Raise The Bar For Air Ivar (Raw Review)

We have arrived at the go-home episode of Raw for Backlash. The build for Backlash has been a bit of a strange one because of the tagline of “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” looming over the whole pay-per-view. Other than that, this has been a pretty nice build and I am looking forward to the matches on the Raw side of things except for Asuka/Nia because Nia is totally unsafe. Plenty to look forward to with this episode because there is the latest chapter in the game of trying to see who is better with the Street Profits and Viking Raiders and Asuka is set to take on Charlotte Flair. Rey Mysterio will also answer if he will retire or not as well. Let us dive in and see how Raw went home for Backlash.

 

Asuka vs Charlotte Flair?

It looked like Asuka versus Charlotte would start the night but that would change as soon as Sasha Banks and Bayley made their way out. Speaking of Bayley, I am pretty sure I am in the minority here at WR, but I have begun to enjoy Bayley as a heel. The cockiness she carries is coming through loud and clear and I wonder if people cannot get her early struggles out of her head to see that she is making jumps as a heel. Sasha and Bayley came out to flaunt their title win and how great they are. Charlotte would then come down and she would talk about how great she is and how they are trying to be like her. I love that when Asuka chimed in that she spoke Japanese and that Charlotte simply agreed with what she said rather than question it. The IIconics, one of my favorites, would then come out and do some joking like they do but also came in very serious. They mentioned how they beat Bayley and Sasha for the tag titles at Wrestlemania and that they plan on doing it again on Sunday. I love that the IIconics have gotten a bit more serious since their return and it reminds me of how they were in NXT. They could be comedic and entertaining but knew when to buckle down and get serious. This led to a brawl and Asuka would stand tall with Charlotte as they went to commercial.

 

Triple Threat Tag Team Match

This match was a lot of fun and really highlighted how the IIconics are much better than people give them credit for. I said it with Corbin before everybody started to talk about how effective of a heel he was, and I said it with Lacey Evans as well when people started to write her off. Those two are examples of people thinking they were worse than what they were, but people have now turned the corner a bit on them. I think the same is primed to happen with the IIconics because they have been impressive ever since their return. Peyton had a nice sequence with Sasha in the beginning of the match and Billie look good as well when she tagged in. It is amazing what can happen when you are given a chance in a match and not stuck in short matches where you cannot really work. I love how Asuka and Charlotte kept tagging in and out at various times to show the other how good she was. Sasha and Bayley were great here as well and this was a very fun opening match. Back and forth between all three teams and Asuka would end up picking up the win when she tagged Charlotte before she could do her awful moonsault. Charlotte would end up hitting Asuka after the match and we would also find out during this match that the two would still have their one-on-one match later in the night.

 

Rey Mysterio Interview

I was worried when I saw this would be an interview segment because WWE has not done a good job with these at all. I was glad to see Seth Rollins appear and he made this interview segment much more enjoyable. I love that he kicked Byron out of his seat and waited for the interview to commence. Rey gave an update on his medical condition and how he is unsure when he will be cleared. He turned his attention to Seth and quickly told him how he will get his revenge on him for injuring his eye. He said he will pay for what he did to him and his family and he had a 619 ready for him. I loved Seth’s response because it is totally what someone that perceives himself as the messiah would say. He said he didn’t want Rey to keep on lying about his sacrifice because that will take away from it. The interview kept going and Aleister Black would appear out of nowhere to attack Seth with a well-executed dive onto him across the announce table. They would go to commercial as Aleister was attacking Seth.

 

Aleister Black & Humberto Carrillo vs Austin Theory & Murphy

They keep trying with Humberto, but the man is offering less than nothing at this point. I understand giving people a chance but there have been no signs of him showing anything other than his in-ring talents. Someone like Ricochet would be much better in this role because he knows how to emote and has also tagged with Aleister so there is history there. This was a rather short match, but they did pack in a lot during it. Tons of back and forth but Aleister would win it for his team after he hit Murphy with a knee. The heels would beat down the faces after the match when Seth Rollins came out to Rey’s entrance music and mask to cause the distraction. They beat down Humberto and Aleister after the match and I wonder where this is all heading.

 

Randy Orton Interview

This interview was short and to the point. Randy kept talking about the match on Sunday with Edge and he wondered how many guests would be at the Peep Show tonight. Charly told him that Edge would be the only guest and he said there might be one more. Not much to say here but Randy did a good enough job.

