By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,501)
Live from Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena
Aired February 28, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… The broadcast team was Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton…
Kevin Owens made his entrance. He wore a goofy cowboy hat and then introduced Seth Rollins as his partner, the man who will be by his side when they win the Raw Tag Titles next week, and his best friend. Rollins joined Owens on the stage and they headed to the ring.
The broadcast team hyped Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki ASH, and Doudrop in a six-woman tag match, and the previously advertised U.S. Title match and the Edge segment. They also hyped Alpha Academy vs. RK-Bro vs. Rollins and Owens in a Triple Threat for the Raw Tag Titles for next week’s show.
Once in the ring, Owens welcomed viewers to the KO Show. Owens noted that he and Rollins have not secured their spots at WrestleMania and he labeled it a travesty. Rollins said they have been screwed on the path to WrestleMania in every possible way, but the WrestleMania gods gave them one more card to play in the form of the Raw Tag Titles.
Owens assured Rollins that his disdain for Texas would not stand in their way of winning the Raw Tag Titles. Owens said that Texans, legends such as JBL and Shawn Michaels who are desperate for his attention, and his own hat wouldn’t distract him. Owens removed the hat, dropped it on the mat, and stomped on it.
Rollins pointed out that they were not in Texas and then introduced their guests “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis. Gable did his thank you bit for having him and Otis on the show for the first time. Owens and Rollins took issues with the way Gable says thank you. He said it’s just different and he takes it as a compliment.
Gable said he heard a couple of asses making assumptions about next week’s tag title match. Owens said the tag titles would be coming home with him and Rollins next week. Rollins said there were no hard feelings because they like Gable and Otis. Gable brought up his academic success and said the “morons” in attendance “probably went to that community college Ohio State University.” The fans booed and chanted “you suck.”
Owens said Gable and Otis shouldn’t take it personal, it’s just that he and Owens need the titles to get to WrestleMania. Gable said he and Otis haven’t even been on the show and have busted their asses to be on the grandest stage of them call. Rollins said that after he and Owens beat them, Alpha Academy can challenge them for the titles at WrestleMania.
Gable started shushing Owens and Rollins. Owens and Gable had a shush battle that ended with Owens kicking Gable and giving him a Stunner. Otis stood up and was held back by a referee heading into a commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A fun comedy segment. Owens and Gable are two of the company’s best comedic talents and they showed it here. And even though the tone is comedic, it’s good to see a tag team title match getting this much of a build on Raw. Despite all the rumors of Owens facing Steve Austin, it’s hard not to imagine him feeling the wrath of a number of WWE’s Texas legends.
1. Raw Tag Champions “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens in a non-title match. The match was joined in progress coming out of the commercial break. Owens got on an offensive roll while working over both opponents, but Otis cut him off heading into another break. [C]
A weary Owens tagged in Rollins, who put Gable down with a falcon arrow for a near fall. Gable came back with a rolling suplex attempt, but Owens made a blind tag and hit him with a superkick before he could execute the move. Owens has Gable beat, but Otis broke it up and suplexed Rollins.
Otis splashed Owens and then tagged in Gable, who performed a top rope moonsault. Otis didn’t stop Rollins, who broke up the pin. Moments later, Gable performed a wicked suplex on Owens and then went for a moonsault. Owens avoided the move and tagged out. Rollins hit a Buckle Bomb on Gable, Owens followed up with a Stunner, and then Rollins hit the Stomp and pinned Gable…
Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens defeated Raw Tag Champions “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in 12:50 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: No grumbling from me about the tag champions losing a non-title match when the match was as entertaining as this one. Gable and Otis looked highly competitive with Rollins and Owens, and the approach was successful in terms of making them look like threats to win the titles while not doing significant damage to the champions.
