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Raw recap & reactions (April 11, 2022): AEW x WWE

The most interesting story on this very bland edition of Raw was quickly tossed aside, while The Uso’s obeyed their Tribal Chief.

I wrote a lot of words about this week’s Raw, so let’s just get into the proceedings.

Still, go read Claire’s blog because she’s the best and the yin to my yang.

Let’s talk Raw!


Wrestlers x Superstars

Walk with me for a bit. Cody Rhodes and The Miz created an interesting angle for their match this week on Raw. Miz, jealous that Cody got all the social media attention during WrestleMania, didn’t take kindly to his guest hogging the spotlight on his show. This might be a shock Miz, but Cody is a little self-indulgent. Cody used that opportunity to, again, state his purpose: Getting the Undisputed WWE Universal belt.

Miz, in a line that sounds directly from Vince McMahon’s lips, noted it’s a “title” and a “belt is what holds up your pants.” Cody dismissed that and kept going. Cody talked about coming to WWE to battle the best “wrestlers.” Miz countered with “superstars!” Cody retorted with “superstar wrestlers.”

That one segment quickly established an AEW vs. WWE vibe without calling it that. On a larger scale, it established Cody is in WWE but not really a part of WWE. Miz symbolizes WWE. He is WWE. Miz is, more or less, everything Cody rebelled against when he started AEW. These two are diametrically opposed and see the game very differently.

It’s like Pusha T and Drake. Sure, they’re both rappers, but they have very different goals with Hip Hop along with juxtaposing views of what a good rapper does or doesn’t do. I love philosophical battles and Miz vs. Cody is, at its core, dripping in different perspectives.

The two put on a fine match. Nothing to write home about except the moment where Cody poked Miz in the eye. Is that Cody leaning into the heel aspects of his Homelander cosplay? Maybe. The WWE crowd is eating him up right now though, so displaying any heel tactics befuddles me. OR, it’s laying seeds for the future.

Either way, thee biggest moment was Seth Rollins challenging Cody to a rematch and Cody accepting. Not sure if we’ll get the same “wrestler vs. superstar” battle between these two cats, but they have an interesting story to tell as well.


Title vs. Title...Eventually

RK-Bro made relatively quick work of Alpha Academy. You know how these matches work at this point: Riddle works from underneath, Randy gets the hot tag, match over after Randy hits his big moves. Before RK-Bro walked out of the arena, The Uso’s arrived. The Bloodline members made their way to the ring and challenged RK-Bro to a title unification match.

But wait, there’s more!

After a lot of stalling from the four men, The Street Profits hit the ring. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins stated they should get title shots. In fact, they have no problem seeing Jimmy and Jey for a title unification match after defeating RK-Bro. Randy said “nah.” Instead, the Viper insisted the Profits and The Uso’s get it on this week.

And get it on they did.

This wasn’t about contrasting styles since both teams love to fly but can brawl with the best of them. But the match established Jimmy and Jey as a smarter tag team. Randy and Riddle keep winning because collectively, they outsmart everyone. If The Uso’s want any shot at those Raw tag titles, they have to be just as clever if not more so. It helps that they’re ruthless also, which is Randy’s calling card in Raw’s tag division.

To that end, The Profits had their chances. Once the match hit its third act and broke down—as most tag matches do these days—the Profits of the Street hit not one but two big moves. Their Doomsday Device finisher and Montez’s Frog Splash. The former resulted in a kick out while Jimmy broke up the latter.

Shortly after that, Montez missed The Uso’s make the quick tag. Losing track of the legal man, Montez found himself on the wrong end of the 1D.

Someday, soon I assume, RK-Bro and The Uso’s will defend their tag titles against each other. WWE didn’t announce the when, but WrestleMania Backlash seems appropriate.

The Uso’s and The Profits wrestled the best match of the night. But what to do with Angelo and Montez? How many shots at glory can they get before they either break up or fans stop believing in them? They see the two teams on top of their respective brands have an aggression they lack. Maybe adopting that puts them over the top. It’s just weird keeping them in this position for this long where they keep talking the best game around but can’t back it up.


Extracurriculars

Here Comes a New Challenger...

Sonya Deville is Bianca Belair’s new challenger. After Bianca embarrassed Queen Zelina while the latter bides time until Carmella comes back form her honeymoon, Sonya came down to the ring. The WWE Official heaped praises and flowers on the Raw Women’s champ, and mentioned the litany of potential challengers to her title. Bianca, who fashions herself the EST, is wiling to fight whomever whenever. Sonya told her to sign on the dotted line and her unknown opponent will reveal themselves.

Bianca turned her back on Deville and got a beatdown for her troubles.

I’m digging this because it’s a new match with new-ish blood. Bianca being so over with the people primes her for a story against the establishment, and it’s not the first time Sonya abused her power.

