Hey, kids, it’s the Botching One with the man who Sams more convincingly than any other Sam in the world, Sovereign Sam, as we once more stare Eye to Eye and battle over what we loved/hated about this week’s “Raw”. “Fastlane” was certainly nothing to be ashamed of (IMHO) so we’ll see how “Raw”‘s fallout shapes up.
Bobby Lashley (w/ MVP, Shelton Benjamin, & Cedric Alexander) vs. Sheamus
Well, we’re getting off to a hot start a la AEW, aren’t we? I am here for it. Don’t need a fifteen minute talking segment to get me hooked. I’m not opposed to it if it’s the right thing but wrestling is ALWAYS the right thing to start as far as I’m concerned. Sheamus specializes in hoss fights and we certainly got that here. Amazing that he could still go like this after what he put his body through last night. He’s just so consistently reliable and criminally underrated. Cedric & Shelton were there too…but Lashley & MVP were NONE to thrilled to see them out there. Interesting wrinkle. Still, really solid match from both of them. The attack on Sheamus from Cedric & Shelton felt very “me too”. They don’t have the belts anymore so they need to matter.
The stare down between Drew & Lashley was fun at the end with MVP trying his level best to diffuse Lashley.
This match was a ton of fun and I like how Sheamus has been engaging in “big meaty men slapping meat” matches of late. Lashley is someone that is always up for that style of match as well and that is what we got here. I also couldn’t help but notice all the marks on Sheamus from his brutal match with Drew on Sunday and that really shows how much he puts into his matches. I wasn’t always a Sheamus fan but between his work with Cesaro and this current run, he has completely won me over. Great back and forth and I loved how MVP and Lashley were puzzled as to why Shelton and Cedric were out there. I honestly forgot they were in the Hurt Business with them because of how much the spotlight has been put on Lashley. Lashley would win and Shelton and Cedric would attack Sheamus. MVP and Lashley didn’t look too pleased by that and that was enhanced when McIntyre came out for the save and got in Lashley’s face. Great opening match and great stuff after the match as well.
Backstage segment – Bobby Lashley, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, & Cedric Alexander
Discord in the Hurt Business. I like it! All of them played this well. Short but sweet. We’ve been getting TNA Lashley for a minute now and he came out here nicely. It wouldn’t be the only time we’d see him either. He’s really committing now. Soon, he won’t need MVP anymore. He really kinda doesn’t need him even now. It’s only a matter of time…and I KNOW I’m foreshadowing.
I know they teased possible dissention in the Hurt Business before but they are really teasing it now. I love how MVP and Lashley kind of look down on Shelton and Cedric right now and how they need to do something to prove themselves. I agree with Botch that we are getting TNA Lashley now and if you never saw that version of Lashley, that is the version that made you believe he could be a top champion. Good stuff from all four here.
Asuka vs. Peyton Royce
Poor Peyton. She’s been stuck nowhere for a very long time. Billie was fun from jump after they broke up and we all figured she’d be the one who would be nowhere. Peyton cut a decent “just give me a chance” on Raw Talk so here we are. She absolutely can work. No shade to her there. Dre kinda said it best. Peyton put in a lot of effort here but there was no hiding her clumsiness. Rust has her and in a position where she really kinda needed to show out, she pulled up short. Still, she got her chance and she made of it what she could. There’s something to be said for that.
Of course, the match itself was really just to set up Rhea! So glad she’s finally here! The promo was a little bit weak and the pacing was poor but it’s her first time on this stage so that’s to be expected. Not sure why she’s facing Asuka at Mania on her very first evening. Odd…but I’m not mad at it. We’ll get a show for sure.
No idea why Botch was so harsh on his rating for this match because it was quite fun. Was Peyton a bit clumsy at times? Yes, but that tends to happen when you aren’t on TV and ring rust shines through. This was quite fun and I liked how Peyton was all business here because she feels like she is more than what they have shown her to be. I dug her promo from Raw Talk a lot more than Botch too but disagreeing is what makes wrestling fun to talk about. Solid back and forth and of course Asuka would be the won to win here. Would have been nice to see Peyton win but that was not in the cards especially with what was to come after the match.
Rhea Ripley would make her official Raw debut after the match and would challenge Asuka for a match at Wrestlemania. Asuka would accept and that match should be a banger.
Backstage segment – Drew McIntyre & Adam Pearce
Short but sweet. Cedric & Shelton won’t be a thing at Mania. Ah well. I’m just hoping they don’t fall between the cracks that booking has created for them.
I concur with what Botch has to say here. Short and to the point and that is what it needed to be.
Miz TV – The Miz & John Morrison
So much shooting! LOL! This was fun. Morrison & Miz have always been a case of “one of these things is NOT like the other.” Miz has charisma for days and Morrison is just there. Still, I loved the diss video. I also love how legit Miz makes anything look. There’s simply nothing he can’t do. I am a huge Miz fan and always have been.
