It’s time! It’s Monday Night Raw time. Beautiful people, thank you for reading this corner of the internet for all your WWE needs. I have you covered here, while Claire does her usual thing at her blog. You know the rules by now: Check her out then come back for some insights.
Let’s talk Raw!
Your Winners, and NEW...
Now, that’s how you start Raw. RK-Bro, Alpha Academy, and Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens battled in a triple threat tag match for the ages. Or at least until WWE runs the replays into the ground and makes us all nauseous. Each team needed the W to get to WrestleMania. That’s the story, plain and simple. The other story is just how great KO and Seth are together. They were the best team tonight, constantly isolating their opponents, attacking in unison, and just being several steps ahead of everyone else.
IF Seth and KO built on their shared momentum of the past few weeks, then Alpha Academy was in search of their mojo. The soon-to-be former tag champs found a level of desperation unseen until this week. Chad Gable and Otis did everything in their considerable power to keep Randy Orton out of the match.
In fact, everyone wanted to keep the Viper at ringside. Otis dragged Riddle away from his partner whenever he got the chance, while Seth and KO often acted in stereo keeping Randy out of the match. For most of the match, it was either Chad and the Tree Trunk in control or the two bestest friends.
And that makes sense, right? RK-Bro is a dope team, duh. But these two teams are, in a lot of ways, better. RK-Bro is fueled by friendship while the other two just want to dominate their opponents and feature four people who, more than anything else, needed to be at Mania. Sure, Randy is always intense, but Riddle seems like a cat who can take it or leave it. Which explains him getting isolated in this match and so many of their matches.
When Randy finally made his way into the match, hitting his trademark snap DDT, scoop powerslams, and general violence, everything broke down. This is what every team wanted to avoid for 35 minutes. Randy equals chaos and that’s where anything goes.
That anarchy is how we got to our final decision, and it was a hell of a sequence. Gable goes for a Moonsault, only for Orton to catch him in mid-air for an RKO. My eyes got wide and I yelled words not suitable for small children. After they broke up Randy’s pin attempt, the team of Seth and KO went for a repeat of last week. Buckle bomb to Gable, followed by a Stunner, followed by a Curb Stomp, and then a win. Right?
Waiting in the wings the entire time was the guy who took the brunt of the punishment. The supposed weak link in RK-Bro watched all of this unfold. I never took my eye off of him because while he was out of the ring seemingly hurt, he never truly looked hurt. Riddle was a guy looking for his moment to strike, which was telegraphed earlier in the match when Riddle looked ready for a pin attempt while a couple people weren’t paying attention. This time, he was successful. Riddle tossed Seth out of the ring and stole the victory, along with the tag team championships.
Dope match, great way to open the show—even if it went a tad long for my taste—and compelling due to the stakes. Randy and Riddle celebrated, Randy used the “f” word. No, not that one. Friendship. Get your minds out of the gutter, heathens.
KO and Rollins were dejected after the match. And while we can bet both of them are showing at WrestleMania, how they get there is the story. Alpha Academy needs something to do though and it better be great. They put in work as tag champs, with both men upping their games and Chad really coming into his own.
What’s the best way to celebrate Vader finally going into WWE’s Hall of Fame? First, for anyone who wasn’t around to see this back in the day:
Secondly, enjoy one of the greatest theme songs in wrestling history:
Well deserved, Big Van.
Austin, Austin, Austin!
Props to KO for keeping it consistent. As a proud Canadian, there’s no way he can invite Shawn Michaels to The KO Show. Even as a devout Shawn Michaels fan, I respect it. Bret Hart is smiling somewhere.
Anyway, KO, finally figuring out how to get on WrestleMania, went down a list of Texans he didn’t want on his show. Owens then did everything but mention Steve Austin by name before finally saying it all with his chest: He called out ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
This is one of the worst kept secrets in professional sports entertainment, and while I look forward to seeing the Rattlesnake, this was a very weird way to end Raw. Made weirder by the fact it sounded like they played Austin’s music in the arena when everyone on the other side of the curtain knows he wasn’t in the building.
