Sovereign SAM here with our main Botch and we are here to talk about the Raw after Mania. The Raw after Mania usually has a special place because it has historically had debuts, returns and other things of that ilk. I was interested in seeing how they would handle that in this setting for the second year in a row. The intro is done so let us see what the Raw after Mania had for us this year.
Backstage Segment – Bobby Lashley, MVP & Riddle
Nice segment here as we got Lashley arriving to the ThunderDome with MVP. I will say that it was a bold choice of Lashley to wear all that orange because all I can think of is the movie Dumb and Dumber every time I see someone rock orange. It was nice to see the plants give Lashley props and for Riddle to show up on his stallion. Riddle wants a match with Lashley but I loved how Lashley doesn’t want to bother with it because of how he has beaten him in the past. Riddle would goad him by recalling his own words and that was enough for Lashley to respond to him. Lashley smashed Riddle’s face into his stallion and that left a nice mark above his eyebrow. It is so nice to see Lashley flourishing and looking comfortable like he did during his TNA run prior to returning to WWE.
Yeah, Lashley has beaten Riddle a couple of times. Not sure why this is a thing. This was okay, although as has been the norm lately, MVP simply wasn’t needed. It’s only a matter of time before Lashley realizes it in storyline too. Still, this was fine for what it was.
Bobby Lashley w/ MVP vs Riddle
I liked that Lashley wasted no time in attacking Riddle before the match even started. Riddle is a selling machine and doesn’t overdo like a certain Dolph does and it makes the attacks look better. The attack lasted a bit longer than I thought it would but Riddle was still game for the match. The match itself was fun and Riddle continued to do his great job in selling for Lashley. Riddle looked to have the momentum but that was in the short term as Lashley would lock him in the Hurt Lock for the win. I really wonder what is next for Riddle because he could get a rematch with Sheamus for the US title or he can just hang around on his scooter and see what happens. Either way, Lashley continues to look like a proper dominant force.
Agreed. This went right to sixty and was better for it. They made a match of this. I agree that Riddle’s selling was excellent here. It always makes things look more devastating and Riddle was there for all of it. I, too, kinda wonder what’s next for Riddle other than his rematch with Sheamus. Time will tell, I guess.
Backstage Segment – Rhea Ripley
Rhea is more than capable on the mic but this was not her night on the mic. They totally overdid it with her talking about how confident she is and is reminded me of when you repeat yourself during a debate or essay because you have nothing else to say. She does ooze confidence so there is that but this promo was nothing to write home about.
Yeah, not good. She was absolutely leaden here. Not her finest moment by any means. She had a bad night in general and this was just the beginning. Two crowns is almost kind but I’ll leave it at that because of how great we know she’s already been.
Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander vs The Viking Raiders
Oh, how nice it was to hear the familiar sound of the entrance theme for the Viking Raiders. It has been far too long since we last saw them and you could see it on Ivar and Erik’s faces how much they missed being in that ring. Erik was relegated to the 24/7 chase but he is thankfully back with his long-time tag team partner. I was worried that this would be a squash match but I am happy to say that it was not. This was a pretty solid back and forth and the Vikings are exactly what the tag division needed on Raw. Yes, this would have been better with fans but i will gladly take this. Good match and the Viking Raiders would pick up the win. Also, I hope the rumors of Shelton and Cedric getting put on the back burner are not true because they could be a nice fixture in the tag division.
I’m just glad Shelton and Cedric didn’t job here. I’m glad to see the Raiders back and I’m sure Erik is glad Ivar’s back too. Ivar had a blast and he was fun to watch. He loves this and his whole being showed it tonight. He was nothing and nowhere until Ivar came back. They had to win so I totally get that. As Sam said the rumors are that the power-that-is in WWE is completely done with Shelton and Cedric and I hope that’s not true.
Backstage Segment – Asuka
This was short and sweet as Asuka is ready to get the Raw Women’s Title back. That really what all this was as Asuka kept it simple.
As Sam said, short and sweet. It did its job.
In-Ring Segment – Charlotte Flair
Charlotte pretty much delivered the promo of her career to date with this one. She pretty much addressed how some fans, we know a certain one, believe she has been over-pushed and that she totally has earned her spot. This was really good and Charlotte let everybody know how she feels. She is the standard for the division and this is the Charlotte I have been missing since her return. She does not need to flirt with being a face because she just oozes heel all day, every day, and twice on Sunday. She named every woman on the roster and how she is better than them. This was really good and I liked how she gave enough about why she missed Wrestlemania. The story is out there and it is a shame she missed the event. I am all for this Charlotte and what she brings to the table.
