This is the first Raw after the Royal Rumble and it also means that we are officially on the road to Wrestlemania. This usually leads to some of the best episodes of Raw, so I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Edge is also scheduled to be on Raw after making his long-rumored return to the ring last night. Before we do dive into Raw, indulge me a bit because the whole world was shocked on Sunday over the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and, as a native of the Los Angeles area, I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to him.
I will start off by saying that I grew up a Lakers fan but would eventually follow Shaq to the Heat and become a Heat faithful since. I was never the biggest Kobe fan but living in LA, there was no denying the impact the man made in the community. He transcended the sport of basketball and was a global icon. I awoke to the news with multiple notifications on my phone and I couldn’t believe it until I read it and saw the news on ESPN. The news hit me harder than I thought it would and totally took me by surprise. There was, and still is, a cloud over the LA area and the sadness can still be felt over this shocking news. There were many tributes from many people across the entertainment industry and that shows the impact he made. He was more than a basketball player he was a man that touched everybody. The part that made it even more tragic was the fact that his daughter Gianna was in the helicopter as well. There were other people in the helicopter that died as well and this whole story rocked the LA area. Kobe was a man that had his faults and had his share of controversies, but he became someone who would become the icon of LA unlike any people before him. He became a loving father and was mentoring Gianna through her journey as a growing basketball player. I was touched that WWE paid tribute to him, his daughter and everyone else that died in the helicopter crash and that shows that he truly did touch the lives of everybody. Rest in peace Kobe, Gianna and everyone else that we lost in this tragic helicopter crash.
Drew McIntyre In-Ring
Drew didn’t waste any time and made his way out to the ring to celebrate and talk about his win in the Royal Rumble. He was greeted with cheers and chants of “you deserve it!” and boy does he indeed. If you ever hear Drew talk about wrestling, you will hear a man that is totally dedicated to his craft and one that acknowledges he wasn’t quite ready during his first run in WWE. You could jus see how much the chants and the win mean to him because he knows that he has worked his butt off to get to a place where he could be in this position. McIntyre then cut right to the chase and said he is coming for Brock. I am giddy over the prospect of that match and I hope that Brock is up for it because that match could be the crowning of Drew McIntyre and I am all for that. McIntyre then issued a challenge to anybody in the back and out came Gallows and Anderson. They both wanted a match with him, and Drew said he would take both men on. Drew called for a referee and a handicap match would take place.
Drew McIntyre vs The OC
As a match, not much to say about it really. The OC tried their best against Drew, but he is on a wave of momentum right now and made pretty quick work of them. Drew hit Gallows and Anderson with a Claymore and pinned both men to pick up the win. McIntyre is looking dominant and I like it. Brock Lesnar then came out and attacked Drew from behind. Brock hit him with an F5 and posed with the title in the ring. The post-match attack is pretty much why I gave this a better grade than it would have otherwise gotten.
Rey Mysterio vs MVP
I wasn’t expecting to see MVP in a match on Raw and it was nice to see him. It is also nice to hear his theme again because it truly is one of the best ones that WWE has ever had. MVP is rumored to only be there for a couple more date, but I hope he impresses WWE and they keep him in some sort of role. I think he could be a valuable person and could provide some knowledge to some of the young talent. This match itself was fine enough but it seemed like the two couldn’t find their groove. I wonder if MVP had any sort of butterflies being back in WWE because you do hear that all the time from talent that have been gone for years and make their return. Decent enough match that saw Rey pick up the win with an awkward 619 and a splash.
Aleister Black vs Local Talent
Aleister is back to squashing local talent and I do not care for it. You could at least feed him one of the many jobber talents that are in the back and not use a local enhancement talent. I am not saying there isn’t a place for local talent squashes, but I think once you had your first feud, local squash matches should be in your rearview. Black hit Black Mass and that as that. Black then got on the mic and said he was done waiting for someone to fight him and now he will pick the fights. About time Aleister put the locker room on notice and I wonder who his next feud will be with.
