Hey, kids! It’s the Botching One with Sovereign Sam for another Eye-To-Eye stare down over this week’s Raw. I love that they began with a memory card for Butch Reed. He really did have quite the run throughout the territories and he was a lot of fun in WWF/E for a couple of years. In fact, my name here (formerly Botch Reed) was inspired by him. I was always a huge fan of his and I always will be. Sleep well, Hacksaw…
Flashback – Drew & Sheamus
This feud is going to be delectable. They really have been friends since their time in Irish Whip wrestling ages ago. While I do feel that this feud ramped up too fast, the promos and ring work we’ll get from them will likely make us forget that. Fun vid!
This was fun to look back on Sheamus and Drew’s friendship and how Sheamus threw it away because he wants the WWE Championship. This feud is just beginning and you can feel it will be a good one.
In-ring segment – Adam Pearce, Shane McMahon, AJ Styles
Fun seeing Shane back…and unexpected. I just don’t know why he was there. He set up Adam to make the announcement, he reacted to it briefly, and then took off. I dunno. Anyway, this set up the Elimination Chamber match featuring Drew for the WWE Championship. We’re getting Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, The Miz, & Sheamus. How about a game. Let’s play “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other”. Like…Jeff Hardy? Why? His promo work is leaden and, surely, there are others more deserving of that spot.
AJ came out and things became really fun. Adam’s reactions were so dead on. AJ heels well too so this was fun.
I wondered why Pearce was in the ring and was intrigued when Shane made his return. I was expecting something great but it was just to announce the participants in the Elimination Chamber match. It just fell flat to me that Shane was there only for that and was gone. Seemed like a waste of a return for it to just be that. Shane would leave and then AJ Styles came out with Omos. I like that Shane and Omos shared a look as a bit of a throwback to when Omos was the bouncer for the poorly planned Raw Underground. AJ came out and was a bit of fun and continues to remind me why I dig him as a heel in WWE. AJ versus Jeff Hardy would be up next and we shall see how that pans out.
Backstage segment – Drew McIntyre & Shane McMahon
Brief encounter but it told a story. Both did well here. Short but sweet
Nice little interaction between these two backstage. Drew has beef with his match being changed to an Elimination Chamber one but Shane talked him into why it is a good idea. Short and sweet and that is all we needed here.
AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy
Yeah, I know I’m repetitive but the arm twist needs to go the way of bell bottoms. It’s utterly silly and it’s not possible to twist someone’s arm. I still remember the old territory days of seeing people twist each other’s arms repeatedly and it always looked silly to me. Nothing has changed. It’s just unrealistic. Yes, I’ll shut up now.
AJ and Jeff are not able to have a bad match. Jeff’s issues have never been in the ring. AJ’s attack on Jeff’s knee was really unorthodox and I like it! I dearly love AJ’s Calf Crusher. It looks absolutely vicious and AJ does it so well. Of course, it’s no good if his opponent isn’t selling it and Jeff nails there as usual. He did conveniently nearly forget about it when he climbed to the top rope. He could barely move otherwise but he got up the top rope. Gotcha. Beyond that, this was a decent match.
I have said it once and I will continue to say that it is near impossible for AJ to have a bad match. The man is in that rare class of wrestlers in history that are able to consistently have good to great to legendary matches. Jeff has always been solid in the ring, well except for Victory Road 2011, and I enjoyed how he sold his knee in this match. AJ did great in attacking it during the match as well and this was quite the solid match. AJ would end up winning with the Calf Crusher and it is nice to see him win with that since he usually doesn’t.
Backstage segment – Riddle & Keith Lee
These two couldn’t be more different…and I love it. Lee was so serious here and Riddle wouldn’t give into it at all. This was really fun simply because of the study in opposites.
Nice interaction between these two and I liked how Riddle rattled off all the movies in the Air Bud franchise. I also love how puzzled Lee was puzzled by that and how he feels like he could beat Lashley on a given day. Riddle still feels like he can beat him and we shall see who moves one step closer in their match later.
Backstage segment – Sheamus & Adam Pearce
“Are you saying ‘I’m not a draw?'” I love that! LOL! No matter who Adam’s with, he always gives us great reactions. He’s right there in it always and it really moves the story along well. Sheamus was just on fire here. He’s slightly tweaked and angrier now. I’m totally here for it.
