The September 18, 2023 WWE RAW from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah had a solid storyline throughline, but also some pleasant surprises. Here are my thoughts:

  • Cody Rhodes kicked things off wanting to talk about Jey Uso, only to be interrupted Dominik Mysterio, who also wanted to talk about Jey. After a bit of back and forth, with Dom getting booed as per usual, and Cody teasing the dirty one about Rhea Ripley, who was injured and not there, having eyes for the RAW roster Uso, Damian Priest and Finn Bálor came out and the match started. It was short, with Cody beating Dom despite some interference, but also fun. Predictably, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens came in to save Cody from his post-match Judgement Day beatdown. It was a good way to start the show.
  • Then, after chasing Judgement Day away, Owens made it known that he, too would like to talk about Jey Uso. His mistrust made sense, KO’s promos always sound like he sees the world of the WWE as a regular person, and this time was no different. Why would he trust the man who partially cost him so many title opportunities, and beat him down on behalf of The Bloodline repeatedly? This promo also reinforced what the throughline would be for the night: Will Jey join Judgement Day? We also got a couple of backstage segments to keep the story going, one with Priest pitching the concept to Uso, with a hard-sell “we need a decision tonight” ending, and one with Sami trying to make peace between KO and Jey. The performances were great, and really had me worried that Jey might make the wrong decision, when, in fact, logic told me he wouldn’t.
Sami Zayn tried to calm things down between Kevin Owens and Jey Uso backstage at WWE RAW September 18 2023
  • While I was definitely on-board for this story, I feared the matches would take a backseat. Fortunately, that would not be the case. When they announced The Viking Raiders versus The New Day in a two out of three falls match wouldn’t happen due to Erik being injured, I thought that couldn’t be a good thing, and I’m glad I was wrong. Ivar versus Kofi Kingston was an unexpected gem. I know Kingston could be a high-flyer, but I didn’t expect to see a man as large as Ivar delivering a Top Rope Moonsault followed by a Second Rope Powerbomb. And yet there he was. Kingston ended up taking the win following a Trouble in Paradise, capping off a solid encounter. I wasn’t really invested in this feud, but now I may start to be.
  • The next match was Shiunske Nakamura versus Ricochet, a response to what happened last week backstage. It was a good bout, with Nakamura keeping high-flyer Ricochet grounded for much of it. Ricochet giving a chair shot and getting disqualified for it seemed a little abrupt and out of place, but of course the real focus was on World Champion Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins interference before and after, and the security chasing him both times. And we ended with Seth’s back getting injured. I don’t think the Rollins/Nakamura feud will end with Shiunske taking the title, but now I’m seeing that as a possibility.
  • I think Chelsea Green’s interplay with Piper Niven is great, and here it was in fine form. I was looking forward to seeing a proper match with the women’s tag champs against Shayna Baszler Zoey Stark, and we got that, for a bit, that is. Then Nia Jax crashed the party and destroyed everyone, just as she did with Rhea Ripley versus Raquel Rodrguez last week. I get that they’re positioning Jax as a monster, but I hope we get to a specific feud for her sometime soon…or maybe she’ll show up on Smackdown and terrorize the women’s division there too.
  • I’m a big Chad Gable supporter these days, and I want to see him finally beat Gunther. But I’m also okay with him fighting from underneath against Bronson Reed, injuring his knee, and therefore being unable to suplex the big Aussie, and losing the match because of it. It just means that he is on the classic hero’s journey, overcoming giants to earn his spot against the final boss. I’d kind of like to see him win the Royal Rumble, tell Roman and (probably) Seth that they’re off the hook for now, because he wants Gunther at WrestleMania.
Chad Gable tries to German Suplex Bronson Reed on WWE RAW September 18 2023
  • Despite what I said last week, Becky Lynch as NXT Women’s Champion is cool. It’s nice to see her with a title again, and it’s nice she’ll help to build, and hopefully even put over, some younger talent. A match against Natalya was not that, as Lynch even remarked before the bout. It was a hard-hitting match, and both women seemed to fight it out aggressively, which I like to see. But next time, no more Becky versus veterans, okay? She just came out of a feud with the ultimate veteran Trish Stratus on top, so time for The Man to move on.
Becky Lynch after retaining the NXT Women’s Championship in a match against Natalya on WWE RAW September 18 2023
  • As Gable is climbing the mountain again for the moment, it looks like Tommaso Ciampa will be Gunther’s next opponent Giovanni Vinci. It was a good, serviceable match, but even with Ludwig Kaiser cheating at ringside, and especially with The Ring General watching backstage on a monitor, you just know that Ciampa would win, take a step closer to an Intercontinental Championship match, and create more drama for Vinci within Imperium.
  • And then Main Event Jey Uso was in the main event versus Drew McIntyre. This was a hot match, and with it starting 20 minutes before the end of the show, it was given a bit of time to breathe, like some of the other matches of the night. Of course, Judgement Day (sans Rhea) made their way to the ring halfway through, and, of course, they interfered on Uso’s behalf. Jey took the help at first, also accepting Priest’s fist bump, but then he made his choice. He took out the three Judgement Day members at ringside, and ate a Claymore from McIntyre and lost the match for his troubles. It was the right choice, and the only one that made any sense. Can you imagine Main Event Jey and Dirty Dom giving promos after each other? I mean, that would be hilarious, but terrible. Plus Jey finally got some major character development, and it would be terrible to waste that (unless they were planning on turning Judgement Day face to fight The Bloodline).
The Judgement Day attack Jey Uso on WWE RAW September 18 2023

RAW ended with Jey Uso making his choice, but Drew McIntyre made one, too. After the Judgement Day post-match beatdown on Uso, Drew thought about coming back to help, but turned away and left. Hopefully this is the first major step in a solid heel turn that will bring him back to the top of the card. Cody did make the save, but no KO and Sami. So I only hope this doesn’t mean there will be a heel turn for KO in the future. Fingers crossed.

This was a solid episode of WWE RAW with a developing throughline, and some surprisingly good matches that were allowed to breathe.

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