Bron Breakker is (Still) Your Hookup
I have one problem with this otherwise solid tag match and Raw debut for NXT Champion Bron Breakker. Corey Graves, as heel commentators often do, wondered how much Bron can trust Tommaso Ciampa. Which, in itself is okay. But when there’s no trace of that in the ring, it feels like wasted storytelling. To that point though, showing Bron and Ciampa not entirely on the same page adds more intrigue to their upcoming triple threat match with Dolph Ziggler for the NXT championship.
Bron looked good on Raw and it’s easy to envision him as a permanent fixture on Monday nights. And the wrestling was solid! Just wish the actual story matched the quality of the wrestling.
Triple the Threat, Triple the Fun
I had fun with this tag match between Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan and Queen Zelina and Carmella. The tag champs actually dominated for a bit until one of them forgot she was in a match. I wanted to cry foul when Carmella ducked out of the last half of the match to whisper sweet nothings to Graves, but it was clear this was just the prelude to her being on the losing side.
Rhea and Liv are going to WrestleMania as part of a triple threat tag match for the tag titles Carmella seemingly cares very little for.
Edge explained his reasoning for his actions last week. Long and short of it: He did it for The Rock. Nope, sorry, wrong wrestler, wrong era. His actual reason was he did it for AJ Styles. Edge said he wants the bulldog AJ and this is the best way to get it. Turns out AJ did Edge a favor as well, introducing Edge to a new side of himself. The side who dresses in suits and stares into cameras like a psycho.
It was fine because Edge knows what he’s doing, but it felt short and didn’t tell us anything Edge didn’t say last week as far as what he wants.
Finn Balor and Austin Theory had a pretty good match this week. Theory is really smooth in the ring and Finn sold how much he was in jeopardy until his comeback. Theory needs to look strong going into his match with Pac Mac at WrestleMania—I know how silly that sounds—and taking Finn to the limit is a good way to accomplish that goal. What started as a brawl between two men who really don’t like each other ended when Damian Priest inserted himself into the action. Theory was disqualified, Priest beat up on Finn, and Theory followed suit with selfies.
The long running—way too long if you ask me—feud with Reggie and Dana Brooke on one side and Tozawa and Tamina on the other continues. It’s now about romance. Dana beat Tamina in what feels like their 100th match meaning I’ve rolled both eyes at least 100 times. I get you need a cool down after the triple tag open but whew, talk about a momentum killer. The people want Tamina and Tozawa to be a thing. Cool, I guess.
“There’s always a bigger fish” —Qui Gon Jinn. That’s what I thought about when Omos and Commander Azeez faced off after Omos basically squashed Apollo Crews. Look Omos’ story is the same as, what feels like a half the roster: I want to be at WrestleMania. Effectively, his story is he has no story. Running the “I need a WrestleMania match or moment” angle for one person is fine. But doing that for several people on your roster? It’s lazy. Azeez and Omos looks like it’s happening. And I couldn’t care less because..why should I?
Miz, Logan Paul, and Jerry Lawler hit the ring to celebrate Cleveland. And no, I’m not calling it “The Land.” Damn you, LeBron for making that stick. The crowd initially loved Miz, but turned as soon as he said his hometown doesn’t deserve to host a WestleMania. More importantly, it sowed the seeds for Paul eventually turning on his partner. Unlike the other Cleveland native in the ring, Paul loves his city and looked miffed at Miz kicking dirt on a place they both called “home.”
This was a very inconsistent show this week. Unsurprisingly, and to no one’s fault, Raw never reached the heights of its opening triple threat tag match. We set up some potential Mania matches, solidified a few more, and KO called out Austin. Maybe that opening spoiled me but this was a very flat show, which is about average for Monday Night Raw.
An average grade for an average show.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.