I enjoyed this segment and with how upset Sheamus was with Pearce over being in the Elimination Chamber instead of facing Drew on his own. He then would change his tune to say he will destroy everybody and i enjoyed that. Sheamus has been putting in the best work of his career over the last few years and this was more of that.
New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. Retribution (T-Bar & Slapjack)
This was a fun match. No, really. Mustafa really came to life in a whole new way on commentary. I love his answer to “what have you done to motivate T-Bar?”. He answered, “I’ve done nothing, YOU have done it!”. Nicely done. I just can’t say enough about Mustafa here. He completely overwhelmed what was a very solid match. Fun seeing T-Bar boot Kofi in the face just as Woods was there to make the tag. Total Robert move. Mustafa became utterly apoplectic and I love it. Poor T-Ball & Slapstick. They just can’t get ahead.
P.S.: GIVE XAVIER RECKONING!!!!
Fun tag match here and T-Bar got to show a big of his athleticism we all know he has. Ali was a bit much on commentary though and I felt someone should have told him to pull it back just a tad bit because it was a bit too distracting from the match itself. Fun back and forth in the match and they are doing a good job in building to the eventual match that will happen between Kofi and Ali. I did wonder if Retribution would continue to get some wins here but the New Day would find a way to win here. Ali was not pleased over the loss and may be thinking that he needs to take care of them himself. I also agree with Botch that we need to see Woods take on Reckoning.
Backstage segment – Damian Priest & Bad Bunny
Yeah, I know the silly internet fans hate this but I don’t. Here’s the inconvenient truth: the stars in WWE aren’t really famous; they’re “niche famous”. They’re famous within wrestling circles. Bad Bunny is really famous. He’s known inside and outside music circles. If you don’t know who he is, I’m not sure I’d be proud of being that uninformed. Now that that’s out of the way…
They were fun here. Bunny is into this. He’s not like Shaq on AEW who’s just phoning it in and treating his Cody match like a total and complete joke (you can read all about that [here]). Damian is getting a nice rub off of this and we’ll see if his presence helps the ratings at all (update: sadly, it hasn’t yet). It certainly should at some point.
Nice to see these two showing their friendship and building their bond. Priest is definitely getting put in a prime position and I would not be surprised if he wins MITB this year.
Lacey Evans (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Charlotte Flair (and promo)
Ric comin’ out with that DRIP tho! You HAVE to love that suit. As for his promo…it was FANTASTIC! I’m so glad he’s pulled himself together and that he’s here for this. When Ric is on, he’s unstoppable. He hasn’t been on in years but he absolutely was here. Lacey was really fun here too and she’s really benefiting from all of this. I couldn’t be happier for her knowing her story. I love how manipulative she comes off. The only problem here is Charlotte. It’s kinda there. I just want more venom from her. There was plenty of reason for it (even if the story’s a little shaky) but she didn’t give it all to us. She wasn’t bad at all; I just wanted more.
Okay, the match. As was the case with AJ & Jeff, there’s no way this wouldn’t be fun. Lacey worked the arm really well here and Charlotte sold well too. Interesting to see an arm stretcher. We rarely see that anymore. Why Tom called it an attempted arm bar is anyone’s guess ’cause that’s not what it was. Charlotte’s chops were nice and impactful here too. Not WALTER, but impactful, though I don’t like the execution of either those chops or the busted Ric Flair Strut she does. Flair’s distraction was good too. I just can’t get over how into all of this he really was. Even that stuff on the outside. I have no idea what Charlotte’s “if you want to humiliate me, do it on your own time” meant but okay. I do like the Charlotte just lost it at the end. A new side to her that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
Botch liked this a lot more than I did and I thought Ric did fine but I could not get over how pink/red he was during this. It was quite distracting and Lacey did do well as she tends to on the mic. Charlotte would come out and they would trade some words. Lacey and Charlotte would have a bit of a fight that saw Lacey send her into the steps before their match.
This match just didn’t do much for me really. Some things didn’t click and there were some points you could see where they weren’t on the same page. One point being when Lacey did her elbow from the outside to the inside of the ring was off because Charlotte was too close to the ropes and didn’t provide Lacey with any real spot to land. The other was when Charlotte did a dead stop when running at Lacey in the corner and told Lacey to hit her. This whole thing didn’t do it for me and Lacey would win via DQ when Charlotte wouldn’t stop hitting her in the corner. Lacey gets a shot at Asuka now and I have this odd feeling she beats Asuka and then faces Charlotte at Wrestlemania where she drops the title.