An Omos video package aired… Omos was shown taping up his fists in the backstage area. Kevin Patrick approached him and tried to talk to him about his match. Omos barked at him and took the mic, then spoke about some of the wrestlers he’s dominated. He said he would do the same to T-Bar. Omos made his entrance for the match… [C]
T-Bar made his entrance. Once he climbed onto the apron, T-Bar nocked him back to ringside. Omos roughed him up on the floor and threw him back in the ring. The referee checked on T-Bar and then called for the bell to start the match…
2. Omos vs. T-Bar. Omos charged T-Bar in the corner. T-Bar avoided him, but then ate a big clothesline. Omos followed up with his finisher and scored the pin…
Omos defeated T-Bar in 0:40.
Powell’s POV: T-Bar ditched the bad face paint and had new gear, but he still has the bad name and took a squash match loss. Dominik Dijakovic is a talented wrestler who is capable of more than what the creative forces are giving him. Meanwhile, Omos just keeps working the same basic squash. Is it leading to anything notable at WrestleMania aside from perhaps an Andre the Giant battle royal win?
Backstage, Nikki ASH and Doudrop delivered a promo about the six-woman tag match. ASH said she is the only superhero that the story needs. Doudrop said she’s just excited to be the villain. Becky Lynch said heroes and villains don’t matter, the only thing that does matter is winning. She blew off the past issues she had with Doudrop and said she would walk out of WrestleMania as the Raw Women’s Champion. The heel trio made their entrance to Lynch’s music… [C]
Liv Morgan was helping Rhea Ripley with her gear, and then Morgan asked what their strategy is. Ripley said brutality, and Morgan said she likes the way she thinks. Bianca Belair arrived and said she wanted to give Lynch a preview of what it will be like when she beats her for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Belair held up her first. Morgan immediately put her fist in, while Ripley did so reluctantly. The trio made separate entrances…
3. Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki ASH, and Doudrop. Lynch called for Belair to start the match with her. Belair went to lock up, but Lynch ducked under and tagged out while laughing. Graves played up the idea that the other women in the match were trying to find their path to WrestleMania. The babyface trio ended up clearing the heels from the ring. Ripley helped Morgan run up the ropes and then Morgan dove onto the heels on the floor. [C]
[Hour Two] Belair was isolated by the heels, including Lynch, who stepped on Belair’s braid to stop her from tagging out. Belair eventually broke free and tagged in Ripley, who worked over Lynch with two clotheslines, a kick, and a face first slam. Ripley hit Lynch with a headbutt and then threw knee strikes before putting her down on the mat and then dropkicking her.
Ripley put Lynch in electric chair position and slammed her on the mat again. Ripley went for the cover, but Doudrop splashed onto her back to break it up. With Lynch squashed, ASH pulled her to the heel corner and tagged herself in. Belair got the better of her and went for a handspring into the ropes, but Lynch grabbed her arms from the floor and pulled her to ringside. Morgan took out Lynch with a suicide dive. Doudrop took out Morgan, then Ripley took out Doudrop.
ASH performed a top rope cross body block on Ripley. Belair got the better of ASH, but Lynch stopped her. Belair ended up whipping Lynch with her braid. Lynch screamed and sold it while backing her way toward the stage. Belair fought off ASH and put her away with the KOD.
Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan beat Becky Lynch, Nikki ASH, and Doudrop in 12:20.
Lynch sold off the welts from the braid while selling the effects on the stage after the match. The babyface trio celebrated their win in the ring while Lynch continued to sell on the stage…
Powell’s POV: A fun six-woman tag match. While the focus is obviously on Lynch vs. Belair heading into WrestleMania, the match was laid out in a way that allowed the other wrestlers to have their moments to shine.
Highlights aired of Dolph Ziggler beating Tommaso Ciampa with help from Robert Roode on last week’s NXT 2.0, followed by Bron Breakker helping Ciampa…
Roode made his entrance and was accompanied by Ziggler, who was dressed in non-wrestling attire. The broadcast team hyped Roode vs. Ciampa as coming up after a break… [C] Ciampa made his entrance coming out of the break. A pre-taped Ciampa promo aired before the match. He said he had Ziggler beat on NXT until Roode interfered…
4. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Robert Roode (w/Dolph Ziggler). The broadcast team hyped Ciampa and Breakker vs. Roode and Ziggler for Tuesday’s NXT 2.0 television show as the match started. Roode stuffed Ciampa’s Fairytale Ending finisher and sat down on him for a two count. Ciampa then knocked Ziggler off the apron with a knee to the face. Roode went for his DDT finisher, but Ciampa countered into a rollup and got the three count.
