Raw has really been struggling over the last month to really land what they have been putting out there. I mean, there is some good stuff like the Orton and Riddle unlikely partnership but that really is the brightest spot for the brand right now. Everything else just is either meh or worse which is not a good thing to sit through for three hours. Last week felt like a step in the right direction so we shall see if they can continue it this week.
Adam Pearce, Sonya Deville, MVP, Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman Coin Toss
They had a coin toss to determine who would face Bobby Lashley for this episode of Raw and that was creative. I mean, it was creative but then Braun and Drew came in and it really made the whole thing feel just a bit meh. It is a different way to see who faces somebody but it just didn’t work for me here. MVP and Drew did all they could but Braun really does stick out. Braun won the coin toss and will face Lashley tonight.
AJ Styles & Omos In-Ring
AJ truly has had a WWE Hall of Fame career in only five years and that is really saying something. Not everybody can just walk in and have as many title reigns as he has which goes to show how much he impressed Vince from the get-go. People claim Vince will ruin everybody he touches but he will recognize a once in a lifetime talent when he sees it like AJ. AJ came out with Omos to explain where they have been and they have been partying since winning the titles. I am sure there is a real reason why but I like how AJ sold this. This man is just so different on the mic from his days in TNA/Impact that it is phenomenal to see. New Day would eventually come out and sarcastically talk about how AJ and Omos were on vacation. I did enjoy Kofi recalling when he won the WWE Championship and how he took no time off. Omos wasn’t the best here as the timing on his line was off but this was all to setup their tag title match that was to come after the commercial break.
AJ Styles & Omos vs The New Day (Raw Tag Titles)
Fun match here and I dug this as much as their encounter from Wrestlemania. This was different though as Omos got in there early and showed a little bit in the ring. I will say though that the backbreakers he hit on Woods and Kofi were really gentle and looked like when a dad play wrestles with his children. The action was fun and it picked up once AJ was in the ring. AJ still hasn’t lost a step at this stage of his career and he had some fun back and forth with Kofi and Woods. The action was solid and I loved the Phenomenal Forearm off Omos for the win. I do not know who will be next for these two but I would imagine that they will be facing RK-Bro somewhere down the road.
Sonya Deville, Charlotte Flair & Adam Pearce Backstage
Looks like Sonya was having a conversation with Charlotte without Pearce and Pearce did not like that. Pearce feels like Sonya is starting to overstep a bit but doesn’t look like Sonya thinks so. Seems like we are getting a power struggle and we shall see how this plays out.
Eva Marie Vignette
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! WHY?! WHY?! WHY!? WHY?! WHY?! WHY IN THE WORLD IS SHE BACK?! If anybody has embodied what the divas of the past were like, it is Eva bleeping Marie. Hate! Nothing but hate for this vignette! I know some people are saying she may have improved in the ring and maybe she has but nothing I have seen online has shown she has even tried that. The only thing that would make this okay is if she is a manager because outside of that, she is not needed one bit. This just has Vince written all over it and really brought down my mood for Raw for this week.
MVP & Bobby Lashley Backstage
MVP and Lashley have been good together but this really just felt by the numbers for me. MVP did his usual hyping of Lashley and Lashley spoke about how he can handle Drew and Braun. Really not much else to say about this other than Lashley does feel like a champion worthy of that title. It has been said that the man makes the title and that the title does not make the man and Lashley has certainly made the title.
Elias & Jaxson Ryker Backstage
Elias and Ryker wanted revenge for the tomatoes on the New Day and were going to throw some of their own as they recovered from their match with Omos and AJ. This is when things got a bit too out there as they would hit Randy Orton with tomatoes and how is it that they did not see him? Like, he was right in front of the New Day so they should have seen him. The best part was Riddle riding by on his scooter and Orton seething as he knocked off the tomatoes from his body.
Charlotte Flair vs Dana Brooke
This match was just okay and I really couldn’t get into it. Charlotte did do some nice trash talking to Dana about how she hasn’t gotten any better since she was her lackey years ago. Outside of that, the work was decent enough. I really am not a fan of Dana’s handspring because they do not have any sort of impact because she just floats and barely hits her opponent. Charlotte would end up winning and would be attacked by Mandy Rose after because Charlotte did not let go of the hold right away. Sonya Deville would come out and then Raw would go to commercial.