Charlotte’s awake now. I agree with Sam. She delivered the best promo she’s ever delivered. Nothing else touches it. She stumbled at the beginning but she turned it on fairly quickly and it just seared the ears of all who heard it. I also loved how it kind of “shot” at the sheets of dirt and their assumptions (that’s all any of it ever was) that she was being pushed undeservedly and that was over-hyped. Exceptional work from her and THIS is the Charlotte that interests me.
Asuka vs Rhea Ripley (Raw Women’s Championship)
This match was really looking better than their match from night two at Wrestlemania but that quickly went away once the botches happened. After once botch in particular, you could see how frustrated Rhea was with it because she knows they can do better than that. The match did start out strong with some good back and forth but the botches really derailed all that momentum. They ended up on the outside and Charlotte would come back to attack both women. She took them out and reiterated that she is the top of the division. Feels like we are heading for a triple threat at Wrestlemania Backlash and I am sure the IWC will love that.
Yikes! Rhea’s night just went from bad to worse here. As Sam said, it started well but it went completely down the tubes. Botches just killed this one for me. I couldn’t get into it. I can only imagine the power-that-is telling Charlotte to run out there and save it. That, she did. She came out with plenty of fury, took her heels off, and regulated on both of them. Sam predicts a Triple Threat and there’s no way he’s not right. I’m all in for it with this newest incarnation of Charlotte.
Backstage Segment – The Miz, John Morrison & Maryse
I loved how Morrison didn’t know why Maryse was there and Miz had to let him know. Morrison did his best to play it off but Miz and Maryse knew that he forgot. It was hilarious and it was rather obvious she was there because Miz and Mrs. was returning after Raw. This was fun and each person played their part rather well here.
Fun little back and forth. It set up the Miz TV segment we got a little later. It did its job.
Backstage Segment – Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Mandy Rose, & Dana Brooke
Nia and Shayna were making fun of Mandy Rose’s slip at Wrestlemania and I can’t blame them. Mandy would come in once Shayna left and would own up to her mishap. She would slap Nia and Dana Brooke would come in to join the attack. They would leave and Nia was none too pleased. This was fine I guess but Mandy and Dana looked heelish by waiting for Nia to be alone to attack her.
Not sure I understand Sam’s grade but so be it. Mandy did just fine here – setting Nia up for a delicious face slap and mini-beatdown courtesy of Dana and her. Well done by everyone involved.
WWE was going to have to do plenty to win me over with the Alexa stuff after that debacle of an ending to the Fiend/Orton match. Thankfully, I am back on the Alexa train and it seems like she doesn’t need the Fiend or Bray anymore because she has tapped into something darker. I loved this and I like that Alexa is growing in this role. It would be easy to let her stay the same with the character but they are adding more to it to keep it fresh. She has a new friend in a doll named “Lily” and I loved it. This was good and I wonder what is next for her.
Miz TV – The Miz, John Morrison, Maryse, & Damian Priest
I kind of love that Miz is more serious around Maryse in comparison to when he is only with Morrison. Morrison brings out his goofiness but Maryse brings him back down to Earth. That is a cool little wrinkle and that added to this. Morrison was a complete goof and I loved how he pitched a spinoff to Miz and Mrs. but you could see Miz and Maryse were not keen on the idea. Miz did the heel thing of taking credit for something he has no right to and that was great. Miz believes he is the reason Bad Bunny did so well, and he totally killed it, and that would bring out Damian Priest to put the Miz in his place. They would trade words and Miz and Morrison would have a back and forth as to who would face Priest. Maryse would be the voice of reason and say they can both face him and Priest would accept and come down to the ring. I loved that Miz and Morrison when into “excuse mode” because they weren’t in their gear and wanted time to change into it.
This was fun. Miz TV segments are always fun. They were there to plug “Miz & Mrs” and I’m all for that. The show is a riot and if you aren’t watching it, you should be. They were fun talking about the Bad Bunny match (in which Bunny SERIOUSLY over-delivered, btw). I’m happy that Damian has something to move on to as well. Bunny jump-started him nicely and he’s on his way now. Should be a fun match.
The Miz & John Morrison w/ Maryse vs Damian Priest
This was a nice little handicap match here and I liked that Miz and Morrison were indeed wrestling in the clothes they wore to the ring for the Miz TV segment. Priest can totally nail it in the ring and he is a good person to have a handicap match with. I will also add that you could see Maryse smile during the early parts of the match when the Miz was in the ring and you have to think she loves seeing her husband work the ring. They really are “relationship goals” and their love is real. Solid back and forth in the match and I loved Miz’s willingness to be stripped down to his boxers by Priest. Maryse would cause a distraction and that would allow Miz to use the ropes for leverage to get the sneaky win. This match gets an extra bump in the grade because of Miz willing to strip down and for Miz and Maryse tripping over his pants right before they cut to the back.
