Raw comes to you live on SyFy this week! Why? Well, duh, the Winter Olympics Deebo’d them out their position on USA, so SyFy is their home for at least the next two weeks.
You know who else watched SyFy? Claire! How else could she blog with such skill? Check her out then come back here for the rest of your WWE needs and desires.
Let’s talk Raw!
Idols Become Rivals
Last week, I waxed semi-poetically about Lita’s return. I love Lita. Most anyone reading this in their mid-late 30s who watched wrestling in the late 1990s into the 2000s probably has affection for Lita. BUT, the fact she’s in this match with Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s championship is an indictment on the entire division. This is the equivalent of a star from the ‘80s coming back to fight Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock in ‘98 or ‘99.
Granted, WWE’s former stars were tied up in...WCW...the wrasslin’, but still. WWF at that time built enough credible challengers in its upper card to make something like that unnecessary even if it was possible.
The fact that Becky and Lita spun this beef into something at least a little compelling shows how dope both women are. Becky is genuinely hurt Lita wants to take away the most important thing in her life. No, not her child. Lita is a lot of things but she’s not a kidnapper.
Lita craves the underdog position and just wants to see if she can still wrestle at the highest levels like she did in her prime. For a bit, the Big Time Becks persona dropped and we got Rebecca. Rebecca adores Lita. Rebecca looked up to Lita and still does. Rebecca is thankful for everything Lita did for her when she first arrived in WWE. But Rebecca also needs Lita to not be a thing anymore.
There’s an interesting Highlander vibe here, where there can only be one. At least for Becky. Becky needs to beat Lita just as much as Lita needs to beat Becky. That’s what makes for a compelling match...even if we all know the outcome.
And that last part is what makes all of this ultimately disappointing. Unless Lita plans on becoming a full-time wrestler again, all roads lead to nowhere.
Viva Los Bio Dome
Chad Gable is a national treasure. Remember that. Also? I need WWE to sell those Alpha Academy sweaters not now but right now.
Gable was the star of this segment, which was a perfect way to start Raw this week. The Quiz Bowl was exactly what you expected: RK-Bro and the Alpha Academy seated in a ring answering questions befitting Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader. What makes segments like this work, besides the stakes, is the wrestlers. Even better if they can introduce character work into the shenanigans.
Chad was pompous and obnoxious. Riddle was lighthearted and savant-like. Randy was irreverent, while Otis was smarter than he looks. In fact, if not for Gable thinking he’s the smarter of the two, RK-Bro might not have a tag team championship match.
Alas, that’s just not how the cookie crumbled. In a bit of poetry, the question that sealed the deal for RK-Bro was weed related. I mean, what else do you measure in grams and ounces? Actually, don’t answer that question. Colorado was clearly on the same page as the new number one contenders, and ate up every second.
I’m highlighting because it’s a highlight. With the tag match coming eventually, let’s soak this in while we still can. Plus? Chad mentioned Bio-Dome. Any segment that mentions that is an A in everyone’s book. I say that tongue fully in cheek.
Side note, but I take umbrage with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles question. Technically, Michelangelo never fought Shredder with nunchucks. Just saying. Moving on.
After the Academy crashed and burn in a Quiz Bowl for the ages, the Profits from the Street wanted the smoke. Oh and the smoke they got. The Street Profits got the early advantage as Otis and Chad were still emotionally recovering. The very good, but brief, tag team match ended when Chad Gable secured the W for his team. As a way to make up for his bungling earlier, Chad locked Angelo Dawkins in an ankle lock, then countered with a victory roll when Dawkins tried to counter. Good stuff all around.
KO Wants the Smoke
Kevin Owens and Austin Theory put on a good show! Seriously, Theory’s matches on the main roster are all satisfying, and this one with KO was no different. KO wants a title shot and he’s willing to do whatever it takes. Austin Theory wants to please Mr. McMahon as the weirdest angle in WWE continues full speed ahead.
This was another banger with KO getting the win. But again, it’s a weird decision to even put these two in a match. KO is on a quest to prove he’s worthy of a title shot or taking someone’s spot in the Elimination Chamber. Austin has a spot and also needs momentum going into the event. Plus, plus! KO didn’t get Austin’s spot in the chamber!
Why put them together when someone has to lose? Basketball reasons, as per usual.
On the flip side, there’s the match between Doudrop and Liv Morgan. While there was nothing big on the line, these two Elimination Chamber participants wrestled to establish dominance going into their big match. We need favorites going into the match, and Doudrop’s victory over Liv establishes her as one ready to fill that position.
