It’s WrestleMania Raw! Meaning I wrote I got a lot of recapping and reviewing to get to, so let’s not waste time with the preamble. You know Claire, you know her blog. You know what to do with said blog.
let’s talk Raw!
Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns killed their promos this week. Both men took different angles, amplifying their characters in the process and displaying their diverging views going into their stupendous match.
Brock opened the show with an accent and a very fun promo. Brock encouraged the crowd’s “What” chants and promised to take Roman on a stroll down memory lane. That lane involves Suplex City, the Beast of Broadway, a trip to the carnival and a ride on the F5. A ride nobody survives. Brock finished the metaphor with promise of a marriage between the WWE championship and the Universal championship. After joining each other in holy matrimony, the two will give birth to unified championship baby. And that’s a baby of which Brock will get sole custody. Good, fun, and funny stuff from a man who is clearly enjoying himself.
But then there’s Roman. Roman stepped to Pittsburgh later in the show and told them to acknowledge him. Roman says Brock is making a play for blood but he shed Roman’s blood years ago. In 2018, Brock broke Roman’s face and he bled all over New Orleans. It was that night where his wife wanted him to quit. His kids didn’t recognize him, his father doubted him, and his family didn’t believe he had it in him to truly rule the WWE roost.
Fast forward four years later and Roman proved them all wrong by improving on everything Brock did. Roman turned the advocate into a wise man, smashed Brock’s claim as the longest reigning Universal champ, busted Brock open in Madison Square Garden, and he wants more blood. For Roman, this was always personal. The one thing Roman needs in his career more than anything else is to beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
It was a hell of a promo from the Tribal Chief. Yes, he’s the heel, but his motivation is understandable and relatable. Roman wants to beat the man who made him question his career. It adds more backstory to why he joined forces with Paul Heyman, why the Universal championship means so much to him, and why his utter disdain for Brock is so palpable.
This is beyond goofy antics or even basic good guy vs. bad guy battle lines. These are two human beings fighting each other instead of two caricatures. That’s why mostly everything involving Roman for the past two years is dope, and why this thing between him and Brock, no matter how many times we see it, remains compelling and WWE’s best story.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Tea Raw Women’s championship match needed this tonight. Despite Becky Lynch’s fantastic promo last week, the match didn’t feel special. A championship match normally doesn’t need more juice than the fact the championship is on the line, but with the personal nature of the other championship matches on the card, the Becky and Bianca affair felt left out of the reindeer games.
Bianca flashed a different side as a result of Becky’s viciousness towards her and it’s just what the doctor of thuganomics ordered. Bianca made it clear she’s not coming to WrestleMania to do anything other than take back her championship and destroy Becky in the process. It’s wrestling, so of course Becky the heel goes for a sneak attack, but Bianca, continuing a character arc she began in earnest last year, shows her gained experience and blocks the attack she knew was coming.
But there was a moment where Becky took the upper hand thanks to the flesh in hand, and threatened to cut Bianca’s hair. Bianca is like Samson with regards to her hair, so God knows what happens if she loses even one strand of that braid. Bianca, in another dope feat of strength, saves her hair by hoisting the champ on her shoulders from a seated position, and drops Becky with not one but two KODs.
With WWE officials around the ring, Bianca goes a little crazy. Those scissors Becky bought to a fist fight? Bianca says turnabout is fair play and gives Becky an awful haircut. With Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville begging her to stop, Bianca snips locks from Becky’s lifeless body with a manic look draped over her face. Becky tried to end her career, so who can blame her?
Becky was more too mad too furious when she came to, vowing to end Bianca’s career and life.
Loved this segment. It was simple, sowed a lot of hatred, set the stakes, and ensured this match is about a lot more than just a championship. There are a lot of chapters WWE can tell with these two. Hopefully this is just the latest in a long line.
Kevin Owens is on another level right now. This cat is selling this entire confrontation with Stone Cold Steve Austin by himself. Without his work the past few weeks, would you care? I know I wouldn’t. Owens was on point again this week, remarking to the crowd that he loves the guy Austin used to be. The video package we got relaying the highlights of Austin’s legendary career was the closest we will get to seeing “Stone Cold” ever again. According to KO, that’s because he’s just “Steve” now. Sure, he looks like the former WWE champion and sounds like the toughest SOB, but that guy is long gone. In his place is KO, and he believes it’s time for Austin to pass the torch.
“Owens 3:16 says my stunner is better than yours” is solid heel work, a great line that reveals so much about his character, and sells a wrestling match more than a “confrontation.” The one dark cloud hovering above this entire ordeal is the fact it’s not an actual match. Austin “passing the torch” to someone who wants to take his spot in the same way he wanted to take Bret Hart’s spot back in 1996 is poetic. But, unfortunately, that’s not in the cards. Either way, KO is a treasure.
Judge, Jury, and Edge-killer
Edge showed up in a black suit this week to cut a backstage promo against AJ Styles. Edge didn’t say anything new or unexpected, but he did have a nice scale with him. So, that was cool.
