7 Ups & 5 Downs From WWE Raw (8 Aug)
Ciampa vs. Lashley and Dexter Lumis (!) highlight another solid Triple H-helmed Raw.
Cleveland, Ohio hosted Triple H's second Raw episode unhindered by existing SummerSlam story commitments last night - and it passed without an appearance from hometown hero Johnny Gargano.
Tipped for a WWE comeback following Vince McMahon's resignation and Triple H's ascent to creative power, the former NXT Champion didn't show up for what would've been a huge, popping appearance, instead making way for a former stablemate. Dexter Lumis crept back into the company through a night of angles atypical of WWE, as the transition from Vince-approved content to Hunter-helmed black-and-gold-isms continues.
Like last week's table-setting Raw, this was a good, solid night of wrestling that made a lot more sense than most to come from McMahon's mind over the past few years. The increased focus on what happens between the ropes and the absence of misfiring comedy remain highlights. Ciampa and Bobby Lashley's United States Title fight was a triumph, too, and the women's division feels revitalised and refocused.
But for all Raw's triumphs, the show also brought key challenges to the forefront. This is fine - Triple H's creative transformation was always likelier to be an evolution than a revolution - and it's clear he has much work to do.
Let's find out where...