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Raw recap & reactions (Apr. 10. 2023): Where do we go from here?

The Usos & Alpha Academy set Seattle on fire, Bobby Lashley & Bronson Reed slap meat, and someone turns heel.

Brothers Gonna Work it Out

WWE started Raw telling us that flight delays altered the week’s programming. Several wrestlers suffered travel problems, most notably Sami Zayn & Matt Riddle. Sami & Matt's absence affected Kevin Owens the most as KO prepped for a match against Solo Sikoa. With Solo’s big brothers in tow for their own match, and Paul Heyman slinking around the locker room, that meant KO, not Sikoa, played the role of a true solo act.

Not to mention the fact Solo injured KO on the most recent SmackDown. KO gave an inspirational yet understated babyface promo before the match, promising to fight no matter how much help he has or doesn’t have. Good stuff that set the stage for a main event telling yet another story in WWE’s biggest saga.

But it also got me wondering where this all ends and how. Not saying I tire of the story but matches involving Bloodline members have a particular rhythm. If it’s one-on-one, then surely Bloodline members show out, they beat you with the numbers game, and that’s that. Shockingly, this match played out along those same lines. Jimmy & Jey helped their younger brother multiple times, even though KO, at times, barely walked straight.

In fact, KO had Solo beaten multiple times if not for his knee giving out on him and one Uso distracting the ref while the other attacked Kevin. The loss doesn’t hurt KO at all since they protected him extremely well and we expect this from the Bloodline. But I do wonder how much longer do we keep hitting these same rhythms.

The one difference is that, surprise surprise, Matt & Sami showed up! Seeing Riddle run to the ring in sandals made me chuckle uncontrollably. I’m not entirely sure but it’s just funny. Props to him for not letting those things fly off his feet.

Anyway, they evened the odds and saved KO from the post match beatdown. The bad guys won the battle but they didn’t win the war this week, and that sent the crowd home happy. It’s also necessary since it shows a few more cracks in the Bloodline armor.

They’re not invincible when the odds even up and feel aimless without Roman giving orders. It still gets us no closer to an endgame and I’m not sure what that endgame is or what it looks like at this point. I’m not rehashing what happened at Mania because it’s in the past now, but I don’t know if there’s a better moment in the near future for a logical ending here.

I liked the match, even though the Usos found themselves involved in a much better affair earlier, but like I said, there’s a formula here and it’s predictable. Like any creative will tell you, the minute things feel predictable, it’s time for a change.


Take it to the Head

First off, shoutout to that woman holding the happy birthday sign for her “papa.” Happy birthday, papa. Hope you enjoyed it.

Really happy Finn Balor showed up this week. Those who missed WrestleMania or don’t know what happened to Finn during his match with Edge, well, just take a look.

If your breakfast still sits comfortably in your stomach, we can talk about Finn’s match with Rey Mysterio that opened Raw. Clearly a prelude to Backlash, Finn battled Reef why as Dom’s proxy when the latter declined a battle with his father for his own basketball reasons.

I liked the verbal back and forth between Dom and Rey before the match. Rey set up Bad Bunny’s future return and Dom continued acquiring heat the way Thanos acquired Infinity Stones. Dom introducing Finn as Rey’s opponent after turning down his father’s challenge only made increased that heat.

While Rey & Finn didn’t put on a spectacular match, it did the job. Not the most exciting opening for Raw, but very sound. Even with the predictable ending (Dom interfered with the big chain), everything made sense. Of course Dom cheated with the chain since Bad Bunny thwarted him at WrestleMania. With no one in his way, he bashed his father upside the head and got the Judgment Day a W. The right man won for the right reasons.

Gravel Pit

Trish Stratus filled in for Lita this week during the tag team championship match. Raquel Rodriguez and Liv Morgan found Lita injured before the match. WWE officials rushed Lita to a...nope, not saying it. Anyway, just aesthetically, this feels like a good call since Trish looks better in the ring right now than her former dance partner.

