Reverse Hipster's What mattered
New day win a historic 11th title reign
New Day vs. the hurt business was the best match on Raw this week. It honestly should have been the main event, but for optics, I understand why it was not. The New Day proved they are still one the most entertaining tag teams in the division. Also, The Hurt Business showed off their skills in the ring. Everyone who saw this match knows that Shelton and Cedric are great in the ring. However, they were never really given any direction or investment as a team. Their run is over, and I cannot even remember one of their feuds if you can put it in the comment section.
I feel bad for them because it is not their fault that they were not invested in. Never the less I think the New Day will elevate the division. They were given a story literally seconds after getting the title, but I will get more into that later.
2. Asuka is back!
Asuka came storming in and immediately wanted the smoke with Shayna. I like that she came in so fired up that it really showed past events were affecting the story, and in one night, Asuka reminded us how important she is to the woman's division. Asuka pulled no punches. She was very intentionally trying to maim Shayna, and I loved it.
I loved seeing Asuka as the vicious champion she was meant to be. She had a match with Shayna after their initial run in Asuka won, but it was a murky finish that devolved into more fighting, with Asuka getting the best of Shayna and Nia. I like that they seem to be developing a feud between Shayna and Asuka, but I think they should save their in-ring action for later to keep the mystery alive.
3. Bobby vs Sheamus
Sheamus has done it again. He has had three straight weeks of fire matches. He went to war with Bobby. Ultimately Bobby won and continues his dominance, but I am starting to wonder what Sheamus will be doing at mania? Because he has been on fire, it would be a crime if he did not have a well-thought-out place on the Wrestlemania card.
3.Ali Vs Riddle
This was another solid Raw match. I really do not enjoy where Riddle's character is at right now, just riding scooters all over the place and being absent-minded, but his match quality is still impressive. Ali and Riddle had a PPV quality match that Ali ended up losing. Riddle and Ali showed they were two talented wrestlers who just need better storylines to help reach their potential.
4. Damien Priest remains undefeated
Damien Priest beat Ryker in a squash match this week before Elias attacked him. Elias tried to take out Bad Bunny, but Bad Bunny slipped away and struck Elias, and then Damien took him out; after that, Miz attacked Bad bunny from behind with a guitar.
I am not a fan of Bad Bunny and Priest vs. the Miz and Morrison. I think Miz deserves better, but I am not going to hold that against this segment. It was actually a very entertaining segment. Bad Bunny was great, and Damien Priest continues building momentum, which is a good thing.
Rob’s What mattered
1. Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler
It finally felt like Asuka was given the respect she deserves as Raw Women’s Champion. Her and Shayna Baszler both looked more like the NXT versions of themselves in this match, and that’s a compliment. They were both the champions and standard-bearers in their time on NXT. This feud was quickly personal because of Baszler knocking out Asuka’s teeth and Asuka’s attack on Baszler in the earlier women’s segment. The in-ring work was short but fast-paced and aggressive. The finish of the match with Baszler getting pinned while holding the submission and post-match assault by Asuka shows this feud is just getting started, and I’m excited for it. These are two of the most talented and violent women on the roster, and they can absolutely shine given a personal feud and time to shine in-ring.
2. Great ring work
New Day vs. The Hurt Business, Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali, and Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus were all great matches in ring. It made me wonder where this energy has been on Raw the past few weeks. The New Day/Hurt Business match made me want to see more of the Hurt Business tag team. They have been champions for months, but they haven’t got to showcase their talent much besides matches against the New Day. The New Day are always excellent in-ring. They are veterans and standard-bearers for tag team wrestling who deserve the accolades they are stacking up. Riddle/Ali had good chemistry, and the finish implies the feud isn’t over. Riddle has had consistently good matches since winning the title, and Ali is just starting to show his potential in-ring with this gimmick. Lashley/Sheamus was a heavyweight bruiser fight. Lashley has been having some of the best work of his career the last month, and I love seeing him as a champion. Sheamus is similarly having a career resurgence in his matches with McIntyre and this match. The past few years, it has been easy to forget Sheamus is a veteran and former WWE Champion. He is making it harder to forget now. The past few weeks, Sheamus has made everyone around him look better with how good he is. He feels like he’s getting his swagger back, and his in-ring work is some of the best singles work I’ve seen in his career. He should get rewarded with a program for WrestleMania or a main event spot in a PPV down the line.
