By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Becky Lynch and Asuka: It was interesting to see the way Lynch’s actual announcement was held off until late in the segment. Lynch was emotional from the start, so this felt similar to when Edge, Daniel Bryan, and Roman Reigns have delivered bad news to Raw viewers. And while it had the feel good outcome that many of us were expecting, it was still a bit odd to watch Asuka’s over the top celebration of her title win before Lynch officially announced that she was pregnant. Obviously, congratulations to her and Seth Rollins. From a creative standpoint, WWE handled the transition as well as they could have. Lynch presumably informed the company after the Money in the Bank match was taped, which would explain why they didn’t have her make this announcement on Mother’s Day and then hang the title belt above the ring at Money in the Bank. Asuka came off like a babyface by the end of the segment, which is presumably by design, especially with Shayna Baszler being cast as the ultimate villain throughout the show.
Edge and Randy Orton: Another strong verbal performance with a good creative approach to Orton setting up their next match. I like the logic that Orton used in terms of pointing out that Edge’s only matches since his return were not traditional matches. Edge’s hesitation to accept the match sold viewers on the idea that there might be some truth to what Orton is saying about him not being able to hang in a traditional match. The only negative of the segment was the ridiculous final line delivered by Charly Caruso, but more on that later.
Bobby Lashley vs. Humberto Carrillo in a No DQ match: Lashley appears to be getting the big push for an eventual title match with McIntyre. Carrillo looked competitive and showed a bit more of an edge during the match, so I was actually disappointed to see him submit to the Full Nelson. I didn’t expect Carrillo to win and they obviously want to get Lashley’s new finisher over, but it’s a shame it had to come during a match where Carrillo was showing off more of a mean streak. Lashley aligning with MVP is a solid move. I just hope that WWE officials haven’t convinced themselves that Lashley needs someone to do the talking for him. Someone find the hat he wore during his Impact Wrestling promos and turn this guy loose. Okay, so I don’t really think the hat was magical, but Lashley did show during the time he wore it that he can stand in the ring and deliver quality promos.
Seth Rollins and Murphy vs. Rey Mysterio and Aleister Black: A Hit despite the idiotic finish. Why in the world would Rollins be disqualified for blocking Mysterio from hitting a 619 from the floor? Granted, Rollins wasn’t the legal man, but we’ve seen referees allow far worse from the illegal man during tag matches. The Hit is for the compelling approach that Rollins took with his wild hair and despondent look. I’m not sure if he was selling the loss to McIntyre at MITB, the “shock” of the news that he will be a father, or both, but it made for compelling television. Rollins’ post match attack on Rey Mysterio was violent and removed any doubt about the possibility of Rollins turning babyface again now that he’s going to be a father.
Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya: God bless Shayna Baszler for being a true heel. Obviously, the creative forces deserve the credit for writing her to be an all out heel in response to Lynch’s announcement. Baszler mocking Lynch for getting pregnant while holding the title, referring to the baby as a parasite, and saying the kid will suck because of who the father is were all jaw dropping insults. And Baszler wasn’t finished. She also mocked Natalya by asking her what she would know about motherhood and stating that the Hart Dynasty will end with her. The actual match was entertaining and I liked Baszler’s running knee to the face as a finisher to go along with her Kirifuda Clutch submission hold.
WWE Raw Misses
Charly Caruso’s closing line: I really enjoyed the Edge and Orton segment, but Caruso being scripted to say that if their match happens, it might be the greatest match ever was unintentionally hilarious to the point that it completely took me out of the moment. Why are these poor backstage interviewers scripted to say the dumbest things and to ask the worst questions?
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. U.S. Champion Andrade in a non-title champion vs. champion match: WWE closed the April 14 edition of Raw with the same champion vs. champion match. So when they teased this match going into a commercial break, I thought they must have an added hook in mind because it’s absurd to go with a repeat less than a month later. Even something as simple as McIntyre putting his title on the line would have been enough to make this match feel unique, but that didn’t happen. So while McIntyre and Andrade work well together, this felt like a repeat, which is a shame because Andrade actually could have been a strong challenger for McIntyre had he been given the right push. Instead, it’s yet another case of the secondary champion losing a non-title match on television.
WWE Women’s Tag Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. The IIconics in a non-title match: Speaking of which, WWE’s lazy booking pattern of having secondary singles champions and tag team champions lose non-title matches was on display again in this match. In the last two weeks alone, we’ve seen the Raw Tag Champions, the U.S. Champion, and the WWE Women’s Tag Champions lose non-title matches. The Smackdown Tag Champions also dropped a non-title match recently, and I’m sure Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn would have lost a non-title match by now if he were showing up at the tapings. If this happened once or twice a year, The IIconics scoring a non-title win over the tag team champions to set up a title match would be fine. But WWE has completely run this approach into the ground and made each of these champions look weak, which also makes the title belts feel worthless. At this point, I don’t get excited when someone wins a secondary championship because I just assume that it means they will end up having their momentum killed by being booked to lose more than they win on Raw or Smackdown.
Angel Garza vs. Akira Tozawa: It’s bad enough when Tozawa loses to heavyweights on Raw while being booked strong in the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament, but now he lost clean to a fellow cruiserweight in less than three minutes. Surely there was another WWE wrestler in Orlando who could have taken this loss in order to protect Tozawa going into his final round robin match. On a more positive note, I am intrigued by the in-fighting between Garza and Austin Theory. Will Theory leave Zelina Vega’s stable to become a babyface? WWE could certainly use a young babyface sensation.
Rey Mysterio and Aleister Black thrown off the roof follow-up: What was the point? King Corbin tossed Mysterio and Black off the side of WWE Headquarters during the Money in the Bank match on Sunday and it wasn’t even treated like a big deal at the time. Michael Cole never even acknowledged it when he checked in on commentary at the end of the match, and WWE didn’t do any type of online updates. The explanation that they fell onto a secondary roof is fine, but I’m just not sure what the creative forces think they actually got out of this?
The Street Profits and Viking Raiders play basketball: I was just starting to get into this feud and sensing that the Street Profits were taking a more serious approach when things took a cutesy twist in the form of a campy basketball skit. By the way, when does the Bianca Belair singles push begin?
Ricochet, Cedric Alexander, and R-Truth vs. MVP, Brendan Vink, and Shane Thorne: Pretty Ricky. Enough said.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...