Tommaso Ciampa beat Robert Roode in 2:40.
Afterward, Roode hit Ciampa from behind. Ziggler joined him in the ring and superkicked Ciampa. Ziggler called for a mic and knelt down while telling Ciampa that he got lucky once. He said that Ciampa and Breakker had to step in the ring with the two-time WWE Tag Team Champions. Ziggler said they would prove why the Dirty Dawgs are the dirtiest dogs in the game…
Powell’s POV: The match was fine. It was a pretty basic way to build to the tag team match on NXT by having Ciampa get the win followed by the heels getting some post match heat. I’m happy to see WWE give NXT 2.0 some love on Raw, but I’m stiff baffled that they didn’t do more of this while the original NXT was at war with AEW on Wednesday nights.
Highlights aired of the last two weeks of WWE 24/7 Title related events… WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke and Reggie made their entrance for a mixed tag match against Akira Tozawa and Tamina… [C] Imagery was shown from the Columbus sports teams… Tozawa and Tamina made their entrance together…
5. WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke and Reggie vs. Akira Tozawa and Tamina. Tozawa flashed a dopey grin and looked smitten with Tamina prior to the match. Reggie had Tozawa pinned after dropkicking him, but Tamina broke it up. Brooke cleared Tamina from the ring. Tozawa approached her from behind, but she elbowed him. Reggie hit Tozawa with his finisher and pinned him.
WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke and Reggie beat Akira Tozawa and Tamina in 1:40.
After the match, Brooke planted a kiss on Reggie, who fell to the mat with her. Tamina yanked Tozawa off the floor at ringside, then grabbed his face and kissed him. Tozawa acted lovestruck and woozy, and the babyface duo used their hands to fan him from the ring. Tozawa eventually ran to the back in pursuit of Tamina…
Powell’s POV: Get some of that, Tamina! The Reggie and Brooke romance doesn’t do anything for me, but Tamina and Tozawa have been a guilty pleasure over the last couple of weeks.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were interviewed by Kevin Patrick backstage. They said it doesn’t matter who wins the tag titles next week. Dawkins said they winners would have to defend those titles at WrestleMania. The Profits still want the smoke…
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio made their entrance for a match against The Hurt Business… A WWE 2K22 video game spot aired…
Powell’s POV: Saxton labeled Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin as being “of The Hurt Business.” At this point, they are the entire Hurt Business unless the company is back to pretending that they weren’t dumped by Bobby Lashley and MVP again.
Graves announced that Bobby Lashley was still under the WWE concussion protocol. He said that whether or not Lashley is able to compete, Brock Lesnar will defend the WWE Championship on Saturday at Madison Square Garden… Highlights aired from last week’s angle involving the Mysterios, The Miz, and Logan Paul…
The Mysterios delivered an in-ring promo. Rey said he and Dom accepted the match with Miz and Paul, but then they humiliated them. Rey said they are done with their BS at WrestleMania. Dom said they weren’t focused on the Hollywood mega dumbass and his fanboy, they were focused on their match with The Hurt Business.
The Miz made his entrance dressing in a suit and spoke from the stage. Miz assumed that Dom was referring to him as the Hollywood mega dumbass and that Paul was the fanboy. Miz said that what happened last week was two A-Listers joining forces. Miz said Paul is more of a man than everyone in the arena. Miz said Paul loved beating down the Mysterios and watched it over and over again. Miz said the Mysterios are the same old standard crap, whereas he and Paul are newer, global, and awesome. Miz headed to the back while The Hurt Business duo made their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: Meh. Rey seemed a little lost during his brief promo, and Miz just felt repetitive, even while talking about Logan Paul.
6. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. The match was joined in progress coming out of the commercial break. The heel duo isolated Rey until he performed a huracanrana on Alexander. Dom tagged in and got the better of Benjamin briefly. Benjamin slammed him to the mat with a suplex for a two count.
