Hey, kids! It’s the Botching One with Sam once more with another look at “Raw”. This was the “go home” to “Raw” so it needed to be on point. Was it? Why wait? Let’s get into it, shall we?
In-ring segment – Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley (w/ MVP), and Baron Corbin
So much for heart from Drew here. When he talked about his mom, it was so cool. Bobby was also really solid here. MVP simply isn’t needed anymore. To be clear, he did so much for Lashley and for everyone he’s ever worked with. Lashley just doesn’t need him anymore. He’s found fire and passion. He’s back to the TNA version of Lashley and MVP likely helped him find that again. Good on you, MVP…really. Corbin was fun here too. He’s spent his entire career being terrible underrated and while he won’t win his match with Drew clean, the match itself should be a lot of fun.
Botch summed it up rather nicely and not much more I can add. All the men did great here and Drew really did speak with passion. Lashley truly is back to the TNA version that was a top dog and I am here for it. It was that version of Lashley that made me optimistic that he can be something and I am glad to see it right now in WWE. Corbin was good here too and I will continue to not stand for the IWC not putting respect on his name. He is not a man with “go away heat”, he is a man that garners true heel heat and I cannot wait for the time people realize this so I can say “I TOLD YOU SO!” to all the IWC.
In-ring segment – New Day & Matt Riddle
Riddle was fun with Kofi & Xavier here. “Quite stinky”. Dag. Good to know. The allusions to the munchies destroyed me. I don’t need a lot of the interactions between the two entities but every once in a while, I’m fine with it.
This was plenty of fun and I love all the references Riddle made to 4/20 because we all know what that means. I think it is kind of fitting we have this kind of character when RVD is being inducted into the hall of fame. Woods and Kofi’s reactions to the references were perfect and I forever love the interaction between these three.
Xavier Woods (w/ Omos) vs. AJ Styles (w/ Kofi Kingston)
Omos seems to be dropping weight. Good for him. This will only help his speed in there on Saturday. I love seeing AJ & Xavier in there. Kofi launching that mic at Omos was a riot. LOL!! The match itself was very short but it told a fun story so a proper match really wasn’t needed anyway. This was about making Omos to look like the weak link and it was a fun device. The match at Mania should be a lot of fun and I’m all in on it.
This didn’t get the same time as their encounter from last week but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good nuggets in it. The best part was Kofi throwing the mic at Omos and him just looking at him with a stare that said, “I am gonna beat you senseless” and you love to see it. That would provide the distraction for Woods to roll up AJ for the win. I always love how AJ sells a surprise loss because he looks like he is ready to destroy some game controllers.
In-ring segment – Braun Strowman & Shane McMahon
At least this will be over on Saturday so we don’t have to see this stupid feud anymore. It’s built on nothing and it’s been nothing. The “I’m gonna beat you for everyone whose ever been called stupid” thing is vacuous. I don’t care and I know Sam doesn’t either. As usual, Braun is doing as he’s told and doing the best he can. He’s as passionate as he needs to be. It’s just a shame it’s at the service of this nonsense. I’m only giving this a crown because Braun is doing all he can.
Shane was as he’s been since this feud began: awful.
What Botch said.
Elias & Jaxson Ryker vs. Braun Strowman
Poor Elias and Braun. Yeah, I keep saying it but I really mean it. They both deserve so much better – especially Elias. Not only is he part of this awful storyline, he’s also bound by his racist sidekick. I’m sure Shane has something planned for the inside of the cage but do I care? No.
Again, what Botch said.
Backstage segment – Miz & John Morrison
I’m beginning to really like Kevin. He’s fun on Raw Talk and I like him as an interviewer. He reacts and gets involved but only as much as he should. The new paint job on Bunny’s Bugatti is a nice touch and Miz & Morrison gloated well while they did it.
Agree with Botch here again and I enjoyed how they painted Bad Bunny’s Bugatti. You could tell the paint was one that could probably be washed off easy and I would imagine they took every precaution with such a valuable car. Both men sold their pleasure in the paint job and I was for it. I also liked the bunny Miz drew on the door and how Miz did fingerpainting for his daughters. I have to think he has practiced that bunny with his girls and that is why it came out the way it did. Fun backstage segment and we shall see how Bad Bunny reacts to it.
