By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Cody Rhodes promo: The show peaked with this opening segment promo. Cody’s story about wanting to win the world title that his father never held effectively established his mission in WWE. Seth Rollins coming out and shaking hands with Cody and then welcoming him home was compelling. I’ll be surprised if Cody and Rollins don’t have a rematch, so I don’t think this was a babyface move by Rollins, but I can’t entirely rule it out either.
Bianca Belair’s first promo since winning the Raw Women’s Championship: More good than bad. It was a well delivered promo, but it felt like she laid it on a little thick while patting herself on the back for appearing despite having a black eye. It’s a nasty shiner and I’m happy she’s okay, but it’s not like we haven’t seen UFC fighters and boxers fight through worse.
MVP turns on Bobby Lashley to join Omos: Hey, I finally made a prediction that came true. But why didn’t they do this at WrestleMania to preserve the Omos unbeaten streak? Lashley would have had an out for losing on Sunday and they could have built up to him eventually becoming the first person to beat Omos. For those hoping that Lashley was next in line for Roman Reigns, this angle all but guarantees that Lashley won’t be the next challenger.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship: A soft Hit for a match that was presented poorly. They obviously had Ziggler win on Saturday with the idea that they wanted to have Breakker win in front of the bigger Raw audience. That’s great, but why just advertise the match in a small graphic while another match was taking place? If you want viewers to think something is special, then logically you have to make it feel like something special. Overall, though, it was a solid match and hopefully the bigger audience seeing it gives a viewership boost to NXT.
Finn Balor, Randy Orton, and Riddle vs. Austin Theory and The Usos: They told a little story by having the Usos fire up Theory in the backstage skit by needling him over his loss to Pat McAfee and for getting his ass kicked by Steve Austin. The match had good action and Theory was the focus in that he pinned U.S. Champion Balor for the second time in four days.
Veer Mahaan: A soft Hit for the long-awaited return, which was actually labeled as a debut in WWE advertising. While I didn’t want to see Veer become the next Brodus Clay by returning with a shocking gimmick like The Funkasaurus was back in the day, I actually was hoping that they changed something about his grunting heel persona. By the way, it was a rough night for Dominik Mysterio, who lost to the Miz in thirty seconds only to be destroyed by Veer afterward.
Elias returns as Ezekiel: Well, nobody saw this one coming. It’s too soon to say whether this is going to work, but the new character has my interest. On a side note, I got a kick out the Kevin Owens promo, but I really expected him to be booked in something bigger following his high profile match with Steve Austin.
The Street Profits vs. Alpha Academy: The Profits didn’t factor into the finish of the Triple Threat at WrestleMania, and they beat Alpha Academy in this match, so I assume they will be challenging RK-Bro for the Raw Tag Titles soon. I get a big kick out of Alpha Academy, so hopefully they are booked in a way that helps them get some of their heat back next week.
WWE Raw Misses
Raw After WrestleMania: WWE followed up a great WrestleMania weekend with an episode of Raw that let the air out of the balloon. This wasn’t a bad show, it just didn’t feel nearly as eventful as past night after WrestleMania editions. The first hour of the show had some of that night after charm with the Cody Rhodes promo, Elias returning as Ezekiel, and Veer Mahaan finally returning, but the last two hours felt like a standard Raw. On any other Monday, I would have labeled this an average edition of Raw. WWE has raised fan expectations for the night after their biggest annual event and this show just didn’t measure up.
Roman Reigns in the closing segment: The final segment on the Raw held after WrestleMania was essentially a plug for Friday’s Smackdown. Sure, I enjoyed Paul Heyman building up Reigns as the big box office attraction along with Roman gloating about his success, but I kept waiting for something else to occur to close the show in a more memorable way.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan in a non-title match: The only thing to like about this match is that Ripley appears to be on the verge of turning heel. I think she’s actually a good babyface, but I’m optimistic that they will finally do more with her once she turns. The match was fine, but it’s so hard to care about the women’s tag team titles when it’s clear that the company doesn’t care about those belts. As such, this feels like a waste of Banks in particular, and it’s not like there are any established women’s tag teams that we can look forward to seeing challenge the new champions. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous logic of Ripley and Morgan failing to win on Sunday, losing this non-title match, and somehow being rewarded with a tag title match next week.
Queen Zelina and Carmella: It looks like their split is going to stick this time. I’m guessing they’ll just move in different directions rather than feud with one another since they are both heels. It’s hard to see either one of them as threats to Bianca Belair, but I’m guessing they’ll both end up challenging her soon.
No matter how you package him, Cody still makes me sleepy.
> Seth Rollins coming out and shaking hands with Cody and then welcoming him home was compelling<<
It was more confusing for a lot of people. No clue why he came out, and obviously there will be a rematch, but coming out, laughing, shaking his hand and saying, "Welcome home" answering nothing and left most of us wondering what the point was.
As someone who was in Dallas, I did Smackdown/HOF, Stand & Deliver, and both nights of Mania…I was running on fumes at times during WM Sunday, I can only imagine one more event.
I equate it to the pre-FOX days of SD when it was still on Tuesday, and the energy level from Raw after Mania to SD the next night was noticeable.