3. Damien Priest
The match with Jaxson Ryker was nothing special, but it served as an exclamation point on Damien Priest’s main roster career so far. It was an absolute squash. Priest looks like a star. He has one of the best entrances on the main roster right now that uses the production capabilities of the Thunderdome to perfection. His partnership with Bad Bunny is strange, but it shows how much WWE values him. Commentary did a great job hyping him up during the match, commenting on how his undefeated streak is growing and superstars are starting to notice. It looks like Priest and Bad Bunny will be going into a WrestleMania feud with Miz and Morrison, which is a great spot for Priest’s rising star.
Reverse Hipster's what didn't matter
1.Shane vs Braun
This was an easy choice, easily the most consistently lousy program on the show. I still do not believe either character. Braun is not the type to go back and forth in long promo segments; when he gets offended, he gets even. Braun should not want apologies, or for someone to explain themselves, he should be turning the entire building upside down until he gets what he wants, and God help you if you get in his way. Shane is odd; too, he would not skate around what he is saying. He holds all the superstar's livelihoods in his hands. He is Vince McMahon's son, and if he wanted to call Braun stupid, he would just do that and threaten to fire Braun for doing anything about it. It actually might be a cool dynamic if the characters were true to themselves.
Not only are the characters not being true to themselves, but we have no idea why Shane has suddenly decided to be a dick to Braun. Worse of all is Braun looks like a buffoon. We are supposed to cheer for him, but how can we when he is made to look like an idiot every week. This week he got slimed and beat up by Shane by himself. I do not know whom Braun pissed off backstage, but he has looked bad for like a year now, and this Shane program is the pinnacle of his downfall.
2. WWE Title Build
I did not like WWE announcing Drew vs. Lashley with a graphic. At this point, they had no heat in their feud, and it felt anti climatic. I'd much rather see them build the feud between them into something worth being at mania and then announce it. It just felt unearned and underdeveloped at the top of the show.
3. Miz again
This week, Miz lost this time to Drew, and I really do not like to see them jobbing out Miz, especially after his seven-day title reign. In the last three weeks, Miz has been destroyed by Bobby twice in noncompetitive matches, and this week he lost to Drew, who was not even 100 percent because he was just beaten up. He is booked so weakly that I have to ask, is beating Miz even an accomplishment at this point? Does it make either guy look any stronger when the Miz is booked like a weakling?
4.Omos and Aj
This could be a cool match. AJ is a talented wrestler, obviously, and Omos is an unknown, but he is enormous, and New Day's resume speaks for itself. However, Aj and Omos have no right to challenge for the tag titles when they have never even been in a tag match. Giving them a WrestleMania tag title match makes the program feel unearned and underdeveloped, and it makes the entire division look weak like there are no actual teams in the division who are worthy.
5.Alexa Bliss and Orton
The prospect of a match between Alexa and Orton is cool, but if they had announced this match online, I would be just as excited. Their promos on Raw added nothing to this feud. It is honestly sad because Alexa and Randy are talented, and they are in a made for tv feud, but their development has been very stale when they should be making a splash every week.
I want to see them go for the gold and give me some kind of magical physical altercation that would justify a match at Fastlane because they have not done a good job justifying this match. Like what if at the beginning of the night Alexa had challenged Orton and he laughed her off as crazy, but she kept antagonizing him throughout the night, upping her game till he lost his temper and accepted her challenge and tried to Rko her but came up with Air. That would have given them time to develop their characters further and justify this match and add intrigue.
6. R truth reclaims the 24/7 title
I like the superstars involved, but I did not like the way they did this at all. Bad bunny has become one the best 24/7 champions ever for everywhere he has taken the belt and how consistently he has shown up and how well he has performed with the belt. However, R truth is the greatest 24/7 champion ever. He has single-handedly kept it alive, and I just felt he deserved to pin Bad Bunny. If Gronk could get pinned, so can Bad bunny. Handing it over did a disservice to the belt, and the reign that Bad Bunny had it should have been won, not gifted.
7. The woman tag Division
I felt like the woman's tag division was an afterthought again. Mandy and Dana Brooke picked up a win, and I am happy because they started to look like jobbers, but the match did not have any significance. Also, it was interrupted by Asuka's return, like why would we schedule Asuka to return during the women's tag match?
It just made the in-ring action seem unimportant because the camera left the match, and Asuka did not even care about the woman in the match. So to me as a viewer, it told me the match was not very important. Also, many women were crammed in a meaningless segment with R truth just before this match, which made them feel less significant in the overall scheme of raw.
