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Raw recap & reactions (Apr. 24, 2023): Triple H & Seth Rollins pop off

Triple H unveils a new championship, Cody Rhodes is back in action, and Bad Bunny.

The World is Yours

I’m only putting this up here because it’s important: WWE crowns a new WWE World Heavyweight champion at Night of Champions. If you have a thing for championship belts, then feast your eyes on this thing as soon as humanly possible. It’s gorgeous and looks like the current belt had a baby with WCW’s big gold belt. It looks classy; less like a toy and more like a championship belt.

As an aside though, in another universe, I might convince myself Triple H cut a promo on Roman Reigns. He noted that Roman negotiated a great deal that sees him defend the title less, which is exactly what Trips might do if given the chance. He gave Roman all the props in the world for his acumen in the ring and outside of it. But after unveiling the belt, he told the crowd that this new champion won’t have to ask for their acknowledgement because he’ll earn it Night of Champions. He also talked about the audience feeling pride for this new champion.

I’m not expecting these two in a match any time soon, but those things stuck out to me.

Anyway, the new belt rocks the world. My hope now is they remodel the other belts as well. Everything works better when the belts all fit in the same world. One belt having a wildly different aesthetic than the others just irks me.

And maybe that’s just me but I’m also the one writing this recap. Just my thoughts, right or wrong.


I Shot Ya

Okay, did Roman piss someone off? Seriously. First came everything I wrote above this section and then came Seth Rollins. Seth addressed Chicago and quickly turned his attention towards the new championship belt sitting ringside. Seth noted all the nice things Haitch said about Roman while underlining the fact the name missing from the long list of Roman’s conquests: his.

Okay, cool, no problem. But then it felt personal when Seth said this new belt is for people who have a different vision than Roman. “Some of us still want to fight!” said Seth. This belt, according to Seth, is about more than “politics and part-timers.”

Sure, Omos showed up and Seth gassed Omos’ height, skill, and talked about his plans for Omos at Backlash, but all that talk about the new championship and subliminal shots in the Tribal Chief’s direction stayed on my mind. They’re still on my mind.

I’m not bugging, am I? Someone tell me if I’m bugging.

Mess You Made

It goes without saying that most of us know the Frankenstein story by this point. Maybe not verbatim but we know the general idea. WWE potentially has their own version of that on their hands now with Bad Bunny formally challenging WWE to a street fight in Puerto Rico.

Bunny showed up after Damian got himself disqualified during his match with Rey Mysterio. I like this new mode for Damian where winning the matches don’t matter so much as humiliating his opponents. Like he said earlier in the show, he’s a bad guy. Damian plays his heel role better than most right now and Rey plays the perfect opponent for that.

I didn’t expect a one-on-one match between Bunny and Priest but I like it. This was always the smart move, right? Damian brought Bunny into this world. They teamed up for their first match and within storytelling, Damian taught Bunny everything he knows.

Fittingly, Bunny turns that knowledge against his former teacher at Backlash in a full-circle moment. Plus, Bunny defends Rey’s honor, and the street fight stipulation means plenty of outside shenanigans from the Judgment Day and Papa Mysterio.

While there might be better matches on paper at Backlash, this one might very well steal the show. Bunny looked great attacking Damian with a kendo stick and Damian sold everything like a seasoned vet, hold the adobo.

Right now, Damian’s angle is he doesn’t tell Bad Bunny how to perform so Bunny is out of line getting involved in wrestling. That’s fine but I hope they play the Frankenstein angle next week and on social media.

One Day

The LWO is over. And it’s not just a Chicago thing, although the Chi-Town crowd showed them so much love.

The more Santos Escobar we see on television the better. I wish the LWO got more Ws but I’m happy the LWO angle puts Santos in front of these crowds on big stages. He killed it tonight but not just him; Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde impressed as well. Again, there’s a reason the crowds love these three.

Of course they took an L to the Bloodline because the Usos have a tag team championship match on the horizon and Solo Sikoa is, well, Solo Sikoa. Their victory makes complete sense in that light but I hope WWE utilizes Santos, Cruz, & Joaquin better going forward. And by going forward I mean the very near future.

Ms. Jackson

I loved this segment between Sami Zayn & Jey Uso. Jey, reveling in his team’s victory, bumped into Sami and the whole mood changed. Sami asked the one thing we all asked after Jey & Jimmy dedicated their upcoming championship match to Roman Reigns: What happens to you if you lose? Not only that, but, to Sami’s point, dedicating the match to Roman means they’re not even fighting for themselves.

