February comes to a close which means we’re almost officially one month away from WrestleMania. Are you ready? I said...nope, not doing it.
The shows get bigger and more exciting from here on out, so strap in, read Claire’s blog, and come back here for some color commentary on Triple H’s traveling circus of (super)stars. Oh, and to the commenter last week who wanted to talk Darkwing Duck instead of WWE? I feel you, I see you, and I heart you.
Let’s talk Raw!
TRISH STRATUS IS BACK!@trishstratuscom has returned on #WWERaw with her sights set on @itsBayleyWWE! pic.twitter.com/HYcTmUYXZr— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2023
Whew! I consistently wrong during this week’s main event. WWE teased friction between Lita and Becky Lynch just enough times that I thought Lita gets her revenge on Becky during their tag team title match. I figured whatever happened, even if that twist didn’t, I figured the chances of Lita & Becky leaving Grand Rapids with those titles in hand were slimmer than a pair of size 0 jeans.
Yeah, well this is why I only make predictions for big events and even then, my batting average isn’t great.
I’m not sure how long Becky & Lita hold the tag titles but I do know seeing them defend those belts might be a lot of fun. Lita still has a little ring rust, which showed tonight, but she can hit her big spots and working in a team protects her. Damage CTRL play excellent heels, led by Bayley of course, so they put the challengers in just enough jeopardy to make one truly think their dominance might continue. And at a certain point, they truly had the advantage after isolating Becky and Bayley pulling Lita off the ring apron.
But then something happened that also proved me wrong: Trish Stratus.
Trish showed up and lent her best friend more than one helping hand. Even then, I talked myself into believing an imminent heel turn. Lita & Trish combine their powers and screw over Becky in Raw’s main event, which sets up Trish vs. Becky at WrestleMania. Nope! Didn’t happen. Not only did Trish save the day, but she provided Lita an opening to get the pin for her team with a Litasault. The three women celebrated at the end of it but even still, I’m uneasy about this trio. Yup, even with the pyro going crazy, this feels tenuous. Sure, I could be wrong...again...and this is setting up a six-woman dance between Damage CTRL, the new champs, and Ms. Stratus. That sounds like a lot of fun and certainly fits WrestleMania.
That said, if Trish or Lita or both turn on Becky between now and then, I won’t be surprised even a little. In thinking about how Trish fits this story, and yes, Trish is back for a story not just for this one moment on Raw, the payoff matters. And Trish isn’t back just for a third wheel role. Besides the fact she’s better than that, that also serves no one.
Maybe I’m so used to twists and turns that I can’t just let the faces be faces and rule triumphantly. Which is a fair assessment. On the other hand, my spider sense sounds like that alarm in The Purge movies right now, so Lita should watch her back.
Cracks? What Cracks?!
It's @FightOwensFight here to save the day!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/ylmnqaXjtJ— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2023
Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa had a clear mission tonight: Prove everything is perfectly A-OK in the Bloodline. Why Jimmy and Solo? Well, because Jimmy has no clue on Jey Uso’s whereabouts. Jimmy & Jey fought the Street Profits on numerous occasions, but Jimmy & Solo create a very different matchup physically and psychologically. Especially since Solo doesn’t let Montez & Angelo’s jokes bother him on any level. So when they say the man doesn’t wear shoes on the count of his bunions, it elicits the biggest “meh” in the arena.
Few points though on a couple thing before the match, during the match, and after.
First, Jimmy’s mic work keeps improving. He addressed the crowd before the match and a rising tide truly lifts all boats. When you’re in wrestling’s hottest story, you show up and show out. Good for Jimmy.
Secondly, Angelo took the pin for his team, which is the correct move. After Elimination Chamber, I don’t see Tez taking anymore pins in tag team situations. At least not for a long, long, long while.
Lastly, the Bloodline always goes too far. After picking up the W, they wanted more. They always want more. And they usually want all of that as it soothes their wounded pride. That’s why they continued beating down the Profits after the bell rang. That’s why they knocked Dawkins out the ring and put a chair around Ford’s neck. But it’s also why Kevin Owens showed up and kicked Solo’s teeth down his throat and left the Bloodline wounded.
I like everything here. I like Solo & Jimmy getting the W. Like Angelo taking the pin. Like Tez getting put in the sacrificial position as it gets more sympathy from the crowd. And like Owens making the “save” since it continues his seek and destroy mission against the Bloodline.
Well...This is a Thing
BREAKING: @BrockLesnar accepts @TheGiantOmos' challenge for a match at #WrestleMania and seals it with an F-5 to @The305MVP on #WWERaw! pic.twitter.com/h1h2ZQQQ5O— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2023
MVP invited Brock Lesnar to the VIP Lounge. Sure enough, Lesnar showed and even apologized for showing up early. That, along with P spitting Brock’s White Lightning liquor back in his face were the highlights of the segment. I’m not interested in Brock Lesnar vs. Omos at WrestleMania, even with P in Omos’ corner. But apparently that’s what’s happening.
I don’t know if Paul Heyman could sell this thing, so good luck to everyone involved.
Keep Him Hot
Give @WWEGable his flowers!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/InBt9W05YH— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2023
Chad Gable might be Cody Rhodes’ perfect opponent. Before the character work, he’s an old-fashioned cat who works body parts and sales everything beautifully. That’s probably why these two put on a very good match that made Chad look strong even in defeat.
