This is the final Raw before MITB and also the final Raw in the ThunderDome. Quite an experience the ThunderDome has been and I am looking forward to seeing fans back cheering the superstars on. This Raw was also taped last week so I am surprised no spoilers came out for the show. There are things to look forward to so let us see what Raw had for us.
Bobby Lashley vs Xavier Woods
This was a pretty fun match to start Raw this week. Both men have some good chemistry and the push for Woods to get some glory continues from what I am seeing online. The man has put in the work and has let Big E and Kofi get their moments and he is long overdue for his moment. Solid back and forth in the match and Lashley came out with some aggression in this one. Lashley really looked to try an impose his will against Woods and it seemed like he had the match won but would not go right for the kill. Lashley would instead continue to hit Woods with his big moves but this would provide Woods with the window to hit that sneaky pin for the roll up victory. Lashley was beside himself and would leave the ThunderDome as a result.
MVP was asked about the status of Lashley backstage and he would say that he was feeling bad about the loss to Woods and he indeed left the building. He assured Kevin that Lashley would be back for the VIP Lounge and he would be able to cheer him up so he can focus on the match on Sunday. Solid work from MVP here.
I liked this edition of the Playground because Alexa pretty much ignored Eva and was focused on DouDrop. She said she liked her and liked her name as well. I love how Drop sold all the nice attention from Alexa and Eva played her part well in trying to make this all about her. Alexa didn’t take kindly to that and eventually Drop and Eva would leave even though Alexa clearly is fond of DouDrop. Maybe this could be the avenue to get DouDrop away from Eva and a pairing between her and Alexa could be pretty fun.
Jinder Mahal In-Ring
The Jinder versus Drew feud continues and I am here for it. Some may not like it because of Jinder and his WWE Championship reign but this feud is calling back to their friendship and time in 3MB and it is working so far. This also gets Drew out of the title picture for now and gives us something we would have gotten last year had Jinder not gotten injured. Jinder came out to try to apologize and make up with Drew by offering his Claymore back to him with a few touch ups. He would reveal a broken that Shanky and Veer presented but Drew would come on the tron to say he procured his actual Claymore and would then be shown by Jinder’s motorcycle. Drew would start destroying it much to the dismay of Jinder in the ring. I think this is the feud Drew has needed because the man became a bit stale with the constant Lashley matches and this gives him something fresh and Jinder is playing his part well.
Nikki A.S.H. & Riddle in Gorilla
This was a lot of fun and even gave me the idea of seeing Riddle as a superhero like Nikki as well. I know that probably would never happen but Riddle seems like someone that could totally pull it off. Riddle and Nikki had a back and forth in Gorilla as she prepared for her match that was coming up next. I like how Nikki has to remind people she is not quite a superhero because it is clearly setting up for when she is finally able to say she is a superhero. I feel like a moment between her, Mighty Molly and the Hurricane officially dubbing her a superhero will get a nice pop from a live crowd. Fun segment between these two and I would not be opposed to seeing more interactions between them.
Nikki A.S.H. vs Naomi vs Asuka vs Alexa Bliss
This was actually a really fun match and you could see the women pull out some things they haven’t done before or at least in some time. Naomi looked a bit more aggressive in this match and made me wonder if we may be seeing a slight sign of a possible character tweak. I wouldn’t be against it because I think her current gimmick has kind of run its course and it hasn’t really evolved that much. Eva Marie and DouDrop would eventually come out and Drop would end up taking out Alexa from the match which would make it a triple threat. The match would continue and it was really good. The action didn’t let up and there was plenty of back and forth between Asuka, Nikki and Naomi. Nikki would end up getting the win here and has the momentum going into Sunday.
The Viking Raiders Backstage
This was decent enough but I just do not get behind how much the focus on the Viking Raiders being Vikings rather than who they are besides that. It is very one dimensional from a character standpoint and I need to see more than that. They are confident they can win but they know what a big task it will be to take care of Omos. Ivar is confident he can beat AJ but Erik was the one that had the tougher task of facing Omos tonight. Solid enough but could be better.
AJ Styles & Omos In-Ring
Solid stuff from AJ here as he is confident, he and Omos can win their respective matches tonight and how the Viking Raiders offer nothing for them. He knows they will win tonight and will retain their titles at Money in the Bank. AJ really has become someone that excels as either a heel or a face and that was something you may not have said about him before but time has done wonders for him.
AJ Styles vs Ivar
This match was rather short but it was fun while it lasted. Ivar is one of those big men that can move rather well in the ring and he was able to show it a bit in the ring with AJ here. Again, the match was short and Ivar would get the win by pretty much sitting right onto AJ in the corner. We shall see if Erik could beat Omos in his first singles match on Raw.
