August 30’s broadcast of Monday Night Raw, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. A couple of advertised matches on the card didn’t take place at all, such as John Morrison v. Miz, and Sheamus v. Bobby Lashley. Despite the chaos, Damian Priest was able to save the day and have a moment in the sun with his open challenge for the United States championship.
The former NXT North American champion’s time on the main roster, at Raw, has been spotty. Upon his arrival, he was the mouthpiece and tag team partner of moonlighting rapper Bad Bunny. The lifelong pro wrestling fan, and Grammy winner, Bad Bunny held his own with both backstage segments and in the ring, and he and Priest had good chemistry. Their feud with Miz and Morrison was a good comic program. However, Priest floundered a bit just as he was beginning to carry the storyline on his own after Bad Bunny’s departure-Miz’s injury at WrestleMania: Backlash killed the momentum.
Things picked up for Priest in the build-up to August 21’s SummerSlam. He called out then-United States champion Sheamus for his ill-treatment of opponents like Humberto Carrillo, resulting in a match between Priest and Sheamus at SummerSlam. Sheamus built heat with the Allegiant Stadium crowd by lambasting them that they were “not worthy of him”, and by the time Damian Priest claimed the United States Championship from Sheamus the Las Vegas crowd were delighted with the change in guard.
On August 30, Damian Priest opened Raw, finally getting a chance to showcase the cocky charisma that served him so well on NXT. As he reeled off the names of former US champions, it was a good moment not only for Priest but for the title itself, which sometimes tends to languish.
His challenge was answered by Sheamus, naturally seeking what he recently lost, but also by Lashley, another former United States champion, Riddle, and Randy Orton. Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville decided to split the difference, declaring a tag match pitting RK-Bro against MVP and Lashley, and a triple threat for the United States championship between Sheamus, McIntyre, and Priest.
Sheamus and McIntyre, old friends and former tag team partners, need little pretext to conjure a story of internal strife boiling over into aggression between the two. The action of the three-way bout was sometimes focused between the two of them, their duel rippling with familiarity and psychology. Once McIntyre vanquished Sheamus, it was down to Priest, who utilized his martial arts background for a kick to McIntyre, hit his finisher the “Reckoning”, and scored a pinfall victory, retaining the United States championship. A winded McIntyre made it to his feet, composed himself, and, echoing the end of the 1-2-3- Kid’s challenge to Bret Hart for the WWE/F championship, the two shared a respectful hug.
Although he’s already a Triple Crown champion, McIntyre has never held the United States title. If he stays in the mix for the belt, his nascent rivalry with Priest may grow increasingly less friendly. The “Scottish Warrior” is at his best when he gets a little psycho, whereas “The Archer of Infamy” thrives when he can show off his cheeky sang froid. If August 30’s Raw presents more to come, a McIntyre/Priest feud would be a great stage for both talents.