While Friday’s Calgary crowd for Smackdown was hot as hell, the Winnipeg crowd for WWE RAW on August 14th was tepid at best. C’mon Winnipeg! Recently, Canadian WWE crowds have been known to be hotter than most. I only hope that Smackdown in Toronto, and RAW in Quebec City will raise the bar back up. Living in Montreal, where our crowds have been known to change booking decisions (ask Hulk Hogan), my fingers are crossed.

Besides, it was a solid show. Here are my thoughts:

  • Judgement Day, well, most of them, kicked things off, complained about Finn Bálor’s absence, shooed away JD McDonagh who had arrived with a message from Finn, and stood by as Sami Zayn rushed Finn’s buddy to set up a match. While I’m glad Sami prevailed in said match, and think the subsequent beatdown at the hands of McDonagh and Balor was to give him a few weeks off, what really irks me is that Zayn didn’t get to say anything to Judgement Day before the melee. Was thininkig something like “You’re so dysfunctional right now, you make The Bloodline look like Little House on the Prairie!”
  • I’m okay with Chelsea Green’s plan to keep the Women’s Tag Team Titles, despite her partner Sonya Deville being out for months with an injury. I’m also apparently okay with Piper Niven completing the tag team, mainly because I don’t really want to argue with Piper, and neither, apparently, does Chelsea (or Adam Pierce, for that matter). The current legit title holder agreed, on Twitter, or X, or whatever, to this change. If it’s good enough for The Freebirds and Demolition, then why not for Chelsea?
  • Gunther’s promo on the announce table was some great heel crowd work that this crowd didn’t seem to get into. He even called Winnipeg the armpit of Canada! The subsequent match between Chad Gable and Giovanni Vinci went how you would expect it to (Gable won). The in-ring confrontation progressed the story, and the impromptu Gunther versus Otis match got Gunther and Imperium their heat back, but Otis went down a little too quickly for my liking. I had hoped the Gunther versus Gable match would be on a Premium Live Event (PLE) and not the next RAW, but such a match in front of a hot Quebec crowd could be fun. I am a little worried about a possible upcoming story beat:
  • I liked Drew McIntyre and Matt Riddle versus The Viking Raiders (Drew really does impress when fighting the big men – especially live, like that time on Smackdown in Montreal). What I kept waiting for, though, was Drew’s heel turn. Maybe they’re saving that for when Randy Orton returns (hopefully he will). Until then, picking team names is fun. The best one I heard (can’t remember from who)n was The Sword and the Stoned.
  • Wait, is Indi Hartwell’s first singles match on the main roster against Rhea Ripley? Like no warmup squash matches, or even a mid-card talent that she can beat to warm up? Straight from NXT to facing The Eradicator? Yes, it’s to set up Raquel Rodriguez storyline-wise, but they could have build Indi better.
  • I think I know what Shinsuke Nakamura whispered to World Champion Seth Freakin Rollins after getting a title shot: “This is just so Damian can cash in without breaking up Judgement Day”. Hopefully the Shinuske heel turn will pay off in other ways, because I really don’t think he’ll be winning this particular title anytime soon.
  • The Becky Lynch/Trish Stratus rematch was, and is, a Summer Slam-caliber match. While I understand that not everything can make the second-largest (and largest one-night) attended and viewed event on the WWE calendar, I hoped it would at least be rescheduled for another PLE. When they chose a random RAW, I hoped for the best, and was glad that it wasn’t. The double count-out is not the finish anyone wanted. The brawl out to the merch table was fun, seeing as WWE doesn’t do that too often anymore (and it would have been much better with a more hyped crowd). The best part, though, was that we found out this was setup for a cage match at the Payback PLE, I suspect (and that was confirmed following the show). That should be a good one!
The merch table fight following Becky Lynch versus Trish Stratus on WWE Raw, August 14, 2023
  • Cody Rhodes versus Finn Bálor was a solid main event for the show, and I think the briefcase sliding to Cody at the end was a real clever bit. What’s now becoming clear is that Brock Lesnar was Cody’s physical test, which he passed. The next test, I think, was supposed to be the psychological one in the form of Bray Wyatt, but Bray isn’t back yet, so they’re putting that one off until after the fighting a group test, in the form of Judgement Day. These are the three aspects of fighting and beating Roman Reigns that Cody will have to overcome first before facing the Tribal Chief again at WrestleMania.
Cody Rhodes versus Finn Bálor on WWE Raw, August 14, 2023

This really was a solid episode of RAW that deserved a better crowd.

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