Erik vs Omos
Another short match here but the result was different as it was Omos that would eventually come out on top. I will say that WWE has done a good job in hiding the inexperience of Omos by limiting what he does and having him no sell moves because he is just too big for someone. Omos pretty much dominated Erik here and would get the win. I loved how AJ had to use both his hands to lift up Omos’ arm in victory to further sell his size.
Sheamus, Adam Pearce & Sonya Deville Backstage
Solid work by all three here as Sheamus was not pleased in having to defend the US Championship against Humberto Carrillo because he was the one that broke his nose. Sonya and Pearce would question if he would be able to wrestle and Sheamus would eventually say he would be willing to take Humberto on tonight. I also could not get out of my mind that the mask Sheamus is using looks like something Zorro would wear.
New Day Backstage
New Day were backstage and they spoke about how Xavier Woods beat Lashley even though MVP and Lashley talked smack about how he wasn’t worthy of such a match. Kofi continues to be confident heading into his match with Lashley on Sunday and he believes he will win because he knows what it takes to be a true champion.
Sheamus vs Humberto Carrillo (US Championship)
The actual match was nothing as Sheamus attacked Humberto prior to the match and that would seal the deal for him to retain. Humberto tried but he would eat one Brogue Kick from Sheamus to lose. The interesting thing was that Sheamus crossed paths with Damian Priest backstage after the attach and Priest would come down to save Carrillo when Sheamus continued to attack him after the match. Seems like we are getting a Priest/Sheamus feud and I am all for that one.
Ricochet & Riddle Backstage
Another fun segment with Riddle and this time he shared the screen with Ricochet. Ricochet seems to be a lot more comfortable on the mic of late and I think it is because he is just being himself rather than the smiling babyface they had him be. They spoke a bit about the MITB match and I love how Riddle just rambled on about what he will cash in on and then the Miz and Morrison would roll up. They talked some smack and would hit them with some drip sticks before leaving. Fun segment here from everybody involved.
John Morrison vs Ricochet (Falls Count Anywhere)
This was easily the match of the night and really something that would have been worthy of a PPV. These two brought it here and stole the show. These two just have that kind of chemistry wrestlers dream of and they just work so dang well together. The moves were great and I was just sitting there thinking that they need to save something for the PPV on Sunday. The Miz would get involved in whatever ways he could since he is in a wheelchair but Ricochet would find ways to nullify him. Riddle would eventually come out and neutralize the Miz by putting him on his back and Ricochet would get the win. This is very much the “cliff notes” version of this match because it was quite awesome.
Natalya & Tamina Backstage
The only reason this segment gets a piece of a crown is because of Tamina. The whole segment was nothing and the addition of Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke made it worse. Mandy and Dana are just not clicking and I am much more interested in seeing Nattie and Tamina take on Shotzi and Tegan. Again, Tamina somewhat saved this by checking Mandy and Dana at the end of it. Other than that, nothing much to speak of here.
Drew McIntyre Backstage
Drew is oozing confidence heading into MITB and he spoke about that here. He also gave another history lesson and I am just not into them anymore. Nothing will stop him and he has his eyes on being champion once again.
Rhea Ripley vs Natalya
Pretty good match here between these two and they had some nice chemistry in there. Rhea did cut a promo on Charlotte prior to the match and it was more of what has been said prior. Back to the match and the back and forth was quite solid and was definitely one of Rhea’s best since making the jump from NXT. This also might have been Natalya’s best match in a bit that I have seen and the back and forth was solid. Rhea would of course get the win but didn’t have much time to celebrate as Charlotte Flair would attack her from behind. She would put Rhea in the Figure 4 and stood tall in this go-home episode.
Charlotte would give an interview after the attack and basically said she learned from her father and she plans on being champion again. Solid stuff from Charlotte and I would not be surprised to see her become champion again.
This was just great on every level and Lashley really showed his growth here. MVP would talk him up but Lashley would not come out when he introduced him. It would take a few tries but Lashley would eventually come out but he looked like someone with a lot on his mind. Lashley would tell the ladies that they needed to leave because he needed to talk to MVP. Lashley would tell MVP that he thinks Kofi is actually right and that he has become soft. He detested what MVP had set up for him to cheer him up and wants to be taken seriously again. He would destroy the set and I loved how shocked MVP was at the whole scene. Lashley is ready to take it to Kofi and Kofi may have done more bad than good by awakening this version of Lashley. Really great segment to close out the go-home for MITB and the final episode of Raw in the ThunderDome.
Overall, this was a pretty solid go-home episode of Raw for MITB. The matches were all great and Ricochet and Morrison definitely stole the show with their match. The VIP Lounge to close the show was done very well and serious Lashley is definitely scary. The four-way match was a lot of fun and so was the opening match that sent Lashley on the journey to stop being soft. Rhea and Nattie had a fun match as well and this was a rather good episode. All in all, good stuff heading into MITB.