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Raw recap & reactions (May 16, 2022): Asuka’s ready for Hell in a Cell

Bianca Belair has a new challenger as backstage drama makes WWE call an audible.

Welcome everyone, to Monday Night Raw! This week’s recap is in honor of the late great Notorious B.I.G.’s 50th birthday this coming weekend.

Claire is doing no such thing, so the best wrestling blog in the biz is still unfiltered and still the best.

Let’s talk Raw! Baby, baby.


Things Done Changed

Whew. Drama on Raw tonight all over the Women’s division. If you’re reading this, you more than likely know but in short: Raw cancelled its six-pack challenge for the number one contender spot when Sasha Banks and Naomi walked out. There is a whole bunch of scuttlebutt as to why it happened or whether it’s real or make believe for several reasons. Either way, it is what it is and we move forward with Asuka and Becky Lynch in our main event with Bianca Belair sitting ringside.

Without burying the lede, Asuka is going to Hell in a Cell. The Empress of Tomorrow and The EST for the Raw Women’s championship sounds like music to my ears. The match that got us to this point, however, was lacking something. Maybe because this was a last minute change, meaning the two women prepared on the fly. Don’t get me wrong; I liked the match but the ending and its overall story felt disjointed.

Asuka and Becky started fighting each other. Becky is on her comeback tour, so destroying Asuka is the first of many steps back to glory. Asuka believes Becky dishonored the title and herself in Asuka’s absence, so she was ready for the smoke. The action damn near immediately went outside of the ring, which makes sense based on the history and the stakes. Back in the ring, the two wrestled each other to a stalemate. Asuka countered a Manhandle Slam. Becky reversed an Asuka Lock into a pin, so Asuka released the hold. Asuka slapped an armbar submission on Becky and the former champ refused to give up.

Then they went outside the ring again and that’s when Bianca got involved. At least, that’s what Becky wanted.

Becky antagonized the champ in hopes of earning a DQ victory and an easy road to a championship match. How did she mess with Bianca? Well, she threw Asuka at her, for starters. After throwing Asuka back in the ring, Becky kicked Bianca in her face. Luckily, Bianca took off her glasses by this point, so no frames were harmed in the making of this match.

Bianca finally gave Becky what she wanted. Or so she thought. With the ref distracted by Bianca’s anger, Becky grabbed Asuka’s umbrella. Faster than you can say “Welcome to the Big Time,” Asuka pulled a Great Muta on Becky, spraying the champ with green mist. One swift roundhouse kick later, and Asuka gets the W.

Becky covered in green, crying to the ref, Asuka celebrating on her way to the locker room, and Bianca smiling watching her archenemy suffer were the last images on Raw this week.

While I love Asuka getting her shot, as of now, this story still feels like it’s all about Bianca and Becky. Hopefully that changes next week but Hell in a Cell is only two weeks away. An Asuka and Bianca feud deserves some real runway, not just be the side story to a larger epic between Becky and Bianca.

An okay match with the right woman winning although my spider sense is going crazy at the future prospects.


What’s Beef?

Indulge me for a bit, dear reader. The crux of the Bobby Lashley vs. Omos feud makes sense. MVP’s feelings are hurt because Lashley created a moment without him. Cool. MVP sides with Omos as a result of said hurt feelings, and wants nothing more than to make Lashley’s life a living hell. Also cool. But their opening cage match this week illustrated there are a bit too many elements at work here, along with booking that makes neither core participant look good.

The cage match started with a brawl before the actually match started. Cedric Alexander showed up, once again making him the most pathetic character on Raw. Why? Glad you asked. Nobody wants Cedric here, and he’s taking away from the main story. Even commentary calls him a nuisance. Why does a giant like Omos need Cedric’s help? Why does Cedric keep coming around when MVP said he has no use for the man? Before those questions got the necessary answers, the cage match actually started. And it went about the way you imagine with a limited big man and a talented Lashley.

Omos dominated the first act, beating Lashley from pillar to post using nothing but raw power. A fact made more amazing when one considers he wrestles with that chain around his neck. But this isn’t really about Omos; it’s about MVP. Omos’ new manager poked his nose where it doesn’t belong—well, his hand—with Lashley stunned against the turnbuckle. The Almighty made MVP pay, because of course he did, and was truly the moment of the match. While Omos might get some rub from this story, the crowd wants MVP crying underneath Lashley’s considerable boot.

Cedric interjected for basketball reasons after Lashley found his second wind during the match’s second act. Again, why? Real talk...why?! With Cedric dispatched like a gnat at a cookout, Lashley and Bobby fought a somewhat even match. Lashley’s spear only got a two-count, and it was all Omos from that point.

Then the match turned when Omos, in a show of strength, threw Lashley so hard into the cage, it broke. Lashley stumbled onto his feet and won the match because his two feet touched the floor.

