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Raw recap & reactions (May 23, 2022): The end is near

The latest edition of Monday Night Raw added a wrinkle to championship match, while Riddle let his feelings show.

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, or goodnight to all the Cagesiders! I’m your host for this and every edition of Monday Night Raw, while my co-host, Claire, consistently cracks out the best blog in the business. She gives the details, I fill in the blanks, and you all get to tell me what you think.

Ready?

Let’s talk Raw!


On Our Own

Riddle opened Raw with an emotional promo. The former tag champ lamented losing the titles to The Uso’s. He vowed vengeance on the Bloodline no matter how long it takes. And, he shouted out his Randy Orton, his partner/best friend/mentor. Randy’s hurt but gave his all against The Uso’s because he knew how much the match meant to Riddle and the fans—no, I will not call them what WWE wants me to call them.

But, and this is a big but, he noted the future of RK-Bro is a tad cloudy. This sounds like the beginnings of a breakup when Randy comes back and to that, I have my favorite gif:

Riddle’s promo served as the prelude to a six-man tag, with Riddle & The Street Profits on one side, and The Uso’s & Sami Zayn on the other. But this was never about a six-man tag; it was about Riddle and The Uso’s. In a great touch, Riddle attacked Jimmy and Jey as soon as their music hit.

Seriously, they barely made it down the ramp before Riddle threw hands at the undisputed tag champs. Once the refs restored order and the match started, it was the standard fare. Angelo Dawkins and Sami Zayn, with Zayn auditioning for a spot in the Bloodline. As soon as Riddle got the tag, he ignored Sami and went straight for Jimmy and Jey. Riddle’s lack of focus and whether it might cost his team a W was the big question.

And I felt Riddle the entire match. The Bloodline took out his best friend. The titles he scratched, clawed, and smoked his way to are gone thanks to chicanery. And maybe, just maybe, his partnership is dissolving.

Winning the match is secondary to his bloodlust. Riddle even fought a bit reckless with taped ribs and throwing caution to the wind. The Uso’s and Sami took advantage of his injury, while the Profits did their normal dope high-flying antics.

When the match broke down into anarchy, Montez hit his usual Superman spot on Jimmy and Jey. Riddle, left alone with Sami, hit Randy’s hanging DDT and prepped for the RKO. He lost focus the second Jimmy and Jey hopped on the ring apron, but suffered no true consequence for it as he still hit the RKO on Sami and got the W. Jimmy and Jey walked out on Sami because to them, this match meant nothing.

Good match with a better story, even though The Street Profits angle is still a hole I need someone to solve. Montez and Angelo buddying up to Riddle feels off to me. Them giving their own Randy Orton shoutouts at the end of the match feels even worse. But that’s a minor issue. This is a big moment for Riddle and I’m curious how it plays out and where we go from here.

One more thing: Sammi Zayn dancing to The Uso’s theme is the best thing in the world. If you missed it, find a gif or a video. I promise it will brighten even the darkest day.


Big Time Change

Hop in your time travel vehicle of choice—can’t go wrong with a Delorean—and go back to last week. Remember when I questioned WWE’s plans for handling Asuka vs. Bianca Belair? When I worried Becky was still the story and Asuka merely filled a slot? Trust me, I said it. Well, lo and behold, they solved that issue this week.

Becky defeated Asuka in Raw’s main event, creating a triple threat match at Hell in a Cell for the Raw Women’s championship. Why? Because Adam Pearce called a do-over since both women got extra nefarious in last week’s finish. His logic is sound here, but he’s still the worst WWE official on the planet.

Before I get to all of my conflicted feelings, I enjoyed this match a whole lot more than last week’s battle. To be fair, Becky and Asuka worked that match with little to no preparation and it showed. This week’s match was smoother and more fluid. Their chemistry shined and it was a fun watch. Bianca was ringside, playing the role of very interested spectator. Her facial expressions and body language told a story almost as good as the match.

Becky tried to cheat, again, to no avail. Asuka slapped Becky in the Dis-Arm-Her for a submission attempt but the former champ refused to give up to her own move. In fact, Becky wanted the W more than Asuka here. The Empress seemed content with embarrassing Becky more than pinning her, and that’s one reason why we are where we are.

