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WWE Raw preview (May 1, 2023): Bianca Belair’s championship reign is ending in the stupidest way

Raw airs tonight (May 1) with a live show from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the final episode of Raw during the five week build towards Backlash, which takes place on Saturday (May 6) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Bianca Belair’s championship reign is ending in the stupidest way

Night two of the WWE Draft is upon us. You can catch up on the complete results from night one here, as well as the supplemental round results from over the weekend here.

The wrestlers who are eligible to be drafted tonight include:

  • Akira Tozawa
  • Alpha Academy (Otis & Chad Gable)
  • Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo
  • Asuka
  • Austin Theory
  • Baron Corbin
  • Braun Strowman & Ricochet
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Bronson Reed
  • Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Dana Brooke
  • Elias
  • Emma
  • Johnny Gargano
  • Judgment Day (Finn Bálor, Damian Priest & Dominik Mysterio)
  • Karrion Kross (w/ Scarlett)
  • Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
  • LA Knight
  • Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez
  • Nikki Cross
  • Piper Niven
  • Rhea Ripley
  • Rick Boogs
  • Riddick Moss
  • Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler
  • Seth Rollins
  • Shotzi
  • Tamina
  • Tegan Nox
  • The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland & Butch)
  • The LWO (Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde & Zelina Vega)
  • The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods)
  • The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
  • Trish Stratus
  • Xia Li
  • Select NXT Superstars

Triple H promised that this year’s draft will change the game, but the format has largely been unchanged from the last time WWE conducted a draft. WWE Creative even decided to repeat the really dumb decision to force a championship swap in the women’s division.

That’s the position we’re in now that Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair has been drafted over to SmackDown. Belair reacted to the news by saying she will walk into the blue brand as the SmackDown Women’s Champion on day one. Does that mean WWE plans to do a phantom title swap off air rather than booking another disastrous “WWE Women’s Title Exchange” segment on TV like they did in 2021 between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair?

Belair has been the Raw women’s champion for over one year, and this is pretty much the stupidest way to bring such a lengthy title reign to an end. But WWE doesn’t mind screwing up the record books with these dumb title swaps, as this is at least the third consecutive draft where WWE has opted to go down this route.

The new rosters go into effect after Backlash, so there’s still a chance that Bianca can lose the title in a match before then. However, IYO SKY is her challenger at Backlash, and SKY has also been drafted to SmackDown. Either way, tonight is Belair’s final episode of Raw as its champion, and it looks like the Raw title won’t be on a Raw wrestler without a title swap.

One problem with doing a title swap, at least in kayfabe, is that SmackDown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley is part of tonight’s draft pool and she can theoretically be selected by SmackDown as well, putting both champs on the blue brand. This is extremely unlikely to happen, of course, as Belair’s draft pick telegraphs that Ripley will be selected by Raw. If Ripley is somehow drafted to SmackDown, the only reasonable way out of this conundrum is to have her drop the SmackDown women’s belt to Zelina Vega at Backlash.

The rest of the title scene

WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns is a part-timer because he is apparently smarter than all of the full-time wrestlers in WWE who can’t figure out how to negotiate such a favorable deal. The Tribal Chief was drafted to SmackDown, so Triple H unveiled a new World Heavyweight Championship for the Raw brand. There will be a tournament to determine the first titleholder, with the final match of the tourney taking place at Night of Champions in Saudi Arabia on May 27. For reasons that are not clear, WWE announced that SmackDown stars will also be competing in this tournament even though the title is not for their brand.

United States Champion Austin Theory will defend his belt against both Bobby Lashley and Bronson Reed in a three way match at Backlash. It looks like the US title might have to move over to SmackDown now that Intercontinental champion GUNTHER has been drafted to Raw. Does that mean Theory is being drafted to SmackDown tonight? Lashley has already been drafted to Friday nights, so he could always win the title at Backlash and bring it over to the blue brand.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez are eligible to be drafted tonight. If WWE follows previous precedent, Morgan and Rodriguez will be allowed to float between both Raw and SmackDown as long as they hold the belts.

WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn retained their belts against The Usos last week on SmackDown. In the words of Paul Heyman, this failure puts Jimmy and Jey in the ocean of obscurity rather than the island of relevancy. The rest of The Bloodline has already been drafted to SmackDown, with The Usos still on the draft board for tonight. Will they be exiled to Raw by the Tribal Chief?

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- The top stars who you can expect to be selected in the first three rounds of tonight’s draft include Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, The Usos, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler, Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez, Trish Stratus, Austin Theory, and The Judgment Day.

- Lesnar is back on Raw tonight for the final build to his Backlash match against Cody Rhodes. Brock is also eligible to be drafted. Brock took himself out of the last WWE Draft and declared that he will go wherever he wants. Will the nameless decision-makers at Raw and SmackDown ignore that history, as well as the fact that Brock never actually wrestles on Raw or SmackDown, and still use their very first draft pick on The Beast?

- Based on WWE’s official draft pools, it looks like Rey Mysterio will be drafted with the LWO, while Sheamus will be drafted with the Brawling Brutes. That means there’s a chance one of those groups can also sneak into the first three rounds of the draft, or at the very least they should go in round four.

- Is Asuka ready to return to Raw tonight? She went back to Japan after WrestleMania and hasn’t been a factor in the build to Backlash. If she’s not returning to TV imminently, that could hurt her draft position. Charlotte Flair is also off TV at the moment, which might drop her out of the first round of the draft.

- Logan Paul isn’t subject to this year’s WWE Draft, so I guess that makes him a free agent along with Omos, Dolph Ziggler, Von Wagner, and Mustafa Ali?

- With Indi Hartwell, Candice LeRae, and Dexter Lumis all drafted to Raw, Johnny Gargano pretty much has to join in on the family fun by also being drafted to the red brand, right?

- Similarly, Becky Lynch has been drafted to Raw, so I think her husband Seth Rollins has to follow suit.

- Is there any chance that loser Baron Corbin is drafted on TV rather than left with all the lower card fodder for an off air supplemental round? He finally won a match in Paris, so you never know.

- Rick Boogs and Elias might be split up in the draft. Boogs will be heartbroken if it happens, whereas Elias doesn’t really seem to care.

- The biggest steal of tonight’s draft will undoubtedly be the megastar LA Knight, who picked up a win on SmackDown over BUTCH and got a big pop from the live audience.

- Maximum Male Models have already been drafted to Raw, so if WWE is looking to keep their angle with Otis going, then Alpha Academy will also need to be picked by Raw.

- Will Bron Breakker and Cameron Grimes be among the NXT stars who are officially called up to the main roster via the draft?

- Where the f*** is Alexa Bliss? Like Bray Wyatt, she’s not even eligible to be drafted.

What will you be looking for on Raw?

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