Seth Rollins & Sir Buddy In-Ring
Seth is continuing to flourish as a heel, and I love every minute of it. I love that he told Drew McIntyre that the fans will love you and turn on you in a minute. That is so true that it isn’t even funny. Seth bragged about eliminating Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens and how Sir Buddy has made him proud so far since being his disciple. Seth then moved on and mentioned how Owens and Joe challenged them for the titles and he called them out. Owens and Joe then made their way out and were skeptical about Seth’s eagerness to fight them. They pointed out how Seth has been running and now wants to fight them. They figured he had a plan and Seth called for AOP to be put on the tron to show they were in the back. AOP were proven to be in the back after some more skepticism from Owens and Joe and the Viking Raiders came into the locker room to attack them. Owens and Joe then made their way to the ring for their title match.
Raw Tag Title Match
This match could have been really stellar but was sadly derailed a bit because Samoa Joe landed on his head on the outside when performing a dive. The bump looked scary and he was taken to the back as a precaution. I hope Joe is okay because he is right in the middle of a good storyline with Owens and Seth’s faction. Owens continued to match solo and it was still a fun match. Rollins and Buddy tried to use the numbers to their advantage, but Owens was good enough to make sure it wasn’t too big of a factor. It looked like Owens would pull of the miracle many times, but the numbers would always come into play as someone was there to breakup a pin. Fun enough match and looked like Owens would win but the numbers were too much and Seth and Buddy would retain the titles.
Becky Lynch Backstage
I was wondering where Becky was going with this backstage interview at first but then it became clear what she was doing. She was elated to have finally beaten Asuka and that she has beaten everybody she can possibly take on. She said that she will only take on whoever she wants and not who WWE wants her to take on and that came off a bit heelish to me. Not saying she is a full-blown heel, but it reminds me of when she first became the man and was a bit more of a tweener. Charly mentioned Charlotte Flair and Becky said she would beat her at Wrestlemania and that it would also be the last time she takes her on. She flaunted her new G.O.A.T. jacket and that was that. Interesting segment and makes me wonder who is next for Becky.
Andrade vs Humberto Carrillo
I honestly have no idea why Humberto is getting another title shot when he lost clean at the Rumble. It makes absolutely zero sense and I was ready to crap all over this. I keep comparing Humberto to Rocky Maivia and it really is because he is just a bland, smiling babyface with no real character. He is good in the ring but that is the only thing there is to him. The fans do not react when he comes to the ring and that is a sign that the push is not working one bit. The match itself was fine but nothing really spectacular to speak of. These two had some good matches before but this was nowhere near any of those. It looked like Humberto would pick up the win when Zelina would attack him to breakup the pin. Andrade retains even though Humberto picks up the win via disqualification. Humberto then attacked Andrade and pulled back the padding ringside and hit Andrade with the Hammerlock DDT on the exposed concrete. We would later find out that Andrade has been suspended for 30 days because he violated the Wellness Policy and that is why he is being written off. If that was the case, why not just have Humberto win instead or do they realize he isn’t over with the crowd?
Charlotte Flair In-Ring
Charlotte came down to the ring and we all thought she was there to announce who she would be facing at Wrestlemania. Charlotte bragged a bit about winning first and then said that she has yet to make up her mind about who she wants. She says she needs to think on it some more and I was wondering where they were going with this since she was in her gear. Asuka and Kairi Sane then came out and Asuka started talking to her in Japanese. Asuka then said she would have won if she was in the Rumble match. Charlotte asked Asuka if she was challenging her and Asuka and Kairi would attack Charlotte. This would lead to a match between the two after the commercial break.
Asuka vs Charlotte Flair
There are some workers that just have amazing chemistry with one another and this is the case here. Every match that Asuka and Charlotte have is great to amazing and this was another one. Really fun match between these two and I was wondering if this would be when Asuka finally beats Charlotte in a one-on-one match. Again, fun match and some really great back and forth action between these two ladies. Asuke went for various submissions on Charlotte but Charlotte would find a way to get out of them. Charlotte was then able to lock in t he Figure 8 on Asuka but before Asuka could tap, Kairi came flying off the top rope with the Insane Elbow onto Charlotte. That was a nice spot and Kairi would continue to attack Charlotte. Charlotte would eventually be able to fight off Kairi and stand tall in the ring.