In-ring segment – Edge, The Miz, John Morrison, & Angel Garza
Turns out Miz and Edge are kinda fun together. “I’m playing high stakes poker and you’re playing Old Maid”. Love that line. Whoever wrote it nailed! Great fire from Edge here. He was so confident and the rhythm of that promo was just life-giving. I also love that Miz isn’t afraid of how he looks. He just does his thing.
Now this was awesome to watch as Edge really took it to Miz here. Miz is great on the mic but Edge really owned him here and displayed why he ranks as high as he does on the mic. Edge came out to update on his decision and is still undecided. That much was obvious and Miz would come out with Garza and Morrison to boast about his big plan for cashing in at Mania. I love that Edge told him how stupid he was to tell him his intentions and how he never did something like that when he held the briefcase. Really great stuff from Edge here and Miz took it all on the chin.
Damian Priest (w/ Bad Bunny) vs. Angel Garza (w/ Miz & John Morrison)
Damian is getting quite the rocket pack strapped to him. Really, it’s pretty fortuitous for Garza to get this spot too. They’ve done little with him for a while so it’s nice to see him in there. He has all it takes and I hope they find a meaningful spot for him at some point. Bunny did well here too. He’s really here for this and you can tell. Loved seeing him get Miz & Morrison thrown out. He plays a nice game of duty pool. It’s interesting to see that Damian’s finisher hasn’t been renamed yet. Wonder if it ever will be. Fun stuff all around there.
Nice little match here though I will say it does suck to see Garza in this spot. The man has talent for days but he is just floundering about. This match really was all about Priest and a bit about Miz and Morrison on the outside. Miz and Morrison would be ejected thanks to some help from Bad Bunny and Priest would end up beating Garza here. I am liking how they are booking Bunny with Priest because they really do come off as friends and not just some random pairing. Word from Priest is that both grew up in the same town in Puerto Rico and had similar upbringings. If that all is true, that really does add a nice wrinkle to this and could explain why they have meshed so quickly.
Backstage segment – Drew McIntyre
He tells a great story here. Not much else to say. This was just excellent.
Short and to the point is what made this work. I love Drew on the mic but having him in quick segments like this add to him. He spoke on his thoughts on the Elimination Chamber and how he will win it. Nice and quick and good stuff.
Backstage segment – Bianca Belair & Asuka
She’s just so real. She tells a great story and she did so here too. Asuka is just goofy madness. Bianca got right up there with her and they were a lot of fun. I also love the subtle threat from Bianca too. Fun segment.
Nice segment from Bianca here and it is nice to see her on Raw since she won the Rumble. She still isn’t ready to choose and will do so on her time. I like that and she did do a good job in hyping up the champs but I will say that she should show up in NXT because she can go after that title too. Asuka came in to give her props but told her that she isn’t ready for her. I liked that Bianca said she totally is but that Lacey isn’t.
Riddle vs. Keith Lee (w/ MVP on commentary)
The spinning flip flops tho. LOL!! Riddle really is a great submission artist and it was fun to see the difference between the two approaches here. Keith is just massive and he can play the power game (sorry, Joe) all day long and twice on Sundays. Riddle took punishment really well here as usual. Lewis was talking about how he wished we’d get a three-way between Riddle, Keith Lee, and Lashley. I totally agreed. Thanks to the Lee winning here, that’s exactly what we’ll get. The match we’ll get between the three of them should be great if it gets time. MVP was really fun here too. He tells a great story and he even commented too while he was at it. Nice work from him always.
Lashley has been on some other level lately and watching him come out and wreck shop was just a blast. I really can’t wait for this match up.
This was a fun match and I knew it would be considering these two go way back. I am pretty sure they squared off in the indies as well and I may have to do some digging. Back to the match and it was plenty of fun as Riddle wasted no time in attacking Lee with submissions. I love that Lee powered out of them and that had to please the master of the power game, Samoa Joe, at commentary. MVP was a guest on commentary too and he did great there. In fact, MVP is arguably doing some of his best work in WWE right now as a part of the Hurt Business. Fun back and forth in this match and Lee would come out the victor. He couldn’t enjoy it though as Lashley would come out and lay waste to both Lee and Riddle. I love this version of Lashley because this is the version I can see becoming WWE Champion. We are getting a triple threat for the US Title at Elimination Chamber and that could be the show stealer.