This isn’t a new finish. In fact, Lashley knows this finish really well. But it makes Omos look dumb and makes Lashley look lucky. I’m not cheering for the lucky guy, who I’m told is “Almighty” and I know I can’t cheer for the dumb giant because he’s the bad guy. Also, he’s dumb. This is the same note of the same song WWE wrote the Monday after WrestleMania. MVP is mad at Bobby. Omos is MVP’s proxy. Omos and Lashley fight. Shenanigans ensue. Something dumb or silly happens as a result.

And I’m bored.


Extracurriculars

Warning

RK-Bro picked up some momentum this week. Riddle wrestled performed against Jimmy Uso this week as a prelude to the tag title unification match coming our way on SmackDown. Look, you know these two put on a good match, so I’m not wasting words there. But I will talk about the ending. Jey Uso got involved twice, once pushing Riddle off the top rope, and then adding extra leverage to his brother’s pin attempt. The ref saw the second thing and ejected Jey as a result. Riddle caught Jimmy sleeping and got the three-count with a pin attempt. The Usos are not only defending their titles this week, but now need to answer to the Tribal Chief for this loss.

Everyday Struggles

Theory and Miz fed Mustafa Ali to Veer. You know how this went. It was fine, but it definitely engineered a lot of sympathy for Ali. Three vs. one isn’t fun and he looks like a dead man walking at this point.

Long Kiss Goodnight

Establishing AJ Styles and Finn Balor as a credible tandem and threat to The Judgment Day is paramount. That started this week when the pair took on Los Lotharios. On Raw, but let’s not worry about that detail.

Liv Morgan was the added wrinkle. AJ hit her with the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” logic and, for some reason, Liv hesitated. Of course, all of that tension went away immediately since her music played first before the tag match. Not the way I handle that if I’m running the show, but hey.

I liked the story here: Lotharios as a well-oiled machine while Finn and AJ work into their chemistry. They picked up the W and celebrated after AJ hit a Phenomenal Forearm and Finn hit a Coup de grace. Liv celebrated with the babyfaces.

Here’s the thing though: I need this story to hit another gear. Edge, Rhea, and Damian Priest made Finn and AJ an offer they can’t refuse. Join The Judgment Day or the beatings continue. In other words, to quote a man who just hosted the Billboard Awards, “the sh*t that y'all started is never gonna stop!” I want to see some temptation, some flirting with temptation, or at least true consequences for not accepting Edge’s offer. We need an interesting, psychological story here worthy of the talent involved.

One More Chance

Last week, Alexa Bliss surprised Sonya Deville in the former’s first match without the “WWE official” designation. Sonya lost because, of course she did. This week, Sonya got another shot at Alexa, this time with more than a few minutes notice.

And she almost had the W too, but her own heelish behavior bit her in the ass. Sonya untied the turnbuckle padding, no doubt preparing a meeting between the metal and Alexa’s skull. Turns out, she didn’t need to use it. After hitting a huge spinebuster on Ms. Bliss, Sonya missed pinned the former champ. But the ref noticed the turnbuckle and retied the padding.

No three-count for you.

One DDT later and Alexa walks away 2-0 since returning last week. Sonya, frustrated, beat up an actual WWE official and will probably pay the cost.

This wasn’t much of a match. If you’re happy seeing Alexa back then it was a good moment hearing her new theme and just seeing her in the ring. But the story itself is very meh right now and the match did nothing to enhance it.

Somebody’s Gotta Die

Seth Rollins. Cody Rhodes. Hell in a Cell.

Dead Wrong

Chad Gable says he’s the smartest man on Earth. Apparently, he can’t outsmart Ezekiel, Otis, and BBQ sauce. Otis’ penchant for ribs contaminated Zeke/Elias’ DNA sample, stopping the DNA people dead in their tracks. Kevin Owens was hot.

Taking on Zeke as part of his redemption, Chad still came up short. No pun intended.

Another good match because Chad Gable is incapable of bad matches. And Elias is still good and handles anything thrown at him with aplomb. We got plenty of Elias trademark moves, as KO pointed out on commentary. Incessantly. The best part of the presentation was KO constantly interjecting with “Elias” every time someone said “Ezekiel.”

Chad lost when Otis once again got in the way. The Tree Trunk interfered but Elias handled him and then reversed Gable’s attempted roll up. KO ran into the ring for the traditional bad guy beatdown, but Elias escaped with his life. This is still the most entertaining thing on Raw and I love every moment.

The World is Filled

R-Truth handed out more divorce papers—to Tozawa—and told Dana Brooke he wants his compensation. The title, of course. Dana ran, bumped into Carmella, they threw shade at each other over marriages, championships, and relevancy. Mella and Truth, in a moment of continuity, rekindled their friendship with cross purposes. Mella helps Truth get his belt, and Truth delivers Dana to Staten Island’s former princess.


Raw was fine this week. Clearly, the drama behind the scenes affected the drama in front of the camera. Lacey Evans returned and cut an interesting promo for someone supposedly a heel, most of the stories moved along, and Hell in a Cell is taking shape. The match quality, however, wasn’t the best but nothing was abjectly terrible either. Average show.

Grade: C

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