Rob’s What didn’t matter
1. Giving away one of the main events of WrestleMania
I understand how we got here. Drew McIntyre lost the title to the Miz, Miz lost the title to Bobby Lashley, and Miz lost his rematch against Lashley. McIntyre never got a rematch, and it’s only fair that he gets one, but is that enough to launch him in one of many main events at WrestleMania? Creatively, was there no other way for us to get here? McIntyre had a draw with Sheamus last week, and they are having a rematch at Fastlane. That could have been for the right to face Lashley. Sure, we would have assumed McIntyre would win, but it would still give their third match in as many weeks a new dimension. Now, it feels like we know McIntyre will win. He can’t lose when they have to keep him strong going into WrestleMania against Lashley. Another way would have been to have McIntyre issue a challenge to Lashley instead of having commentary announce it. I feel like McIntyre gave a couple great promos on Raw, and it would have elevated the promos to the next level if he issued the biggest challenge possible at the end. Maybe you could even draw that out to Fastlane or next week’s Raw when Lashley would finally respond. Landing on Lashley/McIntyre for the WWE Championship was natural, and I’m excited for the match, but I can’t help but feel like they got there in the laziest way possible. While SmackDown has found every way to make the road to their main event full of exciting twists and turns, Raw just gave away the match in one segment.
2. Fastlane to Fastlane (and WrestleMania)
While SmackDown has been building storylines for the last three weeks, it feels like Raw just found out that Fastlane is this week. This show felt fast-paced in all the wrong ways. They had matches for the United States Championship and Tag Team Championships on the same night. I would have preferred they either space these out over the last few weeks or save them for Sunday to add variety to Fastlane. New Day winning the Tag Team Championships was exciting, but it felt like a hot potato of the belt. Even though The Hurt Business won them in December, they haven’t had a marquee PPV match or defining feud. Not to mention they won it from the New Day. If their plan was to get the belts back on the New Day before WrestleMania and not book any substantial feuds in the meantime, what good did the reign do for the Hurt Business? After winning, the New Day was challenged to a match at WrestleMania (forget Fastlane, I guess) by AJ Styles and Omos. I agree with the New Day here- have Styles and Omos even filed their tag team paperwork? It’s an intriguing team and an even more intriguing match, but why not build Styles and Omos first? Call me a tag purist, but it feels disrespectful to let a singles star and his heater challenge for the titles when there are teams that compete year-round. At the very least, I would have preferred Styles/Omos face the Hurt Business at Fastlane for the right to face New Day at WrestleMania first. I already shared my disdain for announcing the WWE Championship WrestleMania match, and this felt much the same.
This Raw was characterized by announcing matches way too fast with no storyline. For Fastlane, they announced Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon, Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bills, and Big E vs. Apollo Crews. Sheamus/McIntyre is a fair match to book. Even though it feels relatively predictable, they have had great matches on Raw. Strowman/McMahon is at least a feud, but it’s a tremendously weak one. Their segments last week were embarrassing. This week was only slightly better, unless you are inspired by a rivalry of the contrast between “Brain” McMahon and Brawn Strongman and heinous acts of slime. I just hope this means McMahon/Strowman aren’t taking a spot on the WrestleMania card. Orton/Bliss breaks so many conventions of WWE booking that it’s intriguing, but I just want this feud to end frankly. We’ve seen variations of Orton/Bray Wyatt a few times, so if this leads to that at WrestleMania, I’ll be a little disappointed. If anybody can find a creative way to make this work, it is Wyatt and Bliss. Big E/Crews is a SmackDown feud, so I’m not sure why they announced it on Raw. This feud is white hot, so my only hope for this is that the match is actually a swerve, as I would vastly prefer they have their first match at WrestleMania.
3. The Miz is fed to the giants
Just weeks after cashing in and establishing himself as champion headed toward WrestleMania, the Miz’s validity in-ring has diminished to new lows. The Miz was destroyed by Bobby Lashley last week, and he served the same role against Drew McIntyre this week. McIntyre didn’t even take him seriously in the opening segment. This is a guy who has been wrestling for the last decade and a half, winning championships, and going to bat for WWE. It looks like Miz’s reward is going to be a feud with Bad Bunny and Damien Priest. While that’s an exciting celebrity match, it doesn’t feel like the way Miz was treated the last few weeks is indicative of his talent and the effort he has given over the years.
4. Naomi and Lana vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke
This was a rematch from a couple weeks ago that really served no function for either team. It was more about the action around the ring, and the Women’s Tag Team Champions on commentary. The match didn’t have enough time to really take off, and the ring work was a little sloppy because of it. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke picked up the win in classic 50-50 booking fashion. I can’t help but feel like Naomi and Lana deserve better as they are starting to establish their team. I guess Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke are a team now, but they have done nothing to establish themselves prior to this match. There was no follow up on their promo last week where they both announced they wanted to challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship and were interrupted by Charlotte. It would have been more intriguing to have one of them face Charlotte in a singles match if their goal is indeed to challenge for that title and save the tag matches for teams that want to be teams.