Dom came back with a DDT and had the pin, but Alexander broke it up. Rey took out Alexander and backdropped him to the floor, then gave him a huracanrana at ringside. Dom set up Benjamin for a 619, but he rolled to the floor and caught Dom when he went for a suicide dive. Dom shoved Benjamin into the ring post.
The Miz showed up and tripped up Dom. Miz ran into the crowd with Rey in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, Benjamin rolled up and pinned Dom. Rey rejoined Dom in the ring while Miz taunted them from the crowd…
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin defeated Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio.
Powell’s POV: That’s the first win for Alexander and Benjamin as a team on Raw since October 11, according to Cagematch.net. I assume the Mysterios will get their win back next week, but I like that they went with a surprise finish, albeit with interference from The Miz.
Backstage, Riddle was coloring in a coloring book when Randy Orton approached him. Riddle explained that staying between the lines to help him stay focused. He said he has the giggles and he doesn’t know if it’s because he put the hi in Ohio. Orton told him he seemed fine. Orton said they were going to the ring to kick some ass and then they would regain the Raw Tag Titles next week. The duo made their entrance for a match against the Street Profits… [C]
An ad aired for WWE Hall of Fame tickets featuring Undertaker for the two-for-one show with Smackdown on April 1 in Dallas… Highlights aired from Smackdown of Naomi stating that she and Sasha Banks would be the next WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions…
[Hour Three] Backstage, WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Queen Zelina and Carmella spoke about WrestleMania. Carmella said she would bring out her fiancee and really put on a show… After Graves referred to himself as a fine piece of “file man-ion”, he hyped the Raw Tag Title match for next week’s Raw… The Street Profits made their entrance…
7. “RK-Bro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. The broadcast team played up the idea that the Profits would enter the tag title conversation and perhaps even be added to next week’s tag title match if they could win the match. They also spoke about how important wins are during WrestleMania season when it comes to earning a spot on the show. Riddle took out Dawkins with a dive on the floor. Ford, who was the legal man, knocked Orton off the apron, then dove onto Riddle on the floor. [C]
Late in the match, Dawkins and Riddle tumbled to ringside. Orton struck the Viper’s Pose while Ford was down. Orton went for the RKO, but Ford stuffed it and then hit him with a leaping enzuigiri. Ford went up top and hit a frog splash. Orton rolled toward a corner of the ring. Ford covered him. Orton reached his foot out. Dawkins reached in to block it, but he didn’t have to. The referee counted to three.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins beat “RK-Bro” Randy Orton and Riddle in 8:35.
Afterward, Orton and Ford were clearly talking to one another, then Dawkins covered his mouth and spoke with Ford. The Profits celebrated. Orton remained down and held his ribs. The referee communicated with the Profits. Orton got to his feet and they cut to highlights of Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens beating Alpha Academy earlier in the show…
Powell’s POV: That was awkward. It looked like Ford landed hard on Orton, who hopefully just had the wind knocked out of him given that he was back on his feet by the end of the segment. I’m not sure what the planned finish was, but something was clearly off.
Backstage, Rollins and Owens were interviewed by Patrick. Rollins said they had all the momentum and would ride it to winning the Raw Tag Titles next week. Owens said the best part of defending their tag titles would be leaving the hell hole known as Dallas, Texas. Owens said he would give Patrick a preview, and then walked away…
Finn Balor made his entrance for the U.S. Championship match… [C] The Veer Mahaan video aired. Yes, he is still “Coming To Raw”… The broadcast team set up the Smackdown recap video that focused on the contract signing between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar… Damian Priest made his entrance… [C] The weekly WWE instagram photos were shown…
Vince McMahon and Austin Theory spoke backstage about Vince’s appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. Theory touted McAfee’s accomplishments, then said it’s been about twenty years since Vince did a sit-down interview. He recalled Vince slapping the papers away from the interviewer (Bob Costas). Theory questioned what would happen if McAfee said something that set Vince off or even if he jumped him. Theory said he could have Vince’s back. Vince said it’s not that kind of show, and then left the room. Theory picked up a pencil from Vince’s desk and said, “But it could be”…
The broadcast team hyped Vince’s appearance on McAfee’s show for Thursday…
8. Damian Priest vs. Finn Balor for the U.S. Championship. Mike Rome delivered introductions for the title match from the floor. Balor stomped Priest early on. Priest rolled to ringside. Balor ran the ropes and hit a flip dive. [C] Balor performed a shotgun in the corner. Balor went up top for his finisher, but Priest rolled out of the way. Priest clotheslined Balor. Priest went for a chokeslam, but Balor countered into a rollup for a two count.
