Rob’s What mattered
1.Sheamus vs. Humberto Carrillo
I love how this feud has played out over the weeks, and I love that they had this match on Raw instead of forcing it on an already-crowded PPV card. Sheamus is having one of the best runs of his career. His attitude and demeanor as US Champion makes complete sense with his character. He has nothing to prove, and he wants people to earn a shot to face him. His open challenge is just to beat people up because that’s what Sheamus thinks is a fun Monday night. Humberto Carrillo has had a welcome return to TV, and the points of the match where he brought it to Sheamus were electric. It’s too bad this match ended prematurely with a gnarly sunset flip to the outside where Sheamus landed awkwardly on Carrillo. On the bright side, I hope this means we will get to see one final exclamation point on this feud.
Everything Randy Orton and Riddle do is gold. They had another hilarious backstage segment with the New Day. Everyone played off of each other perfectly. I laughed out loud when Riddle hit Orton’s pose behind him during Orton’s entrance. This week, they developed the storyline further with Orton hitting an RKO on Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods after winning. I laughed out loud again when Riddle said, “How are we going to make friends if you keep attacking people!?” Orton walked away with no remorse in his eyes, and Riddle was smiling as he walked away, either implying that Riddle is in-tune with Orton’s more devious side or Riddle just accepts that random attacks are going to be part of his alliance with the Viperr.
3.John Morrison vs. Damian Priest
These two had another excellent match following on their match from last week. Damian Priest and John Morrison have amazing chemistry and their unorthodox styles mesh unbelievably. It almost makes me upset that Priest’s match at WrestleMania Backlash is against the Miz instead. I liked the backstage segment they had because it furthered everyone’s character. Priest was smart to challenge them for the right to choose the stipulation at the PPV. Morrison was absolutely ridiculous in the best way, going all in on his Johnny Drip Drip persona, acting cocky in front of Priest, and blaming Miz for his loss last week. The Miz drove home that there was some tension between him and Morrison, reacting to Morrison blaming him and getting mad at Morrison for wagering the stipulation without Miz’s permission. At the end, it was a little upsetting that Priest chose a lumberjack match. I can’t remember many great lumberjack matches, but it made sense for the story.
MVP has been the MVP of the main event feud. He has completed Bobby Lashley’s character as champion, filling in as his mouthpiece and driving storylines. I love that his role as the founder of the Hurt Business is to make business moves backstage that make it better for his client in the ring. It’s such a simple but genius gimmick that adds so much to the stories, feuds, and potential of what could happen any time Lashley is fighting.
5.Cedric Alexander vs. Shelton Benjamin
I still think breaking them up was a mistake, but I thought the psychology of this match was brilliant following on Cedric Alexander’s promo next week. They had good chemistry with their moves and timing as former tag partners. The contrast between them as Alexander in his prime vs. the veteran Shelton Benjamin was evident at every corner. Alexander dominated the match, but he was cocky, taking breaks to taunt and yell at the commentators. Benjamin’s veteran instincts won the match, taking advantage at the end to hit a surprise t-bone suplex and pin. I was stunned that Alexander didn’t win this match. I thought it would be the launchpad to a midcard single’s run for him. I was pleasantly surprised that Benjamin won because it made sense in the story of the match. Benjamin has been so underutilized since he returned, mostly contributing to tag teams with younger guys (maybe a testament to his willingness to put younger guys over). Still, I would love to see this feud launching both guys into the midcard scene better off than they were before the Hurt Business.
Alexa Bliss was about one week away from becoming all talk, but I think she avoided that fate by distracting the women in the tag match to open Raw. Bliss put the women’s division on notice by interrupting the six-woman tag. She didn’t specify who she was after, which created intrigue. Is she watching Asuka, Charlotte, Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose, or some combination of all of them? Bliss’s character right now is so unique. I’m excited to see what she can be when she feuds with the other women on the roster.
7.Angel Garza is a man of his word
I loved that they continued the bizarre rose-driven feud between Angel Garza and Drew Gulak. Gulak looked better for confronting Garza after the bizarre incident that saw a rose kicked up his ass. Garza promised that the next time they fight would see him put a rose down Gulak’s throat. If we learned anything from last week, we learned that Garza is a man of his word, and I’m excited to see if he follows through on his second rose-y body horror promise.
Reverse Hipster What mattered
Alexa finally made an appearance this week. I am excited to announce that it appears as if she is going after Shayna Bazzler. The spot between the two where Alexa did some Voodo to her legs was unexpected and compelling. The way Shayna sold it made me think she was legitimately injured. I also liked that the six-woman tag match. I like that they mixed the tag and woman's title picture.
2. Drew vs. Bobby
I thought they should not have given this match away on free tv. However, creative did a perfect job with it. First, they had MVP try to get Braun to help Bobby. What I like about that is that it gave Raw a story throughout the night. Also, it was an excellent proposition. From Brauns pov, I can't see him wanting Drew to win that match after everything Drew pulled last week.
The match itself was really good. Bobby and Drew had a competitive match that was exciting and well-paced. Drew showed that he could beat Lashley because he had the match won when Braun interfered, causing a DQ. Bobby was protected from taking a loss both weeks. Braun even looks strong because he took out both challengers.
3. Rhea Ripley vs Asuka
Once again, WWE did a Wrestlemania rematch the right way. They added to the story of the match instead of just rehashing what we had already seen. This time Asuka already had a match on Raw, so she was not 100 percent. This development helps her to look strong even in a loss. Also, I like how Rhea and Asuka had a lot of counters in their match to communicate the idea that they know each other well. Rhea went over, but I think both women looked excellent.
