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Raw recap & reactions (April 18, 2022): Abusing my professionalism

The wedding of the century, a lie detector for the ages, and a main event match of the night.

Go read read Claire’s blog, Cagesiders. Then come back here for the snarky analysis you don’t pay for.

Let’s talk Raw!


Mystery Meat

Seth Rollins set off Raw this week pulling the card we figured he had at the top of his deck: He wasn’t ready for Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania. Cody knew his opponent but Seth didn’t know his, therefore Cody had a competitive advantage. While Seth is a crazy villain, he’s also correct. Cody doesn’t think any of that makes a difference but he’s ready to see Seth at WrestleMania Backlash regardless.

The opening promo battle between the two meandered a bit for my taste. The ultimate point of their back and forth about the Rhodes family, Cody’s last six years, their Mania match, and their upcoming match, was Seth challenging Cody to take on an opponent of Seth’s choosing. Cody didn’t come back to WWE to duck or dodge challenges, so of course he accepted.

For anyone questioning if Cody is Raw’s number one good guy, this promo, along with the crowd’s response to the American Nightmare, answers your question pretty emphatically.

Our main event saw Cody wrestle Kevin Owens, Seth’s best friend. KO came to the ring, already filled with frustration over this Ezekiel nonsense, but more on that later.

KO and Cody started the match actually wrestling. This eventually devolved into a slugfest and KO taking control after hurting Cody’s back. KO worked that back a majority of the match. Backbreakers, suplexes, powerbombs, and anything else he thought of to cripple Rhodes.

The second act saw Cody shake off that pain and withstand the punishment. Kevin tried everything to keep the American Nightmare down, but to no avail. Cody blocked the Pop up Powerbomb with a Frankensteiner, and when the match went to the outside, that’s when trouble struck.

Seth Rollins sensed his plan fraying at the seams, so he made his way to ringside to ensure it didn’t. Eventually, that backfired on Seth. After Cody survived a massive Frog Splash, thanks to his foot on the bottom rope, KO went to pull out his very last drop. Now, the outside factor here was Seth, who vocally cheered on his pal while also questioning why Cody kept surviving.

While not blaming it on KO directly, he did have slight shade for his supposed best friend. I don't know about you, but I don’t tell my best friend to “figure it out” while trying to conquer a seemingly impossible task. But, to be fair, I’m not a psycho.

KO thought he figured it out. A powerbomb to the ring apron probably finishes off Cody. Instead, Cody countered with a back body drop that put Owens on the outside of the ring. While the ref issued his count, Seth but his nose in again, this time telling his best friend to “get his fat ass up.” Well, that was that for Kevin, who walked out but not before telling Seth “this is your match. I don’t need this!”

Cody walked away with the W in a messy and unsatisfying finish. Seth, seemingly as frustrated as the rest of us, attacked Cody from behind as Raw went off the air.

Meh. I wanted an actual finish here and as of now, this story between both men isn’t anything special. Maybe it will get there, but the next premium live event isn’t far away.


Remember Me?

You know what I love about Edge? Everything he does now incorporates his own continuity. WWE isn’t exactly known for remembering its past storylines, but it always makes me grin when at least one wrestler superstar remembers not just what happened last week, but what happened several weeks ago.

While the initial reveal that Damian Priest can do spooky ish during his match with AJ Styles was lackluster, Edge’s promo damn near saved it in retrospect. Plain and simple, Edge is capable of such mind games because he’s the same guy who ran with The Brood and The Ministry of Darkness. How he can pass those powers to Damian wasn’t a part of his promo, but I let it slide because Edge did the work.

Of course Edge can do those types of mind games. He did them for years as part of two horror-inspired factions. Edge used our disbelief and displeasure with last week as fuel to comment on the audience’s terrible attention span.

It’s that same fickleness—shoutout to BD—that Edge saw as fans wanted him back for years only to complain when he finally showed up. He’s here too much, he’s not here enough. He wrestles every week or he’s a part-timer.

Edge said kill all that noise and decided to do him. While stating the purpose of the group, again, wasn’t necessary it made sense considering Edge taking us on a trip down memory lane.

To put an exclamation point on this story, Edge and Priest used more spooky ish to attack AJ in the locker room and enact severe punishment on Styles’ left arm.

This is my favorite thing on Raw right now and it’s all because Edge isn’t insulting anyone’s intelligence.


Extracurriculars

WHO WANTS TO HEAR ZEKE SPEAK?

Chad Gable? And Kevin Owens? In a segment? Gold. This entire lie detector segment was incredible from start to finish.

KO hired Chad to administer the lie detector test, paid him in Canadian dollars, and the two made magic.

Elias was there too. And yes, despite what the lie detector test said, I’m still calling him Elias. Anyway, Elias/Ezekiel played straight man, answering the yes and no questions and proving that yes, he is Ezekiel. I loved Ezekiel asking the crowd “Who wants to hear Zeke speak?” because it was so silly and so perfect. The fact he did it in the same cadence as “Who wants to walk with Elias?” was the cherry on top of this absurd sundae.

Kevin refused to listen to the test and confronted Ezekiel. No, we didn’t get a match between the two, but we did get the prelude to one.

Instead, Zeke and Chad locked up. The latter planned to beat the truth out of the former if he lied, and the match was his chance to back up those very big words.

