WWE Champion Drew McIntyre Attacked United States Champion Andrade
For the second straight week, McIntyre kicked off Raw with a quality promo. It's apparent that he isn't being heavily scripted and he comes across as more "real" as a result. That said, I hate how they've made Andrade a total afterthought lately. Losing to McIntyre in five minutes was one thing, but I wouldn't have made him look so inferior to McIntyre here despite having the advantage. The fact he's the United States Champion doesn't help.
Aleister Black def. Austin Theory to Qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
If Theory's move to the main roster is indeed permanent, at least he's involved in a high-profile faction and likely won't get lost in the shuffle. Even with Zelina Vega in Theory's corner, I never assumed he had a fighting chance of winning. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this outing and thought they had good chemistry together. Black is currently my pick to take home the Money in the Bank briefcase for the men.
Shayna Baszler def. Indi Hartwell
I absolutely love how Baszler has looked ruthless for the past two weeks, winning her matches here in quick and decisive fashion. I still don't think she needs the Money in the Bank briefcase, but it is one way to establish her as a threat again following her loss to Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 36. Sarah Logan suffered a similar fate against Baszler last week and was legitimately released by the company two days later. Hopefully the same doesn't happen to Hartwell. Speaking of Logan, she was mentioned a ton on this show, which must mean she's either already been rehired or is on her way back in the near future.
Ricochet & Cedric Alexander def. Shane Thorne & Brendan Vink
As I've said before, I'm really digging Ricochet and Alexander as a team. Yes, they're perfectly capable of succeeding in singles competition, but at least this gives them something to do in the meantime and strengthens the tag team division on Raw. This was a fun little showcase for them and Vink and Thorne also had an impressive showing. Between Raw and NXT, they've made more appearances on these Performance Center shows than at any other point in the last year it seems.
Nia Jax def. Kairi Sane
Jax squashed Sane in a Money in the Bank qualifier last week last week, so I don't understand why WWE would book this bout again, especially if it wasn't anything amazing the first time around. I won't go so far to say that Sane is being "buried" (she was recently one-half of the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions with Asuka for six months), but this is no way to treat her. I realize Jax just returned and needs to maintain momentum ahead of Money in the Bank, but surely they could've had had her beat someone else.
Apollo Crews def. MVP to Qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
It's been a while since we've seen MVP in a truly competitive contest in WWE (his matches against Rey Mysterio and Drew McIntyre were fairly one-sided), but I thought he fared well for himself here. This was a well-wrestled match that had a nice pace to it. Crews went from having a near 30-minute matchup with Black to now advancing to Money in the Bank. I don't expect him to win, but it's cool that he's finally getting some love from Creative after all these years.
Liv Morgan def. Ruby Riott
I was mildly intrigued when Morgan and Riott started their storyline upon Riott's return back in February, but there has been no followup since Morgan beat her on Raw prior to Elimination Chamber. A rematch at WrestleMania or even a Triple Threat with Logan would have made sense, but WWE opted against it for some reason. This was perfectly fine for what it was, but I don't know where you go from here with these two unless Logan returns as had been rumored.
Rey MYsterio def. Murphy to Qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Both of these guys had to miss WrestleMania due to injury/quarantine and have been out of action for close to a month, yet they didn't seem to miss a beat whatsoever. They were given an ample amount of time and went all out. It's worth noting that Seth Rollins is still all over Murphy's entrance, so I'm glad their alliance isn't over even though AOP are reportedly out for the foreseeable future. Mysterio qualifying was the right call, but Murphy's performance was excellent enough that he doesn't lose much from this.
NXT Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Kayden Carter (Non-Title)
Carter has been all over WWE programming since filming at the PC began. She's still a work in progress, but she has potential. This was designed to be all about Flair and to give her an easy win, so it served its purpose in that respect. I'm not yet sold on Flair being NXT Women's Champion, but it's off to a solid start. I really wish they would air some sort of video package on NXT's Io Shirai and introduce the masses to who she is considering she's next in line for a shot at the strap.
United States Champion Andrade def. Akira Tozawa (Non-Title)
This was absolutely necessary after Andrade was made to look like a complete chump in the opening segment. I believe his last win came over a month ago. Granted, the outcome to this contest wasn't in doubt, but I thought they had a hell of a sprint and Tozawa scored enough offense where he didn't look weak in defeat. That's important because he's a part of the ongoing Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament and actually beat Isiah "Swerve" Scott last week on NXT.
Bianca Belair def. Santana Garrett
Interestingly enough, these two actually clashed on NXT a few months ago. The end result was the same with the only difference being that The Street Profits (specifically Belair's husband Montez Ford) were on commentary for this. I appreciated their enthusiasm, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't get annoying at times. This was a straightforward squash for Belair, which is what she should've gotten in her official in-ring main roster debut two weeks ago.
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre def. Angel Garza (Non-Title)
If McIntyre defeated Andrade without breaking a sweat last week, I didn't think this would be much different. To Garza's credit, he lasted longer than Andrade did before eating defeat. That said, the whole faction attempted to interfere and McIntyre overcame that obstacle with relative ease. They have potential, but this wasn't a great night for them despite being all over the show. If nothing else, McIntyre continuing to dominate as WWE Champion is encouraging. I was looking forward to him and Rollins going face-to-face at some point during the show, but WWE chose to hold off on that for another week.
While I found last week's Raw to be a more complete package on the whole, this edition of Raw gets a thumbs-up from me for the Money in the Bank build alone. Raw's half of the men's Ladder match was set and there were some entertaining matches here and there. I'd argue there was a bit too much filler, but on the bright side, mostly everything had a purpose and held my attention. It could have been better but had its moments. They're not relying on replaying on full-length pay-per-view matchups anymore and that's all I can ask for.
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