The November 13th, 2023 RAW from the packed Capital One Arena in Washington, DC promised some real development, being just under a couple of weeks ahead of Survivor Series. So, as with my Smackdown review last Friday, I’m going to present my observations as I had them in the moment, rather than with the knowledge of having watched the whole show.

Here are my thoughts:

  • It’s well known that no one does recap packages like WWE, but the one that kicked off something special. I love how they slowly started cutting in the WarGames imagery and playing snippets of Ozzy Osbourne’s War Pigs over Adam Pearce’s fiery promo from last week, before turning the recap into a full-on ad for the upcoming Survivor Series match. Really well done!
  • Wow, this is a hot crowd. Cody Rhodes was a great choice to start with. And his WarGames partners Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, and World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin'” Rollins, all with entrance music fans can sing along, or move along with, kept the momentum up.
Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins, and Cody Rhodes kick off WWE RAW November 13, 2023
  • That bit of verbal sparring after Judgement Day minus Rhea Ripley, and plus JD McDonagh, came out to the ring, was great. Yeah, there were the expected crowd boos when Dominik Mysterio tried to speak, but they weren’t as distracting this time as they have been previously. I love how Cody subtly pointed to JD when Finn said that they were family. Of course, the real takeaway was that Damian says he’s the leader, when everyone knows it’s Rhea, TBH. Sure, he was goaded into it by Cody, but that is bound to cause problems later.
  • The makeshift match of McDonagh and Dirty Dom versus Sami and Seth was good at first, and we did get a Three Amigos tribute from Dom to the late, great Eddie Guerrero on the anniversary of his passing, which Michael Cole mentioned on commentary. Of course, it ended in a disqualification as the rest of both teams, and Rhea, stormed back to ringside and started fighting. Normally I’m not the biggest fan of DQ finishes, but this did get Pearce back out with another fiery promo, but most importantly, it barred Zayn, Rollins, Mysterio, and McDonagh from the arena during the tag title match at the end of the show. I think this could be to set up an unexpected turn, or maybe a return.
World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins kicks Dominik Mysterio on WWE RAW November 13 2023
  • That turned quickly. Rhea is a heel when she’s with Judgement Day, but really over with the crowd, almost early Stone Cold-style, when dealing with challengers to her Women’s World Championship. Speaking of Austin, Zoey Stark got “What?” chants, and Mami was clearly on top with the crowd.
  • I’m starting to think that maybe the person Shinsuke Nakamura is targeting and cryptically challenging may not be someone not currently on the roster, as many suspect online, but someone much more obvious: Chad Gable. Maybe these matches against
  • Speaking of the Otis match, I knew the Number One Guy wouldn’t win against Nakamura, but I’m real glad he was hard to beat, for a change, while still entertaining, as always. Otis got his crowd-preasing Caterpillar in, at least the first part of it, and he almost beat a recent PLE main eventer. Plus it took Nakamura not one, not two, but three Kinshasas to pin the big man.
Otis hits a Falling Powerslam on Shinsuke Nakamura on WWE RAW November 13 2023
  • Drew McIntyre congratulating Rollins on his Crown Jewel win was a strong moment for Drew, but I suspect it may be his final act as a babyface.

Sidebar: I wrote that as I was watching RAW, before the Main Event even started, and I Tweeted/Posted to X during the show. Proof that I’m not just pretending I didn’t already know:

