Hey, kids, it’s the Botching one staring Eye to Eye once more with Sam as we review yet another episode of “Raw”. Let’s get into it, shall we?
In-ring segment – The Miz, John Morrison, MVP, and Bobby Lashley
Man, that crowd was relentless. Oh wait… Okay, seriously, Miz just never misses on the mic. Literally everything he said about himself is true…and I love it. He really was pegged to last mere months and not only is he still with WWE, he’s absolutely flourished in every sense. There’s video of workers disrespecting him (Triple H’s is the last one I saw) and in the end, they all ate crow.
MVP is also a master storyteller. Slime + slime will always be lovely and I’m here for all of this. Lashley absolutely came to life here on the mic. Yeah, it was scripted (all of it is) but he really put himself into this. This is very much the Lashley we saw in TNA and we’ve been needing it here the whole time. Nice to see it again. Miz’s and Morrison’s reactions were perfect – especially Miz’s. He does slime so incredibly well.
This was quite the fun opening segment for Raw. The Miz is quite honestly the hardest worker in the modern era. Nobody, from fans to the locker room, gave him a chance and here he stands as a two-time grand slam champion and a bonafide hall of famer. I loved how he came out and instantly started to talk about how much better he is than other former champions. It didn’t take long for Lashley and MVP to come out and they want what is owed to Lashley. Lashley wants the title shot Miz promised to MVP if Lashley helped him with his cash-in. I love how Miz immediately tried to back down from it and Lashley would give him an ultimatum for his decision. Really fun opener and I dug it.
Backstage segment – Riddle & Lucha House Party (Gran Metallik & Lince Dorado)
Yeah, we’ve done this several times and this one felt pretty plastic. It felt as scripted as it truly is. They’ve been fun together in the past but this just felt like going through the motions.
I do enjoy these interactions between Riddle and the Lucha House Party even though they are random as heck. Riddle plays the stoner so well and I love how LHP go with the flow of it. He talked about winning in Call of Duty and I liked how Lince brought him back to talk about winning the US Championship. I dug how Riddle actually named the title and that he had a scooter ready to help him get to the ring in time for his match with Morrison. Fun stuff and Riddle as champion just feels right.
Riddle vs. John Morrison
Not quite sure why they decided to run this back but okay. This was a fun match. I enjoyed Morrison’s modified Dragon Sleeper. He can get awfully creative in there and he’s many of his moves are inspired by capoeira which is spices things up nicely. Apparently, Morrison may have legit been injured in the match to the outside but he immediately started walking just fine after it so who knows. Of course, Riddle is no slouch himself either and his Bro Derek finisher is fun. I’m actually kinda surprised this got as much time as it did. Really fun match, though it had little reason to be.
This match was plenty of fun even if there were some awkward looking spots. I feel like I am in the minority around here that enjoys JoMo because I really do feel like he isn’t the same as he once was during his first run. He really does know how to play the meathead and does it so well with Miz being more of the straight man. If you have seen him on Miz and Mrs then you know he is turning his own personality up to 11 and that is a fun thing. Riddle is a bit similar in that sense and you can tell these two were having some fun in the ring. Solid back and forth and Riddle would end up coming out the victor in his first match as champion.
Backstage segment – Bad Bunny, Damian Priest, R-Truth
So much money. Bad Bunny has having fun with this and it shows. He’s so right as the 24/7 champion right now. He showed up with it on Saturday Night Live and he continues to promote WWE at every turn. That’s what they should all do. I want to see Truth continue to try to bamboozle Bunny only for Priest to catch it every time. Lewis mentioned it in the DD and I agree with him. I love all of this. Truth once again proves himself to be the national treasure he is.
Bad Bunny has been pure money since his first appearance and I have continued to be a fan. Bunny working with Priest is also good for Damian because it gives him a story right out the gate and he and Bunny seem to have a nice thing going. I love how R-Truth was waiting in full sight of Priest and he called him out on trying to take the 24/7 title from Bunny. Truth was hilarious as usual and I love how Priest has Bunny’s back no matter who is around. Fun stuff here and I do like that I see many in the IWC have come around to Bunny being used except for the ones that will always complain just for the sake of complaining or the old timers who have no clue.
Backstage segment – Miz & Adam Pearce
Miz is the cowardly heel and I love it. Pearce was all the way there as always with the reactions. There’s no way out of this one…and I am here for all of it.
