We have arrived at the go-home episode of Raw for Wrestlemania Backlash and I cannot say that I have really been excited about the build. It has been no secret that many fans, including myself, feel like Raw has been lackluster and that really hurts the build for their side of things for Wrestlemania Backlash. RK-Bro has been fun though so I will give them credit for that. Outside of that, not much I can say that has been going good for the red brand. Let us see what Raw had to bring for the go-home episode.
Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose & Asuka
This match was pretty meh for something to start the show with. It really doesn’t help that Dana and Mandy really aren’t doing much outside of acting like heels in their beef with Shayna and Nia. Charlotte has been great since her return and Asuka is usually fun but this match was just nothing special to speak of. The action was good enough but the most exciting thing came when Alexa Bliss would appear on the stage on her swing set with Lily. She said she and Lily were there to keep an eye on someone and the obvious guesses would be either Charlotte or Asuka. Outside of that, nothing much happened in the match until Shayna took a weird step and I wonder if that was Lily/Alexa’s doing. Asuka would take advantage and pick up the win.
Riddle & The New Day Backstage
I really do enjoy the interactions we get between the New Day and Riddle. It is fun to see someone match the fun aura you get from the New Day with Riddle and they really come off as people just having a conversation. Riddle and them spoke about how Randy was pelted with tomatoes and even had a laugh about it until Randy would show up behind Riddle. I loved how Riddle knew someone was behind him based on the New Day’s reaction and Orton would have a few things to say. He said a few things he liked and could not leave out how he ends careers. Good stuff and I like how Randy continues to be the straight man for everything Riddle is doing.
MVP & Braun Strowman Backstage
MVP went to Strowman’s room to try and convince him to take out Drew McIntyre so he can have a one-on-one match with Bobby Lashley. I get what he was going for but I just am not feeling Braun. I mean, he did get involved in something he had no business in and now MVP is trying to do what he can to get the match to the way it was supposed to be. MVP did do a decent enough job in trying to convince Braun because he was at least thinking about it after MVP left.
Adam Pearce, Damian Priest, John Morrison & The Miz Backstage
I liked this segment and I do hope the match between Miz and Priest at Wrestlemania Backlash is their blowoff. It is about time they move on from each other and this feels like the beginning of that. Priest wanted to talk to Pearce so he can finally end things with Miz and had a proposal that Miz did not seem all too keen on but that did not stop Morrison from accepting. Priest suggested that the winner of the match between Morrison and Priest will pick the stipulation for his match with Miz and Morrison agreed even though Miz did not want to. It does feel like we are building towards a possible split between Miz and Morrison and I do not know if I want to see that.
Jinder Mahal Gorilla
Oh, how nice it is to have Jinder Mahal back. I have been campaigning to see him face Drew McIntyre and Drew is fully game for that possible program. Jinder does look good and he has some new back up. One of them used to be in Indus Sher but it would seem like the other one may still be in trouble for leaking the Keith Lee victory because he was not brought with him. Veer and Shanky are their names and it will be interesting to see how they do with Jinder. Jinder is ready to build himself back up into a champion and I am all for it.
Jinder Mahal vs Jeff Hardy
We also had the return of Jeff Hardy tonight so I did wonder how this match would go. It would end up being academic as Jinder would end up defeating Jeff here. Both looked good and Jinder would get the win in rather short order. I wonder where Jinder, Shanky and Veer will be on the Raw roster and if we will see that logical feud with Drew.
Jaxson Ryker, Elias, AJ Styles & Omos Backstage
No idea why they are still keeping the tomatoes thing going because it doesn’t work. AJ and Omos would come in and save this segment. It is sad that a segment with Elias needs saving but that is what has happened since he has been straddled with Ryker. AJ would tell them to leave the tomatoes because it is time to get serious and Omos would even smash a tomato to emphasize that. Not the best segment and I hope this is the end of those tomatoes.
Riddle, Randy Orton & New Day vs Elias, Jaxson Ryker, AJ Styles & Omos
I wanted to like this segment more but Ryker just doesn’t do much out there. He seems so basic and limited in there and that is saying something when Omos is also there. The work when AJ and Elias worked with the New Day, Riddle and Orton was good but the rest felt a bit meh. I did like that Orton backed away from doing something with Omos and I am guessing that when we see the inevitable encounter between the teams of AJ/Omos and Orton/Riddle that we may see Orton hit Omos with an RKO. The action was fine enough and Orton would end up getting the win after and RKO. He would then hit Kofi and Woods with RKOs and I guess he did not like the talk they had with Riddle. I did like how Riddle wanted to be madder at Orton but he knows that’s who he is so he cannot be too mad at him.
Sonya Deville, Rhea Ripley & Asuka Backstage
Sonya called Rhea and Asuka to her office so she could tell them they would have a match together. I liked how Rhea was quick to figure out that Charlotte Flair was the reason for it but Sonya was quick to deny that. Rhea was still up for it because she has beaten Asuka twice before and Asuka said she was ready to beat Rhea tonight. The segment was okay but was more about how Charlotte is using Sonya’s power for her benefit.
MVP & Bobby Lashley Backstage
I don’t know if it is because Raw has been in a rut but I am not feeling much of MVP on the mic for Lashley of late. He pretty much says the same things and doesn’t seem there is anything new. It feels like the opposite of what we see with Heyman on Smackdown for Roman. MVP is confident Lashley can win against Drew and that he can retain on Sunday. He also will not discuss business and that was the gist of it. I think we just need to see Lashley take on somebody fresh so we can get that from MVP’s time on the mic for him.
