By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,562)
Live from Fort Worth, Texas at Dickies Arena
Aired May 1, 2023 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a recap of the first night of the WWE Draft from Friday’s Smackdown… Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves were on commentary, and Mike Rome was the ring announcer…
Triple H made his entrance and went to a podium on the stage. The new WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt was set up next to the draft podium. Triple H noted that the show was sold out and added, “It is loud in here.” He welcomed viewers to Raw and night two of the 2023 WWE Draft.
Triple H said Friday’s show shook WWE down to the foundation (really?) and assumed tonight would do the same. Triple H explained that half the roster was drafted on Friday and the other half would be drafted during Raw. He said that with Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns being drafted to Smackdown, there would be a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion crowned and the title and its holder will be exclusive to Raw.
The draft pool graphic was shown on the big screen. Triple H said the only wrestler not eligible to be drafted was Brock Lesnar. He explained that Lesnar renegotiated his status as a free agent and therefore can appear on any brand at any time. Triple H closed with the “Are you ready” bit and then announced the first round picks.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley to Raw
U.S. Champion Austin Theory to Smackdown
Seth Rollins to Raw
Charlotte Flair to Smackdown
Powell’s POV: No real surprises here given that Bianca Belair and the Raw Women’s Championship went to Smackdown, meaning Smackdown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley was likely to be Raw bound. Becky Lynch went to Raw, so Seth Rollins was likely to join her. Gunther and the Intercontinental Championship went to Raw, so the U.S. Championship seemed likely to end up on Smackdown.
Paul Heyman was introduced by Triple H. Heyman went to the ring and delivered a promo. Heyman brought up the Usos losing the tag title rematch on Smackdown and said he would address them in private.
Heyman said Roman Reigns would address everything, including the “hunk of beautiful gold” on the podium. “Wouldn’t that title look relevant around the waist of your Tribal Chief Roman Reigns?” Heyman asked. Heyman said Reigns can’t compete for the title because he will not be on Raw.
Heyman said the worst thing about that is that “all of the children in the locker room” are running around talking about Reigns when they should know better. Heyman used the word “freakin'” several times to badmouth the people he thinks should know better.
Seth Rollins made his entrance and stopped to look at the new championship belt before he headed to the ring. The crowd chanted Seth’s entrance song while he entered the ring and smiled at Heyman, who leaned against the ropes in a corner of the ring.
Rollins laughed and said it was good to see Heyman and questioned why he had the long face. Rollins said it’s like Christmas for Heyman because Reigns was drafted to Smackdown while he he is staying on Raw, meaning “Roman doesn’t have to run from me anymore.”
Rollins said he knows Heyman loves a good spoiler and he had one for him. “At Night of Champions, I am going to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship,” Rollins said. “And the entire world is finally going to see what a real champion looks like.”
Heyman took a phone call. Rollins told Heyman it would be hard to have a phone conversation with an arena full of people singing. The fans took the cue. “I can’t hear my Tribal Chief,” Heyman barked at the fans. Heyman told Rollins that he was pissing off the Tribal Chief.
Rollins questioned how long it would take him to put Heyman down so that he could Stomp his big bald head. Rollins started at five seconds and worked his way down while backing Heyman into a corner of the ring.
Solo Sikoa made his entrance and entered the ring. Heyman held back Sikoa while telling Rollins that all strings were being pulled by Reigns, meaning that it would be Rollins vs. Sikoa after the break. Rollins said they didn’t need to wait to make it official. Rollins said that if Sikoa wanted a fight tonight, he was on…
Patrick hyped Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Bayley and Dakota Kai. Patrick said Bayley petitioned management to make the match happen and said it was up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: I actually wish that Reigns was competing in the tournament. It would scare the hell out of the Roman haters, but more importantly it would make the new championship feel bigger even if he lost a tournament match by DQ or count-out. That said, he is a Smackdown wrestler, so it wouldn’t make storyline sense for him to be in the match. What didn’t make sense was Heyman speaking favorably about the new championship, but I get that they want the belt to feel prestigious and know they face an early uphill battle with some fans.
