Sam here and I have to start the review off by saying that I will be riding solo for the Raw review like I did prior to my break. Botch is a bit too busy to be able to write up the review so I am back to do this solo with a Sovereign Statement. Raw hasn’t been great these last two weeks so I cannot say that I was looking forward to this week’s episode. The best thing has been the heel version of Charlotte Flair and the unmasking of T-Bar and Mace. You can see how excited I am so let us see what Raw had for us this week.
Braun Strowman vs Mace & T-Bar
Braun wants to prove something to Drew and he says he can take care of Mace and T-Bar by himself. I mean, I get what he is saying but we are totally going to get the tag match because that is how things work in WWE. Braun would come out and reiterate that this will be a handicap match and that is what we got. I like that T-Bar is back in gear more befitting him though I still wish he and Mace would just go by their old names prior to being in Retribution. The match was fine but it was obvious that it would get thrown out and Drew would come out to save Braun and that is what we got. I am not really digging this stuff with Braun and Drew so far but I do like that they are treating Mace and T-Bar as a legit threat.
Braun Strowman & Drew McIntyre vs Mace & T-Bar
Raw came back from commercial and the tag match was already underway. The match itself was fine but this Braun and Drew stuff just isn’t vibing with me. Like, it just feels like they are sticking Braun in this because of his program with Shane that was dreadful and they are hoping we forget that with this. I feel like this would be better if Drew was taking on Mace and T-Bar solo because Braun really feels like he is being forced into this story more than Daniel Bryan did during the buildup to Wrestlemania. Solid enough back and forth and Mace and T-Bar would win via count out and I am not sure about that. It doesn’t really make them look like the force they are selling them as to win that way. Braun would hit Drew with a slam after the match because Drew accidentally hit him with a clothesline and we can all see where this is going.
Adam Pearce & Drew McIntyre Backstage
Short and to the point like it needed to be. Drew approached Pearce in his office and wants a match with Braun. Pearce obliged him and made the match. This didn’t need to be a long segment and it was fine this way.
It was nice to see Morrison back in the fold with the Miz this week. I cannot say the same for Ryker because once again, he added nothing to this. I think a trio of Miz, Morrison and Elias would actually be a lot of fun but that deadweight Ryker is still hanging around. This was fun and Miz really knows how to sell whatever he wants that will benefit him. He hyped up his show once again and I loved that they did an unplugged version of their song with Elias. Again, Ryker is not needed at all because he added nothing to this segment. Damian Priest would interrupt and he still cannot believe Miz and Morrison are still clinging on to Bad Bunny. New Day would then come out and Xavier Woods was carrying a case and I had no idea why. It would be revealed very soon though as it was filled with tomatoes and they would throw them at Miz, Morrison, Elias and Ryker. This was fun but Ryker being there brings the grade down.
Miz, Elias & Ryker vs New Day & Priest
This match would have totally been better had Morrison competed and not Ryker. Ryker just stands out as not being anywhere close to his cohorts in this match. We all know how great Woods, Kofi and Priest are in the ring and Miz and Elias are fully capable of rising to the level of their opponents but Ryker is not in that class at all. The back and forth was solid and I loved Woods’ sell of the knee from Elias because he totally looked knocked out. Again, Ryker’s involvement brings the grade down because this could have been a really fun match had the person on the outside been involved but that sadly was not the case. I wonder if Morrison’s knee is still not 100% because he missed last week and did not wrestle this week. New Day and Priest would pick up the win here and that was the right call.
Sonya Deville Backstage/In-Ring
I wondered why Sonya was backstage and it would all be made clear very soon. Sonya let Charlotte Flair into the building and I will say they make quite the nice-looking pair. Nobody knows what the future holds for Sonya in the ring but those two could make quite the team if I may say so.
Sonya would be in the ring as Raw came back from commercial and she would introduce Charlotte to the ring. Sonya would replay the events of last week when Charlotte beatdown a referee after her match and would explain why Charlotte is there. She said that Charlotte had paid her fine and that she would be reinstated. Charlotte would then get on the mic and she would issue apologies for her behavior and would also give one to the referee that Sonya had invited to be with them in the ring. The referee would then say he would have given the match to Charlotte had he seen Rhea Ripley’s involvement and that would cause Charlotte to demand an apology from him because of that mistake. He would say that and then Sonya would tell him that he would be the referee for her return match later. I like this version of Charlotte and I hope we see more of Sonya on Raw. Adam Pearce would be in Gorilla and he took issue with being blindsided by this. Sonya would apologize but Pearce was not buying anything she was saying.