4. John Morrison vs Damien Priest
I like the setup of this match winner gets to pick the stipulation of the Miz match. That made this match-up mean something. Like last week, it was an entertaining match, although I think their first one was better. The story here was well the story this match furthered the unraveling of the Miz and Morrison. Miz cost Morrison the match again. Then Miz left Morrison to get beat up by Damien Priest. It is clear this team is heading for an eruption. The one thing I did not like about this program was the fact that Damien picked the match on Raw. I like lumberjack matches, but I would have rathered them to build the anticipation and unveil it at the PPV. Also, they will have Smackdown superstars in the match, and that is strange. I do not know what they are planning, but something is definitely up.
5. Four on Four
I like multi-man matches, so this was right up my alley. I thought this match was a great way to showcase the tag division. I also thought it was a nice preview of RKBro vs. Aj style and Omos. Randy fell back whenever Omos came out. It makes you wonder what will happen when these two collide. Also, Omos and Aj just got their first loss as a tag team. This puts RkoBro on the road to a title match.
6.Cedric vs Shelton
I do not know if this was the best move because now that Shelton and Cedric have fought, I am worried they will just leave it at that. I hope they do not, and they keep nurturing this feud, but we will see. That being said, I enjoyed the match, and I am happy Shelton won, especially with his old finisher. Both guys came out looking great Cedric looked like a good wrestler but too arrogant for his own good. Shelton looked like the survivor; he said he was giving credibility to his promo from last week.
7. Sheamus vs Humberto
This was actually a good match and feud. Also, it looked like Humberto was ready to pull out everything in what would have been an excellent mid-card match. However, a sunset powerbomb to the outside did not go right, and Sheamus came down on Humberto's leg; and he had to signal he was hurt, and the match was called a double count-out. Strangely I heard reports saying Humberto is ok and he could wrestle tomorrow. I know WWE has a thing about finishing the match, but I think Humberto was better safe than sorry. So I hope they continue to push him because he actually gave them a good opportunity. The rumor is that this match was supposed to lead to a rematch between the two at Backlash. Now the match is protected and fresh, and we can see it for the first time, so I hope they move forward with it.
8. Jinder Mahal
Jinder is back, and it appears they still believe in him, and that is a good thing. He beat Jeff hardy and did it all by himself even though he had some newly hired henchmen. I am not upset that Jeff lost. He has not been doing anything, and he is still a legend, so this loss does not affect him.
9. Eva Marie
Eva Marie with another vignette, and she looked smoking. I am still very excited for return. However, I could not help but notice how much she was taking from Bayley and the role modes she calls herself a super role model, and that could be different, but then she also uses the role model song. I just hope that she spoke to Bayley and Sasha and that the Twitter back and forth was just for us.
10. Lucha Lit
I am glad they seem to be investing in Lucha House Party. They are talented wrestlers who deserve to be more than just Jobbers. Also, I love what this means for the tag division. The Lucha Lit vignettes to me make it seem like WWE wants to invest more in the tag team scene.
Rob’s What didn’t matter
The men’s and women’s championship scenes have almost mirrored each other. They are both having triple threat matches at WrestleMania Backlash, adding just one new opponent from a direct rematch at WrestleMania. This week, to get us excited for those matches, they decided to show us straight up rematches. In fairness, the competitors did the best they could in-ring, but it was creatively very weak.
In the Women’s Division, Asuka and Rhea Ripley faced off again. I liked that Charlotte Flair manipulated Sonya Deville into booking this match, but I thought it made Asuka and Ripley look stupid for agreeing. Asuka had fought earlier in the night, and Ripley even pointed out that Flair was manipulating them to beat each other up before the match Sunday.
In the Men’s Division, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre had a main event that felt kind of bland and too similar to the matches they have had the past few weeks. Maybe it’s just because the big bruiser style is not my favorite, but it just didn’t get me excited for their triple threat match. Braun Strowman came out after MVP’s business deal with him, attacking McIntyre for a DQ finish and then turning on Lashley, which felt way too predictable. I think it would have been more intriguing if we weren’t sure that Strowman was going to work together with Lashley. Another DQ finish after so many in the past few weeks was just a meh conclusion to an otherwise great Raw in my opinion. This is not what the main event feud of Raw should feel like.
During some of the longer matches this week, I found myself lingering on the new Raw commentary team. I hate to pick on just one person. Commentary as a whole has been stagnant over the last few years, but Byron Saxton really sticks out among them. The formula makes a ton of sense. Adnan Virk is the objective play-by-play commentator, Corey Graves is heel-leaning analysis, and Saxton is babyface-leaning analysis. Despite being the face, Saxton isn’t likeable at all in his role. Graves is more likeable as a character defending unmistakably vile heel actions. Saxton is an unbelievably too-innocent man child who giddily cheers at babyfaces like the New Day while cartoonishly scolding heels for doing anything they can to win a wrestling match on a wrestling show. I just can’t remember the last time Saxton added something on commentary, which is a terrible thing to say about someone who has been doing this for years. Reuniting him with Graves was a mistake too: the contrast and conflict between them has already been played out, and it distracts from the action in-ring.
Reverse Hipster What didn't Matter
1.New Day New L
The only thing that I thought was notably bad from Raw was the treatment of the New Day. The New Day has been squashed by the tag team champs twice. Once when they had not even worked together and another time after they had not wrestled in weeks. Also, the New day loss to Elias and Riker, a jobber tag team. Then they win on this week's Raw because of Rkbro and then get Rkoed by Randy, so even when they win, they lose.