Backstage segment – Randy Orton
Randy’s promos are just universally fire these days. That this one was too is no surprise whatsoever. Nothing else to say, really. He menaces well and he nailed this like he always does.
Orton is great on the mic and was great again here. He spoke a bit on his 2020 feud with Drew and how it went. He has unfinished business with him and he told a great story here. He is also confident he can win the Chamber and we shall see how that pans out.
Nia Jax vs. Lana
Why have we not already had this? It kinda just seems to be coming out of nowhere. Not that I’m not into it (I was!) but we should have already had this. I’m not mad though. As for the match, it’s exactly what you think it’d be. Nia menaces extremely well with Lana taking a lot of damage, only for her to push Nia into the waiting table leaning against the ring area. “Shut up, Trin”. LOL! Lana sold it all really well too. Lana did put her hands quite clearly by her head so Nia in no way slammed her head into the turnbuckle. Minor issue. Shayna tried to have some fun at the end but it was foiled by Naomi…getting us this…
This is a match we should have gotten ages ago and because of that, I wasn’t really feeling this match. It felt a bit paint by the numbers really and didn’t do much to grab my attention. That was until Lana moved out of the way of an apron leg drop and Nia landed right on her bum. She stole the night by yelling, “MY HOLE!” and I was dying. That line blew up online and that is going to be something that will be remembered for years. Lana would send Nia through a table and would win this. Shayna would come in and then had a scuffle with Naomi to set up the next match.
Shayna Baszler vs. Naomi
A short but fun match. It’s so good to see Naomi back and I even like the team of Naomi and Lana. Naomi got the surprise win after taking some damage. Fun and it sets up the inevitable tag team match we’ll likely get next week.
This was a short match but it was still kind of fun. Both women are awesome in the ring and I wish this would have gotten a smidgen more time. Naomi would win and she and Lana are building momentum towards their inevitable tag title match with the champs.
Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre
They took a bit of time selling this one to us but we knew what would happen. The match would be fun and Sheamus would come out to menace for a bit and try to get to Drew – furthering that story an ending Randy/Drew. It was fun seeing Drew going for Randy’s draping DDT. Gotta give to Drew for throwing one heck of a chop too. Orton FELT that. These two have such good chemistry that their matches are never NOT good.
This was a nice main event and these two continue to have great chemistry. I like that Drew is becoming a bit of a move stealer as he hit Goldberg with a spear at the Rumble and tried to hit Orton with his draping DDT in this match. Good back and forth and Sheamus would end up coming out during the match. I for sure thought he would attack right then but he waited until the end of the match. Drew and Orton seemed to be ready to win at different points but they would counter out. Sheamus would end up getting involved at the end and would hit Orton with the Brogue Kick to cause the DQ. Drew would lay him out after that and stand tall as Raw came to a close. I will say the end fell as bit flat since you could see Orton move Drew out of the way and that didn’t look all that good from a story perspective.
T h e D e d u c t i o n
Fun show. I’m glad I really got to take it in (last night was a lot). Bad Bunny is having so much fun and he’s totally into it. The real shocker here was Ric Flair! Wow! He just nailed everything he did. Some think he was little tipsy and I don’t get that at all; I saw a focused professional doing his thing and doing it better than just about anyone else. I saw RIC FLAIR. It’s been years but it’s so nice to know he’s still in there. Let’s hope all of this pays off for Lacey as that’s who should really benefit here. She’s been stopped and started on so often and I hope this does it for her. Lana was really fun here too as was Mustafa Ali. No dead spots here at all!
Overall, this was a good show but not all that great too. It kind of felt middle of the road for me but there were some bright spots. The Edge in-ring segment with the Miz was fantastic. The Riddle/Lee match was plenty of fun and so was seeing Lashley look like an absolute monster after. I like the build they have going with New Day/Retribution and am looking forward to the eventual Kofi/Ali match. The main event was solid too but the rest was just a bit middle of the road for me.