By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Brock Lesnar attacks Cody Rhodes: They got me. I really thought they were going to close the show with Lesnar and Rhodes facing Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa. And while I get that some fans feel it was a bait and switch move, it didn’t bother me because this wasn’t a case of them teasing something big and not delivering anything meaningful. Rather, Lesnar destroying Cody was a truly surprising major angle, and it was a nice touch that the they left Lesnar’s motivations a mystery. This angle means they won’t be going right to the Reigns vs. Rhodes rematch. They gave Cody a big mountain to climb in the meantime and I’m guessing the soonest we see the rematch is SummerSlam.
Cody Rhodes confronts Roman Reigns: They wasted no time in having Rhodes let the audience know that his pursuit of the championship didn’t end with a loss at WrestleMania.
Bad Bunny, Damian Priest, and Dominik Mysterio angle: An effective angle to set up whatever they have in mind for Backlash in Puerto Rico. I like the way the heat was put on Priest, who needs it much more than mega heel Dom.
Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley: An interesting segment that foreshadowed an eventual showdown match. The big questions are when that match will happen and whether it will be a match to unify the women’s championships.
Matt Riddle returns: While I was hoping that his character had grown up and ditched the silly scooter after an 11-month break, it was good to see him again. Here’s hoping that he’s in a better place in his personal life after taking time away to address his issues.
Triple H says thank you: Paul Levesque played the Proud Papa role extremely well in NXT because it was genuine. I’m happy to see him bring that to the main roster where they need a positive face of the company after having so many heel authority figures over the years. I’m a big fan of the way that Levesque takes time to acknowledge the army of people who work behind the scenes, as he did in this segment and in his post PLE press conferences. Speaking of those media events, if Vince McMahon is back in full force as the true head of creative as reports suggest was the case last night, then I feel for Levesque, who will have to not only justify his father in-law’s awful booking, but also sit there with a straight face and act like he’s the one responsible for it.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in a non-title match: More of an in the middle. The Owens and Zayn celebration that preceded the match was enjoyable. The Profits coming out and taking up Owens and Zayn on the open challenge seemed like it would be more fun than it actually was. Ford’s quirky, rambling problem didn’t help the cause. The actual match was well worked, but the live crowd’s flat response to it was very noticeable.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall Show: If WWE’s hype that this is the biggest Raw of the year turns out to be accurate, then we’re in for some lousy television in 2023. The angle at the end of the show was great and I also liked the Bad Bunny angle, but Riddle was the only surprise appearance and there were no NXT call-ups. This was a flat edition of Raw and a huge letdown coming off an excellent WrestleMania weekend.
U.S. Champion Austin Theory vs. Rey Mysterio in a non-title: While I liked the angle that spawned from this match, the actual match was underwhelming. Rey is fresh off an amazing weekend that saw him enter the WWE Hall of Fame and then beat his son in a highly entertaining WrestleMania match on Saturday. They could have built up Rey challenging for the title to mean something rather than go with the lazy impromptu non-title match approach. Meanwhile, I gave the company the benefit of the doubt when it came to John Cena verbally destroying Theory in their only pre-WrestleMania appearance together. I was hopeful that the idea was to tear down Theory with the goal of somehow building him up to mean more coming out of WrestleMania. His nut shot finish win over Cena meant nothing, and now he’s right back to winning in pest heel fashion. They had something with Theory when his character went from being Vince McMahon’s goofball lackey to growing up and being positioned like a star who could actually win matches for a few weeks, but he’s back to feeling like a soft, flukey champion.
Bobby Lashley vs. Mustafa Ali: Can someone bake Lashley an apology cake so that we can all move on from him not getting a WrestleMania match? Did he deserve a match on the big stage? Of course. But it might be a blessing in disguise that he didn’t work with Bray Wyatt if that initial Muscle Man Dance video package is any indication. They’ve tried to make it up to Lashley by booking him to win the Andre the Giant battle royal, which did nothing for him and could have actually given another wrestler a boost. He was given a WrestleMania entrance for a quick wave on the stage. But his character is still upset over not getting a match and he took it out on Ali by beating him in a 40-second squash match. Yawn.
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky for a shot at the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: The idea of Morgan and Rodriguez beating the former champions to earn a title shot is logical. Unfortunately, Morgan and Rodriguez have no chemistry, and beating Damage CTRL feels meaningless because they’ve taken so many losses.
Seth Rollins makes an entrance: Well, the that was anticlimactic. Seth’s entrance is over, but nothing happening segments like this will run it into the ground quickly.
Omos vs. Elias: Omos destroys local wrestlers and undercard wrestlers on television and then loses to stars in PLE matches. Beating Elias in a squash match did nothing for Omos. The formula is obvious and it’s not working. Sure, the masses enjoyed watching Lesnar power up the big man at WrestleMania, but now what? The alternative of having Omos actually beat stars in PLE matches is even less appealing.