With the fans finally back in the building, WWE Raw is positioned to finally end its creative slump and get back on track on the build to SummerSlam this episode. Will they pull it off? Uh… have you watched WWE in the last twenty years?
John Cena opened Raw as promised, to the cheers of an adoring crowd. Which just goes to show how far WWE has sunk that the guy who used to be the symbol of how bad WWE's booking was is now considered a relief from WWE's current far worse booking. By 2030, will I be nostalgic for the guitar playing of Rick Boogs? God, I hope not. Cena challenged Roman Reigns to a match at SummerSlam and then Riddle came out and they did a "bro" comedy routine. You can try to watch this one… but you won't see him.
You've got a super hyped crowd for the first WWE Raw with live fans in over a year, following a hot PPV where the previous generation's biggest star just returned and challenged the current generation's biggest star to a match, and that first star just opened Raw. The audience is eating out of the palm of your hand. How do you capitalize on that? If you said "book a boring-ass six-man tag match between Riddle and the Viking Raiders vs. John Morrison, AJ Styles, and Omos that stretches out past two commercial breaks before ending with a joke when Riddle takes Miz's drop stick and squirts Omos but blames it on Miz, causing a distraction that gets Morrison pinned, as the crowd collectively goes to sleep," then you might be cut out for a job as Vince McMahon. Skip it.
Jaxson Ryker defeated Elias in a Symphony of Destruction Match where I couldn't tell if the crowd was silent because they didn't care, or muted because WWE didn't want people to boo Ryker. If you can't get a Trump-loving racist over in Texas, you've really lost your way, WWE. Skip this.
Charlotte Flair cut a promo to set up the obligatory PPV rematch tonight in the main event with Rhea Ripley. Watch it just for Charlotte trash-talking Becky Lynch.
Natalya and Tamina beat Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. Afterward, Nia turned on Reginald, blaming him for the loss, bringing this six-month angle that spent the last five months treading water to an end. Afterward, Reginald won the 24/7 Championship for some reason. Skip it.
After weeks of getting his ass kicked by Sheamus, Humberto Carrillo finally got another shot at Sheamus with an additional shot for the title on the line, but he lost anyway. Way to make a star. Skip it.
After months of vague-tweeting about how badly he wants to tell everyone where he's been since January, while his girlfriend simultaneously yells at everyone on Twitter for speculating on where he's been since January, Keith Lee made his triumphant return to Raw to interrupt Bobby Lashley's promo and then lose to him in a match, only to set up Goldberg returning to inform Lashley that Goldberg is next. Yeah, that was definitely worth the wait, Keith.
Jinder Mahal, Veer, and Shanky cut a promo on Drew McIntyre, only for McIntyre to interrupt, chase off Mahal and Veer, and then beat Shanky brutally with a chair 20 times as the bloodthirsty crowd cheered. Personally, I just felt bad for Shanky. McIntyre is played out and needs to go away for six months. Maybe he can hide out wherever Keith Lee was hiding. Skip this.
NXT Champion Karrion Kross made his Raw debut (sans Scarlett) for some reason, only to lose by rollup in a match to Jeff Hardy, who is literally a jobber in WWE now. What the @#$%?
Eva Marie and Doudrop visited Alexa Bliss in Alexa's playground, which is still being filmed in a back room surrounded by LED screens despite the return to live crowds. Alexa's stupid doll was back and she magically made Eva Marie trip and fall. Thrilling. Skip it.
Charlotte beat Rhea Ripley once again to retain the Raw Women's Championship, but Rhea beat her up some after the match and then Nikki Cross cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase and won the title, which, when added to the John Cena promo from earlier, makes for two interesting things happening on the entire show.
If WWE has proven nothing else over the last twenty years, it's that there's no opportunity they cannot squander. Despite quite possibly the highest level of interest in years in an episode of Raw thanks to Cena's return, and despite a Money in the Bank cash-in, WWE still managed to put on a boring show filled with poor booking decisions and pointless wastes of time. So welcome to the new era of WWE Raw… same as the old era of WWE Raw.