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Raw recap & reactions (Feb. 28, 2022): Extra sturdy

AJ Styles steps to Edge, Finn Balor captures gold, and Bianca Belair leaves Becky Lynch with a lasting impression.

Welcome, everyone, to Monday Night Raw! Let’s just get right into it this week. You know Claire and her blog, you know me and my words.

Let’s talk Raw!


Whip You with a Strap

Whew, Becky Lynch is a G for taking those strikes from Bianca Belair’s hair. Before we even get into the six-woman tag match, those words must be said about Lynch. Becky’s stomach now features a red X, courtesy of Bianca’s hair. She’s tougher than me, that’s for damn sure.

But I digress.

The previously mentioned Belair and Lynch led teams into battle this week. Belair brought Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan to the ring, while Lynch teamed with Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H. Shoutout to Corey Graves for noticing Liv waiting 30 seconds before the match to talk strategy. Tsk. I’m shocked her team won because of that egregious error.

The match started as a cluster cuss. Just a bunch of shenanigans between six women who really don’ like each other. The babyfaces got their moment to toss the heels out of the ring and taunt while the crowd hooted and hollered. The match reset itself to tell the story of, like I said, a bunch of people who don’t like each other while keeping its main story of Bianca and Becky well within its sights.

We got quite a bit of Bianca vs. Becky. Much more than I figured beforehand. But it wasn’t enough to spoil anything for their upcoming match. Instead, every woman had their moment to shine. Doudrop showed her power, while also doing her best to make Rhea and Bianca look great. Nikki finally got the leg-up on her former partner, Rhea, even if it didn’t result in a pin.

But their feud is more one-sided than Superman fighting a common thief, so even if it was just a cross-body splash getting Rhea on her back for just a few seconds, good for Nikki. Almost doing some dope sh*t but not quite dope enough.

During the match, Becky kept going after Bianca’s hair. She even tugged at it to breakup Bianca’s pin attempt on Nikki at a time where it looked like the faces were on their way to the W. Fittingly—and painfully—the next time Becky went for the hair in a tug of war with Bianca, it didn’t end so well for the champ.

Those whips and whelps I mentioned earlier? Just look up, it’s there. That was Becky’s punishment for going to the well too many times. Becky, incensed and in pain, walked out of the match, ditching her partners in the process, and allowing Bianca to pin Nikki for the 1-2-3.

Fun match that established for the second week in a row that Becky is in trouble.


Phenomenal Edge

Edge got his wish tonight. AJ Styles answered Edge’s challenge, and the two will dance at WrestleMania. I hear from various sources this Mania is stupendous, but take that with a grain of salt. Now, a simple answer from AJ wasn’t going to end the show. Seriously, that’s not enough. Instead, we got the version of Edge who was on vacation for a while.

Edge happily accepted Styles’ offer but insisted he get “the bulldog” AJ Styles, not the “tag team bitch to Omos” AJ Styles. Ya know, the AJ on our tv for most of the past year. To really get that side of AJ, the side Edge needs for true WrestleMania greatness, Edge switched gears. Rather than shake Styles’ hand, Edge attacked. A mini scuffle broke out but Edge’s low blow altered the equation. As low blows often do.

From that point on, Edge was rabid. The former champ feasted on a writhing AJ with a cold, psychotic look on his face. Edge thought about leaving the ring, but came back for a concerto after a very brief discussion with himself. The beauty of this is it’s all steeped in character. We know Edge’s history so we can see the wheels turning in Edge’s head. We know what he’s thinking when he looks off in the distance, mutters to himself, and shakes his head. We know Edge is doing all of this because to beat the AJ Styles he wants to face in Dallas, he has to be this version of himself.

And that’s why one concerto to the Phenomenal One just wasn’t enough. Edge is his best as a heel, and, despite what Jimmy Smith says, WrestleMania brought out the best in Edge, not the worst.

I want to see how AJ responds because, to Edge’s point, AJ didn’t look like championship material lately. Maybe he lost his edge—no pun intended. Here’s hoping we get a story of two men getting back to their best selves for their big match. Edge doesn’t need the W but a win for AJ might serve as a springboard back in the championship picture.

Solid first chapter of this tale. Let’s just all pray to whatever deity we pray to that there’s a compelling narrative that can withstand the next month.


Extracurriculars

A Thank Yeeeeew

The KO Show kicked off Raw this week. We got an entertaining segment between Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, and the Alpha Academy. But through all the hijinks and chuckles, Chad Gable spit a nugget of truth. Gable took all the umbrage with Seth and KO trying to take WrestleMania away from him and his larger partner. Besides the fact Rollins and Owens have plenty of WrestleMania history between the two of them, there’s also the fact Alpha Academy worked their butts off to get the tag titles and earn a spot on a show they previously only saw from behind the curtains.

