WrestleMania Backlash is almost here, so welcome to the last edition of Monday Night Raw before WWE’s next big show. Claire is here with her usual on point commentary, and I’m here to talk about the show the way I see it.
Let’s talk Raw!
Bullet Club Leaders Unite?
Devotees of this column know I’m a huge fan of what’s happening with Edge and Damian Priest right now. Their name aside, it just works for me. That streak continued this week as a returning AJ Styles
wrestled performed against Damian Priest for the chance to fight Edge on the dolo (shoutout to the Mobb Deep fans) tip at WrestleMania Backlash. Edge’s prematch promo proved he not only needs to be a heel, but this specific heel. Edge is a heat magnet when there’s a little bit of truth to what he’s saying.
As fans, we kinda do hold back the good guys. If the goal is to win the match by any means necessary, there are limits someone like babyface AJ will cross so the fans won’t boo. That need for adulation sometimes is the difference between a W and the L.
This entire angle makes Priest more interesting as well. He has a purpose in the ring, while both AJ and Edge bring out the best in him. Even this week, Damian looked good in defeat. There’s never any shame losing to AJ, but there’s definitely no issue with Styles getting a win by the skin of his teeth. In fact, one might argue the win only happened because Edge distracted AJ to help his protege. Edge wasn’t so much protecting Priest as he was ensuring his insurance policy remained at ringside for his upcoming match. That didn’t happen, and we’re getting AJ vs. Edge one-on-one.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE...
Finn Balor, he of “poor Finn” fame, came out to save AJ Styles from a frustrated Edge and Damian. Finn has his own issues with Judgement Day—the group, not the PPV—and picked this moment to save his Bullet Club bruv. And it was very dope! But I do hope there’s more here and we’re going somewhere. Finn and AJ giving each other the Bullet Club salute is cool but it better lead to something. It’s the most interesting development for Finn since going to NXT and becoming a Prince.
Kevin Owens is a Gem
I know, I know. I sing KO’s praises every week but how can I not? In the brief interaction we got between The Street Profits, Ezekiel (ELIAS), Alpha Academy, and the previously mentioned KO was pure gold just for his reactions and side comments. We got another entertaining match between all six men. In a good narrative moment, KO got the upper hand on Ezekiel very briefly, allowing Chad Gable to pin Zeke with an Oklahoma roll.
I love this story maybe a bit too much.
Raw was all about crew love when it opened this week. We got the Bloodline, featuring the Undisputed Universal champ telling Greensboro, NC to acknowledge him, followed by RK-Bro with a surprise attack on The Usos. Out came Drew McIntyre with sword in hand, to square off against Roman Reigns. This is wrestling so you know a brawl ensued between all six men. Rather than give the people what they want, Adam Pearce and a bunch of other people came through to stop the brawl...and that was it. Seriously, nothing else happened. A hot start with zero follow up elicits both a yawn and a meh.
Sonya, Sonya, Sonya
The main event was underwhelming. We got a six-woman tag, which sounds exciting. Right? Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley, and Sonya Deville taking on Bianca Belair, Liv Morgan, and Asuka! There’s plenty of beef to throw on the grill with these women, so let them fight and let it get violent.
But that’s not what we got. The match was fine but it didn’t feel special. It definitely didn’t feel like a match for a go home show. Even with all those different issues, this was about Sonya Deville’s fall from grace. She lost her “WWE Official” status for the night, she’s still under investigation, and Liv Morgan pinned her. The babyface team celebrated while Becky, Rhea, and Sonya stewed.
While I do enjoy Veer—and his hair—I grow tired of the squashes at this point, After months...and months...and months announcing his coming, we need a little more than squash matches from the guy. Let’s hope he’s still not demolishing local talent one month form now.
Marriage on the Rocks
The 24-7 title scene keeps entertaining. Reggie is the worst husband in history because he not only allowed his wife to succumb to a sneak attack from Nikki A.S,H. but also tried to pin her for said title after getting Dana a rematch with Nikki to “save the marriage”! Reggie is a mess of a husband and Dana is 1000 percent correct to demand a divorce like she did this week. As the world turns...
Seth Insults The Dream
To quote another Marcus, “this sh*t just got real.” Seth Rollins wanted his own appreciation night. Cody Rhodes said “nah.” Seth wanted his flowers from Cody, Cody said “nah” again! Seth insulted Dusty Rhodes and that was enough for Cody to snap. One thing you never ever ever do is insult someone’s dead parent. If you do, you better break fast like eggs and bacon because the beating is coming faster and more furious than Dom, Brian, and crew.
This was a good angle to get a lot of heat on Seth before their upcoming match, and get the crowd even more behind Cody.
Stop Evoking The Hurt Business
If there’s one black eye on this show, it’s Cedric Alexander taking on Bobby Lashley in hopes of impressing MVP. Mostly because it continues this thread that Cedric—and Shelton by proxy—are desperate losers clamoring for the old days. Yes, we needed to make Lashley look strong before taking on the Big Man, cool. But Cedric isn’t a threat to Lashley. And, once again, it reminds me of something I miss and something much better than what we’re getting.
Ali x Ciampa part deux
Theory and Miz beat Mustafa Ali in handicap match because of course they did. Adding insult to injury, Ciampa attacked Ali again this week. Doing the same thing as last week with no explanation isn’t story progression; it’s running in place.
Stringer Bell once said no one cares about a 40 degree day. This episode of Raw was a 40 degree day. It was average, some cool things happened, but it was just there for the most part. I expected more for a go home show. Here’s hoping Geno has a great episode of SmackDown on his hands this week.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.