Forgoing the usual intro here to give flowers to Scott Hall. Like many wrestling fans, I adored Scott as Razor Ramon in WWF and as “himself” in WCW. Razor’s theme music is still my favorite theme of all-time, and his contribution to this thing of ours is immeasurable. Scott was always so ahead of the game, knowing where the business was headed even if the people who make such decisions didn’t know.
Kevin Nash said Scott never felt he was good enough for the afterlife. I find that profound, sad, and the mark of a very insightful cat. In Scott’s memory, let’s all remember to extend grace and forgiveness to those we love, those we barely know, and even those we can’t stand. We’re all worthy of peace and eternal bliss (if that’s what you believe). WWE’s tribute to the Bad Guy this week was, as per usual, excellent.
Chico, you will be missed.
With that out of the way—and don’t forget to read Claire’s play-by-play—let’s talk Raw.
This is Not Oozing Machismo
Look, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens are great. Their matches together, as a tag team or opponents, are great. We should speak of their work over the past few weeks as a tag team in hushed tones.
BUT this tonight? The impetus for this one-on-one? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Shoutout to Randy Orton.
Seth Rollins, still fuming over being left off the WrestleMania card, wanted to host Steve Austin on his talk show at Mania. “Freakin’ Speaking with Seth” or “Rollins Report” at Mania instead of “The KO Show.” Kevin Owens said “nah” and Rollins wanted to fight for it. So, yes, Austin’s big WrestleMania return is now reduced to a trivial matter where people are fighting over the right to host him. While also being a part of this running theme that nobody has anything to do at WrestleMania.
I’m just not feeling this. Austin is bigger than this and if the rumors of him not being excited about this are more than just rumors, I get why. Seth and KO don’t care about Austin so much as they just want a spot on the biggest show of the year. And they wrestled a fine match to get what they wanted. I just didn’t care because the stakes were so nonsensical that all the joy was immediately drained from the match, leaving a cold husk in its wake.
Owens just wanted it more. At least as far as the match is concerned. He refused to die and Seth got more frustrated with every ounce of fight Owens showed. And when Seth gained the upper hand, the ref wasn’t around to make a three-count. Kevin eked out the win with a stunner, leaving Seth in disbelief that he still has no reason to show up to Dallas besides supporting his wife’s quest for a pound of hair.
Austin deserves better than this. Seth and KO as well, but none of this is remotely creative. Worst of all, it’s not even fun.
Edge Says Take a Look at the Bad Guy
Last week, Edge’s explanation for beating down AJ Styles, along with his “meet the new me” presentation, left me wanting. This week? I want no more. Edge needed a couple weeks to figure this whole thing out and I like the results. New music? Check. Better character motivations? Check check. Tying everything together and telling a complete story? Check check check.
Edge told a compelling tale of a man who cared too much about the fans. Not the most original statement for a heel, sure, but it meant more coming from a man who once considered himself the baddest of bad guys. According to Edge, it’s our fault he allowed “a man like Randy Orton” to injure him. It’s our fault he let Seth Rollins cost him the Universal title and run up in his house and piss all over his rugs. While Edge ran down his list of grievances with us, he got a nice dig in at Roman Reigns, calling him an “Aquaman cosplayer,” a line that elicited more than two chuckles from yours truly.
Whether it’s our fault or not, Edge is right about one thing: He went soft. And yeah, maybe that Edge who got stack pinned by the Tribal Chief doesn’t stand a chance against Styles. But this Edge who bathes himself in blue while walking around in tailored suits? Maybe he has a shot. This new iteration of Edge is a nice evolution on his traditional heel persona. While the Rated R Superstar always seemed like a caged animal with a chip on his shoulder, this latest model knows his place in the pecking order and is tired of pretending not to know the truth.
How does AJ react? That’s what I want to know. Character turns are cooler when the opponent flips a bit as well. I don’t expect AJ to make a wholesale change, but flashing a different side or several different sides to someone we also “think we know.”
A Throat for a Throat
I can’t do Doudrop vs. Bianca Belair again. Their last match after Elimination Chamber was great. Using Doudrop again for the same exact purpose—Bianca said as much in her pre-match interview—is lazy and repetitive. To make matters worse, the match wasn’t much of anything because, as is the running theme this week, the fight wasn’t the point.
The match was all building to Becky Lynch attacking Bianca post match. Not just attacking, but trying to crush her throat on the back of a steel chair. For those who don’t know, Bianca crushed Becky’s voice box at a house show. Rather than an eye for an eye, we got, well, yeah.
The attack was vicious, as was Becky’s line delivery when she threatened to take Bianca’s hair next week.
Montez Wants the Smoke
The Street Profits came out hot this week, demanding a tag title match at WrestleMania. DEMANDING, I say. RK-Bro accepted, begrudgingly, only for Tez to diss this “party” Randy threw to celebrate RK-Bro’s latest title victory. That was the last straw for Riddle, who challenged his “friend” to a match.
Of all the “matches that are really backdoor pilots for something else” we got this week, this was the best. Montez keeps showing why he needs a singles run and I can’t wait for that inevitable day.
But, as predicted, Alpha Academy interfered and wrecked both teams, no doubt setting up a triple threat tag between the three teams at Mania. I’m down.
Balor Club Down
The main story here is Austin Theory, once again, butting his nose in Finn Balor’s business. The match between Finn and Damian Priest was okay, but didn’t really get the time to shine due to the actual focus of the contest.
Theory wants Pat Mac’s job but still wants a piece of the U.S. champ. I’d rather see him focus on Pat and let Finn be great elsewhere. But, alas, you can’t always get what you want.
Carmella is Distracted
Queen Zelina was always going to lose this match against Liv Morgan. The second WWE established Carmella can’t keep her focus with Corey Graves on commentary, the need to keep hammering home the fact her partner suffers arose. Before the match, Zelina warned Mela to keep her focus on WrestleMania “or else.” We don’t really go into all the “or else’s” here to paint the picture.
Sure enough, Mela tried to interfere in Zelina’s match this week, only to get scared once Rhea Ripley intervened. When Zelina needed her assistance, Carmela was in her fiancé’s arms, screaming and cowering.
This is a match I wish was longer because Zelina and Liv can go. What we got was fine but I feel a tad cheated.
Was that a Suplex?
Omos defeated Commander Azeez in a short-ish brawl of giants where Omos got to actually sell some moves and look vulnerable. While I didn’t particularly care about the match, Omos showed improvement and it’s encouraging they let him do something besides beat up on people.
E for effort. T for nice try.
Rey, Miz ,Dom, and Logan
Le sigh. Another match where the point of the match isn’t the match itself. A couple of those on the show is fine but so far this week, Raw is littered with this storytelling device. Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander faced the Mysterios. Guess who was ringside? The Miz and Logan Paul. Guess who got violent once the very quick match ended with a Mysterio victory? If you said Edge and Beth Phoenix, you’re not paying attention. Also, that was last month.
Logan and Miz got physical with Rey and son, with the babyfaces standing tall and me sitting bored.
Raw was not my cup of tea this week. I found the show lazy, to be frank, with only one or two bright spots. And they weren’t even that bright, they just looked like comets by comparison. Let’s hope next week is better because, whew. The biggest show of the year is in a matter of mere weeks and Raw isn’t firing on one cylinder, much less all of them.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.