The first two hours of Raw have been the best they've been in a while. With ratings down and Vince McMahon backed into a corner, he tore up the scripts and rewrote the show at the last minute. And so far, it's worked. Raw has been on point. But all night, there have been weird technical glitches happening, teasing some kind of sabotage happening. And at the same time, Shane McMahon has been promoting something called Raw Underground. As viewers at home, we didn't know it at the time. But this was the moment things were about to go horribly, horribly wrong.
This is the fourth and final part of our Raw report. If you haven't read the first three, scroll to the bottom (without looking at spoilers) for the table of contents.
WWE Raw 8/3/2020 Part 4 – Raw Underground
Shane McMahon welcomes everyone to Raw Underground, an unsanctioned fight club where anything goes, and where there are go-go dancers. Shane introduces a match. Or not a match. Raymond Dabba-Kato? He beats the crap out of a much smaller guy. Shane asks who wants to go next. Another small guy takes the challenge, and Dabba-Kato beats him up. The matches end when Shane feels one of the opponents has had enough of Dabba-Kato punching them in the head. Dabba-Kato tosses his opponent from the ring. The go-go dancers dance. Shane asks for the next fighter. And then it's back to the regular Raw announcers, who talk about how great Raw Underground was. Was it?
The Street Profits come to the ring and cut a promo, but I'm still trying to process this Raw Underground stuff. Angelo Dawkins tries to hit on the girl from The Bachelor I think. And Montez Ford makes fun of Angel Garza's tracksuit. At SummerSlam, the Street Profits are gonna win or something. They want the smoke. You know the deal. But seriously, what the hell is going on with this Raw Underground thing?
Okay, gotta get it together here. Andrade and Angel Garza come out with Zelina Vega. They're having a match apparently. But there's a commercial break now, so it's just some chaos leading up to that to start.
Angelo Dawkins vs. Angel Garza
Dawkins is fighting Angel Garza in a singles match when Raw returns. He hits a dropkick. I don't care about any of this. All I want is more of this incredible concept, Raw Underground. The concept that will finally get WWE out of its ratings slump. I need to know more about this. Is it all a dream? Uh, somewhere, Montez Ford got hurt outside, distracting Dawkins, allowing Garza to pin him. Apparently Ford just "collapsed" at Ringside. What is that about? Did someone drug his solo cup? Did his brain simply shut down because it can't cope with the mystery of Raw Underground?
Winner: Angel Garza
Well, that was weird. Raw goes to commercials.
Montez Ford vs. Andrade
Montez Ford is fighting Andrade in a singles match now. What? The announcers say Ford wouldn't be allowed to compete if he didn't say he was okay? Really? That's all it takes? The guy just collapsed at ringside. This doesn't make any sense. Andrade is beating the crap out of Ford. The announcers say Ford is "having trouble steadying himself." He rolls out of the ring and Andrade follows. Ford shoves him into the barrier. Back inside, Ford puts the boots on Andrade, but Andrade gets away. He leans outside the ring to get a break from the official, then sneak-attacks Ford. Andrade is just hammering on Ford as the announcers point to his "glazed overlook." Ford kicks out of a pin after a snap suplex. Andrade puts him in a headlock. Ford fights back. He hits some big clotheslines. Ford is fired up, but Andrade kicks him in the chest and hops up to the top turnbuckle. Ford dropkicks him to the floor, then hits a running dive over the top rope. He shakes the ropes… and falls over unconscious. The ref stops the match and calls for a doctor. Is there a doctor in the house?! A doctor comes out and tends to Ford. Okay.
Winner: Andrade, I guess?
Backstage, Buddy Murphy is obsessively watching the video of himself attacking Aleister Black last week. Or was it Humberto Carillo? I can't keep track. Somebody got their eye popped out because that's just what happens now. Seth Rollins says he's proud of Murphy. The past is the past, and tonight they must focus on the future. Murphy asks Rollins if he's thought about Dominik Mysterio's challenge for SummerSlam. he's not even a wrestler, and Rollins sacrificed his father. It's ridiculous, isn't it? Rollins just walks away. Raw goes to commercials.
