Welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw! *cue the music*
This week. we’re coming live from Philadelphia, PA. And I promise I will try my best not to let my New York Giants love interfere with talking about this city fairly and justly.
You know who doesn’t have that issue? Claire. Read her blog for fair and completely unbiased coverage of Philly, and play-by-play coverage of this week’s Raw.
Let’s talk Raw!
Hurts so Much
Brock Lesnar has no respect for Bobby Lashley. If that wasn’t clear last week, WWE put a microscope on it this week. Brock was hilarious and perfect here, treating Lashley like a mere speed bump in the road instead of dead end. The WWE Champion even threw in a knock knock joke for good measure. If you can put two and two together, then you know what happened when Brock said “Bobby” and Paul Heyman responded, “Bobby who?”
Like I said last week, he’s looking past the All Mighty.
Before we even got to this point, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, two brothers who clearly don’t read the room well, approached Lashley and MVP overjoyed at the fact the Hurt Business is back together. It’s a sad joke at this point and indicative at how far those two dudes fell since the apex of summer 2020. When Lashley swatted away their olive branches, they walked away in shame.
This is wrestling, so of course that came back to play later in the segment. After Brock walked away from Lashley, cackling all the way to whatever bank he can find in Philly to cash the check he got for showing up on Raw, Cedric and Shelton attacked Bobby. Yeah, Bobby wasn’t in the best mood so you know how that went.
Here’s the thing: If Cedric and Shelton’s shared purpose is to get some heat on Lashley and allow him to send Brock a message, then this is a miss. The crowd stopped caring about the former Hurt Business members the second Lashley beat both of them without breaking a sweat. And their sycophantic behavior the last few months isn’t helping matters. This is the problem with making talent look inept for so long. Eventually, you might need them for an important reason.
But once you deem them unimportant, nothing they do, or nothing that gets done to them, really matters. Lashley needed to vent after Brock made him look like a peasant and I don’t think this particular method he used to take out his frustration helped him look any better than he did before he went into the ring. If Brock doesn’t know who Bobby is, do you really think he gives a damn about Cedric or Shelton?
Here Comes a Dou Challenger
I’m not sure how I feel about this match. The in-ring action was fine. Triple Threat matches are always a little jumbled but with three good wrestlers, at the least we’re getting something that’s at least competent if not wholly entertaining. Bianca Belair, Doudrop, and Liv Morgan have some chemistry too, which definitely helped their number one contender match.
But I can’t get over this ending. Becky Lynch was, as per usual these days, on commentary. When it looked like Bianca was etching her name into the Raw Women’s Championship match at Royal Rumble, Becky interfered because clearly, she doesn't want the smoke with Belair. This provided the opening Doudrop needed to pin Liv and move on to the Rumble for her first shot at the most important belt in the Women’s division.
Bianca was protected and looks like the true threat to Becky’s title. Doudrop gets the pin and a spot with Becky where the champ tries in vain to Manhandle Slam her future opponent to no avail. Did Becky want Doudrop or Liv? Not really sure but everything with Bianca makes Doudrop feel less important. The story isn’t that Becky can’t lift Doudrop, especially since the champ has a submission finishing move, but rather that Becky stopped Bianca from winning.
At least logically that’s the story. The ending left me wanting rather than satisfied.
Alpha Tag Team
Color me shocked. I didn’t see this one coming at all. But maybe that’s on me. A few weeks ago, Otis showed he is an enigma Randy Orton can’t solve. Chad Gable? Somewhat of a walk in the park for the Viper. But Otis? Nah. Last week, Riddle didn’t get his tag partner involved when they squared off Alpha Academy. Randy, realizing his partner gets easily distracted, did everything in his power to to avoid a rerun.
Especially with the Tag Team Championships on the line. Even going so far to write basic instructions on Riddle’s hands in the most legible handwriting ever on a professional sports entertainment show.
And for a while, it looked like RK-Bro learned their lesson as a unit. Riddle got worked over, made the hot tag for Randy, and the RK half of RK-Bro did what he does best: He beat up Chad Gable. In a move only described as “blind luck,” Otis gets tagged in when he and Chad collide after the former misses an attack on Orton.