These four women put on a really dope match. I enjoyed every minute, which included the chaotic ending that, in itself, told a story. Becky and Trish don’t tag together regularly, so we got some miscommunication between the two.

And any team, even a team with greatness, can’t handle crossed lines. That lack of familiarity showed itself a few times and yes, even in the ending. Trish tagged herself in after Becky found herself out of sorts after Raquel dragged her out of the ring. Liv caught Trish by surprise and ended the match in shocking fashion.

Trish & Becky showed their disappointment but Becky took it in stride. Becky applauded her stand-in partner, which telegraphed the heel turn. If I have one criticism it’s that they held everything just a second or two too long. Trish’s turn still elicited the desired effect in Seattle, which is why I said it’s a minor criticism.

A program with Trish and Becky has my attention. We didn’t get Trish’s reasons but I do hope they make the future match that much better.

Crush on You

If you like Kaiju movies, then Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed is your jam. This was a fight with as much meat slapping between two meaty men in recent memory. The story inside of the larger story concerned Bobby not only lifting Bronson but putting him in the Hurt Lock. Could he do it? How could he do it? He got close but never closed the deal because, well, you know what Bronson looks like. Bronson used his weight and momentum against Lashley. And that was the second attempt. On the first, Lashley didn’t get close.

After that second time, the action spilled out of the ring and both men battled to a count out. They didn’t care about the ref, they didn’t care about the rules; they cared about killing each other. I want more of this because they escalated everything to a point where (hopefully) a wrestling ring simply won’t confine these two. Cage? Falls Count Anywhere? Whatever produces more violence, give me that.

Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)

IYO SKY & Dakota Kai took issue with their leader seemingly looking out for herself over them. Bayley met with Adam Pearce for a tag team championship rematch for her girls. Pearce wanted no parts of that so Bailey set about ensuring Damage CTRL stays on the same show during the upcoming draft.

Somehow, that translated into Bailey getting a spot in a triple threat match against Piper Niven and Michin where the winner gets a shot at Bianca Belair. Bayley spun it as a championship win for her gives her more stroke. And more stroke makes it less likely Damage CTRL splits up.

Yeah, but nah. IYO spoke up and Dakota agreed. So Bayley gave IYO her spot in the match.

With all that drama, IYO had to win, right? The three ladies gave us a solid match in a night filled with them. The finish is the story though: IYO gets the win after hitting a beautiful Moonsault on both opponents and pinning Michin.

While Dakota erupted in joy, Bayley looked more reserved. She didn’t look upset about her partner winning, but she didn’t look happy either. Bayley clearly wanted that spot in the match and believes that championship belongs to her. IYO took that from her in some regards and how she reacts to it determines whether Damage CTRL has more time as a thing or if the end is near. Good seed sowing.

Elevators (Me and You)

The Usos are moving up in the world. Actually, that’s burying the lede. The Alpha Academy and the Usos killed it this week. If you watch one match from Raw this week, make it this one.

Otis is really coming into his own with this new iteration who seems more concerned with posing and preening than winning matches. Chad, though clearly annoyed, impresses me every week in every match. They work really well with Jimmy & Jey, and sell beautifully for them. Fittingly, the Usos found themselves on the wrong end of this match for most of it with that Mania loss still fresh on their resumes. While Chad & Otis aren’t on the same page lately, they still have a bit more momentum than the former tag champs.

Jey & Jimmy found their rhythm, isolated Otis, then finished Chad with the 1D. Great match, watch it now, and good heat back on the Usos.

Hail Mary

Cody Rhodes’ promo didn’t do much for me this week but I liked his overall point: He wants Brock Lesnar at Backlash...or WrestleMania Backlash. Brock gives his answer next week and I’m anxious to hear it, if only to see if he’ll make Cody work for the match and toy with him for a bit.

After the mess that was last week, this week felt like a cleanse. Not a home run show but a solid single with one must-see match and several storylines advanced down the proverbial field. Solid wrestling, logical storytelling, and nothing disheartening.

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