Priest chokeslammed Balor and got a near fall. Priest went for his finisher, but Balor countered out of it. Balor hit another shotgun dropkick in the corner, then followed up with the Coup De Grace and scored the clean pin. Smith noted that Balor has been WWE Universal Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and NXT Champion, and now he’s the U.S. Champion for the first time.
Finn Balor pinned Damian Priest in 11:00 to win the U.S. Championship.
Afterward, Priest told Balor that the people carried him to winning “my United States Championship.” Priest said he never heard that from the fans even though he busted his ass. Priest said he would regain the championship and all the love and admiration of the fans wouldn’t mean a damn thing.
Balor went face to face with Priest, who dropped him with a clothesline. Priest tossed Balor to ringside and then followed him to the floor. Priest gave Balor a crucifix bomb onto the broadcast table. Balor bounced off the table and fell onto the floor…
Powell’s POV: I like the title change and the turn. The post match angle gave some juice to what I assume will be Balor vs. Priest in a rematch for the U.S. Title at WrestleMania.
Highlights aired of Edge’s promo from last week. Edge made his entrance heading into a break while the broadcast team wondered who would step up to his WrestleMania challenge… [C]
Edge fired up the crowd by asking if they wanted to see who his WrestleMania challenger would be. Edge looked to the stage, but nobody walked out. “Are you kidding me, what has happened to this place,” Edge asked.
AJ Styles’ entrance music played. Edge smiled. Styles made his entrance while Saxton said Styles was stepping up. Graves said the match would be at the top of the wish lists of many fans and tried to frame it as a match that “we thought we’d never see.”
Once in the ring, Styles simply said, “I accept.” Edge said good because they’ve both wanted the match and the fans have wanted it for a long time. Edge told Styles that he wants the bulldog, not the guy who has been playing tag team bitch to Omos for the last year.
Edge offered Styles a handshake. Styles jawed at him. Edge dropped Styles with a forearm. Edge worked over Styles with punches in the corner. Styles fought back and put Edge down with an ezuigiri. Styles went for his finisher, but Edge ducked it. Edge kicked Styles in the balls and then shot a blank look into the hard camera.
Edge mounted Styles and threw repeated right-hand punches at him. Fans booed. Edge got back to his feet and then looked down at Styles. Edge teased leaving the ring and then stopped. He looked conflicted, then ducked through the ropes and then dropped off the apron.
Edge went to the timekeepers area and grabbed two chairs that he brought back inside the ring with him. Edge slammed the face of Styles onto one of the chairs. Edge flashed a deranged look. He shook his head no a couple of times, and then walked away from the other chair. Edge thought about it, then picked up the chair and delivered the Conchairto.
A pained Edge looked to the crowd, then hit Styles with a second Conchairto. Edge looked at the WrestleMania sign. Smith said WrestleMania didn’t bring out the best in Edge, it brought out the worst. Edge smiled as he stood over Styles…
Powell’s POV: Well, that was an unexpected development. I’m surprised they put the Edge turn so close to the Damian Priest turn. It probably softens the blow for Priest more than it takes away from Edge and Styles. I really thought they would have more of a babyface vs. babyface match at WrestleMania since Styles turned babyface fairly recently, but I really like the idea of Edge going heel one more time. He’s be so great on promos and now I’m really looking forward to hearing his demented logic.
Overall, this was a good show that was filled with solid build to WrestleMania and more unexpected developments in one night than we sometimes get in a full month worth of Raw shows. I will return shortly to break it all down in my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.