Again, I agree with Botch here except for the Morrison stuff. I think his charisma is different than the Miz because he plays the goofball whereas Miz is a bit more of the straight man. Good stuff from Miz here as usual and I was expecting the challenge to Bad Bunny. I will say though that Morrison’s knee may really still be jacked up because the longest rumor was it being a tag match with Priest tagging with Bunny and I would imagine if Morrison cannot go, then that is why this is a one-on-one match.
Miz vs. Jeff Hardy
From the high of that promo to the meh of Jeff Hardy. Of course, he absolutely CAN work. The cheesiness of the “let’s see if you’re man enough to send Morrison away” thing was so hack. The match itself was good for what it was but this was really about the Baddest of Bunnies getting his come muffins for the guitar shot last week. Pretty convincing shot and, of course, Miz sold it really well. That part of the story eclipsed the match itself quite easily. I’m all for being entertained and I already know this feud heading into Mania will entertain me. Miz will insist on it and Bunny will be there for it like he’s been there for everything else.
Quite the solid match here and I do agree with Botch with the sending of Morisson back being a can of Cheez Whiz. Jeff isn’t great on the mic but he is still fully capable in the ring. Solid stuff from both but we all knew it was only a matter of time before the Miz won. I had a feeling someone was coming out after the match and it would be Bad Bunny. Bunny would smash the Miz with a guitar and Miz sold it quite well. Bunny did good with it as well and would accept the Miz’s challenge for a match at Wrestlemania. This feud has been fun and the best part is how committed Bad Bunny has been throughout.
Backstage segment – AJ Styles & Omos
Short but sweet. Omos was a little leaden here but it was too short for that to matter too much. Riddle coming through on the Stallion was a riot.
This was short but it was hilarious as Riddle would ride on by with his scooter. I am all for Riddle doing that randomly every week to random superstars.
In-ring segment – AJ Styles, Omos, Kofi Kingston, & Xavier Woods
Mark my words. Y’all don’t know it but Omos is going to show you mat wrestling the likes of Curt Hennig would be jealous of. You think he’s a power guy but he’s not. He’ll show you that he’s a true submission expert and ring technician!!
The promo was a lot of fun. AJ really thrives with the script and he does it well. Omos woke up here from earlier and his face showed everything. He was as reactionary vocally as the script would allow too – throwing in little asides. Of course, Kofi & Xavier are amazing on the mic and they nailed here as usual. Kofi’s accent destroyed me. They play off of each other incredibly well and they have so much fun. When Xavier told him that “AJ will bring you down”, AJ’s reaction was just perfect. “MAUVE”!!!! DEAD! Omos was the funniest thing about all of this as his reactions were just dead on. I think I’m REALLY going to enjoy this feud. This may be the most fun feud we’ll get for Mania.
Botch summed this up way better than I ever could because this was a riot. I was laughing my butt off at every turn. Omos is really showing he has some nice comedic timing here and I have no idea how anybody can keep a straight face when Kofi and Xavier are nailing like this. Is this a random feud for Mania? Yes, but has this been fun so far? A resounding YES!
AJ Styles (w/ Omos) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/ Xavier Woods & Francesca)
Fun match but of course it would be. Kofi and AJ can dance forever and I wouldn’t mind at all. Both are just so fluid and their chemistry is undeniable. Xavier is a riot and his match analysis outside the ring at the beginning was great. Few make steel stair work look better than Kofi. I love that Francesca interfered and completely took Omos out of the equation so Kofi could win. I mean…Francesca had help but it was all Francesca. She is officially the best babyface in WWE right now.
Fun match between these two and you knew it would be given how good these two are at this stage of their careers. Great back and forth and I love how the audio kept picking up what Woods had to say during the match. Woods is someone that just gets it and is probably one of the most selfless wrestlers. He has his own goals but has no qualms pushing those aside for a bit if he can help someone close to him get to their goal. I loved how Xavier used Francesca to stop AJ in his tracks and how that led to Kofi winning. This was fun and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Backstage segment – Sheamus
I love hearing duel Irish accents. Sheamus, as usual, did incredibly well here. He does everything so well. Riddle is a whole fool. Sheamus was here for this too and it was funny. It’ll be interesting to see the two of them feud as it appears that’s where we’re headed.
Seems like we are heading for a Riddle/Sheamus feud and I am all for that. Riddle is such a proper goof and I love it. Sheamus had no time for Riddle’s games and he would hit him with his own scooter. I hope their match is like the stuff we have been getting of late from Sheamus because Riddle is totally game for a more hard-hitting affair.
Shelton Benjamin, & Cedric Alexander vs. Drew McIntyre
Just…why? There was no way Cedric & Shelton were going to win. That said, this was still a really fun handicap match. Those CHOPS tho! Drew lit up both Shelton and Cedric with them. Lots of fun back and forth here and there really were points where you could almost suspend disbelief. Cedric took the best looking Claymore I have ever seen. He made it look far more impactful than most make it look.
