By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton vs. Braun Strowman for a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania Backlash: It was hilarious that McIntyre was told that he had to go to the back of the line of title contenders after he lost at WrestleMania. Apparently, that line is only three deep, as he was immediately placed in the Triple Threat to determine the new number one contender. The actual match was solid. I wish I could say the same about the post match angle. More on that later.
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Riddle in a non-title match: I cringed when the Raw after WrestleMania opened with the dopey ass Riddle character confronting Lashley and then talking about aliens and his brain picking up radio transmissions. But the actual match was one long squash with only a brief hope spot for Riddle at the end. Lashley was given a big win at WrestleMania and the creative forces wisely followed that up with a dominant win on Raw.
The Viking Raiders vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin: A Hit for the return of the Viking Raiders. Here’s hoping that the creative forces have figured out that Erik and Ivar need to be badasses rather than the jolly goofballs they became during those skits with The Street Profits. Meanwhile, the downward spiral continues for Alexander and Benjamin. What a shame.
Charlotte Flair promo: A mixed bag, but more good than bad. The promo dialogue was all over the place. Charlotte is mad at Rhea Ripley, Asuka, her father, and Lacey Evans, but she’s even more upset about not being on the WrestleMania card, yet she never explained why she wasn’t invited to WrestleMania. The Hit is for the delivery and Flair moving away from the tired cliche royalty promos. I really could have done without her including “bow down”, but it was a well delivered promo aside from that tired line.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Elias and Jaxson Ryker: A bounce back win for the New Day duo following their loss at WrestleMania. But it’s odd that WWE didn’t find room for new champions AJ Styles, Omos, and Sheamus during their weekly three-hour marathon show.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: WrestleMania weekend was a success. Night One was stronger than Night Two, but I was still left optimistic about WWE due to the quality of the shows and the company appearing to recognize the dire need to create new stars. I went into Raw hoping that they had something planned to build on the momentum they generated over the weekend. They really needed a big angle or a hot debut to help offset the hangover of going from 25,000 fans back into the ThunderDome, but at a minimum they needed to deliver a good show to set the post WrestleMania course. Instead, we got a momentum killing, soul crushing, abomination of a show. The Hits were merely decent while most of the Misses were downright awful.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke in a non-title match: Rose had enough confidence to confront Jax backstage and even slapped her across the face. But after Jax stumbled twice during the match, Rose and Brooke ran away and took a count-out loss because she looked angry. Ridiculous.
Alexa Bliss: Lilly? Great, someone finally played the Annabelle movie for Vince McMahon. Does Bliss splitting off from Bray Wyatt mean she is about to damage everyone she works with in the women’s division much like The Fiend has done with most of his opponents? Are we going to get a double dose of supernatural stupidity every week?
Mace and T-Bar: The big moment at the end of the Raw after WrestleMania was Mace and T-Bar attacking Drew McIntyre while MVP watched from the stage. I can’t even imagine how badly a packed arena of fans would have shit all over this. I was hoping that the duo would at least unmask and do away their weak Purge gear, but that didn’t happen and they are still going by their awful Retribution names. Will they unmask next week or will WWE stubbornly continue to push these bad and severely damaged characters?
Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship: A flat match. Ripley and Asuka didn’t have great chemistry at WrestleMania, and they had a rough outing on Raw. It didn’t help that the match ended with a cheap no-contest finish. Ripley won a championship at WrestleMania, but she just wasn’t made at WrestleMania like Bianca Belair was. I was hopeful going into the match that they would double down on her by giving her another high profile win in front of the bigger Raw audience. Instead, we’re still left waiting for Ripley to have a truly memorable moment on Raw television. Worse yet, the new heel in town is already being overshadowed by Charlotte Flair’s latest heel turn before Ripley has even been established.
Damian Priest vs. John Morrison and The Miz: Priest didn’t have any spotlight moments when he teamed with Bad Bunny at WrestleMania, and they followed up by having him lose to the bad comedy tag team in a handicap match on Raw. If they really wanted to give Miz a win due to the Miz & Mrs. premiere, surely there was someone else in the crowded locker room that he could have beaten.
Adnan Virk on play-by-play: Virk was not ready for prime time. I hate to be negative about a guy’s first night on the job, but this was not a good debut. Here’s hoping that Virk settles in and improves quickly.