Cody needed this W for obvious reasons, but Chad made him work for it and had him on the ropes at several moments. Chad even wrenched Cody’s knee on the ropes and continued working that knee. If anything, Chad only took an L because Otis got distracted thinking about Maxxine Dupri. Seriously, just thinking about her. He looked for her in the audience and took his eyes off the prize. The man even got jealous thinking that Cody had eyes for Maxxine. Clearly Alpha Academy has issues coming to a head some time soon.
The biggest news coming out of the match? Cody celebrated his win and told the world that he’s showing up in my hometown this week for SmackDown, which means finally we get Cody and Roman in the same vicinity.
BREAKING: @FinnBalor wants a match with @EdgeRatedR at #WrestleMania!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/gzm1nrI91P— WWE (@WWE) February 28, 2023
The Judgment Day took aim at the opposition this week. Dom told Rey Mysterio that he’s in ex-con Dom’s prison right now, and he’s coming back to SmackDown this week when Rhea takes on Liv Morgan. Rhea had more smoke for Charlotte that just makes me want Rhea as champion even more than I did when the show started. And, finally, Finn Balor challenged Edge to a WrestleMania match.
Asuka is Money
I really do like this story in Carmella matches where she gets an advantage and starts talking too much. She picks the absolute worst times to run her mouth and flex her ego. That’s exactly what happened this week against Asuka. I didn’t even realize Asuka has no wins against Mella. Well, had no wins against her.
They put together a pretty solid match with the right result (Asuka winning) but something happened at the end that’s got me thinking about a Mania audible. Asuka called out Bianca Belair, who promptly answered said challenge. Before the two got it on, Mella pushed Bianca into Asuka and left the ring still talking her trash. Bianca won’t let that go, which means a match between these two happens next week.
HOWEVER, there’s a chance they toss Carmella into the WrestleMania Raw Women’s championship match and make it a triple threat. I don’t have the reasoning for it as of yet but Carmella isn’t going away. Asuka dislikes her. Bianca can’t stand her. And I can see Adam Pearce talked into it from a kayfabe perspective. Plus, if WWE wants a way for Bianca or Asuka to win the title without one of them taking a pin, Mella provides that avenue.
I can’t make heads or tails of this thing between Nikki Cross and Candice LeRae. Nikki followed Candice to the ring for Candice’s match against Piper Niven. Candice’s initial annoyance went away when Nikki inadvertently helped her get the win. Now, I’m not a fan of Candice beating Piper with a Schoolboy. Especially just because Piper paid more attention to Nikki’s disheveled body outside of the ring than her opponent inside the ring. I don’t mind Candice getting the win at all, I just wish it came in a different manor.
At the most though, hopefully this speeds up some resolution between Nikki and Candice.
Good news and bad news for Miz. Good news? Maryse got him a gig as the WrestleMania host. Bad news? Seth Rollins kicked his teeth down his throat and curb stomped him for good measure in a segment that saw Rollins take Miz’s phone and FaceTime Logan Paul. Bottomline? Logan Paul pulls up next week and Rollins can’t wait.
Speaking of Next Week...
John Cena returns next week in his hometown! Guess who’s waiting for him? Nope, not Mark Whalberg for gimmick infringement. Austin Theory. Theory plans on showing Cena all the respect in the world and only hopes Cena does the same. My guess is one or both of those men get mad disrespectful real quick and it leads to their WrestleMania match.
I know opposites attract in wrestling. Maybe that’s why Bobby Lashley vs. Bray Wyatt intrigues me. Yeah, I’m ignoring Lashley’s match with Elias since it barely felt like a match as much as it felt like an ant shaking hands with a boot. Lashley addressed the crowd and the locker room after the match and says he’s angry. He wanted more of Brock but he gets Bray and his “kid games.” Lashley skipped recess because he doesn’t play, meaning he’s no fan of Bray’s whole thing.
We got treated (?) to more of Bray’s thing post match with a weird mind games video targeted at Lashley. Wyatt’s stuff usually works with certain characters who play off that brand of wrestling. Nothing from Lashley makes me believe he’s that guy. Mostly because, as a character, he’s incredibly serious and about his (hurt) business. I wonder how this build works when one person doesn’t play along like LA Knight or someone else from Bray’s past. That doesn’t mean it won’t work or can’t work, just means I’m fascinated at the prospect.
No, This is Not the Performance Center Parking Lot
Shoutout to Corey Graves for acknowledging the danger in NXT’s parking lot when Dexter Lumis showed up during Johnny Gargano’s match with Otis. Otis took the match on Maxxine’s demand, and he didn’t get the job done. Why? Mostly for the same reasons he dropped the ball with Chad earlier in the show: He let his obsession with Maxxine take him off track. Gargano lays eyes on her for a few seconds after Dexter saves him from Mace and Mansoor’s clutches, and Otis loses it.
All in all, this felt like an empty match for me. The only thing it truly moved forward is Johnny Wrestling vs. Finn Balor next week as the latter challenged the former during a backstage segment. But the match felt like empty calories and not even the best kind.
Raw didn’t quite hit the levels it achieved last week, but like most shows during the Haitch-era, it worked for the most part. Nothing wrong with a solid show at the end of February as we get one step closer to WrestleMania.
The big surprise at the end bears more observation and has several possibilities.