Footage aired from earlier in the day of Cody Rhodes arriving at the building. Adam Pearce approached him and indicated that he hoped things would spiral into chaos with Rhodes and Brock Lesnar both in the building. Rhodes walked away without making any promises…
Separate shots aired of doors that had the Raw and Smackdown logos. The broadcast team indicated that the people drafting were inside their war rooms. A shot aired of the NXT wrestlers at the WWE Performance Center since “select NXT wrestlers” are draft eligible…
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez made their entrance while the challengers were already inside the ring…
1. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Bayley and Dakota Kai in a non-title match. Patrick reminded viewers that the new rosters go into effect starting on next week’s Raw. Bayley raked the eyes of Morgan while the referee was tied up with Kai. Bayley sent Morgan to the floor and then Kai caught her with a boot to the face. [C]
Late in the match, Bayley made a blind tag. Morgan hit Oblivion on Kai, but Bayley ran in and performed a sunset flip on Morgan and pinned her…
Bayley and Dakota Kai beat WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez in 8:10 in a non-title match.
Booker T and Sharmell were shown leaving the Raw and Smackdown war rooms with draft cards… [C]
Powell’s POV: I must have misunderstood the broadcast team, as this was actually a non-title match despite my mistakenly listing it as a title match. My apologies. The match was fine and set up the need for Bayley and Kai to have a championship match. By the way, one of the few things I liked about the presentation of the draft on Friday was the use of legends, so I’m happy to see that continuing on Raw.
Footage aired from earlier in the day of Brock Lesnar walking through the arena parking garage. Pearce approached him and said that Cody Rhodes was also present, but he hoped to keep the peace if at all possible. “Good luck with that,” Lesnar said…
A video package recapped Lesnar destroying Rhodes on the Raw after WrestleMania…
Booker T and Sharmell headed to the podium and announced the next draft picks. Booker read the Raw picks and Sharmell read the Smackdown picks…
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champion Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to Raw
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso to Smackdown
“Judgment Day” Dominik Mysterio, Damian Priest, and Finn Balor to Raw
“LWO” Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde, Cruz Del Toro, and Zelina Vega to Smackdown
Powell’s POV: Remember all the talk on the shows leading up to the draft about how factions and tag teams could be split up in the draft?
Braun Strowman and Ricochet made their entrance for a match against Alpha Academy… [C] The Alpha Academy entrance was partially televised…
2. Braun Strowman and Ricochet vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis (w/Maxxine Dupri). Graves said he heard Otis passed up attending the Met Gala so that he could be on Raw with Maxxine. In the end, Ricochet performed a Swanton off of Strowman’s shoulders onto Otis and then pinned him. Maxxine was shown looking shocked over Otis losing…
Braun Strowman and Ricochet beat “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in 2:30.
Shawn Michaels was shown exiting the Raw war room, and then Adam Pearce was shown leaving the Smackdown war room… [C]
[Hour Two] Fort Worth imagery was shown while Patrick hyped WWE Backlash taking place in Puerto Rico…
A video package recapped the feud between Bad Bunny and Damian Priest…
Shawn Michaels and Adam Pearce came out to the podium. Michaels started to announce the third round picks, but he was interrupted by Brock Lesnar’s entrance music. Lesnar walked out and was followed by Pearce, who gave up on trying to talk Lesnar down when Lesnar shot him a look. Cole noted that Lesnar wasn’t smiling and seemed to be all business.
Lesnar asked the crowd how it felt to be looking at the only real cowboy in the state of Texas. Pearce returned with a bunch of security guards and said they had business to do. Pearce asked Lesnar to leave the ring and said that his security guards would help him leave if he didn’t do it on his own. Lesnar said it would take a lot more security guards than what they had. A second batch of security guards ran out.
Cody Rhodes’ entrance music played. Rhodes entered the ring from the opposite side of the stage and punched Lesnar once he turned around. Security guards swarmed Rhodes while Lesnar sold the punch at ringside before smiling. Cody tried to leave the ring, but a group of security guards stopped him while another batch of guards stood in front of Lesnar. Brock slowly backed up and smiled while Cody yelled at him from the ring… [C]
Powell’s POV: Simple and effective hype for their WWE Backlash match. I really hope the creative forces have come up with a reason to explain why Lesnar attacked Cody in the first place, but I’m not holding my breath.
