-on-one angle with Finn Bálor or Damian Priest, that would be a different matter.
He fought with Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh on Raw, but neither has been set up as a serious rival to The American Nightmare, especially since he has already beaten Dirty Dom in a one-sided contest.
Feud with Gunther is Make-or-Break for Tommaso Ciampa
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Gunther is officially the longest-reigning intercontinental champion in WWE history, and he could also be considered the top heel on Raw.
Feuding with The Ring General is a serious opportunity, and Tommaso Ciampa looks like he is getting that chance.
Since The Blackheart got the main roster call-up, he has struggled to find his footing. A serious hip injury kept him off television for eight months, but he has hardly been featured even when healthy.
Recently, Ciampa teased bringing back in Johnny Gargano, who has had even less TV time of late. First, though, he looks poised to challenge Gunther.
This is an important crossroads for Ciampa. He is 38 years old and dealt with serious injuries in his career, and he may not get many more big chances to shine.
A match with the IC titleholder is a chance to put on the biggest match of his career. He needs time to shine in the build as well as the match itself. More importantly, he needs to make his minutes count.
It’s time for Ciampa to show the best side of himself: The Blackheart who was once the top guy in NXT.
Nia Jax Adds Nothing to Current Women’s Division
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Nia Jax may be a former Raw women’s champion, but it’s a serious mistake to put her back in the title picture after her return.
WWE has taken a slow approach with most call-ups and returns in the past few years. Alba Fyre, Candice LeRae, Chelsea Green, Emma, Indi Hartwell, Michin, Tegan Nox, Zelina Vega, Zoey Stark and more have had to earn their way up the card.
This is a talented women’s roster, but many have been treated as secondary acts despite possessing serious talent. Jax has not proved that she has anything but size on the other women in WWE.
Rhea Ripley could be feuding with many of those other names and likely put on better matches. Jax does not deserve a shot at the gold so early into her WWE return.
The Irresistible Force should be brought in first to help deal with women’s division depth. Even in that regard, though, WWE is already failing to use good wrestlers as it is. Jax will only take up time from the many others deserve more spotlight.
Unless she can prove she has improved in her time away, Jax adds nothing to the division that it did not have already.
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