Erik vs. Rando – Raw Underground
Yes, Raw Underground is back! Shane gives a pep talk to the go-go dancers. The Viking Raiders are here for some reason. Erik is fighting some random person. Erik beats the crap out of him with a combination of this worked fight club style and traditional wrestling moves. Shane calls the match after a headbutt from Erik and declares him the winner. Erik's opponent is knocked out.
Samoa Joe and Tom Phillips talk this up as the greatest thing that's ever happened, but Phillips has to get serious for a moment. He recaps what we just saw before the commercial break because naturally, the mind-shattering wonder of Raw Underground has wiped our brains of any other knowledge.
Charly Caruso is backstage outside the trainer's room waiting for info on Ford. Angel Garza shows up to hit on Charly. Zelina walks up and expresses concern for Montez Ford. But if he can't compete, then… he'll have to forfeit the titles, right. Angelo Dawkins comes out and says the doctor says Ford may have been poisoned. Bianca Belair comes out and wants to know what Zelina did. Zelina denies she had anything to do it. Belair says her husband has been poisoned and she knows Zelina had something to do with it. Zelina still denies it, so Belair attacks her. They get pulled apart. Byron Saxton calls it "a very testy situation." Ya think, Byron? A man was poisoned. Or drugged. And then wrestled a match. I think he has a good case for a lawsuit! I think I may have a good case for a lawsuit for being made to watch it!
Phillips shows us some footage from outside the Performance Center. Some people in hoodies firebombed some random boxes which are meant to be generators because they have very conspicuous power cords running out of them. Is this why Ryan Satin was preemptively apologizing for WWE earlier by claiming this secret new faction was "not political?" Because they're doing an obvious work about protestors? Hahaha. Hahahahahaha. This Raw has gone completely off the rails but I can't look away from it. Commercials.
Charly Caruso talks to MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Shelton Benjamin about them losing all their championships. MVP doesn't like this. He talks about the glitches tonight and Raw Underground and protestors with Molotov cocktails and people getting poisoned. He says this is sabotage. Benjamin thinks it's strange that this sabotage happened the same night as Raw Underground. Charly says all she knows is Raw Underground is the greatest thing ever to happen, obviously, because what else could anyone possibly think of this television gold? But as far as she knows they're just hosting super cool unsanctioned fights. MVP has an idea. Hurt Business head to Raw Underground.
Video package about Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio. Then a replay of Rollins talking to Dominik Mysterio last week. Seth Rollins finally comes out with Buddy Murphy. I think they've killed about twenty minutes with this video package and entrance. Or maybe I've just lost all concept of the meaning of time. I don't know. No one knows. Raw tonight has shattered the very fabric of reality.
But across all time and space, one thing remains constant. Seth Rollins is gonna cut a long-ass, pointless promo. Before Rollins responds to Dominik Mysterio's challenge, he and Murphy have some housekeeping to tend to. Rollins calls out Tom Phillips. He's sick of all the overly long replays too? Oh, he wants to ask Phillips a few questions. Does Phillips consider himself a professional? Does he consider himself an unbiased journalist? Does he take pride in his job and his body of work? What was Phillips doing last week when Rey Mysterio's "stupid kid" was assaulting Seth with a kendo stick. Rollins jogs his memory. He was cheering Dominik on, inciting his raise. Seth says Tom's voice matters. What he says matters. He's the voice of Monday Night Raw, so he's a part of the greater good whether he likes it or not. What he says is important because the people at home hear what he says. It goes into their little brains and that's what they think. It's his job to call it down the middle. When he slants things, he's creating bias and doing a poor job. And if he's doing a poor job, he becomes a liability.