Nice segment here between Pearce and Miz. I love how Pearce essentially plays two different authority figures on Raw and Smackdown. He is a lot more confident on Raw because he doesn’t have to deal with someone like Roman Reigns like he does on Smackdown. It is little things like that that make people stand out. I dug how he agreed with Miz and Miz was a bit shocked by that. Pearce would of course tell Miz that he does need to make his decision because he could be in trouble if he doesn’t. Nice segment from both men here.
New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. Retribution (T-Bar & Mace)
Poor Retribution. They just aren’t getting anywhere…still. Like…they don’t even matter. They basically did a “jobber to the stars” thing (ask your parents) to a game New Day. Mustafa did the angry “you keep letting me down, darn it all to heck!!” promo and it awkwardly ended. WWE is clearly not behind them in any way and it’s a real shame. The raw ingredients are somewhat there. Mustafa Ali is a star, T-Bar is great, and Mia is a star too. The other two clearly aren’t but they could become interesting over time if they were given a real shot. As it is, I don’t care about them and I’m dangerously close to not caring about any of them. The rumor is that they’re beginning to break Retribution up and they might as well do it. They’re just nothing and nowhere.
Oh, and GIVE RECKONING TO XAVIER WOODS!!!!!
The match was fine and all but the stuff after kind of brought the grade down. There was so much potential with Retribution and they have fumbled it at every turn. Right when it seems like they are making strides, they somehow go right back into old habits of making them look bad. I will say it was nice to see Reckoning back and to see how excited Woods was to see her. Woods should have a match against her and they absolutely could have an actual quality match to boot. This tag match was fine I guess and New Day would end up picking up the win. Ali would cut a promo after on the member of Retribution about how they keep failing him. This feels like they are on the way to breaking the group up and I couldn’t care less.
In-ring segment – Bobby Lashley, MVP, Miz, John Morrison, Braun Strowman, & Shane McMahon
Miz is such a great cowardly heel. I really wanted Miz to just go after him. The sliminess was just amazing. I hated him asking for another week and you did too; that’s what makes him so good. Braun has lost the mic he had. He wasn’t awful here but he wasn’t great either. The setup for the match between Braun and Lashley made zero sense. None of this does. I mean…Braun just getting a match to get into a triple-threat for the belt…like…huh? Lashley said he’d essentially end Miz if he didn’t make a decision. He didn’t make a decision and that didn’t happen. Odd. No fault of anyone else. The look on Miz’s face at the end was great. I love a good cheap shot too and the one Lashley gave to Braun was great. Lashley’s really on his game now so I’m all for him getting Miz without Braun and then beating Miz. He’s all kinds of ready now.
The grade for this is all for Miz, Lashley and MVP. I love how MVP and Lashley were not there to hear any excuse the Miz had to not have the title match and Lashley was ready to pounce on him. Miz did do his best to try and delay the match because he truly is scared of Lashley. It was nice stuff between them and then we got Braun Strowman. I used to really be a Braun fan but I just am not into him anymore. He has just kind of fallen and I do not really care to see him come back up. The stuff he was saying on the mic didn’t grab me at all and then we got Shane McMahon out here. It totally feels like we are heading for a Braun/Shane feud for Mania and I do not know how I feel about it. Braun stuff sucks and he pretty much complained his way into getting a match with Lashley with the stipulation of if he wins, he gets added to Lashley’s title match against the Miz next week. I did love how shook Miz was at that announcement and Lashley would give Braun a chop block to help weaken him for their match.
Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado & Gran Metallik) vs. Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin)
Cedric & Shelton are just so much fun together. This was decent but there’s one problem. I really don’t care about Lucha House Party, though they absolutely can work. Cedric yelling “Lucha! Lucha!” while he had his foot on Metallik’s neck was a riot. Shelton got the pin too which was fun. Here’s hoping this thing between the two teams can end now.
I love a good tornado tag match and this was quite the fun one. I guess I really love them since I grew up watching lucha libre and the tag matches there are pretty much exclusively tornado tags and they are tons of fun. This match felt like it took a minute to get going but it did a nice job in getting going when it did. I will say though that this match really highlighted how shallow the tag division is on Raw. It really is just Lucha House Party, the Hurt Business and the New Day. I guess you could count Retribution too but they seem to be teasing a break up. Back to the match and it was rather fun and I did wonder if LHP would win since it was a non-title match. That wouldn’t be the case though as Cedric and Shelton would put it together and would get the win. Who really is next for them because they really do not have anybody to face unless they bring up a team from NXT?