That’s very real and very babyface-ish.

Of course this led to a very good opening tag bout between two teams who will see each other next week with the tiles on the line. Not only did the match serve to heat up Rollins and KO as a tag team, but show just how great they work together. There were several moments where they worked in tandem to doll out punishment to the tag champs. A particularly dope sequence saw KO toss Chad to Seth, who then lifted the champ above his head and crashed him into the corner with a Buckle Bomb.

The ending saw Gable take Stunner/Curb Stomp combo that’s more notable for how it happened more so than what happened. KO didn’t just stun Chad; he flipped him the double bird then stunned him. If we didn’t know before that KO and Steve Austin are doing business in Dallas, we definitely know now.

The tag champs look vulnerable going into their big match next week, while KO and Rollins have all the momentum. And all the stealing of moves and mannerisms.

The Winner...and NEW United States Champion...

What would Bad Bunny think?! Won’t someone please think of Bad Bunny!

Damian Priest turned heel tonight. After losing a very solid match between him and Finn Balor for the United States championship, the former champ complained about his supposed lack of support from the crowd, got a cheap shot in on Finn, then launched him through the commentary table to the sound of boos from the Ohioans in attendance.

But that’s the ending. How we got there was one of the few fun matches of the night. Neither man looked dominant at either point, but Damian was clearly frustrated when a South of Heaven didn’t put Balor away. That was actually the moment Finn found his second wind. Balor blocked The Reckoning, launched a Shotgun Dropkick in the corner, and followed with a Coup de grâce to become U.S. champ for the first time in his career.

Priest didn’t fully embrace his dark side since they seemingly dropped that. He just got fed up with fans and used them as an excuse for losing a match he wanted. True heel sh*t and I approve. Although WWE seemingly dropping his new gimmick—which he didn’t need—after pushing it so hard for months is mad sloppy.

Music Won’t Survive

Last week on NXT 2.0, Dolph Ziggler and Tommaso Ciampa put on a hell of a match. Ziggler walked away with the W thanks to the cheating of Big Bob Roode.

Ciampa got his revenge this week, getting an opportunity to get his hands on Roode and repay him in kind. You know what else he got? Awful theme music. I don’t know if that’s a tune just for Raw or a permanent change, but that ain’t it. WWE shoots themselves in the foot way too often with their tendency to change what works. Ciampa’s new music didn’t work and neither did the match. Roode and Ciampa are both good at their jobs, but they hardly got any time to make magic here. Or even an illusion.

Ciampa won with a quick-ish schoolboy, then got beatdown by the Dirty Dawgs. Weird Bron Breakker didn’t come to the ring to have his partner’s back. Especially since Ziggler mentioned the NXT champ by name. Very unlike Bron as a character to just sit back and observe that type of foolishness.

Distracted Mysterios

I wasn’t digging this either! Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin wrestled The Mysterios. No, I’m not calling Cedric and Shelton by the name WWE wants me to use. Not happening. It’s silly and they look pathetic.

The match itself was technically fine. Although, Geno points out Dominik hits the ropes like Kelly Kelly. His actual words. Do with them what you will.

Miz interfered in the match, served as a distraction, and Shelton Benjamin got the surprise pin for his team.

Maybe it’s the Miz and Mysterio beef that isn’t thrilling me so I can’t get interested in anything in its circumference.

RK-No

I expected a lot more from this match. The Street Profits and RK-Bro put on bangers. This match didn’t bang. It barely registered as a cymbal clash. The tidal turned when Montez Ford blocked Randy Orton’s RKO. Tez showed off his insane hops with a very high enziguri, followed by his patented Frog Splash. Dawkins kept Orton from getting his foot on the rope, and the Profits of the Street were victorious in a weird and disjointed ending.

Obviously, this is the moment the Profits can point to when they want their shot at the tag champs—whomever they may be—but the match itself was no bueno.

This Was a Thing...

Omos beat up T-BAR. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Other than it wasn’t great nor enjoyable in the least.

Love is in the Air?

So, the Dana Brooke and Reggie romance is blossoming. Tamina and Tozawa also possibly at thing. You know what’s not happening at all? Me enjoying any part of this story or their matches. And I’m a romantic sap! I should adore all of this. But nope, it’s wasting space and time.

Veering Off

I rarely talk about the Veer videos because, c’mon. But I really hope he’s coming for all of 2022. This is the best running joke on Raw and it only gets better as the calendar turns.


This was a very lackluster Raw. Lackluster might be putting it nicely. Despite the few shining moments, the show overall just never worked for me and felt lethargic for most of the three-hour runtime. In fact, I felt every second of these 180 minutes, which is never a good sign.

As of next week, we’re about a month away from the biggest show of the year. Let’s hope they deliver better than this.

Grade: D

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.