  • Piper Niven hasn’t been losing that much on her own since becoming a tag champ, leave that to her partner Chelsea Green. It was nice how Tegan Nox got the win here, and this match made it believable, especially how her big comeback, hitting The Shiniest Wizard, didn’t put Niven away, but the subsequent rollup did. Plus, no one sells a defeat, even a partner’s defeat, like Chelsea, and Piper’s now a close second.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Chelsea Green and Piper Niven following Niven’s solo loss to Tegan Nox on WWE RAW November 13 2023
  • I love Ivar’s singles push, but hearing him speak was a little jarring. Nothing wrong with his promo, and I don’t know what a Viking is supposed to sound like, but it’s not that. Maybe that’s why Valhalla does the talking, as it keeps the mystique.
  • I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m glad Ludwig Kaiser got a win. Beating Tommaso Ciampa, with Giovanni Vinci’s help, reinvigorates the DIY/Imperium feud in a way simple interference in another match just can’t.
  • Turns out it’s not a problem, after all. Damian as leader works for Rhea…for WarGames, that is. Also, JD McDonagh is finally going to be officially part of Judgement Day. That was a nice way to wrap up a new issue (part of a longer, festering one, but for now, a new one), as well as something that has been dragging for months, in one single backstage segment.
  • Okay, now I get it! Xia Li’s kick is so strong it ends matches early. I thought Candice LeRae going down mid-match two weeks ago was some sort of injury angle. I didn’t associate it with why Xia was able to take Becky Lynch out of action with a sneak attack before the battle royal last week. But now with Indi Hartwell going down mid-match this week, just like Candice, it makes sense. I think Indi needs a proper feud, but Xia versus Becky could be interesting, at least until Becky gets on her WrestleMania trajectory (versus Rhea, maybe). For now, their match next week should be a solid one, as long as Becky dodges that kick.
Becky Lynch attacking Xia Li on WWE RAW November 13 2023
  • Knowing that Ivar versus The Miz was supposed to be the match to determine who will face Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series, but had to be changed when the planned double pin last week didn’t happen, I couldn’t help but see this match through that light. This did reinforce Miz’s babyface turn, with the crowd clearly on his side, and he looked real strong fighting from underneath. I wonder how committed WWE is to the turn, as Miz did eventually triumph with the help of his feet on the ropes.
Ivar lands a Diving Splash on The Miz on WWE RAW November 13 2023
  • That Alpha Academy, Creed Brothers, and eventually New Day backstage segment was fun. Sure, it was filler, but it did get the Creeds and New Day on the show, plus the interaction between Maxxine Dupri and new RAW callup Ivy Nile was nice to see.
  • So Gunther values integrity in his own matches, as he told The Miz, but apparently values interference when it comes to his cronies’ matches. Congratulating the guy who interfered, and not the guy who won could indicate that. Or just that he doesn’t like Kaiser. Time will tell.
  • Going into the Main Event, I didn’t think that Balor and Priest would lose the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships. A strong Judgement Day makes them more formidable WarGames antagonists, and the Survivor Series match is what we’re building to. I also knew that Cody needs to switch back to finishing his story pretty soon, and being a tag champ may complicate that. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, this was the place for unexpected interference and turns if there ever was one. Still, seeing Rhodes and Uso together as a team again, I started hoping that they would take the titles, as their last, brief, run was so fun. I also started to think it might happen. The crowd chanting “Yeet” for every punch Jey hit proved that I wasn’t the only one thinking it. Both teams looked strong, and there were plenty of hope spots, and some nice hot tags. Of course, when Uso and Rhodes hit the Cody 1D and Priest kicked out, I realized that the team I never knew I wanted until they won the titles wasn’t going to win them back.
Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes hit the Cody 1-D on Finn Bálor during the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship Match closing off WWE RAW November 13 2023
  • And yes, when Jey rolled out of the ring, there he was. Drew McIntyre delivering the Claymore on Uso before rolling him back into the ring so Balor could get the pin and retain. And just in case you were thinking that this was just Drew getting some revenge on Jey, and not a full heel turn, RAW went off the air with McIntyre shaking hands with Rhea Ripley. I’m pretty sure Drew is not the sixth member of Judgement Day going forward, rather the fifth member of their WarGames team. Not part of their “family”, more like a hired gun that works for them, and with them, occasionally, but the rest of the time will be a full-on heel. I think he’d be a real interesting heel champion.
Rhea Ripley and Drew McIntyre after shaking hands on WWE RAW November 13 2023

RAW went off the air my paying off months of hints and speculation with a heel turn that not only made sense in kayfabe, and felt earned, but also opened the floodgates for speculation on who the fifth member of Team Cody at WarGames would be. Things are moving fast on RAW, and in WWE in general.

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