Backstage segment – Bad Bunny
Great reacting from Bunny there. He’s been totally in this since he showed up and he’s great. He also handled himself here in the attack sequence really well. Great selling throughout. While we don’t know what the plan is, I wouldn’t be mad if he stuck around.
Got to concur with Botch here on Bad Bunny in this segment. His selling has been on point and that is not an easy thing to do in wrestling. Just ask Steve-O what can happen if you do not do a proper job in selling and he learned to stay down. Good stuff and I have really enjoyed this feud.
Asuka & Rhea Ripley vs. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (w/ Reginald)
Kinda interesting match. Of course, we got the “I don’t wanna tag with you” thing from Rhea & Asuka and it was what you’d expect. Rhea tagging Asuka on the head forcibly and Asuka returning fire a minute or two later. Reginald interfered a little and that’s always fun because he’s good at it. The apprehension on the hot tag from Asuka was odd but okay. The Asuka/Rhea team broke down entirely and I really did like that. This will give the match at Mania a little more fire.
The match was fine as it was all about Asuka and Rhea. I will agree that the tag on the head was great and I loved how Asuka was taken aback by Rhea doing that. Some good work in the ring and of course Rhea would be the one to cause the match to break down. Rhea attacked Asuka and would allow Shayna to get the win. Rhea doesn’t care about winning a tag match with Asuka and only cares about gaining an advantage against her. That is good work and you cannot blame her one bit.
Backstage segment – MVP, Cedric Alexander, & Shelton Benjamin
This was delicious. I love a good “jacking” and Cedric and Shelton did well here. Real fire from both of them yet again. Cedric got a little tripped up on the words but the whole thing worked pretty well, actually. He cut a solid promo afterwards. His words were also accurate. He really did a lot for all of them. He said it in storyline but it was pretty accurate in real life.
I am beginning to sound like a broken record here by saying I agree with Botch here. It does happen from time to time where we are really in sync with how a show is going and this is the case here. Cedric and Shelton did do really well here and Shelton really has come alive of late on the mic. Good stuff all around and I loved how Lashley came in at the end after they left. Lashley is even more fired up to take it to Cedric and we shall see that match tonight.
Backstage segment – Every other woman on Raw not named Bianca
Okay. I didn’t hate it and it sets up the Tag Team Turmoil match we’ll get at Mania that we probably won’t care about. The tag team belts barely mean anything so what’s to care about, really? This was just a hot mess and it proved that they don’t care about the women’s tag division at all. The road that gets us to the match has been a mess too. If nothing else, the tag belts need to come off of Nia and Shayna so that Shayna can strike out on her own again.
Yeah, gotta agree with Botch here on everything and could not have said it any better myself.
Bobby Lashley vs. Cedric Alexander
Yes, I’ve heard that many within the company were upset that the faction came to an end and that it’s had an effect on morale or whatever…and I don’t believe a word of it. It’s all just likely “dirt sheet nonsense”. As for this match, we knew what the outcome would be, of course. Cedric sells really well and makes a great crash test dummy so this was kinda fun. This was all meant to make Lashley look incredibly strong and it did. That first dive from Cedric to Lashley was a little off but the second one was right on the money. I’m just grateful that Cedric didn’t get totally squashed here. That bodes well for Shelton and him going forward now that the Hurt Business is no more.
Good match here and I liked that Cedric was able to get offense in on Bobby. I also dug that Shelton and Cedric attacked Lashley prior to the match to show that they mean business. Will they be brought back into the fold? Who knows but I do like that they are not taking things lying down. Good stuff here and it was the right call to not make it a squash. I mean, the winner was never in doubt but it was nice to see that Lashley can take some damage. Dominant champions can be hard to book in WWE because they either end up on the bad side of the spectrum like Lesnar or the end up on the good side of it like Drew. Good stuff and I liked that Shelton came in to attack Lashley after the match when he didn’t let go of the Hurt Lock quick enough for him. He would pay though as Lashley made quick work of him and stood tall.
