Raw airs tonight (Apr. 18) with a live show from KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. This is the third Raw episode during the five week build towards WrestleMania Backlash, coming up on May 8.
Sonya Deville made a huge mistake
Becky Lynch hasn’t been around since losing the Raw women’s championship to Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 38, so Belair needs a new opponent. The landscape of heels in the Raw women’s division is a wasteland without Lynch in the picture; Nikki A.S.H. and Doudrop weren’t important enough to make the WrestleMania card, while Carmella and Zelina Vega lose most of their singles matches. In fact, Zelina just lost against Bianca last week on Raw.
That’s why you may have seen the swerve coming when authority figure Sonya Deville entered the right with Bianca Belair holding a contract for an open challenge to Belair’s title. Sonya teased that someone from the back was coming out to sign the contract, but she instead attacked Belair from behind and signed the contract herself.
This is the latest example of Deville abusing her power, but she should have thought twice before pissing off the EST of WWE. Sonya has competed in four matches thus far in 2022, and she has lost all of them. This includes tapping out to someone who had one arm tied behind her back. Meanwhile, Belair hasn’t lost a one-on-one match on television or pay-per-view (PPV) since last November. In some ways, this is like WWE feeding
Austin Theory to Brock Lesnar last month. Belair is simply going to tear Deville apart when the bell rings for their match.
It’s worth noting that we don’t have a date for their match. Sonya specified that she is Belair’s “next opponent,” but she didn’t directly state the match is happening at WrestleMania Backlash. Does that mean the title match could happen over the next few weeks on Raw, leaving the door open for Lynch or someone else to challenge Belair at the PPV?
Sonya will no doubt continue abusing her powers tonight to try gaining an unfair advantage over Bianca heading into their championship match. She better use every dirty trick in the book, because a fair match is extremely lopsided in Belair’s favor.
The rest of the title scene
Roman Reigns is the Undisputed WWE Universal champion, but he doesn’t have an obvious opponent for WrestleMania Backlash. He seems more interested in sitting back and letting the Usos take the spotlight in unifying their SmackDown tag titles with RK-Bro’s Raw tag titles at that event. Will Roman even appear on Raw tonight? It seems doubtful, because Roman isn’t listed on any advertising for the show. But Raw kissed the WWE championship goodbye two months ago, so this is par for the course.
Rhea Ripley was “in protocol” last week, so she missed out on an opportunity to turn on Liv Morgan and finally escape the tag division. She’ll have the chance to do it tonight when she and Morgan challenge Sasha Banks and Naomi for the Women’s tag team titles.
United States Champion Finn Balor is set to defend mid-card gold against
Austin Theory tonight. I guess we’ll see if momentum matters in pro wrestling, because Balor has nothing going for him right now, while Theory has the backing of Vince McMahon.
The 24/7 title scene is actually getting a big showcase on Raw, as there will be a double wedding for Akira Tozawa & Tamina and Dana Brooke & Reggie. R-Truth is the only man certified to marry them, so we’ll see how many times the 24/7 title changes hands during the ceremony.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Kevin Owens is wasting everyone’s time by giving a lie detector test to Ezekiel, the younger brother of Elias, because for some reason KO doesn’t believe Ezekiel is actually the younger brother of Elias. New Raw wrestler Tommaso Ciampa is convinced that Ezekiel is telling the truth, for what it’s worth.
- Cody Rhodes is already the top men’s babyface in WWE. After his tune-up match and win over the Miz last week, Cody is ready for his rematch with Seth Rollins at WrestleMania Backlash. Things are a bit too peaceful between Rhodes and Rollins right now, but Seth will probably escalate things into violence soon enough.
- Bobby Lashley invited himself onto the VIP Lounge last week and made it clear that he’s coming to hurt MVP. Meanwhile, MVP explained that he’s the only reason Lashley ever became WWE champion, but he’s now found someone bigger and better in Omos. A rematch between Bob and Omos is surely coming our way.
- Veer Mahaan is WWE’s newest monster heel, and he sent Dominik Mysterio out on a stretcher last week. Will Rey Mysterio return to Raw tonight seeking revenge on Veer, or is Rey still out due to a medical issue?
- Last week’s match between AJ Styles and Damian Priest ended via blue light bathing one of the wrestlers. It’s one of the dumbest match finishes I’ve ever seen. Maybe they’ll go for a big swerve next time and use a green light instead.
- Alexa Bliss is rumored to be a babyface now, but it’s hard to tell because she hasn’t been on WWE television in a while.
- Is Gable Steveson immune from Vince McMahon’s very weird and out of control obsession with changing wrestler names?
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?