Veer Keeps Coming

Quickness vs. power. That was the story when Veer and Dominik wrestled performed this week. Dom wanted revenge after Veer took out Rey Mysterio last week. For all of about five seconds, Veer dominated and young Mysterio’s quest for vengeance went unfulfilled. In fact, it was so unfulfilled that a stretcher carried Dom out of the arena after Veer kept choking him after the 1-2-3 ding. Why? Because he strikes fear into the heart of any man.

Hey, I didn’t say it, Veer did. You want to tell a man that big with hair that magnificent that he’s wrong?

Protocol Audible

If you watched last week, you know Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley talked their way into a tag title match even though they lost their title qualifier match. I almost threw a flag on the play but it looked like the prelude to Rhea turning on Liv and possibly hooking up with Edge’s disciples. So I allowed it.

But Rhea is in “protocol” this week, so Liv took on Naomi instead.

This was a fun match between two really athletic women who are also good wrestlers. It wasn’t a long match at all, but like I said, fun for what it was and the time it had. Naomi got the W and celebrated in the middle of the ring with Sasha Banks. Any time you put Sasha on my tv, I’m happy.

KO is Incensed

Tommaso Ciampa made his official debut this week! Elias Ezekiel interrupted Ciampa, and Kevin Owens wasn’t far behind. KO feels like Mugatu in Zoolander when it comes to Ezekiel: He’s the only one who notices the obvious and questions how no one else sees this is just Elias. Even Ciampa is in on the hustle!

Next week, KO is putting Ezekiel through a lie detector test. It sounds silly but these two will make it work.

Bliss

Props to WWE for dressing up their backstage area to look like a gentleman’s club. Kinda. But I take those props away for not shooting at a club in Detroit for at least an exterior shot. Seeing R-Truth, Reggie, and Tozawa walk out of a random door backstage into what is clearly the backstage hallway with one velvet rope looked cheap. WWE programming is better when they take things out in the real world or at least places that look like the real world.

Tamina and Dana Brooke’s bachelorette party faired a bit better, if only a bit. But it devolved into Nikki A.S.H. breaking the agreed upon truce, and going for a pin on Dana. All hell broke loose, R-Truth brought everyone back together, and announced he is officiating a dual wedding ceremony next week.

Dammit, this 24-7 stuff won me over. Especially on a show like this where the actual serious stuff fell flat. The double wedding should be insane in all the best ways.

Colossal Explanation

Bobby Lashley wanted an explanation for MVP’s treachery and he got one. MVP, accompanied by a dapper Omos, put it bluntly: It was MVP who made Lashley “All Mighty” and if not for MVP,” there is no Bobby Lashley. Lashley having a WrestleMania moment without him was insulting.

Lashley disagreed, obviously, had some harsh words of his own for MVP, then challenged Omos. But, the main course is MVP and Lashley is about due for a snack. This is right out of Streets of Rage 2, with Omos playing the role of a mid boss and MVP as the main boss. Will Lashley get through Omos to get to his version of Mr. Big?

Now You See a Match, Now You Don’t

This was the worst moment of the night for me. Edge sent Damian Priest to handle his light work in the form of AJ Styles. AJ focused on doing everything but kill Priest as a way to get to Edge. And Priest showed a newfound edge and comfort in the ring without worrying his silly darker half gimmick.

But right when Priest took control of the match and had AJ dead to rights, the lights went out and Priest kneeled in the middle of the ring. That blue spotlight hit the Priestly one, eliciting a devilish grin and then just like that, we go to commercial.

Match over. No explanation from commentary, no explanation from anyone. The match just ended. Did Damian walk out? No clue. Did he teleport like a Power Ranger? Maybe. Just nothing.

Whatever it was stunted Raw’s momentum for the night, while turning one of the brand’s most interesting angles into an annoyance.

What’s in a Name?

Austin Theory is now just Theory. Why? Mr. McMahon believes “Austin” doesn’t fit him anymore. And within the storyline, it makes complete sense. Outside of that storyline? It’s silly. Theory sounds like a college elective, not a wrestler. And next week, Theory takes on Finn Balor for the United States title. Guess who is losing that match?

Poor Finn.


Let’s not bury the lede: This was a boring episode of Monday Night Raw. There were a few bright spots but for the most part, it left me uninspired, unenthused, and underwhelmed. To answer that famous question from Gladiator, no, I was not entertained.

Also, not for nothing, but WWE needs to figure out what they’re doing about their Undisputed WWE Universal Championship situation. Another Raw without the main heavyweight champion is just unacceptable. We got plenty of those on the road to WrestleMania and at this rate, we might get a lot more. The show suffers without the main champion and it’s a void no one else can fill. Or, is given the chance to fill.

Grade: C-

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