Chad and Zeke wrestled a pretty good match, too. Truthfully, it’s pretty hard for Chad to do any wrong at this point, so that comes as no surprise. “Ezekiel” picked up his “first” W as result of a DQ. With Chad in an ankle submission and teetering on the verge of tapping, Otis somehow snuck up on everyone and bulldozed “Zeke.”

Props to everyone involved. They took something ridiculous and made it entertaining and, dare I say, compelling.

Tag Team Trickery

During this match, I thought about differences between this one and any other tango between The Street Profits and RK-Bro. Besides the fact the Profits can’t keep losing big tag matches. Especially to the same team.

And the match played out the way it normally does: The Profits beat up on Riddle, Riddle has a hope spot, makes the hot tag to Randy Orton, and Randy dominates. Then came the wrinkle in the story that put me in full Calvin Candie gif mode.

Riddle sets up the RKO while Montez Ford motions to the back for The Uso’s to show up and show out. Cue that familiar “Day One” tune and both members of RK-Bro turn away from the match.

The Profits take advantage. Ford dropkicks Randy off the apron, Angelo Dawkins surprises Riddle with a bum rush attack, whips him to the corner and catches him on his shoulders when Riddle goes for a counter.

This sets up their finisher, and The Profits actually walk away from Raw with a damn W. Color me a lot of things, but shocked is the main shade at the moment.

The Profits took to the mic after the match and said the music cue was their idea. Their point? Show RK-Bro there’s more than one tag team to fear in WWE.

I like the aggression from The Profits and more importantly, I love someone using that wrestling trope as a crutch for their opponents. We all know wrestlers aren’t immune to hearing theme music. Especially theme music of their chief bad guys.

Wherever this thing between RK-Bro and The Uso’s go, The Profits, like Outkast back at the 1995 Source Awards, have something to say about it.

Pronounce You Committed

The Commitment ceremony was great. That’s all you need to know.

Okay maybe you need to know more stuff. R-Truth is incredible, as he carried most of the segment by playing to and with the crowd. Sasha Banks and Naomi, as Tamina’s bridesmaids—yay continuity!—were great as emotional wrecks. Sasha in particular wiped away so many tears and caught so many vapors.

Tamina swapped husbands and a bride, Reggie and Dana Brooke went all in on their kiss, allowing the former to pin his new bride for her championship. Tamina then pinned Reggie, Tozawa pinned Tamina, and finally, Dana pinned Tozawa to get us back to square one.

Purveyors of joy should watch it immediately.

Your Winner...and New...

Theory—still a stupid name—is your new United States champ. Was the outcome ever in doubt? Of course not. We all saw this coming from miles away since Theory has Finn Balor’s number.

The two wrestled an even match until Theory issued a pretty neckbreaker on the outside of the ring. Finn nursed that neck injury the rest of the match. It affected his ability to gain any momentum, and caught up to him when he missed the Coup de Grace. The jolt from the miss shook his whole body, including his neck, and gave Austin Theory the opening for an ATL.

Out came the locker room—some of them—to celebrate the new U.S. champ. And then came Vince, who posed for a selfie with his young mentee.

The match didn’t do much for me, which was probably due to the fact the ending was telegraphed weeks ago.

And, as is customary now, poor Finn.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

It finally happened. After a brief interlude last week, Rhea Ripley turned on Liv Morgan after they lost their tag title match to the Boss & Glow. For me, because it was obvious where it was going, the match itself felt like prolonging the inevitable. It was fine by, but it played out similar beats to their last encounter.

Sasha and Naomi overpower Liv, Rhea evens the odds, Rhea and Liv can’t get on the same page, Sasha and Naomi own real estate on the same page, and the tag champs win because they communicate better their opponents.

Post match, Rhea called her partner a failure and clubbed Liv in the back. Yes, clubbed. The beat down continued until Rhea simply got tired of swinging and walked away.

An official heel turn for the Nightmare (not the American one) and for this writer (sorry, Sean) it’s about damn time. Rhea has a natural...edge...that gets dulled as a goodie good.

Consequences and Repercussions

Sonya Deville came out this week to talk some trash to Bianca Belair. A for effort but whew, the delivery just wasn’t there. Sonya seemed genuinely rattled by the Buffalo crowd, and cut a plodding promo as a result. The segment was almost saved when Bianca entered the chat and threatened the WWE official. Of course, nothing came of it, as Sonya told Bianca she would “lose title quickly” if The EST KOD’d an official of WWE.

Roughness aside, we got a date for their championship match: next week in Bianca’s hometown of Knoxville, TN. I’m with it because Bianca, duh, and I’m curious to see Sonya in action after three years.

To make matters worse for Sonya, Adam Pearce informed her the “higher ups” are looking into her conduct while Bianca was fined all of $1 for laying hands on a WWE official.

That little bit of backstage business made everything in the ring just a tad better.

Veer Keeps Coming

Remember when we were told for weeks Veer was coming and he didn’t come? Now he’s on TV every week! This week, he beat up on local jobber Jeff Brooks, who was then carried out of the ring on a stretcher.

They’re selling Veer as a monster so, yeah, I get it. Mission accomplished.

Arm Wrestling Entertainment

Bobby Lashley and Omos arm wrestle next week to see who is the all mightiest.


Abrupt and unsatisfying ending aside, Raw was enjoyable this week! I wrote a lot already so that’s the most you get.

Grade: B

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