In-ring segment – Bad Bunny, Bad Bunny, Miz & John Morrison
Of course this happened. It had to. The tag team match we thought we’d get is now a thing. What’s great here is that Bunny cut a really solid promo. It was a little long but he did well. Like…better than most people. He’s a fan who has gotten involved in a big way…and he’s done well. His English isn’t amazing but it’s a whole lot better than my Spanish – that’ s for sure. When he broke into Spanish, he was so much more fiery because he was more at home with Spanish which is totally understandable. His emotion was dead on here. It had levels. First, his feelings were hurt, then he was angry. That’s a very human thing so it felt very real. Of course, Miz and Morrison were sufficiently menacing.
Really good work by Bad Bunny here and I liked that this promo was in English and Spanish. Too often in WWE they have people speak in English when that is not their first language and they suffer for it. Sure, he did speak in English but I like that he included some Spanish as well. He came off really good here and him speaking about just wanting to live his childhood dream of working with WWE was great. He is ready to take on the Miz and Damian Priest is there to ride with him in a tag match. That was something we all heard was in the plans and I am glad to see it happening. Miz and Morrison would accept in their cocky way and this was good stuff overall.
Backstage segment – Mustafa Ali & Sheamus
This was fine. Short but it sets up collaboration between the two of them. I don’t care much but okay. They clearly have no real direction for Mustafa. Here’s hoping they find some after Mania.
Honestly, the best part of this was seeing Riddle ride by them. Ali’s heel turn was completely wasted and I hope, like Botch, they find something for him. He is talented in the ring and can cut a good promo so there is potential there. I am glad it was short and that was that.
Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali
We knew Riddle & Ali could totally tear it up…and they did well here. Of course, this was far more about the feud between Riddle & Sheamus and the resulting match we’ll get at Mania. I do love Riddle’s selling. He really made Ali look good with the offense he got in. The look on Ali’s face just before the Bro Derek was a riot. I know I said it before but I’ll say it again. I hope something will be given to Ali after Mania but I’m not overly optimistic.
Pretty good stuff here between Ali and Riddle and that is really no surprise considering how good of workers they are. I always love seeing when Riddle strings together his offense because it really flows perfectly from one move to the next. Good back and forth and the result really wasn’t in much doubt. I did like how Sheamus took issue with Riddle putting on his hat and he would put it on during the commercial break so Riddle wouldn’t do it again. Little things like that can go unnoticed but I picked up on it. Riddle would win and he has some good momentum heading into Mania.
Backstage segment – Drew McIntyre
Of course, good stuff from McIntyre as usual. He’s just fantastic at stuff like this. Short but sweet.
Agreed on the good stuff by Drew here. He just knows how to work the mic and does well pretty much every time. He gave Corbin props but is also ready to beat him tonight. Once again, good stuff by Drew here.
Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin
This was preceded by a quick backstage thing with Lashley and it was all it needed to be. Lashley delivered perfectly all by himself.
As a match, there is nothing to complain about. Both of them can go and they got time to do it. This was a great hoss fight. Both came with their respective “A games” and it was more than it should have been. I’m quite surprised by the amount of time this got. MVP was also really fun on commentary. In the end, we know who’d win, of course, but dag. What an excellent match.
This match was quite excellent and I will not hear it from anybody that will say that Drew carried Corbin. Corbin is like how the Miz was years ago before people caught on to his greatness. People wondered why anybody liked the Miz and that he couldn’t cut it in the ring when in truth it was the opposite. Corbin is in that same boat right now and I will love it when all of a sudden people start talking about how good Corbin really is. Again, this was a great match and the back and forth was great as well. These two have some good chemistry and it showed here. I had no doubt that Drew would win and that would be the case in quite the excellent main event for the final Raw before Mania.
T h e D e d u c t i o n
Almost nothing was truly awful here. Really, only the Shane/Braun stuff was disastrous. That last match with Drew and Baron was beautiful stuff. I kinda don’t want to hear another word about Baron Corbin. He gets in the ring and delivers every time. He can also cut a fantastic promo. Here’s hoping he has something else to do when Mania ends. A decent episode all around. Most of Mania should be a lot of fun.
Overall, quite the good go-home for Mania from Raw. Nothing really to complain about other than the boring Shane/Braun stuff and the lack of direction for the women’s tag division. The matches were solid and the main event was really good. The stuff with Bad Bunny and the Miz was great as well. All in all, good stuff from the red brand prior to Mania.