An ad for Smackdown hyped Bad Bunny’s appearance and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karrion Kross…
Shawn Michaels announced the third round draft picks at the podium. He called for Adam Pearce, but then said he would be taking his place…
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez to Raw
Asuka to Smackdown
“New Day” Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to Raw
“The Brawling Brutes” Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and Butch to Smackdown
Matt Riddle spoke with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on the Gorilla Position set and was happy about all the time they would be spending together. Once Riddle made his entrance, an annoyed Owens asked Zayn if he heard Riddle say they could hang out all the time. Owens and Zayn followed Riddle to the ring. Footage aired from Smackdown of Owens and Zayn beating the Usos to retain the tag titles. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso made their entrance…
3. Matt Riddle (w/Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso). Jey caught Riddle with a kick from the apron during the opening seconds of the match while the referee was focused on Jimmy. Owens and Zayn played the Eddie Guerrero chair trick on Jey, who was ejected from ringside (ugh, another case of a referee calling what he doesn’t see). [C]
Riddle was in offensive control coming out of the break until he went for a Broton and Jimmy put his knees up. Riddle caught Jimmy with an elbow and went to the ropes, but Jimmy shoved him to the floor. Owens checked on Riddle. Jimmy went to ringside and superkicked Owens.
Back in the ring, Jimmy delivered an enzuigiri and a superkick and got a two count. Jimmy threw another superkick and got another two count. Jimmy got upset and ripped the turnbuckle pad. Owens climbed onto the apron and slammed Jimmy’s head on the exposed turnbuckle while the referee tried to keep Zayn out of the ring. Riddle hit the Floating Bro and got the three count…
Matt Riddle defeated Jimmy Uso in 7:40.
Powell’s POV: Graves tried to soften the blow from the start by saying that Jimmy was more comfortable with tag team wrestling. The loss for Jimmy makes sense given that the idea seems to be for the Usos to remain in a slump heading into their next meeting with Roman Reigns.
An Iyo Sky video package aired… Graves hyped Bianca Belair vs. Iyo Sky for the Raw Women’s Championship for Saturday’s WWE Backlash…
Eric Bischoff was shown exiting the Raw war room, and then Rob Van Dam was shown outside the Smackdown war room. RVD encountered Elias and Rick Boogs, who did the RVD thumb point with him… [C]
Patrick recapped Brock Lesnar’s free agent status while his graphic was shown…
Sikoa was wrapping his thumb backstage while Heyman stood behind him and pumped him up while talking about how much faith Roman Reigns has in him. Jey Uso entered the room and asked why Sikoa wasn’t at ringside. Heyman said Sikoa was staying concentrated on the assignment that the Tribal Chief gave him. Heyman said that he and Sikoa would give Jey the room. Heyman told Jey that the Tribal Chief loves him while he and Sikoa exited…
Eric Bischoff came out to read the Raw picks while RVD walked out to read the Smackdown picks. There was a loud RVD chant…
Trish Stratus to Raw
Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) to Smackdown
Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler to Raw
LA Knight to Smackdown
Powell’s POV: Ronda Rousey has gone from being a major special attraction to being a fourth round tag team pick. Wow.
The Miz made his entrance for a Miz TV segment. He boasted that Raw is back and read through some of the names who are on the Raw roster. Miz introduced Shinsuke Nakamura as his guest. Once in the ring, Nakamura and Miz bowed to one another and then Miz danced along to Nakamura’s theme. “God, Miz, I thought you were better than this,” Graves said on commentary.
The Miz welcomed Nakamura to Raw and then both men took a seat. Miz ran through some of Nakamura’s credentials and said he now has a chance to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Miz claimed that when Triple H said he was looking for a workhorse champion, he was talking about Miz.
Miz said that Nakamura would be a great number two. He said that they could help one another out. He proposed a merger known as Mizsuke Nakamura. Miz said Nakamura could use someone to watch his back. Nakamura called Miz a name in Japanese, which Miz thought was a compliment. Miz and Nakamura said the phrase repeatedly.
Nakamura informed Miz that that the phrase means “The guy with tiny balls.” Miz took a swing at Nakamura, who ducked it and then dropped Miz with a Kinshasa. Nakamura looked into the camera and bowed while Miz sold at ringside…
Patrick hyped Rollins vs. Sikoa for later in the show…
Omos and MVP were shown walking backstage. Graves said the free agent Omos would be in action after the break… [C] Omos and MVP made their entrance while his opponent was already in the ring…
4. Omos (w/MVP) vs. Anthony Alanis. Alanis punched Omos, who shrugged it off and performed Snake Eyes and then hit a big boot. Omos performed his finishing slam and scored the pin…
Omos beat Anthony Alanis in 0:50.