Street Profits Backstage
I really am at my breaking point with these backstage segments featuring the Street Profits. These men have charisma for days, but they need to be in the ring showing off that side as well. Both men can bring it in matches, and I have no idea why 90% of the time they are on Raw that it is in some backstage segment. This is not how you get a tag team over and they have the talent to be as over as the New Day or the Usos in my humble opinion. Kelly Kelly then came into the segment and added ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!! Dawkins tried his best with his flirting, but she did nothing to react or add to this segment at all. Kelly Kelly is pretty to look at and that is about it. She is a remnant of a low point for the women of WWE and we do not need to be reminded of it by seeing her again.
Mojo Rawley vs No Way Jose
Last week I was intrigued to see what Mojo was going to do with the 24/7 Championship and now I am meh about it. Riddick Moss is now going to be his muscle and I am just left feeling meh. The match wasn’t even really anything to speak of as Mojo won easily. R-Truth then came in and rolled him up as a member of the conga line and then he lost the title back to Mojo when he tried to leave but Moss wouldn’t let him. They are trying something with Mojo but I’m not feeling it.
Lana vs Liv Morgan
I was dreading writing this match because Lana is very green in the ring as a competitor and Liv isn’t quite up to the level where she can carry someone. I am delighted to say that the match, while nothing special, was not the train wreck I thought it could be. They kept the match simple so it could match Lana’s experience and that is what made it work. Liv showed she has improved a ton since being in the Riott Squad in my opinion and I think she could have a nice future. Again, nothing special about the match but not horrible either. Liv picked up the win here and it is nice to see Lana losing in something that isn’t a talking segment.
Erick Rowan vs Local Talent
The only thing worth mentioning about this match was Byron Saxton, how nice to have him on Raw by the way, calling Rowan’s matches a bathroom break. That is the best way to sum up his current story and say it with me, SKIP!!!
The Rated R Superstar Returns
I totally marked out on Sunday when Edge’s music hit, and I am not ashamed to say it. It has been 9 years since the man has been able to wrestle because of injury and you could see how much it meant to him. The same thing happened here as you could see him fighting back tears with every chant from the crowd because he probably thought this day may never come. Edge went on to speak about what it was like for him when he retired and his journey back. I was so caught up in the moment that it was hard for me to really take notes on the segment because I turned into a fan again and sat back to experience the moment. Edge kept going on and Randy Orton came out to the ring. Orton spoke about how Edge was there for him when he was young and stupid and how he was the only one in the back to help him through it. Orton talked about reuniting Rated RKO and that should have been the sign because he would hit Edge with the RKO. Orton grabbed a chair and hit Edge over the back with it. He then put Edge’s head in the chair and teased stomping on it from the turnbuckle. Orton decided not to and walked off but would return. Orton grabbed another chair and would hit Edge with the one-man conchairto. The best part about this segment, besides Edge’s return, was Orton continuously checking on Edge to make sure he was okay and if they could keep going. We may have out opinions on him but there is no denying that he is one of the safest workers to be in the ring with and the perfect person for Edge to have his first singles match with. Great segment to close out Raw and a perfect way to turn Orton into public enemy number one.
This episode of Raw was pretty fun and had plenty of high points to speak of. Obviously, the return of Edge and the whole closing segment as a whole was a real highlight of the night. The Charlotte/Asuka match was good as well and so was the Becky promo. The Seth/Owens/Joe stuff was good as well and so was the opening promo from Drew McIntyre. The low points had to be the 24/7 Championship stuff, the Street Profits/Kelly Kelly stuff and the Erick Rowan squash. I will say that I am a bit sad to see Vic Joseph gone from Raw because I think he had really found his groove but the powers that be didn’t feel that way. Tom Phillis was solid, and it was nice to have Byron Saxton there as well, so I didn’t have to listen to Jerry all night. Jerry needs to be gone and I do not know why he is staying around for this long on commentary. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you next week for another Sovereign Statement.