Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and The Viking Raiders Brawled with AOP and Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Murphy
For those who missed it over the weekend, Buddy Murphy is now officially just Murphy. I'm bothered by most unnecessary name changes WWE makes, but this one doesn't make much of a difference because it's not like Buddy was a great name to begin with. At any rate, this was a solid segment that successfully hyped up the eight-man tag team match for the main event. Rollins and Owens' promos were very good and I still find myself digging this rivalry all these weeks later.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch def. Asuka
I'm convinced these two are incapable of having a bad match together. Granted, the outcome was never in doubt, but Asuka put up a hell of a fight and the match was entertaining enough that I didn't mind them doing the rematch. Post-match, Shayna Baszler laid out Lynch and kicked off to build to their long awaited WrestleMania feud. Unfortunately, the angle was overshadowed by Baszler biting Lynch on the neck and making her "bleed." It looked insanely stupid and the stuff with Lynch driving off in the ambulance didn't help either. The storyline sells itself. Why do they have to make it so unnecessarily complicated?
The Street Profits def. 24/7 Champion Mojo Rawley and Riddick Moss; Moss def. Rawley to Win the 24/7 Championship
Street Profits are officially directionless. They're still over with the audience, but matches against Rawley and Moss aren't a positive sign. Sure, they won, but it means absolutely nothing. I thought they were building to Rawley turning on Moss after Moss was pinned, but it was actually the other way around with Moss beating Rawley out of nowhere to win the 24/7 Championship. It's a pointless title, so I can't really bring myself to care about it at this point regardless of who holds it.
Drew McIntyre Attacked MVP on The VIP Lounge
I wasn't expecting to see The VIP Lounge return on Raw this week, but I'm glad it did. MVP recently said his match against Rey Mysterio two weeks ago was his last in WWE, but that doesn't mean he can't be brought back as a talk show host or as a manager. The crowd was super behind McIntyre here and I loved how MVP played the heel role. This was very well done and I'd love to see MVP manage someone like Bobby Lashley, who could use a mouthpiece (and no, not Lana). They were an excellent pairing in TNA.
Angel Garza def. Cedric Alexander
Poor Alexander. He was receiving consistent television time last year and came close to capturing the United States Championship on a few occasions. Not only is he never on Raw nowadays, he doesn't even get a televised entrance when he does. What a shame. He and Garza had a nice little match, but this was all about Garza and giving him his first win on Raw. Humberto Carrillo came out to brawl with Garza beforehand, so it appears they'll be feuding while Andrade and Rey Mysterio are out.
NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley def. Sarah Logan (Non-Title)
Needless to say, this was a complete squash. Seeing Ripley destroy Logan was a blast and it was smart to keep it brief to establish Ripley as a killing machine to the main roster audience. Charlotte Flair watched from the stage and once again avoided giving an answer as to whether she'll face her at WrestleMania 36 for the NXT Women's Championship. Obviously, she will, but I like how they're dragging it out. After all, they have another two months to go.
Ricochet def. Bobby Lashley
I got my hopes up when Lashley didn't walk out with Lana last week, but she was sadly back by his side this week. Ugh. On the bright side, this was a fun match as they worked well together and Ricochet got to shine ahead of challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at Super ShowDown. No one is buying into the possibility of beating Lesnar, but at least he has momentum for the first time in many months.
Randy Orton Attacked Matt Hardy
Hardy's contract expiring next month has been a hot topic among fans for a while now, and this segment very well may have been his sendoff from WWE TV. If so, he went out on top. This was the most we've heard from him on the show in years and it made sense given his history with Edge. Orton never had a chance to explain his actions on Edge from a few weeks ago, but the crowd booed him out of the building for laying waste to Hardy in brutal fashion. My gut still says that Hardy re-signs in the end, but it will be interesting to find out what the future holds for him either way.
Aleister Black def. Akira Tozawa
Black's string of squash matches continues. Tozawa can sell as well as anyone and this was a fine use of him, but I'd love to see him in a more meaningful role eventually. I know the chances of that are slim, but he's too talented to be wasted. Nevertheless, Black cut another ambiguous promo afterward. It's the same stuff he was saying in those backstage segments on SmackDown last year, so I really hope they can hurry it up and put him in an important program before he loses any of what he gained in that program with Murphy.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch Addressed Shayna Baszler
Yes, Lynch drove the ambulance back to the arena, and as far as we know, she wasn't charged for stealing the vehicle or for assaulting the guy who was driving it. She cut a brief yet fiery promo putting Baszler on notice, and although I'm looking forward to the feud developing, this was a weird way to start it. Baszler is basically a vampire, and Lynch is a poor man's (woman's?) Stone Cold Steve Austin. This isn't exactly what I had in mind, but they can still salvage it.
Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Murphy and AOP def. Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and The Viking Raiders
Most of the matches this rivalry hasp produced over the last month or so have been strong and this was no exception. Rollins has been the ultimate asshole lately and the babyfaces are over, so it's the perfect dynamic. They were given a ton of time and the audience was into the action. I don't mind Rollins' group continuing to win as long as Owens and company bounce back at some point. I'm also curious what the endgame will be, especially with WrestleMania right around the corner. In the meantime, however, this has been an effective use of all eight guys.
While not as well-rounded or as exciting as last week's episode, this was still a thumbs-up edition of Raw. Props to Paul Heyman as well as Vince McMahon (you can't just blame him for the bad stuff) for making strides with the show in 2020, it's been a refreshing change of pace. The wrestling is getting better, the storylines are improving, and it feels like there's less filler (no Erick Rowan this week, yay!). Although matches are being built up for Super ShowDown, seeds are already being planted for WrestleMania as well. It's weird how Raw is way more tolerable than SmackDown these days, but at least Heyman's influence is finally paying dividends for the flagship show.
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