…and it was. Of course, Damian couldn’t win. The way he lost was just perfect. The feud can continue and the match itself was still fun. Damian, as usual, delivered nicely. Maryse at ringside was fun too as she was really into it. There’s nothing Miz won’t do and he proved it here. Loved watching Maryse and Miz battle with pants that wouldn’t come off. Fun stuff.
Backstage Segment – Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
This was fine, I guess. Nia and Shayna were interviewed and Nia took issue with them replaying the attack from earlier in the night. She plans on getting revenge on Dana and Mandy with the help of Shayna in their match and we shall see how that plays out.
Agreed. It was fine. It kinda did its job but not much else.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
What in the world was this match and why did this happen? Like, why? Why? Why? Why? Nia falling over intentionally to make it look accidental was cringey and this was just something that left me shaking my head. Dana and Mandy would leave the match because of reasons. SKIP!!!!!
…and this is why we have skulls in two different colors (okay, there are three but the third one’s for NXT). This was utter confusion from beginning to end. They can all work, yet the booking ensured they wouldn’t. I also have no clue why Dana & Mandy did the heel thing and left the match early. I’m guessing they’ll explain that later but will I care? Not really. P.S.: Still hate the fact that Mandy is stuck with Dana. One of these things is definitely NOT like the other.
In-Ring segment – MVP, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Randy Orton & Adam Pearce
This segment was fine and dandy but it was easy to see where it was going. MVP talked up Lashley and why he wasn’t coming out to the ring. He said Drew is good but not as good as Lashley and that would bring him out. He wants a rematch and Braun Strowman would come out. I did a chuckle when Strowman bragged about beating Shane at Mania like it was this tremendous feat. He wants Lashley next and then Randy Orton would come out. He said he was done with Alexa and the Fiend and now wants the title. Adam Pearce would come out and make a triple threat match that will feature the three men. Kind of obvious what was happening here and I can’t say I was too excited.
MVP is not as good when he has to let other people talk. He insist on jumping in and it grinds the rhythm of whoever he’s sparring with to a complete halt. He kept interrupting Drew and it was annoying. The rest of this was fine, I guess. Braun’s brag about beating Shane was a riot, I agree. This three-way doesn’t excite me but okay. The work will be good if nothing else, right?
Backstage Segment – Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman
Braun really needs to get over the stupid thing because he can’t keep going back to that whenever someone says something about him. He and Drew had some words for each other and each feel like they will win the triple threat. At least it wasn’t long and they kept it short and to the point.
Agreed. Anything having to do with the Braun/Shane thing needs to be forgotten. It’s the very worst angle in wrestling that I can recall and it’s best left far behind. That he keeps referencing it is just silly. Beyond that, this was fine.
In-Ring Segment – Elias, Jaxson Ryker & The New Day
This is probably the highest grade I have given an Elias segment in quite some time. He wanted to pay tribute to Shane and I love that Xavier Woods was the one interrupting him with Francesca. Elias hates being interrupted and this was a creative way to do it. New Day was, as usual, great here and they really are the reason as to why this got such a good grade. Elias usually can hang on the mic but he felt totally out of his element here going against Woods and Kofi. They even brought back the “Shame!” to throw it at Elias and Ryker over being dominated by Braun. Elias tried to fire back by saying the same happened to them with Omos but they were quick to shut it down. I loved the DMX references as well from the New Day and they really made this segment fun. Also, Elias doesn’t need Ryker because he did absolutely nothing during this.
Elias has such great timing and Xavier does too. We saw two masters at work here when Elias tried to play a tribute song for Shane. I was just dead. In my opinion, Elias did just fine here. It’s just that New Day operate differently and Elias kept to his speed. That didn’t bother me. Love a good DMX reference (sleep well). Oh, and Jaxson was there too…I think.
The New Day vs Elias & Jaxson Ryker
It really is hard to care about an Elias match nowadays because Ryker is usually involved. Besides his views being backwards, he doesn’t do much in the ring. New Day are great and Elias can be too when given the right opponent but this match was just okay to me. The work was fine, with Ryker being the exception, and New Day would end up winning here. The match was what it was and I wish I could have been more into it than I was.