Damian Priest (w/ Bad Bunny) vs. Angel Garza
Garza should matter so much more than he does. He has a look, he’s got charisma, he’s got he chops in the ring, and his English is drastically improved. Damian is a total star. The sound of his voice alone is just so menacing. Add the charisma, the ring work, the selling, and the mic and you have an unstoppable talent. I also love his facial reactions during the match. Outside the ring, Bunny was totally into the match – reacting just as he should throughout. He distracts really well too. Dre noticed how competitive the match was and I did too.
The 24/7 stuff at the end was fun too. Gulak made sure Bunny’s toss of him to the outside looked amazing and it did. Just textbook.
This match was actually a lot more competitive than I thought it would be. It is a shame how Garza is in this spot of nothingness because he can totally be a star if they give him a chance. Priest is someone they seem to be strapping a rocket to and he is made to look like money whenever he is out there. This was a fun match and I did like Garza talking smack to Bad Bunny on the outside. Solid back and forth in the match but Garza would get too ahead of himself and Priest would get the win. A few members of the locker room would come out to try and take the 24/7 Championship from Bad Bunny but he and Priest would make short work of them. Priest is looking great and I am loving the commitment from Bad Bunny throughout his time so far in WWE. NXT nailed it with Pat McAfee and Raw is nailing it with Bad Bunny.
Backstage segment – Randy Orton
Good promo from Orton here but that is pretty much like saying that water is wet at this point. The man is just on every time he gets on the mic and this was some more good work. I will say though that I was a bit distracted by the cut he had on his forehead and I was wondering where and when he got it. Conventional wisdom would say he got it during the Chamber match but I didn’t notice anything. Either way, he would talk about how he has been distracted by Alexa Bliss and that is causing him to fail in his matches. Randy would cough during his promo and I thought that he just had a random cough. Turns out it wasn’t random as he would start spitting out a black liquid and it would seem like some sort of curse has been placed on him by Alexa. I am loving this and Orton sold the shock of that quite well.
Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
This was fine, I guess. This really wasn’t about a great match; it was about setting up the breakup for Asuka and Charlotte which we now seem to be getting (finally!). I don’t exactly love seeing Asuka getting pinned but it wasn’t clean by any means and if it breaks up the needless team of Charlotte & Asuka, I’m all for it.
The work was solid enough but I really am noticing something about Charlotte’s work since she has been back and that is that she doesn’t look as crisp as she normally does. I guess you can attribute that to the time away and the fact she doesn’t have live events to knock off the rust. I can imagine you can only get so much work in at the PC and it doesn’t seem like that has been enough. The match was fine enough and there was a scary moment when Asuka took a kick from Shayna and it seemed to throw her for a loop. The word is that Asuka lost a tooth and I could totally see that. I saw a slomo replay of the kick from another angle and she took most of Shayna’s foot on the arm/shoulder area but took the heel right on the chin. She looked to be okay enough to finish the match and it seems like we are heading for an Asuka/Charlotte feud.
Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
Oh, goody. I know how excited Sam was for this and I had trouble even containing myself. In truth, while the idea of this match was less than exciting, they both worked hard in there. Even though the character means little, Jeff always brings it in the ring. That Jeff can still go as he does given all that he’s put his body through is pretty incredible. I just wish he could act…and he’s never been able to do that.
Solid match between these two even though this felt random as heck. They had a feud on Smackdown last year that had an end and it seems like Jeff is in the position of having matches against people he has feuded with. First it was Elias and now it is Sheamus. Back to the match, and it was quite solid and it is something you would expect to see from two veterans that can still go in the ring. Solid back and forth and Jeff did his usual thing of bumping like a pro for his opponent. Jeff looked to be on the path to victory but that ended up not being the case as Sheamus would evade and hit him with a Brogue Kick. I love how Jeff sold the kick as he just dropped like a ton of bricks. Sheamus gets the win and I can only wonder what is next for him.
Backstage segment – Ric Flair & Charlotte Flair
Charlotte is just a terrible actress. She simply can’t do it. Ric did all he could here to make it work but Charlotte just can’t do it. Her pacing is just terrible and he couldn’t cover for it. He also couldn’t make up for bad writing and this segment was just full of it. We were all cringing in DD. This just needs to end. I hate to see a cognizant and game Ric Flair wasted like this. Worst segment of the night by far.