AJ responded saying Edge will get worse than “Pit bull AJ.” So, Rottweiler AJ? Bullet Club AJ? Video game enthusiast AJ? One thing I know for sure is we will not get “dog from hell AJ” because that title belongs to Cerberus.
Rey Mysterio got his mask back. Rey wrestled Miz one-on-one this week in a match that almost didn’t happen. The drama started when Miz introduced Lucha Logan to the audience, which was just Logan Paul rocking Rey’s mask. When Rey and Dominik made their way to the ring, Dom rushed Miz and beat him like he stole something. Possibly because Miz did steal something. The ref sent Dom to the bak and the match finally started.
It was a fun tv match before the break, with neither man really going all out before their upcoming WrestleMania clash. Miz went for a powerbomb but Rey countered into a pin and that was that. A bit of a sloppy ending but seemingly only because of the post-match shenanigans. Here’s a quick checklist:
Logan Paul looked incredibly weak when Rey and Dom easily snatched back Rey’s mask. Seriously, Paul barely lifted a pinky in protest. Remember how Deebo snatched Red’s chain in friday? It was basically that.
Miz got a double 619 from the Mysterios and a double frog splash. While Logan did nothing but look.
So, yeah, fun and satisfying finish Miz’s tag partner looks awful as a result. Why not let him keep the mask until Mania and let that be the prize at the end for Rey and Dom? Or, at least, let him put up a fight to make it look like there’s some actual drama for Rey and Dom to deal with during their match instead of it being a glorified handicap match?
Wedding Bells Will Be Ringing
The 24/7 shenanigans I usually rail against? Didn’t mind them this week. Dana Brooke accepted Reggie’s wedding proposal before almost losing her title to Tamina. Tozawa proposed to Tamina, who also accepted. All of this while R-Truth stood in the background with his binoculars. Hilarious.
Tag Team Turmoil
RK-Bro and The Usos battled for tag supremacy tonight. Of course, neither team can lose going into WrestleMania, so the question wasn’t when someone might interfere, but whom and how. The match took the usual route of most RK-Bro matches, with Riddle taking the brunt of the beating and making the opposing team look really good. Randy was the hot tag and that’s when all hell broke loose.
While Nakamura and Rick Boogs sat ringside, the Street Profits ran in to attack Randy and Riddle. Nak and Boogs got involved, and immediately attacked the Usos. Randy and Riddle got some payback on the Profits and ended the show standing tall and celebrating.
This was a weird way to end Raw. Made weirder by the fact Alpha Academy were nowhere in sight. It wasn’t even a bad match but it was hard getting into it knowing it was leading to a non-ending to protect everyone involved.
Oh no, it’s Omos and Lashley
On an episode of Cageside Seats: The Podcast, Stella Cheeks and I riffed on Omos’ WrestleMania opponent being Bobby Lashley. Why? Because it was something we didn’t want. Welp, to quote a Rolling Stones song, “please to meet you, won’t you guess my name.” No, that’s not the song you thought I was going to quote but I have a point: I have no sympathy for the devil. I do not want to see Omos vs. Bobby Lashley at Mania but that’s what we’re getting. Lashley answered Omos’ call this week after the big man won his match vs. the Viking Raiders via count out. So, yeah, this is a thing.
Whether you like it or whether you don’t, it’s the worst thing going today.
Rivals Become Teammates
This was an entertaining tag match between the eight women involved in the tag team championship match at WrestleMania. The stories remained intact: Carmella is more concerned with her beauty and her fiancé than actual matches, Natalya and Shayna Baszler are together for basketball reasons, Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley look happy to be here and such an odd fit for Rhea, while Sasha Banks and Naomi look like they actually want to tag team gold. The heels didn’t coexist when push came to shove—which it often does a lot in wrestling—and Rhea picked up the W for her team when she pinned Queen Zelina.
The Intercontinental champion barely put up a fight against Austin Theory. Theory pinned the champ clean in the middle of the ring in about two minutes. Repeat, Austin Theory pinned the Intercontinental champion in about two minutes in the middle of the ring. Why? Because Theory needs to look strong for his upcoming match with PAC MCAFEE. You know, the terror that is Pat Mac. This sucked.
Yup. No clever headline, nothing pithy. Drew McIntyre faced Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss in a two-on-one match. Corbin dipped out early, leaving Moss to take a hell of a beating and the L. After the ding, Corbin jumped Drew and took Angela. So now Drew has more emotional investment in their upcoming match at Mania. I get it. I get it completely. I’m not just excited even a little bit.
One More Thing…
Seth Rollins has an opponent. It’s a surprise but I expect a nightmare for Rollins
This wasn’t a bad episode of Raw but it lacked something to truly take it over the top. The top talent gave great promos and segments to further their stories, while the matches themselves weren’t great, along with booking that makes me go “hmm?” A mixed bag of a show but not a terrible way to spend three hours on a Monday.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.