Powell’s POV: There’s still an hour to go, but it’s like they’re not even trying to sell viewers on the Rollins vs. Omos match at Backlash. I wonder if they’re saving it for Omos interfering in the main event.
Footage aired from last week of Triple H introducing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship…
Molly Holly was shown exiting the Raw war room, and then Road Dogg was shown in front of the Smackdown war room… [C]
Molly read the Raw picks, while Road Dogg read the Smackdown picks at the podium…
Braun Strowman and Ricochet to Raw
Shotzi to Smackdown
Bronson Reed to Raw
“Pretty Deadly” Elton Prince and Kit Wilson to Smackdown
The Pretty Deadly duo were shown dressed in the same NXT jumpsuits as the rest of the NXT wrestlers at the WWE Performance Center (why?)…
Powell’s POV: I’m not a Shotzi hater, but it seems strange seeing her drafted in the same round as the other wrestlers who went in round five. Reed stands out as going too late. They really should have swapped him and Trish Stratus and simply explained that she’s a part-time performer. On the bright side, I’m thrilled to see the talented Pretty Deadly duo heading to the main roster.
“The Judgment Day” Rhea Ripley, Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio, and Finn Balor made their entrance. Priest told the fans to rise for Judgment Day, then introduced Ripley as the first pick of the night.
Ripley asked if there any doubt as to who would be the first pick. Ripley said Judgment Day runs WWE Raw. She said that Zelena Vega would regret everything she’s done to her when she pretzels her at Backlash and reminds everyone why she’s the most dominant champion in WWE. Balor took his turn on the mic and spoke about what Priest would do to Bad Bunny.
Priest told Bad Bunny to listen to his words carefully and then spoke in Spanish, which drew some “What?” taunts from the crowd. He eventually switched to English and simply said that at Backlash, Bad Bunny would receive his punishment.
Dom took the mic and was greeted with loud boos and a “you suck” chant. Dom tried to speak a few times and stopped to fuel the heat. Dom eventually said he can’t wait until “Mami” and Priest dominate at Backlash. Another “you suck” chant broke out. Dom added that Judgment Day would dominate the six-man tag match and mentioned his father being drafted to Smackdown.
Zelina Vega, Rey Mysterio, and Santos Escobar made their entrance. Rey had a mic and said that they weren’t running from Judgment Day, they were drafted to Smackdown. Rey said he was happy that he would be away from Dom and he said he was looking forward to Vega beating Ripley, and Bad Bunny taking out Priest and anyone else stupid enough to go after Bunny… [C]
A Gunther video package aired and then the broadcast team touted Imperium being drafted to Raw…
5. Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio, and Damian Priest (w/Finn Balor) vs. “The LWO” Zelina Vega, Rey Mysterio, and Santos Escobar in a six-person tag match. The LWO trio was in offensive control and stood tall in the ring heading into an early break. [C]
Ripley was about to press Rey over her head and toss him to ringside when Vega kicked her to stop it. Priest tagged in and charged Rey, who moved, causing Priest to run his shoulder into the ring post casing. Rey went for a 619, but Dom tripped him while Balor distracted the referee. Escobar took out Dom with a suicide dive.
Priest hoisted up Rey for a Razor’s Edge, but Rey slipped away and set up for a 619. Rey went for the move, but Balor put his body in front of Priest to take the move instead. Priest performed the South of Heaven chokeslam on Rey and then pinned him…
Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio, and Damian Priest beat “The LWO” Zelina Vega, Rey Mysterio, and Santos Escobar in 9:00.
Powell’s POV: Fun while it lasted. Granted, it went nine minutes, but some of that time was spent during a commercial break. I’m not crazy about Rey losing so often these days. It’s understandable here because Priest had to go over, a loss would be more damaging to Escobar, and there was no reason for Vega to take a loss heading into her title match.
Cody Rhodes was interviewed in the parking garage area by Cathy Kelley. Rhodes spoke about how Lesnar has free agent status and gets what he wants. Rhodes said he has to win the match at Backlash because the whole idea of finishing the story ceases to exist and he goes to the back of the line. Cody said he refuses to go to the back of the line now or ever…
Powell’s POV: A good promo, but what is this line for? Cody is a Raw wrestler, so it’s not like he’s still in line for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, which is now a Smackdown championship.