This promo between Ric and Charlotte had some fine spots but I am just tired of them going back to the well of Ric and Charlotte not getting along. It is as tiring as when they bring Jeff Hardy’s sobriety into storylines and I am just over it. Charlotte is tired of her dad and Ric is just trying to be there for her. We have seen this time and time again and they just need to stop with it. Let Charlotte be her own thing, which is what she basically said in this, and let Ric show up once or twice a year for a special episode of Raw or Smackdown and be done with it.
Lana & Naomi vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Why is Dana Brooke? No, really, why? It is undoubtedly taking you longer to read my words (if anyone is actually doing that) than the match was. Dana & Mandy jobbed HARD. Wonder what the deal is behind that? Wow…
SKIP! Seriously, nothing to see here. I honestly forgot all about this match and you really could skip it. Lana and Naomi won and the only notable thing is that Lana looks like she is continuing to improve in the ring.
AJ (w/ Omos) vs. Ricochet
A jobber match and nothing more. Chet’s ability to take the Styles Clash was never in dispute before but he didn’t take this one too well. His arm wasn’t secured behind AJ’s leg at all. I’m just glad it worked out well. Poor Chet. He means less than nothing at this point. Omos came in and destroyed him. Just like that, it’s back to Main Event with him.
These two can have a great match in their sleep but this match just didn’t feel like it had the same magic as their previous encounters. It wasn’t bad by any means but it just felt like one that will be low on the totem pole. They did try to replicate the fantastic spot they did with the Styles Clash and it didn’t go so well this time. It does go to show how things sometimes have to go absolutely perfect or else it might not look so good. AJ would end up winning with a Styles Clash and i am glad he hit it as clean as he did considering he didn’t hook one of Ricochet’s arms. Omos would end up coming in and hitting a big slam on Ricochet at the behest of AJ. Good enough stuff from these two but they can totally do better.
Backstage segment – Miz, John Morrison & Braun Strowman
A little menacing. Miz is between a rock and a hard place. This was short but sweet. It was what was needed.
Short backstage segment before the main event and I liked how Miz is worried and Morrison is right there to back him up. They would see Braun and take off because they do not want to get in his way before his match with Lashley.
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley
The look on Miz’s face as he was coming to the ring…LOL! This got a few minutes but that’s all it needed. So glad Braun’s out of this equation. Now we can get to things that actually make sense. Lashley’s push is SO on right now and I love to see it. He’s in another gear and I love the idea of a Miz/Lashley match. Rumor is we’ll also get Strowman/McMahon which makes total sense. I’m just glad he’s not in a title picture he had no business being insinuated into.
This match was pretty much everything Big E would love. It was big meaty men slapping meat and that was fine. Good enough work from these two and I really had no doubt that Lashley would win here because they are clearly setting up Braun as a bit of a whiner. Braun also doesn’t look the same in the ring and you have to imagine the injuries he has suffered over the last few years have taken a toll on his body. Nice hoss stuff from these two and Lashley did so some rather impressive things. Lashley would end up winning with a spear and I was worried a bit about it because Braun looked a bit out of place for it so Lashley had to adjust so he could hit it. Lashley beat him down after and Miz saw that as a chance to attack Lashley. That would backfire though as Lashley would be the one to get the upper hand and took out Miz. Lashley posed with the WWE Championship as Raw ended and he is looking the strongest he has looked since returning to WWE.
T h e D e d u c t i o n
Not bad at all. I’m happy to see Lashley come to life the way he is. Also a fan of the obvious push he’s getting now. It’s overdue but at least it’s here now. Riddle/Morrison, though not needed, was a fun match too. The only thing that was a disaster was Flair/Flair. Ric did what he could but Charlotte’s inability to act coupled with incredibly bad writing led to the worst segment of the night. The only reason I didn’t give it a skull is because Ric was there for it and he tried to make it work. Beyond that, not a bad episode at all.
Overall, pretty solid episode of Raw after Elimination Chamber. The matches were pretty solid overall and there was some nice story advancement. I will say that I hope tonight is the last night for the Ric and Charlotte stuff because that story is no longer needed. Retribution seems to be teasing a break up angle and that could be a very good thing. Rhea Ripley is coming to Raw and I am totally excited for that. I am continuing to love the Bad Bunny and Damian Priest stuff and it is keeping me very sports entertained. The main event was fine enough and did a good job in continuing to show Lashley as a true threat. All in all, solid show with some parts that are totally forgettable like the Lana/Naomi versus Dana/Mandy match. Also, Orton seems to be cursed and I cannot wait to see where that goes. Once again, solid show and I do wonder if we will see Drew McIntyre make an appearance next week during the title match.