These two are really like two people after a breakup. Sami still cares for Jey and Jey feels the same, even if his lips don’t say it. Jey even asked Sami why he cares what happens to Jey. Sami only mustered that “feels bad” but the truth is he cares about that mans’ wellbeing. But, as Jey said, they both made their choices.

Jimmy called it mind games and Sami just getting in Jey’s head, but Jey asked his brother that same question: What if they don’t win?

Jey sees what’s up. He knows how this story ends for them. The fact that Jimmy of all people turns a blind eye to the facts speaks volumes about his delusional dedication. Turnabout being what it is, Jimmy played his own mind games with Sami. The way Jimmy tells it, Kevin Owens turns on Sami the second they lose those championships because of everything Sami did to him as the Honorary Uce. And Sami realized that whether he likes it or not, Jimmy has a point.

Sami and Jey, just kiss and make up already!

I’m Back

Finn Balor and Cody Rhodes should wrestle each other more often. Cody returned to the scene of perhaps the defining moment in his WWE return, and aimed his words directly at Brock Lesnar. He called Brock a coward for hitting him int he back rather than living up to Brock’s reputation as the “most decorated combat athlete in history,” which is another WWE turn of phrase that annoys me. But I digress.

The best moment came when Cody showed his battle scar from that fateful night when he wrestled with a torn pec. The crowd ate it up and everyone enjoyed themselves until Finn Balor showed up.

Finn made a good point about Cody getting screwed at WrestleMania and that he needed a crew. I expected an Elite/Bullet Club reference but alas, Finn let me down. Either that or I missed it, so someone let me know.

Cody turned down Finn’s Judgment Day invitation because he’s the good guy and Finn took several buckets of umbrage with that rejection.

I liked their match a whole lot. I do wish we got some chicanery just to protect Finn, especially after Finn defeated Rey Mysterio earlier this August. Cody loses nothing with a DQ win but I also don’t know how Finn factors into their future plans. BUT, with a new championship, and commentary hinting at Finn competing for said championship, then yeah, keep his shoulders off the mat.

Remember the Times

Remember when it looked like a holy entity might bless us with the Hurt Business reunion? Yeah, good times. Instead of that we get Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander getting easily beaten by the Street Profits. The hook for the match was the idea that the WWE Draft might change these teams irrevocably. Cool, cool. But I just preferred seeing all four men doing anything meaningful at this point. A throwaway match on the last Monday in April isn’t that.

Whutcha Want?

More Damage CTRL dissension this week. This time, it came when the group interrupted Bianca Belair’s backstage interview and IYO SKY basically said she’s not waiting for Backlash. Bayley translated that into a six-woman tag team match that neither IYO or Dakota Kai seemed thrilled about. Bianca partnered with Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan, proving Bailey forgets all the people not giving Damage CTRL Christmas cards this year.

No huge miscommunication moments during the match for Damage CTRL, but Bianca pinned Bayley. Maybe Dakota & IYO turn on Bayley instead of the other way around. They both clearly have issues with her “leadership” and they left this match as a duo, not a trio.

Bad Meets Evil

Austin Theory had himself a night on the microphone. He held his own against the Chicago crowd, got a nice shot in at Bobby Lashley, and telegraphed he has the new World Heavyweight championship in his sights. Once Bobby got physical with the champ, Bronson Reed hit the scene and the heels did the double team thing.

This is wrestling so obviously that alliance was short-lived. Bronson stood tall after a Tsunami, and the belt looks good in his hands. Austin wants a new belt, Lashley probably contends for that same belt, so giving Bronson the rub at Backlash makes a lot of sense.


I’m still not down with Mustafa Ali’s new gimmick. I get it completely but I don’t like it. That said, it felt good seeing him get the W against Chad Gable in his hometown. The big story here concerned Maxxine Dupri and Chad fighting over who gets Otìsè after the Draft. Maxxine even accompanied Chad to the ring—along with Otìsè—just to prove her point that Chad’s type lame.

Chad losing just ups the drama, so I’m with it.

I really enjoyed this week’s Raw. Consistent across the board and satisfying minus the tag match that apparently served as WWE Draft drama fodder.

We also got a Trish Stratus showing where he continued her great heel work. And she’s carrying this thing without Becky Lynch at the moment so more power to her.

But the headline is the championship and the ‘90s hip hop-level subliminals thrown at Roman Reigns. Whew, Lord have mercy. Even while writing this, I wonder why. But drama aside, that belt is gorgeous and I can’t wait for a new champion.

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