Updated: Jan 14, 2022
Reverse Hipster's Review
New Day vs. The Usos 8.4/10 B
The crowd was really into this match. The match was entertaining and well built. It was on par with a typical Usos vs. New Day match, but it didn't distinguish itself as anything more significant than any of their other bouts. This match was so middle of the road for them because they gave away the match on free tv. In the end, the Usos retained, which was an okay result. But, honestly, either team winning would have made sense.
Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss 7.3/10 C
Drew won, of course, but this match surprised me. Madcap wasn't treated as a joke, and he actually got to go blow for blow with Drew and show resilience. Madcap just had his best day on the main roster so far. Drew got the win and momentum, and Madcap showed he could hang with the big dogs.
Street Profits vs. RK-Bro 7.5/10 C
This match was underwhelming. I expected so much more from this match. It seemed odd that Migos would join RK-Bro instead of the Street Profits. That seemed like a miss from the start. Then, the match seemed like an excellent Raw match, and they weren't given the time to be great. The finish was perfect. The pop-up RKO was fantastic, but other than that, nobody will talk about this match in a couple of months, and it's a shame.
The Miz vs. Edge 8.1/10 B
This match started off slow, and it was a very main event-style match. Edge slammed Miz on the table, overturned his figure four, and nearly made Miz tap out. Miz finally made his move when Maryse hit Edge with her purse, and Miz hit the skull-crushing finale. Edge kicked out, and then Beth came out and ran Maryse out of the arena and distracted Miz. Miz turned into a giant spear and got beat at his own game. This was a more theatrical match, which is precisely what they these two needed. I just think they needed a stipulation and to get going earlier to make this match better.
Liv Morgan vs. Becky Lynch 9/10 A-
Becky and Liv had an excellent match. It was back and forth, and competitive Liv overwhelmed Becky, but Becky kept finding answers and ways to take control of the matchup. Becky caught Liv and hit her with the manhandle slam in the end. Liv arrived in this match. She proved she could wrestle her ass off and do it on the main event level, and people wanted her to succeed. She proved everything she needed to in this match. I didn't love the ending to the match, but I didn't hate it either. It's hard to judge the ending because it depends on what they do with Liv next. It was bad if she fell through the cracks. It was great if they built on it. However, the match itself was great.
Fatal Five Way 8.3/10 B
The match was way too quick. They cut off a whole title match from this card, and it still felt like the title match was rushed and had time cut. The match itself was entertaining. Everyone was just spamming finishes and big spots, and I enjoyed it. However, Brock Lesnar winning and pinning Big E is one of the worst choices WWE has ever made. First off, they totally disrespected Big E, and now he is the second black champion and second New Day member to have his title run abruptly ended by Brock. It's starting to look like WWE can't book black champions. Bobby wasn't the main event most times on Raw and spent most of his title reign on Drew McIntyre. Bianca Belair lost in seconds to Becky Lynch and, beyond that, had one recycled feud with Bayley. Big E had no big stories and felt like a background character in his own title run. WWE has done a horrible job with their black champions, and they disrespected all of them, except Bobby when it was time to drop the title.
Also, how terrible and short term was the Raw title plan that WWE could just scrap an entire month of storytelling and champion, and give the title to Brock? This was a terrible choice, and I don't care about building to Bobby versus Brock. That match doesn't need a title.
The Usos vs. the New Day (SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
Starting with this already historic feud was a great way to kick off 2022. These teams have great chemistry, but the expectations are already so high because of it. I think the Usos and the New Day still met those expectations, but I'd love to see other teams in the division get involved in the title picture. The rebranded 1D was a nice refreshing finish for the Usos. The Usos were the right winners for now, but I'm not sure what the New Day will do after this loss.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss
This was not a great match that felt out of place on this premium live event. Madcap Moss honestly gained credibility for making this match last as long as it did, and Drew McIntyre looks way worse for it. The bigger story was Moss and Happy Corbin taking out McIntyre backstage after the match, and I hope that doesn't mean this feud has to continue.
Final Grade: 3/10 Bad
RKBro vs. the Street Profits (Raw Tag Team Championship)
This match was weird because the fans were forced to decide between the two babyfaces instead of letting the clash organically happen. Clearly, WWE wanted the fans to root for RKBro, putting celebrity guest Migos in their corner, but I think most fans in Atlanta wanted to cheer for the Street Profits. The in-ring action was good, but the feud was underbuilt and couldn't quite recover from the forced alliance of Migos and RKBro (an insane sentence to kick off our 2022 reviews). I would have rather the Street Profits won too. Namely, I'm not sure where the RKBro team is going. They've had a will they/won't they thing going on for more than a half year, and one would think that a breakup feud would lead to a WrestleMania match. I desperately want Raw to feature a tag team like the Street Profits whenever they lose.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Edge vs. The Miz
Something about this matchup didn't quite sit right. Both guys have a slow, methodical style, and I think the match suffered as a result. Edge looked a step off for the first time since returning. Other than this match, Edge's return has been legendary. The sequence at the end saved this match. I popped when Edge kicked out of the skull-crushing finale caused by Maryse's interference, and I went absolutely crazy when Beth Phoenix came out to chase Maryse off and give Edge the win. It was a great way to end the story, saving an otherwise lame match.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan (Raw Women's Championship)
These two had some of the best technical wrestling sequences of the night. Becky Lynch feels fully back with her smoothness in-ring, and Liv Morgan pulled out some surprising high-spot maneuvers. Despite all that, I never fully bought into the premise that Morgan could beat Lynch heading toward WrestleMania, which really hurt this match. Lynch is the right winner to go into WrestleMania season, but the build of this match was totally there to put Morgan over. Knowing Raw's booking, there won't be anything for her following a loss in this great match either.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Big E vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Championship)
I had a bad feeling going into this match that Brock Lesnar would win because WWE loves swerves and Lesnar, and I wanted desperately to be wrong. This match was on its way to being a match of the year contender on Day 1 until its abrupt finish. All of the guys looked amazing: Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins looked like smart, scrappy heels, Bobby Lashley looked confident, Big E looked dominant, and Lesnar still looked like the mayor of suplex city. When Lesnar won, it was already disappointing, but to pin Big E clean was an absolute shame. There were so many other ways to get out of the match, even if Lesnar was going to win. Pinning Big E felt like a way to bury a fan-favorite reign that was just starting to get momentum.
On the call, Pat McAfee declared, "We are beginning our year being thrust back into the era of Brock Lesnar!" Though I think that call was supposed to feel triumphant, it felt cynically indicative of what it feels like to be a hardcore WWE fan. We spend hours per week falling in love with stars who are there year-round just to see the ball handed off to someone WWE perceives to be the biggest draw when WrestleMania comes around. In that way, I am being thrust back into the era of Brock Lesnar. I hope WWE is happy with their "swerve" booking, and the folks in the writer's room are going to have to pick up the pieces on Monday morning with this impulsive booking decision.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good (for the match), 2/10 Horrible (for the booking)
Rob's Overall Grade
They did a great job building feuds for Day 1, and I think the in-ring action delivered. The booking was either predictable or atrocious, and the result was a premium live show that I believe was just average, which for big WWE shows is not a compliment. Here's hoping for better things in the Royal Rumble.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Reverse Hipster's Overall Grade 8.1/10 B
The show was baseline good. A few people walked out with higher stock than before At the same time, a few people walked out with lower stock. However, the majority of people walked out like nothing had happened. The matches were all hovering around decent, and booking was questionable at best, which seems like a constant in WWE at this point. Day 1 showed it's a new year, same old WWE.
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