This was decent. I wasn’t that into it either but it was hardly bad. How many bad matches are Elias, Woods, & Kofi in, really. This was a decent back and forth with New Day getting the win – though it really doesn’t matter. I agree with Ryker is nothing it the ring. He never was and I doubt he’ll fix that. Whatever. I was reasonably entertained by the other three.
Backstage Segment – Randy Orton
This was oddly paint-by-numbers by Orton here. The man has been doing great in the promo department over the last few years but this was really nothing. He reiterated that he is done with Alexa and the Fiend and wants the WWE Championship. I expect more from Orton and do not want to see him revert back to his lackadaisical days.
I suppose I should finally explain something. For those who’ve been reading this blog, you’ll note that I’ve been utterly silent with regards the Randy/Bliss/Fiend storyline. There is a good reason for that. I was fine with it when it was kind of dark. The problem for me began when they started introducing pentagrams and the like. It’s a symbol largely used by wiccans and pagans. It was also used by King Agrippa as a symbol of magic during the Renaissance period. I’m a very religious person and I just can’t go there – hence my avoidance of the entire storyline. As soon as the pentagram showed up, I stopped watching anything having to do with the feud – switching channels until promos and matches ended. I watched the second night of Mania after the fact and sped through the match as not to watch it. I just don’t do Pentagrams or pagan symbols as a whole.
This feud appears to have ended so I could watch this promo. It was fine, I guess. He’s done better work but he’s also been far worse. This was a little paint-by-numbers but it did its job.
Firefly Fun House
Oh, how I have missed seeing Bray in the Fun House. They always give us something nice and this had some nice things. We had Bray snapping the neck of Rabbit to kill him again and we had Abby getting bleeped for calling Alexa certain naughty words. Bray seems to be reborn and he wants everybody to know that everything is fine. I loved the way he said it because you could totally tell he was saying that because things are not fine and he is trying to trick himself into believing they are. This was fun and I cannot wait to see where Bray goes next.
I agree completely. It was nice to see Bray again. It’s been quite a while. Who among us doesn’t love Ramblin’ Rabbit? I ask you! There’s such dimension to this character and I’m interested to see where he goes next.
Drew McIntyre vs Randy Orton vs Braun Strowman
The problem I had with this match was that it was rather obvious Drew would win so he could get his rematch with Lashley. They renamed Backlash to “Wrestlemania Backlash” and that makes me feel like we will be seeing plenty of rematches there. The work was fine enough even though there was the botch of Drew trying to hit Braun with a neckbreaker and it totally not working. The back and forth between all three men would continue and Randy would hit Braun with an RKO and seemed to have the match won. That was until Drew came in and would steal the win and will face Lashley once again. MVP would come out after the match to the entrance ramp and McIntyre would get jumped by former Retribution members Mace and T-Bar. It seems like Mace and T-Bar might be hired guns for MVP and Lashley but that wasn’t made very clear. My hope is that MVP gives them their old names back and ditches the silly gimmicks that came with being in Retribution.
Yep. Drew’s rematch was a guarantee so I couldn’t care about who’d win. I already knew. You did too. Drew actually botched! He never does that so it was funny to see it. I didn’t see T-Blah and Mars coming out to beat Drew down. I take it they are both aligned with Lashley now? Maybe; maybe not. I like not knowing. I agree with Sam in that if they are, the names need to go badly. Fun end.
T h e D e d u c t i o n
For a Raw after Mania, this was quite the so-so episode. Not much great stuff to speak of during this episode outside of Charlotte’s promo. It was nice to see the Viking Raiders back and they can bring some new life to the Raw tag division. New Day throwing the DMX references was a nice tribute to the late rapper. It was also nice to see the Fun House again and that Alexa seems to have tapped into something that has caused her to ditch the Fiend and Bray. Miz, Morrison and Maryse were fun together and that was really it. Everything else was pretty meh and not something you expect from a Raw after Mania. We also had Graves back on Raw and he was good as usual. We also had the debut of Adnan Virk and I thought he did good but he clearly has room to grow because calling a WWE is very different than something like MLB. I think he has it in him and is willing to put the time to get better.
This was fine. I was looking for more excitement but what we got was fine. Only Mandy & Dana vs. Nia & Shayna was truly terrible. The ending made zero sense and the other stuff didn’t either. Rhea’s showing tonight was NOT good at all – either in promo or in the ring. She better fix it quick too. Charlotte was a real revelation here – nailing that promo. I’m interested to see what happens now. The new commentator, Adnan Virk, was utterly plastic and he didn’t really know what he was doing but time will likely fix that. He also has the same tone as Byron so that was a bit grating. Corey and Byron got him through so that’s good.