After a blocked RKO, Otis almost slammed Randy through the ring into the bowels of Philly. After the ding ding ding, American Alpha are your new tag champs.
Like I said, maybe it’s on me for not seeing it coming. Especially while thinking during the match that RK-Bro needs a challenge because their matches feel the same and their act is getting redundant. Not stale, mind you, just, ya know, easily predictable.
Giving them a challenge in the form of another team, combined with their own internal clashes is a good look. Adding onto the fact that Randy Orton is the one who got his shoulders pinned is the cherry on top of the sports entertainment sundae. Riddle and Randy operate under the basic idea that Randy is the solution to their problems, not the cause.
Funny how things get flipped, turned, upside down. Their dynamic might change with Randy getting humbled. Potentially really interesting stuff. Potentially. A solid match with an intriguing outcome.
Whether this is Alpha Academy’s story or RK-Bro’s remains a mystery. But I can’t wait to find out.
Smokey the Bear
The Dirty Dawgz, along with Apollo Crews, clearly wanted all the smoke tonight. The Street Profits and Damian Priest said they were ready, but they weren’t focused. Once Damian let his “bad side” get all tempted by Commander Azeez, that was the beginning of the end. Score one for the Dawgz and Apollo.
Seth Rollins got the win over Big E in a solid match without much on the line but bragging rights. And no, I’m not talking about the live event. Seth has a championship match at the Royal Rumble so he needs to look like a viable threat to Roman Reigns, something very few cats on the roster can even muster.
But there’s a better way to do that than having your former WWE Champion take a clean pin, right?
More to the point, Big E can now say he was pinned cleanly by Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins in consecutive weeks. Either they’re telling a tale of redemption or dropping E down the ladder so fast, his knees might buckle when he hits the ground.
And worse, there were no true stakes here so E took a pin instead of someone like, Kevin Owens, just for basketball reasons. No bueno, WWE.
Nikki Am Super Hero
City of Brotherly Love? Sure, Jan. Let it be known that Philly hates love and friendship. Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripely tried to make nice, dissolve their partnership and hug it out. Philly booed. For shame, Philadelphia. For shame. Then again, they did boo Santa Claus...
The Super Brutality breakup is official and the heel turn, or should I say villain origin story, goes to Nikki. At the end of an awkward and terribly acted segment, Nikki turned on her former partner and friend. And like most villains, she did it with a smile. The action at the end saved the segment, even if you could see it coming from Newark, NJ.
Going Through Some Things
Alexa Bliss is back. Kinda. This week, we saw the start of her journey back to Raw. Like most people suffering trauma and loss, her road to healing starts in the room of a therapist.
Maryse ain’t happy. While the segment started with Beth Phoenix guesting on the Cutting Edge, it ended with Maryse walking out of the arena and leaving her husband holding the proverbial bag. Edge wanted to remind everyone just who Beth is, while Maryse kinda sorta wanted to do the same. That said, Maryse never looked like a willing participant in this couples match at Royal Rumble, so we’re hitting the same note as last week only with no clear reason why or even a hint of a resolution.
Austin Powers? Nah
This Austin Theory thing just isn’t working for me. To make matters worse, AJ Styles got roped into his shenanigans this week in yet another effort to impress the boss. AJ won by DQ thanks to, wait for it, Grayson Waller, the most hated man in NXT 2.0.
Omos Still Squashing
Omos wrestled, according to my notes, Nick Sanders. I use the term “wrestle” very loosely because Omos isn’t ready for that. Not yet. But it also goes to show WWE logic is sometimes maddening. Omos goes from beating a former WWE Champion last week in AJ Styles, to fighting a guy who barely registers a pulse.
24/7 Same Song
More backstage shenanigans involving Dana Brooke, R-Truth, Reggie and the gang. This time with the extra help of a Philly cheesesteak. Oh and I guess Reggie is fighting Omos next week? Or he isn’t? The segment ended weirdly and felt open ended.
This was not a great episode of Raw. Maybe they decided to put their meh foot forward because they were up against a championship game. Even when things happened on the show, like new tag champs and a new number one contender for Becky’s belt, it just felt lacking and below average.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.