JBL and Teddy Long were shown exiting the Raw and Smackdown war rooms, and then Patrick hyped the main event… [C]
Patrick hyped the WWE Backlash press conference for Friday at noon ET on Peacock…
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair was interviewed by Byron Saxton on the backstage ring set. He asked her about being drafted to Smackdown. Belair spoke about representing WWE to the best of her abilities and how she has nothing but love for Raw. She said she would send Iyo Sky to Smackdown empty handed.
“Damage CTRL” Sky, Bayley, and Kai showed up. Bayley spoke about how Sky was going to beat Belair for the championship. Belair said she was excited when Sky showed up at SummerSlam, but then she teamed up with two women who have done nothing but held her back. Sky spoke in Japanese. Kai stepped in to translate, but Belair told her that she and Sky understand each other…
Teddy Long and JBL stood at the podium and announced the “final round” picks…
“Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis to Raw
Rick Boogs to Smackdown
Katana Chance and Kayden Carter to Raw
Cameron Grimes to Smackdown
They cut to the PC when Carter and Chance were drafted. NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre approached them…
Powell’s POV: Well, the Chance and Carter pick adds a new wrinkle to their title match with Dawn and Fyre. I assumed Chance and Carter would win the tag titles and stay with NXT. I wonder if they will make this a Triple Threat.
Xavier Woods delivered a brief handheld camera promo on the Raw backstage ring set about New Day coming to Raw…
Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman made their entrance for the main event… [C] Patrick said the final picks of the draft would occur right on Raw Talk on Peacock starting at 10:05CT/11:05ET…
Powell’s POV: I will update our WWE Draft Tracker (available via the main page) with the picks that are made on Raw Talk tonight.
The broadcast team ran through the WWE Backlash lineup… The new Raw roster graphic was shown… Seth Rollins made his entrance…
6. Solo Sikoa (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Seth Rollins. Sikoa avoided an early Stomp attempt and rolled to ringside. Sikoa was the aggressor once he returned to the ring, but Rollins fired back with punches and chops. Sikoa charged Rollins, who pulled the top rope down, causing Sikoa to tumble to the floor. Rollins kicked Sikoa through the ropes. Rollins set up for a suicide dive, but Sikoa returned to the ring and dropped him with a spinning heel kick. [C]
Rollins hit three suicide dives on Sikoa. Rollins threw Sikoa back inside the ring and went for a springboard knee. Sikoa avoided the knee and performed a Samoan Drop that led to a two count. Meanwhile, Heyman was shown talking on his phone at ringside.
Rollins rolled up Sikoa for a two count and then stood up and superkicked him. Sikoa came right back with a uranage slam for a near fall. Graves delivered a good sports-like call by talking about how Sikoa’s cover may have allowed Rollins to kick out. Rollins slapped Sikoa and said, “Come on, big boy.”
Sikoa slammed Rollins to the mat again. Rollins rolled to the floor and Sikoa followed. Sikoa slammed Rollins’ head onto the broadcast table, then hoisted him up on his shoulder. Rollins slipped out and shoved Sikoa into the ring post. Back inside the ring, Rollins superkicked Sikoa and was setting up for another move when Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso attacked him for the DQ.
Seth Rollins defeated Solo Sikoa by DQ in 11:40.
After the match, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Matt Riddle ran out to fight The Bloodline trio. The show abruptly cut off the air while Graves was in mid-sentence…
Powell’s POV: WWE is getting really lazy with these bad Bloodline DQ finishes. The match was enjoyable until then. And I gave them too much credit for thinking that they would at least have Omos interfere to give his Backlash match with Rollins a little boost.
Overall, the show was solid and the draft added intrigue, but most of the picks felt predictable and uneventful. The NXT picks felt like the only true surprises. The draft just didn’t live up to the company’s hype, particularly when it came to all the talk the dedicated to the possibility of splitting up tag teams and factions. I will be back after Raw Talk with my weekly same night audio review of Raw with additional thoughts on the WWE Draft for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading it below.
Follow along with my WWE Draft coverage from Raw Talk via our WWE Draft Tracker available via the main page.