Adam Pearce & Braun Strowman Backstage
Pearce was in office and Braun would come in. Braun would tell him he has no problem with facing Drew but he wants something in return if he wins. He pointed out how he wasn’t pinned the triple threat match and he should be added to the title match at Wrestlemania Backlash if he wins. Pearce thought about it and would agree to it. I am not into this idea and really feels like Braun is only there to protect Lashley and McIntyre from taking the pin.
Sheamus’ Open Challenge
Sheamus was in the ring for another open challenge and I loved how he gloated about beating down Humberto Carrillo last week. This is probably my favorite version of Sheamus as solo act because he feels like himself. He would issue the open challenge and I enjoyed how annoyed he was to see that Humberto came out to answer it again. Humberto got in his face and I loved how Sheamus just trash talked him the whole time before attacking him. Humberto would end up getting the better of him in the end and would leave. It sounds like I liked this more than the grade but that is all because Sheamus carried this. Humberto is still the definition of no charisma and it showed here because I didn’t buy that he was angry as Sheamus or anything. There surely is someone better backstage that could be in this role besides Humberto.
MVP & Lashley Backstage
MVP and Lashley were backstage and they spoke about the potential that Braun may be added to the match at Wrestlemania Backlash. MVP said that Braun should not get ahead of himself because he hasn’t been added yet and they have some things to say about this and a few other things in the ring. Nice segment and I do like when MVP does the talking for Lashley when the time calls for it.
Rhea Ripley Backstage
Not the strongest promo from Rhea here. It was pretty by the numbers and not much was said in it. She isn’t focusing on Charlotte because she is focused on being champion and for her match tonight. Rhea is a much better talker than what she had shown on Raw so far and that is a shame.
MVP & Lashley In-Ring
This was basically a continuation of what they were saying backstage and it was good. I mean, the backstage segment or this one could have worked just fine and I don’t think we needed both of them. Lashley bragged about his victory over Drew once again and they spoke about how Lashley can beat Braun and Drew. They do not like the idea of Lashley having to defend the title in a triple threat because he does not have to be pinned in order to lose the title. They plan on watching the match at ringside and we shall see what happens with that.
Riddle & Randy Orton Backstage
This was the best segment of the night and I am loving seeing Randy work with Riddle. Word is that Randy was the one that wanted to work with Riddle and if that is indeed the case, Randy really recognizes the potential in Riddle. I loved that Riddle was doing circles around the interviewer during this segment because that is totally what he would do. He spoke about his victory over Orton and how it made him feel. Orton would eventually come in and this is when the segment got even funnier. Orton played the straight man so well and I have no idea how he didn’t crack during this. Orton told him that he won his respect and that he is game for them being a tag team. He said he used his pull to get a tag match made with them and Riddle was all for it. This was just great and this may be a better pairing than the one Riddle had with Pete Dunne in NXT.
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler & Reginald Backstage
I am just over this story and Shayna NEEDS to break away from this so badly. She is way better than this and I have no idea why this is still a thing. Nia spoke about Dana and Mandy and I really had a hard time caring even a little bit. Shayna told them they need to focus and for them to be rid of distractions and would leave. Flowers would then be delivered to Nia and she thanks Reginald but he would say they were not from him. Angel Garza would come in and say that he sent them and wished her luck in her match. Reginald did not look pleased by that and they would walk off when Nia would spot Dana and Mandy. She would slam her flowers into Mandy and walk off. I am just over this story and cannot wait for it to be over.
Braun Strowman & MVP Backstage
Braun was warming up backstage when MVP would approach him. They had a back and forth about Braun wanting to be added to the title match and Braun seems pretty certain he will win. Decent enough segment here but nothing special.