There was never a doubt in my mind that Drew would win here but they did a good job nonetheless. Handicap matches are not something WWE has done well of late but this was a good one. Drew looked just strong enough without it looking like he was burying Shelton and Cedric. Solid back and forth that saw Shelton and Cedric try to take advantage of Drew’s weakened state after his grueling match with Sheamus from the night before. Drew would end up winning after hitting each with the Claymore and they are banned from ringside for his match with Lashley.
Backstage segment – Hurt Business and the Catering 6
Sweet tongue lashing from Lashley. More TNA Lashley. He was excellent here. Like…excellent. Cedric and Drew were perfect here. MVP was actually, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, superfluous here. He wasn’t needed at all and that speaks to how well Lashley carried this. I love that he went into the Catering locker room to put a bounty on Drew’s head. If nothing else, it’ll give them something to do as WWE clearly has nothing for any of them.
More great stuff from the Hurt Business here as Lashley did not hold back in his displeasure over Cedric and Shelton losing. I agree with Botch that MVP was almost not needed here because Lashley really is becoming that TNA version that saw him be one of the best outside of WWE at the time. Lashley has a bounty out on Drew and I wonder which one of the members of catering will be Drew’s first victim.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (w/ Reginald) vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose
This match is big fat nothing. I just don’t care about it. I guess I should also say that while I dearly love Reginald, I don’t buy Nia being into him. She just isn’t pulling that off. Reginald got all Cirque de Raw on the entrance and I loved it. He really is something special and I’m glad they see it. He was too big to just be Carmella’s sommelier and he’s really flying here. As for the match, it was fine. The outcome was what you think it was. Lana & Naomi were fun on commentary too. (Grade fixed as I…Botched!)
This was nothing on top of nothing. It is nice to see Reginald but I need more from him than just his usual flips he does. It is becoming a bit repetitive and there was no doubt who would win here. Nia and Shayna would win and I really want Shayna to snap and destroy Nia and Reginald so she can take her rightful place in the Raw Women’s Championship scene.
Alexa was on her swing set and I enjoyed how she issued a warning to Orton about what he is wishing for. Orton couldn’t get rid of her and she is warning him about summoning the Fiend but I like that she isn’t saying that he shouldn’t do it.
In-ring segment – Elias, Jaxson Ryker, & Shane McMahon
I. Just. Don’t. Care. This story has been absolutely awful and I hate that it’s continuing. Worse yet, Elias just can’t catch a break. Whether he’s stuck with Jaxson Ryker or drowning in a bad storyline with Shane, I just feel so bad for him.
What Botch said. SKIP!
Braun Strowman vs. Elias
The other one I feel bad for is Braun. He’s not doing anything wrong. Quite the contrary. Problem is he, too, is trapped in a storyline that’s bottom-of-the-barrel. This was essentially a jobber match to makes Braun look sufficiently unstoppable. They actually added train sound effects! Like…they reeeeealllly added train sound effects. I just…
Oh, yeah, they talked. We’re getting this pablum at mania. Great. Just great. This has got to be some kind of sick audience troll. It’s been that bad. I honestly can’t think of a worse angle anywhere.
See what I said about the previous segment and insert here.
In-Ring Segment – Randy Orton
I find it funny how I have seen some fans say they want this feud to end and yet criticize WWE for not giving us long term storytelling. Which is it fickle fans? This was great and I love how you could see Randy was cocky in preparing to summon the Fiend so he could end him but he wouldn’t need to as Alexa Bliss would come out to do the honors. The Fiend would appear and I loved how he didn’t move when Randy was pouring gasoline on and around him. The Fiend would move and Orton would hit him with the RKO. Alexa would then come in the ring and Randy would turn to her but that was just a distraction that allowed the Fiend to get up and put Randy in the Mandible Claw before hitting him with Sister Abigail. Alexa would then point to the Wrestlemania sign and flames would surround it as a match between the Fiend and Orton is official for Mania.
T h e D e d u c t i o n
Not a bad episode of “Raw” at all. The only disaster was the Shane/Braun thing. It enervated anything it touched. Poor Elias and Braun. I hate this for them – especially Elias. Kofi/Xavier/AJ/Omos is about to be my favorite thing and I’m loving this madly. Lashley has woken up big time and the Hurt Business is in turmoil. Stuff like that is always fun.
Overall, pretty good episode of Raw following Fastlane. Only things I didn’t care for were the Elias/Shane/Strowman stuff and the women’s tag match. I agree with Botch that the New Day stuff with AJ and Omos was the best part of Raw because that was truly hilarious. Raw is doing a good job in shaping up their part of the card for Wrestlemania and I am liking what they have to offer so far. All in all, good stuff from Raw this week.