Rollins thinks the time has come to find a new voice of Monday Night Raw. He orders Murphy to take Tom Phillips. Samoa Joe stands up. He asks if Seth thought he could bully Joe's broadcast partner. Joe tells Rollins to get in the ring and make the point he was gonna make, or Joe can slap him in the face and beat the crap out of his disciple. Joe says he was laughing harder than anybody when Seth got beat down last week. Seth tells Joe he doesn't want to do this. Joe tells Seth he does and takes off his headset. Rollins and Murphy roll into the ring. Rollins tells Joe to get in the ring, and whatever happens, isn't Seth's responsibility. Raw goes to commercials.
Raw is over in less than ten minutes and for the first time in years? Decades? I don't want it to end. Tonight has been… so god damn weird.
Rollins and Murphy are egging Samoa Joe into the ring with steel chairs in hand. Dominik Mysterio attacks them from behind with a kendo stick and beats the crap out of them. Dominik hits the 619 on Rollins and climbs to the top rope. He hits a dive onto Rollins and Murphy on the outside. They flee. Dominik holds the ring. Damn, that 619 would have gotten a huge pop if there was a real crowd in the building. Rollins grabs a mic. He says he's had enough. Mysterio wants to fight him at SummerSlam? Rollins accepts. Samoa Joe is back at the announce table. Tom Phillips looks like he needs a change of underwear. Byron Saxton says there's one more fight left at Raw Underground. Oh, good.
Dolph Ziggler is in the ring on Raw Underground. Dear god, why? He humps a random opponent into submission. Hurt Business shows up. Bobby Lashley hops in the ring while MVP grabs the mic. He has an announcement on behalf of the CEO of the Hurt Business. Raw Underground is under new management. The Hurt Business is now controlling Raw Underground. And since people came to right, let's fight. MVP invites someone to get into the "ring" with Lashley. Someone does. Lashley annihilates him.
MVP wants some action now. He takes off his jacket. The go-go dancers shake their butts in approval. MVP picks a really small guy out of the crowd and has his friends toss him into the ring. MVP beats the crap out of him. MVP wants to know who's next. A bigger guy gets in the ring. Is that Dio Madden? I think that's Dio Madden. Benjamin takes him down real fast and beats the crap out of him. MVP asks for anybody else. No one is volunteering, so they hop down into the crowd and start beating up everyone.
Shane McMahon says Hurt Business have proven their point. They can hang around. Anything goes on Raw Underground. It's that kind of place. He tells them that was amazing. Shane thanks them and says he can't wait to see what happens on Raw Underground next week. MVP says they are the Hurt Business and business is booming. Raw goes off the air. I will now sit here in silence for at least ten minutes. try to reckon with what I've just seen.
Okay. Look. Was this, in the strictest sense, "good?" No. Raw Underground is not good. Does it make any sense? No, it does not. But was it boring? No, it most certainly wasn't boring. And for all of WWE's flaws, the one that's really been killing them for decades is not nonsensical storylines or bad angles or lack of stars. Those things are all important, but they're not the killer flaw. The killer flaw is that Raw, 99% of the time, is f**king boring. It's predictable, nothing happens, and it takes too long for nothing to happen. But tonight… whatever it was… wasn't boring.
Of course, throwing a bunch of crazy s**t at the wall on an episode of Raw and shaking things up for one night is one thing. Keeping the show interesting consistently over time is another. I'm significantly less sure of WWE's ability to make this interesting for more than a single week. Frankly, they have a very poor track record at that. We'll have to see.
Before all of this happened though, Raw was legitimately on a roll. McIntyre/Orton, Banks/Bayley/Baszler/Asuka, the Riott Squad, and Hurt Business are all clicking. But Montez Ford being poisoned? Not so much. A random appearance of someone from The Bachelor? Why? Raw Underground? Well, we've talked about that already. Oh, and then there's the protestors. I almost forgot about the protestors. What the f**k is up with the protestors? Why are they trying to destroy the WWE Performance Center? Burning generators? Pushing over boxes? Briefly cutting the microphones off? What evil scheme are these hooligans in hoodies up to?!
Raw fell apart in the third hour, but I can live with falling apart over tedium. I'll be interested in seeing where all of this goes. And if it all goes to hell, like it did tonight? Well, it'll still be better than a regular Raw.