Sonya Deville & Charlotte Flair In-Ring
Sonya and Charlotte were in the ring and I pretty much knew where this was going. Sonya talked about how she had a chat with Charlotte about how she is not included in the Raw Women’s Championship match when she probably should be. Charlotte would then chime in and continue to talk about how she needs to be in the match and Sonya would eventually say that Charlotte will be added to the match to make it a triple threat. Rhea Ripley would come out and she was not happy with the decision. I agree with those in the DD in that Rhea has not been great on the mic on Raw so far. She would have a back and forth in the ring and then Asuka would come out. Asuka thinks she can win regardless of the number of opponents and Charlotte bragged about how she beat them already in the past. This would lead to a bit of a scrum and Asuka would stand tall. Also, I do not mind Charlotte getting a title shot because she hasn’t had one for singles gold since she had the NXT Women’s Championship last year.
Humberto Carrillo Backstage
Humberto may have worked on his physique but his mic skills are still not near that or his in-ring skills. He just does not come across as believable so this wasn’t all that great. That was until Sheamus came in to attack him and really put a nice beating on him. Sheamus is confident Humberto will not answer his challenge and would leave. I did not like how Humberto sold the beating because he looked far too recovered for something he should have been selling a bit more.
Sonya Deville & Adam Peace Backstage
This is starting to feel like we are heading towards a power struggle match between these two in which they will have representatives representing them in the match. They could even build Survivor Series about that and have that settle who holds control and would be a nice change of pace from the typical brand supremacy narrative. Also, Lily was seen in the background and maybe that is a hint as to who Lily and Alexa have their eyes on.
The Miz & John Morrison In-Ring
Solid stuff from these two and I love that Morrison is a complete goof. It is very much like what we see from Austin Theory in NXT but Morrison is not as much of a meathead as Theory. They spoke about how they were pelted with tomatoes and how disrespectful it was. Miz was on fire once again on the mic as he talked about how his career matches up with the legends in WWE history. Morrison provided some nice comedic timing as well and I will continue to say he is much better than what many think. He isn’t trying to be a serious guy and is playing into what his personality feels like from what I have seen on Miz and Mrs. Damian Priest would eventually come out for his match with Morrison and was even shown that he had some words for the Miz. He thinks the Miz would not last where Priest is from and that was that.
John Morrison vs Damian Priest
This was a match I have been wanting to see because Morrison’s style is one that is made to go against Priest. The action was solid and there was a nice back and forth in this match. Morrison sold his butt off like he always does and Priest did the same. These two really had some nice chemistry and I really would love to see more matches between the two but that probably will not happen as long as Morrison is partnered with Miz and is more of an underling. The Spanish Fly was impressive by Morrison onto Priest but Priest would end up coming out on top. I would imagine we will see a match between Priest and Miz at Wrestlemania Backlash and then they can finally move on from each other.
Adam Pearce & Mansoor Backstage
I guess Mansoor is now on Raw and that really feels like it is coming out of nowhere. There is a part of me that feels like this is being done to appease the Saudi audience and I really hope that is not why this is happening. Sheamus would come in about his open challenge and would spot Mansoor. This would eventually lead to Sheamus telling Mansoor that he should answer his challenge and Mansoor was up for the challenge. Pearce and Mansoor would trade some words about how fast things move on Raw and that was that. I think I would have preferred if Mansoor took more control and stood up to Sheamus but it was fine, I guess.
I am sorry but there was really no point in this other than to fill time. He pretty much said the same things he said during his first interview with Lashley and nothing new was added by having this segment.
Lucha House Party vs Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin
This was such a random match and really looked like they cut into the feed for Main Event. The work was solid but the randomness of the match is what really made me not feel invested in it. I wondered if we would see someone like Mace and T-Bar come out to destroy the two teams but that would not happen. The match went on and Lucha House Party would eventually win. I was ready to grade this lower until Cedric got on the mic. He really vented out his frustration with Shelton and how he is holding him back. He feels like the time has passed Shelton by and he is done with him. I liked this from Cedric and I really hope they follow up with him and don’t let him flounder in nothingness.
Angel Garza & Drew Gulak Backstage
The randomness continues with this one and this felt so out of place. I love me some Gulak and Garza but this just felt like something out of a video game cutscene when two random characters interact. Gulak poked fun at Garza’s win-loss record with the ladies and in matches. Gulak challenged him to a match Garza would accept.
Shelton Benjamin Backstage
Where has this Shelton been his career in WWE? He really came off well here in talking about how he has survived this long in his career. I liked how he spoke about how he has seen young talent flame out time and time again and how that could happen to Cedric. Seems like we may be heading to a series of matches between Shelton and Cedric and I am all for that as long as they give them the time to tell a good story in the ring.
Angel Garza vs Drew Gulak
On paper this could be a stellar match but this was never going to be that. It feels like Garza is suffering from “Dolph Ziggler Syndrome” in that WWE starts and stops with him so many times. The match was what it was and Garza would win rather predictably. He would then place his rose in Gulak’s pants and would kick his bum. I know he said he would do it but I didn’t think he would literally do it.
