WrestleMania Backlash surprised us all in the Cageside offices. As a result, the hype level for Monday Night Raw was pretty high. Did Vince and friends meet those expectations? Claire’s blog details how they they tried while the thoughts below go into whether it all works.
Let’s talk Raw!
THE Judgment Day
You know the group or person is dope when they get an article like “the” in front of their name. The Batman. The Wu-Tang Clan. The Infamous Mobb Deep. And now The Judgment Day.
Edge’s group was the focal point for most of Raw’s first hour. First, we got the explanation promo from Rhea Ripley, Damian Priest, and Edge. The trio put it plain and simple: Rhea joined Edge’s movement because she grew tired of fighting for fans who really don’t care about her. And fighting for those fans made her lose sight of herself. Edge informed us all he got into Rhea’s ear weeks ago, which is the reason your “favorite tag team” is no longer a thing. After crowning Damian “the punishment” and Rhea “the executioner” of The Judgment Day, Edge said he’s not done recruiting.
Curiouser and curiouser.
It was then time for a match between Rhea and Liv Morgan. Rhea basically dismantled Liv. Morgan had a moment or two of a little offense, but this was a necessary drubbing. After winning the match by submission, Rhea went the insult to injury route and slapped on another cloverleaf while Liz screamed in agony. It was a little hard for me to watch but that’s the point. Of course this was on Edge’s instruction, which shows his power over the group and how much they believe in his message. I love all of this.
You know what else I love? Well, lots of things. But specifically AJ Styles and Finn Balor coming to get them some. Finn’s scheduled match with Damian was interrupted by an Edge spear and then a Judgment Day beatdown. Rhea showed her smarts when she stepped to AJ knowing hitting a woman isn’t AJ’s style. AJ’s hesitation was his undoing. Edge and Damian finished the job and left Balor and Styles licking all of their wounds in the middle of the ring.
Look, this just works. Will there be more members joining the group? How deep will they roll? Do AJ and Finn stand a chance? Will one of them betray the other after getting seduced by Edge’s message like a snake in Eden? So many questions and so many answers I can’t wait to find out.
One more thing: shoutout to Edge’s new haircut. I like it and it fits the vibe of the group.
I’m always conflicted when RK-Bro faces The Street Profits. My love for Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins notwithstanding, I don’t see the benefit in their constant Ls. Especially when their main point is the tag champs overlook them. But on the other hand, they put on very dope matches. This week’s Raw opener was no different than any past contest between the four men.
The key narrative moments were a little miscommunication between Riddle and Randy that led to the latter taking the brunt of his partner’s offense. The second was Riddle hitting a beautiful RKO on a top rope-leaping Montez. It was perfectly timed and Tez sold it incredibly well.
RK-Bro’s opening promo let us know they have bigger fish to fry in the form of The Usos. My fear is what that does to Raw’s tag title scene, directly or indirectly.
Kevin Owens is a Canadian treasure. He introduced us to his older brother Ken Owens. Ken’s match with Ezekiel wasn’t a match so much as it was “Ken” berating Zeke on the mic and then issuing a beatdown with Alpha Academy’s help.
ALSO? Chad Gable’s plan to test Zeke’s DNA at the “DNA lab” is genius. Chad knows people who work at this imaginary place, meaning he is our true hook up. Holla if you hear him.
Welcome back to the big time, Asuka
Adam Pearce granted Asuka a title match against Bianca Belair. Guess who wasn’t feeling that? Becky Lynch. So when Asuka and Becky squared off in the main event, guess who was ringside? Ding ding ding, Ms. Lynch!
This was another match not really about the match. Asuka and Bianca didn’t have a lot of time to really get busy but they did enough to show there’s potential there in a one-on-one situation. Why didn’t they get enough time? Because Becky Lynch was ringside, duh.
Less than halfway through the match, after complaining on commentary the whole time, Becky interfered, got Asuka disqualified, and then put both women on their butts to end the show. An Asuka x Becky x Bianca triple threat is my type of hype. Asuka is a great wrinkle to this Bianca and Becky angle, adding some flavor to keep it from going stale.
Seth Wants to Run it Back...Again
Cody thought he was done with Seth Rollins. Apparently Cody doesn’t watch wrestling.
During his United States championship match against Theory, Cody suffered a brutal attack courtesy of Rollins. Because of course he did. This was a pretty okay match between Theory and Cody but it was hard getting into it knowing what was coming. You knew Seth was coming, I knew Seth was coming. It was just a matter of when. And there was no way Theory loses the title this week. So that left this match in limbo.
Alexa Bliss is back in business after WWE officials decided Sonya Deville was bad for business. Deville lost her position as a WWE official for all the obvious reasons, and lost to a returning Bliss in less time than it took me to write these couple sentences.
Miz is Official like Starter
What do we make of this thing between Mustafa Ali and The Miz? I like it in theory—no pun intended—but I don’t like Ciampa used as a pawn in their beef. He’s not talking, he’s not getting his theme music played on TV, and he’s clearly not important. Despite that, Ciampa and Ali put on pretty damn good show! I just wish we were getting a story focused on those two rather than what we’re getting. I want it to be one way but it’s the other way.
Shouldn’t Be a Super Hero
Doudrop is tired of Nikki’s crap. I am too, Dou. I am too. After the two lost their tag match to the Boss and Glow, Dou screamed on her partner wondering when she plans to take this seriously. The women didn’t get much time here but the point of the match was never a truly competitive match. We’re going somewhere with Nikki A.S.H. I just hope we get there sooner rather than later.
Local CT man, Frank Loman, was on the end of another Veer squash. Like I said last week, I’m yawning with these now.
After the dopeness that was WrestleMania Backlash, Raw was surprisingly meh. Sure, this episode was a lot of set up but it also hit the same beats for some angles too. Randy and Riddle don’t take the Profits seriously. Cody and Seth. Veer squashes. Lashley wrecks everything to get his hands on Omos. There was nothing awful about anything but if you missed the episode, you’re really not missing anything.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.