Liv was never able to counter Doudrop’s power, which led to a styles clash and an interesting match. That said, I do wish the heel cheated to win this type of match. Liv is a fan favorite and it’s great if fans can believe babyfaces have a real shot at winning.
Doudrop losing due to DQ would satisfy that. My quibbles with the ending aside—and the overall storytelling—this was a good contest.
Riddle Me That, Rollins
Seth Rollins—nope, not putting that other name in there—was supposed to wrestle Riddle one-on-one for momentum. Whole lot of that going on this week. What we got instead, thanks to an interfering KO, was an impromptu tag match between RK-Bro and the Two Best Friends. And, once again, it was a good match. KO and Seth had a plan: Beat up Riddle. KO wants his spot in the Elimination Chamber, so taking him out felt like the best way to go.
In the end, it was Seth getting the pin over Riddle, solidifying his standing in the Chamber. KO embraced Seth, provoking the latter to give the most comical and puzzled look ever. But just when KO thought it was all going his way, he took an RKO from Randy Orton and ended the show flat on his face outside of the ring. While Seth, his supposed best friend, cackled.
Cool? I’m not sure. Again, good match, but the ending with the RKO and Seth laughing maniacally just felt weird. Maybe that’s just the pattern for Raw this week.
AJ Stylin’ On You
This was a weird match. And not because it wasn’t good. AJ Styles and Damian Priest work well together because AJ can work well with anyone. Both men used their educated feet to teach lessons, with a United States championship match on the line for Styles.
See, that’s where it gets weird. AJ Styles is wrestling for the WWE championship in two weeks. Why put him in a number one contender’s match for another title? To say nothing of the fact that Priest losing reeks of inconsistency. Sometimes his “Damian” side comes out, sometimes it doesn’t. Commentary says it’s his “kryptonite” so far, but how, Sway?! He’s still U.S. champ and suffered no consequences for his temper so far.
Once again I say to anyone with ears: This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine isn’t working. Not even a little. And it just poses more questions than necessary while getting in the way of potentially solid storytelling.
With One Freakin’ Leg
A.S.H. got K.O.D’d. Bianca Belair and Nikki A.S.H.—the supervillain—wrestled an okay contest that saw a bit of psychology. Bianca injured her knee—thanks Nikki—and hobbled the rest of the match. In the end, she wasn’t hobbled enough and walked away with the win. Nikki’s acting at the end signaled this might not be the end of her issues with The EST.
Daddy, I Got You
After a the latest Miz TV where his family—specifically his dad—was insulted, Dominik went to bat for his old man. And he won. This is all prelude to Miz taking on Rey Mysterio, chiefly because the former is angry the latter is on the cover of WWE 2K22.
It’s silly but it rings true for Miz. The match was fine, but also kinda boring. The Miz TV segment was actually more interesting than the match.
That said, everything Corey Graves said about Maryse was on point. That is all.
Hi, Reggie. I’m Friend Zone
We got another 24/7 Three Stooges segment but the news was Reggie and Dana. Dana showered Reggie with compliments then pecked him on the cheek. Reggie asked “what’s good?” and Dana said she wants them to remain friends and hopes it never changes.
When they had a moment they could lock lips, they both recoiled. Poor guy. I guess? I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel.
It’s Not About You
Bobby Lashley received a hero’s welcome in his hometown this week. In case you didn’t know, the crowd reminded you the All Mighty is a Denver native. Cool, cool. But that promo he cut just didn’t do it for me. His words and threats to Brock Lesnar felt like he was trying too hard. And that’s not on Lashley. That’s on WWE. The entire promo was about establishing Lashley as a threat for Lesnar rather than someone to overlook. But everything in front of my eyes tell me Lesnar can and should look beyond Bobby. The champ didn’t come away looking good and that’s never a good look.
So, Raw provided a lot of good matches. But it was also an uninteresting three hours. We got two segments with Alexa Bliss, who is looking and sounding more like herself. Don’t be shocked if she’s the mystery woman in the Elimination Chamber. But that aside, Raw was just there tonight. Again, not bad by any means. But also, not very engaging. It was all downhill from the Quiz Bowl, as the show never matched that energy again.
This was an above average show but nothing you need to run to Hulu or your DVR to watch the replay. Unless you’re really interested in the one man who clearly wants to walk with Elias: Veer! He’s still coming, and Lord have mercy it must be a long walk from wherever he is to...here.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.