 

The Peep Show

This segment really took me by surprise and gave a refresher in just how good Christian is on the mic. Edge and Christian were that tag team that had two great people on the mic, and they gave a lesson front and center to the PC trainees in the crowd. I was expecting for Christian to talk up Edge going into his match with Randy Orton, but it was the total opposite. He flat out told Edge that he thinks he doesn’t have it anymore and that this will do no favors for his legacy. I loved Edge’s reaction to everything Christian was saying because he was totally shocked by what he said. It would look like Christian would start possibly talking up Edge, but he would just continue with the barrage of him saying he thinks Edge is making a mistake. I loved how Edge responded to this because he may have doubts, but he is certain he can do it once more. I love how Christian told Edge that he was waiting for the Edge he knew to show up and he finally did. Randy Orton would then appear on the screen and talk some more about how he will beat Edge. Honestly, I could have done without the Randy stuff for this segment and I am sure that if Christian were cleared, he would have probably eaten and RKO from Randy here and left Edge fuming. In fact, I think that is what this segment was missing but sadly Christian is apparently not cleared so he cannot take that bump. Really good segment and both Edge and Christian totally nailed this one.

 

MVP Backstage

First off, loved that MVP was wearing a Shad Gaspard shirt in memorial to the late Shad. I know many were distraught over WWE not doing a video package for him but, even though Triple H hinted they may do one, I can see why they didn’t. WWE tends to only do video packages for the top tier legends and Shad didn’t fit that mold. I hope that they honor him whenever the WWE Hall of Fame happens, and they should give him the Warrior Award and have JTG and his wife say some words about him. That would be the honorable thing to do. Back to the segment and MVP has been great since appearing on Raw on a more frequent basis. I love how certain he is that Lashley will win and then things took a different turn. R-Truth appeared, and MVP wondered what he was doing. He told him he was trying to hide, and MVP called him a clown for that. Lashley would then appear and put Truth in the Full Nelson once again. Lashley really doesn’t like Truth and I wish I could understand why.

 

The Street Profits & Viking Raiders Decathlon

This was my favorite of these segments by far and they only work because both teams are invested in them. If they did not try, these segments would just fall flat on their face. Each team chose an event in the decathlon and they would end up tied once again. The Profits won in the 1600-meter race, hurdles, flip cup, dance competition and the shotput. The Vikings would end up winning in sword fighting, stick fighting, turkey leg eating, the pole vault and archery. This was just hilarious from start to finish and I love how Ivar continues to be a ladies man. It will be interesting to see how they resolve the tie and I would venture to guess it will be with a tag title match at Backlash that could possibly be a nice surprise of a match if given the chance.

 

Kevin Owens vs Angel Garza vs Andrade

This was a darn good match and I love how Garza and Andrade continue to fight with one another. Apollo Crews appeared before the match and gave a short promo that really didn’t go anywhere. Andrade and Garza would end up coming out and Owens attacked them from behind before they could get into the ring. The action in this match was great and all three men had a chance to shine in it. I love how the infighting between Andrade and Garza slowly built until they just couldn’t hold back anymore. Zelina tried to calm them down on the outside but she was thrown to the ground by the both of them and she would not be a factor for the rest of the match as she was helped to the back. Great back and forth throughout the match with all three men and I really didn’t know who would come out on top. Owens looked to have the match won after hitting Garza with a Stunner, but Andrade would kick him off and claim the victory for himself. Andrade will now face Apollo at Backlash and that should be a good match. I loved how later in the night Andrade and Garza were shown arguing backstage and Zelina walked up to them looking very angry. She stopped them before they could explain and simply pointed in a direction for them to go to. Andrade and Garza are both Latinos and they know that you never make a Latina angry because it will never end well for you and I love that they sold that on their faces when she showed up.

 

Charlotte Flair Backstage

This was a short interview but definitely did its job. Charlotte spoke about how she lost at TakeOver and pointed out that she didn’t eat the pin and that Rhea was the real loser. She spoke about her upcoming with Asuka and how she plans on beating her. Asuka would then appear dancing her way in as she has come accustomed to doing and I love how Charlotte asked her if she ever takes herself seriously. That would lead to Asuka slapping Charlotte and walking off. I love how Charlotte smiled at that slap as a way of knowing she was in for a fight in the main event and she was happy about that.