Riddle simply is like R-Truth in that he is such a joy to watch when he is interacting with people backstage. He would come across the Viking Raiders and I loved how he asked them if they were fans of either the Vikings or Raiders because he needed to know and I loved how Erik and Ivar clarified their tag team name. I also loved Riddle’s expression when Erik said he was a Cleveland Browns fan. Riddle would leave them and find Randy and their interaction was gold as it has been the previous weeks. Randy is such a great straight man for Riddle and I have no idea how he doesn’t crack with the zaniness that Riddle brings. I did like how Riddle is continuing to tell Randy he will have matching trunks made to go with Randy and how Randy just wants him to be quiet and focus on winning matches. This really has been the brightest spot of Raw in recent weeks.
Riddle & Randy Orton vs Elias & Jaxson Ryker
I wish this match was as good as their match from last week but it just didn’t grab me like the one from last week. I will say I loved Riddle jamming to Orton’s theme as he made his way out to the ring. The main reason why I could not get into this match was their opponents. Elias is great but man has his pairing with Ryker done him no good. Everything that made Elias great has been lost by being paired with the man that does nothing but stand there. There was decent enough back and forth and Orton and Riddle would pick up the win. This tag team is great so far and I think this really could do wonders for Riddle’s stock in WWE to have someone as high up the locker room chain as Orton in his corner.
Drew McIntyre Interview
Drew is great on the mic but this was pretty standard stuff by him. He spoke about what he thinks about the Braun/Lashley match and says he doesn’t care who wins. The only thing he cares about is that they beat each other up. Braun would end up coming in and talked about how he belongs in the WWE Championship picture and will prove it tonight. It really is hard to buy Braun trying to pitch himself as a bit of an underdog in this story when he inserted himself into the match for no real reason other than that he didn’t get pinned in a match he still lost.
Sheamus vs Mansoor (US Championship)
This was a pretty solid match and the two worked well together. The only problem with it was that I had an inkling we would see Humberto play a factor in it and that is what would happen. The work was solid and so was the back and forth. Mansoor really bumped and sold hard for Sheamus and Sheamus would get a cut on his forehead at one point as well. I do not know what caused it but it didn’t bleed that much. Sheamus looked to have the match won when Humberto would come in and attack him to cause the DQ. Humberto would continue the attack but Sheamus would gain the advantage and hit him with a Brogue Kick for his troubles. Sheamus would hit Mansoor with one as well and stood tall with the US Championship.
I have enjoyed Alexa’s Playground so far but I really do want to see more advancement from it other than her talking about what is to come. I think because I saw Bray do it for so long in the Fun House that this just feels like a retread with Alexa. I do like Lily and how Alexa talks a bit through her. Alexa made it known that Lily has her eyes on someone on the roster and that her favorite color is red. Sonya was in red tonight and we did see Lily in the background so maybe that was a clue. Either way, Alexa seems ready to take action with Lily sometime in the near future so we shall see what happens.
Lana & Naomi vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (Women’s Tag Titles)
Nothing says “SKIP!” like the champions getting the jobber entrance. Honestly, you will not miss a thing if you skip this match. It wasn’t really much of a match either as you can tell they had no time to work before the main event. The state of the women’s tag division should be much better than this but it seems like they do not know what to do with it other than have the random rematch of matches we have seen before. The titles really need to come off of Nia and Shayna and given to another team so creative could have a new angle for them.
Bobby Lashley vs Braun Strowman
MVP cut a promo in Gorilla prior to the match and it was pretty much more of the same of what he said earlier in his two interview segments. Now the match itself was fine but nothing amazing that we haven’t seen before in the past between these two. There was solid enough action and back and forth between the two big men. This was very much in the realm of “big meaty men slapping meat” and then Drew would come out to the ring. I think I would have preferred if Drew came out before the match but that is a nitpick more than anything. Drew would join commentary and this would eventually play in to the end of the match. Braun would get thrown into Drew and he took offense to that. Drew would end up on the apron and cause the distraction that allowed Lashley to sort of hit a spear on Braun for the win. Drew would then hit Lashley and Strowman with the Claymore after the match and stood tall to end Raw.
Overall, this was a very so-so episode of Raw this week. Not much really stood out that was good outside of the partnership of Riddle and Orton, the Morrison/Priest match, and the breakup of Cedric and Shelton as a team. Outside of that, everything was pretty middle of the road to not great. I do not, I repeat do not, care to see Eva Marie on my screen again on Raw and the backlash from fans has already shown she is not being welcomed with open arms. WWE should be thanking the fact they do not have fans live for weekly shows because I could imagine they would crap all over it. All in all, this wasn’t that great of an episode and the build for Wrestlemania Backlash on the Raw side of things hasn’t been all that great either.