But here’s the kicker—pun intended: Becky and Asuka fought to the outside when the latter kicked the champ in her face. Of course it was inadverdently. Actually, it was more than likely a ploy by Becky. Becky, for basketball reasons, sat in Belair’s lap while gathering herself. Asuka lined her up for a roundhouse kick, only for Becky to duck. Asuka’s foot connected with Bianca’s head, knocking the champ out for the rest of the match.

That one little move puts heat between Asuka and Becky. What started as a mutual respect society will hopefully devolve into the opposite.

The next important story beat came shortly after the kick heard round the arena. Becky got the upper hand on Asuka. Asuka narrowly dodged a count out loss, but Becky caught her by surprise with a pin attempt. It was a cheap finish in the best sense of the word. Asuka doesn’t look weak losing that way, Becky doesn’t exactly look strong, and now there’s extra spice in their Hell in a Cell concoction.

While I still prefer a one-on-one between Asuka and Bianca, if only to see WWE tell a different story for a few weeks, I’m not mad at how we got to this triple threat.


Extracurriculars

What’s Next?

The Judgment Day (Damian Priest & Rhea Ripley) defeated AJ Styles & Liv Morgan. Rhea pinned Liv with a huge assist from Edge. The match wasn’t so much the story as was the open invitation to AJ and Liv to join the crew. Actually, Edge and co. extended an olive branch to anyone who wants to grab a vine. While we got no update on that front tonight, we did get a post-match beatdown, courtesy of The Judgment Day. The message was clear: Join us or get this work each and every week.

At this point, we better get another member. If not, these teases are pointless and the long—but engaging—promos from the group are moot. I remain thrilled—shoutout to Tom Atkins—but I need this story to shift to another level.

Million Dollar Man

The Mysterios saved Jerry Lawler from a massive beatdown. The King interviewed Veer and it went about as well as you’re thinking. Rey & Dominik never took the big man off of his feet because, well, look at him. To be continued.

It’s not doing much for me but maybe that changes. Maybe?

Twisted

Alexa Bliss got the W over Nikki A.S.H., continuing her successful comeback tour. Not a bad match at all, but I wanted more. The two women with a lot of history need more than the few minutes they got. I do like Doudrop in Nikki’s corner but at a certain point, we need a payoff from that. Nikki’s L’s gotta lead to something.

Obsession

The Miz and Cody Rhodes were in the middle of a meh match and then Seth Rollins showed his face. Rollins interfered, giving Rhodes the DQ win but injuring his Hell in a Cell opponent in the process.

Seth added insult to injury by snatching Cody’s weight belt from a child in the audience, and giving Cody a nice lash across his back. Rollins is playing this beautifully. He looks genuine upset every time he’s in Cody’s circumference, and it’s making Cody look great as well. While it’s not quite the psychological feud I thought, it’s just visceral hatred. I can get with that.

And Miz is right: Never trust anyone with a neck tattoo.

Speaking of Obsession...

Ezekiel (ELIAS) beat Chad Gable thanks to outside distractions from Otis and Kevin Owens. Owens snapped and challenged Zeke to a match at Hell in a Cell.

Best moment in the match was Otis’ quick Ultimate Warrior impression when the ref threw him to the back. I have no idea what pops off in Chicago between these two, but I can’t wait.

Confusion

This thing between Omos and Bobby Lashley was always about MVP. Lashley’s desire to eradicate Omos is purely to get rid of the obstacle separating him from MVP. So color me confused this week when MVP wrestled...Lashley. Yes, these two locked up with the winner picking the stipulation for Omos and Bobby’s Hell in a Cell match.

I figured Bobby and MVP might barely touch each other but, to my dismay, they got physical. The All Mighty got counted out chasing after Omos, which is also weird since MVP was his main focus. Soon, we’ll find out the stip for this upcoming match but I question the logic here.


Raw was pretty damn solid this week. While the Omos stuff is still a thing that’s happening, we’re moving forward in ways that peak my interest. And isn’t that all one can hope for?

Grade: B+

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