 

Kurt Angle Video

Like HBK and Flair before him, Angle took the time to speak about the Edge/Orton match on Sunday. Like those segments, this didn’t do it for me and is totally skippable. He picked Edge in the match and nothing much else to say about it.

 

Viking Raiders Backstage

This segment was plenty of fun and it was shocking to see how Drew McIntyre made the Viking Raiders look small. I don’t know if it was how they filmed it or if Drew is really that big, but it really made an impact. They asked him if he was ready to join the raid and he said he still had to think about it. These three had a ton of fun together and makes me wonder what a trio of these three could look like. That would be quite the force if I do say so myself. Drew told them that he had a party planned for them after Raw and I love how Ivar was excited for turkey legs. Drew told them to keep an eye on the VIP Lounge because you never know what will happen. Fun little segment and Drew looks like a million bucks.

 

VIP Lounge

MVP was in the ring and started to hype up Bobby Lashley by listing how good he is. He thought Lashley was coming out, but Drew McIntyre came out instead. I love how Drew complimented MVP on the job he did in introducing him and how he left out that he was champion. MVP did a great job in looking angry at Drew for coming out because Lashley was his intended guest. These two have great chemistry with each other on the mic and it shows every time they are in the ring together. Lashley would eventually appear behind Drew but he was ready for him. MVP tried to sneak attack Drew from behind, but he ate a Glasgow Kiss from him instead. The Viking Raiders and Street Profits would end up coming down to prevent Lashley from attacking Drew and they would go to commercial. Fun segment here and Drew continues to shine like a bright star as champion.

 

The Viking Raiders vs MVP & Lashley

I was going to grade this match a bit higher, but I had to ding it a bit. The reason being that they did an interview during the match with Lana in the back and it totally took away from a very fun match. Lashley worked really well with both Ivar and Erik and I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a one-on-one match between Lashley and either of the Viking Raiders. Drew took a seat ringside and the Profits sat by the commentary table during this match. Really fun back and forth and this was probably MVP’s best match to date, and I think it really had to do with the tag team setting. MVP is up there in years and can still go but being in a tag match does help to hide your age a bit. Really fun back and forth and this was a solid match. Lashley would end up picking up the win for his team however and was looking strong in front of the champion. Lashley put Ivar in the Full Nelson after the match and the Street Profits tried to pull him off to no avail. Drew would hit Lashley with a Claymore and that would send him out of the ring. Drew stood tall in the ring and would tell Lashley on the ramp that he wants Lashley’s best on Sunday. The two had a great match in Impact for the world title and I think they have the potential to have a good one on Sunday.

 

Asuka vs Charlotte Flair

These two have had great matches in their history but this match, in my opinion, was their best match to date. This was a pay-per-view quality match in the main event of Raw and that just speaks to how amazing their chemistry is and how great Charlotte and Asuka are. Bayley and Sasha Banks would join commentary, but they would stay for too long. The IIconics would appear among the PC trainees and would eventually take out the tag champs with an attack. The IIconics are more serious and I love every minute of it. It really is hard to describe a match between Asuka and Charlotte Flair because everything has been said already. As I said earlier, the two have amazing chemistry and this match was an absolute banger of a main event. Charlotte continues to show why I think she is the best female wrestler on the planet and Asuka is right up there as well. This was a great back and forth affair and both ladies brought it in the main event. Honestly, no words can do it justice because this was one of the best matches of the year in my eyes. Nia Jax would end up coming out and caused a distraction that would allow Charlotte to pick up the not so clean win. Nia would hit Asuka with a Samoan Drop in the ring after the match and that was that. Not the ending I wanted but that was not enough to take away from an amazing main event.

 

Final Statement

This was a really good go-home episode of Raw for Backlash with plenty of good things to behold. The opening segment and match were great, and the main event was pay-per-view worthy. The tag match between the Viking Raiders and MVP/Lashley was a ton of fun as well but was hampered by the in-match interview. The triple threat match between Garza, Owens and Andrade was a lot of fun as well and the decathlon was the best segment between the Street Profits and Viking Raiders to date. The Peep Show was great as well and Christian reminded everybody just how good on the mic he truly is. The VIP Lounge was good as well and really helped to set the stage for Lashley/McIntyre. The only real low point was the Angle promo video for Edge/Orton because it is not needed at all. Overall, really good go-home episode of Raw for Backlash. Speaking of Backlash, make sure you join us on Sunday for Backlash as we will be having a Dignified Discussion for the event and should be a fun time. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you next week for another Sovereign Statement.