Randy Orton & Riddle vs Shelton & Cedric
Fun match here and you really can tell how much Orton is enjoying working with Riddle. Orton has never been one to hide how he feels in the ring and you can see he is having fun with Riddle. The match itself was fun even though it seems like Cedric and Shelton have been firmly placed in the enhancement talent role. It isn’t a bad place to be but they could be much more than that. Randy also looked tickled to be working the ring with Shelton and you have to imagine they go back to when Shelton was first in the company. The back and forth was fun and I loved how excited Riddle got when Randy had Shelton prepped for the draping DDT after he hit Cedric with an RKO. Randy would hit Shelton with the DDT after he tagged in Riddle and Riddle would hit the Floating Bro for the win. I have no idea how long this will last but I will enjoy it because it is tons of fun.
Asuka, Lana & Naomi vs Rhea, Shayna & Nia
Mandy and Dana really killed any enjoyment I could have had for this match by coming out and throwing water on Shayna. Nia would then come and “slip” because of the water. This Nia slipping story is very cringe and is the frontrunner for worst storyline of the year so far. The match was fine enough and Lana really is showing her improvement in the ring every time she is in there. I know she is putting in work with Natalya and she has to travel quite a way to do that so she is clearly dedicated to this and is not going to be just a pretty face in WWE. I actually did think Lana may pin Rhea but that would not happen and Rhea would win here after hitting Lana with the Riptide and letting Nia get the pin after a leg drop. That Mandy and Dana stuff is just so bad because they keep trying to paint them as faces but they are acting like heels.
Mandy & Dana Backstage
I. JUST. DON’T. CARE!!!! I love Sonya but I do not care for Mandy and Dana right now. Sonya is punishing Mandy for her involvement by putting her in a match with Charlotte. That is something a face authority figure would do to a heel but that is not what they are telling us here. Sonya is supposed to be the heel and Mandy is the face but that is not working. Mandy oozes heel and they should just have her go heel and maybe try having Shayna and Nia be the faces because that is how this story feels.
This was quite the weird segment and I think that is why I liked it. It felt like Alexa was about to do some ASMR but she would swerve us by having Lily pop up as soon as she told us to picture a peaceful place. Alexa would then talk more about Lily and that she has started to grow restless. Alexa says it might be time to unleash Lily onto the women’s locker room and that has me intrigued. This does remind me of when Bray Wyatt first appeared after his repacking so I am interested by this.
Charlotte Flair vs Mandy Rose
This match wasn’t bad by any means but it just fell flat to me. I think that has to do with the fact that Charlotte is a heel and Mandy has been acting like one even though they keep trying to convince us she is a face. Again, the match was fine and the back and forth was good but the heat wasn’t there. I did like the interactions between Charlotte and the referee and how she would get upset at him for any little thing. Charlotte would end up winning and I am wondering if this leads to Charlotte having her own “Lil’ Naitch” with this referee because that would be a fun thing for her to have since she is a heel.
Drew McIntyre Backstage
Another interview that was pretty short and to the point. Drew spoke about the stipulation that was added to his match with Braun Strowman and he isn’t a fan of it like MVP and Lashley. He does not plan on letting Braun win so he can be added to the title match.
Drew McIntyre vs Braun Strowman
This was a good main event and I didn’t doubt that because Drew is great and Braun can have good matches depending on who he has a match with. This was pretty much a hoss fight and that was the only way this was going to look. MVP and Lashley would eventually make their way out to the ring to observe things a bit closer. I will say that Braun landed an ugly looking superplex on Drew and it did not look pretty at all. Braun looked like he landed completely on his lower back and that did not look pretty for Drew either. MVP would end up helping Drew because he did not want Braun to win but that would be all for naught because Mace and T-Bar would get involved and that would cost Drew the match. Braun is not inserted into the match and Lashley will have to defend his title in a triple threat match.
Overall, this was a better episode than what we have gotten over the last two weeks prior. The matches were better and the best stuff came from Riddle and Orton. Those two are an odd couple and I am here for it. Heel Charlotte is still great and I dug the New Day and Priest throwing tomatoes. I also love that they are sticking with Mace and T-Bar being maskless because that is how they should have been from the start. The Mandy/Dana/Nia stuff needs to go because it is full on cringe and nothing about it had been good. All in all, a better showing by Raw this week but they still have some work to do.