Sheamus vs Humberto Carrillo
First things first, I hope Humberto is fine after that scary bump that ended the match because it did not look pretty at all. Word is so far that he is okay and I hope he is fine because that was an ugly spill. Sheamus would cut a promo prior to the match on how he is trying to make his own legacy as US Champion and does not want to follow in the footsteps of those before him. I like that and I do want him to be his own champion and not something we have seen before. The match itself was solid and that was to be expected given how talented Humberto is in the ring despite not having charisma on the mic. Humberto would go for a sunset flip bomb on the outside and Sheamus would land right on top of his leg. Humberto seemed to call for the referee because he felt like something happened and the match would be called off with Sheamus being the winner. Again, I hope Humberto comes out of this okay.
Lucha House Party Vignette
It would appear that Raw is going to be doing something with the Lucha House Party. I am all for that because I think they are talented and did show that when they had that short run in NXT against Legado del Fantasma and the Dusty Classic. Raw could certainly use a legitimate tag team and they could be it if done right. I am not sure about the “lucha lit” thing but Lince did do well here so we shall see what comes of this.
Eva Marie Vignette
This was the same vignette from last week so I have nothing new to say about it. SKIP!
Cedric Alexander vs Shelton Benjamin
I wish this match would have gone a bit longer because this could have been a nice one but I do get why we got the result that we did. Cedric was cocky throughout this match because he is younger and feels like he has a step on the older Shelton. Shelton came prepared to prove him wrong and we got some good stuff in the time they were given for this one. Cedric looked to have the match primed and ready for the win but Shelton would bust out an old finisher to get the surprise win here. I would imagine this will not be the final match between them and I can even see them competing on the kickoff for Wrestlemania Backlash.
Angel Garza & Drew Gulak Backstage
We are still going with this story of Garza shoving a rose in the bum of Gulak. I have no idea what to think of it other than there must be a better story as to why these two are feuding. Garza was in a photoshoot when Gulak would approach him to tell him he disrespected him last week. Garza would let him know he would do it again and this feud continues. I like seeing Gulak get screen time but there must be a better story than this one.
Asuka vs Rhea Ripley
I really did wonder if Rhea and Asuka would finally be able to deliver a good match after two not so good attempts. I will say this was the best one of the three but that is not saying much. The chemistry still doesn’t feel all there for their matches and it really felt more about them trying to show Charlotte Flair something after she came to ringside than the match itself. There was some solid back and forth and this wasn’t as clunky as their previous encounters. Each looked to have chances to get the momentum for the victory but the other would put a stop to that. Rhea would end up getting the win here and looks strong going into Wrestlemania Backlash.
Drew McIntyre Backstage
Again, I do not know if it is because Raw hasn’t been great of late but even Drew doesn’t sound as good on the mic. He still sounds good but just not at the level I have seen him operate at. He knows Braun can come after him but he isn’t worried about it because he plans on beating Lashley tonight to show he can beat him. Good enough but I have seen better from him.
Damian Priest vs John Morrison
This was quite the fun match and that was expected given their previous encounter. I know some are over Morrison but I still like him and think he has plenty to offer. He has some good chemistry with Priest and their styles really mesh well in the ring. The action was fun and the Miz would even get involved on the outside to try and ensure that Morrison would win so he could pick the stipulation. Miz’s involvement would end up being the downfall again as it looked like Morrison had the match won but Miz’s distraction was too long and the referee missed the pin. Priest would gain the advantage and would get the win and now picks the stipulation. Miz tried to attack Priest after the match but Priest would be able to fight him off. Priest would Morrison with one more Hit the Lights for his troubles and that was that.
Eva Marie Vignette #2
STILL. DO. NOT. CARE! SKIP!
Adam Pearce & Damian Priest Backstage
Pearce was in his office when Damian Priest would walk in. Priest wasted no time in saying what stipulation he wanted for his match with the Miz and wants a lumberjack match. He says he wants people from both brands to be the lumberjacks because he doesn’t want the Miz to run from the match. Pearce seemed game for the idea and was quick to agree to it. Miz didn’t have luck in the last lumberjack match he was in so we shall see how it turns out this time.
Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Lashley
This was a fun main event and I knew it would be considering these two have had some great encounters in the past. The work was solid and plenty of solid back and forth as well. These two really have good chemistry and that dates back to their time in Impact Wrestling and it really is a testament as to how good both men can be. I did wonder how this match would turn out because both men have been booked pretty strong as main event talents so a loss could look bad. They would not have to worry about that as Braun Strowman would come out to attack Drew and would cause the DQ. Lashley thought he and Strowman were on the same page but that would prove to be false as Strowman would attack him as well. He would hit running powerslams on both men and even drove Lashley through the barricade with one. Strowman stood tall in the end and has the momentum heading into Sunday.
Overall, not the best go-home episode but not the worst one either. The main event and Priest/Morrison were the matches of the night easily. The Riddle stuff with New Day and Orton was great as well and I am loving the growing relationship between Riddle and Orton. Word is that this will not be a short-term thing and that is fine by me because the rub of being with Orton can only payoff for Riddle. The return of Jinder was also great as we can get back on track to have his feud with Drew. The other stuff for this episode was all just pretty middle of the road and I guess that is an improvement from recent weeks. All in all, not great but not horrible either.