Raw Women's Champion Asuka and Charlotte Flair def. The IIconics and WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks & SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley in a Triple Threat Tag Team Match (Non-Title)
Flair and Asuka were originally scheduled to kick off the show (or at least that's what it looked like), but the bickering between them, Banks and Bayley, and then The IIconics caused an impromptu Triple Threat tag team match to be made instead, even though Flair vs. Asuka still ended up happening later in the evening. It was perfectly fine from an in-ring standpoint, but the focus was clearly on Asuka and Flair teasing tension yet coexisting long enough to pick up the victory. Banks and Bayley have already lost their first non-title match and they've only been champions for three days. Sounds about right.
Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo def. Austin Theory and Murphy
Rey Mysterio confirmed beforehand via sattillite that he'll be at Raw next week (along with his son Dominic) to confront Seth Rollins and offer an update on his status. I assume that'll start the buildup to Mysterio and Dominic against Rollins' faction at some point. The tag team match that followed was well-wrestled albeit forgettable. I'm glad Black continues to win even though the focus is clearly on Rollins and Mysterio at the moment.
Randy Orton Interrupted Edge and Christian on The Peep Show
You had to know Christian was trying to motivate Edge as soon as he started lacing into him. I'm stunned WWE didn't already incorporate Christian into this Edge and Orton rivalry, but this was an excellent use of him here. All the talk about it being "the greatest wrestling match ever" at Backlash was obviously annoying, but at least the mic work was top-notch. Now let's see if they deliver on Sunday (or at least have a better bout than they did at WrestleMania 36).
Andrade def. Kevin Owens and Angel Garza in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match
Andrade and Garza have been teasing tension for a while now, so while this was positioned as a Handicap match for the first half or so, it was inevitable before they went after each other. It had a smart layout and the action was enjoyable. I genuinely didn't know who would win, so that added to the excitement as well. Andrade getting his rematch makes sense, but I do hope we get Apollo Crews vs. Owens again as well as Crews vs. Garza. Speaking of Crews, his new entrance theme sounds awesome, even though I miss his old theme.
Drew McIntyre Crashed The VIP Lounge with MVP and Bobby Lashley
MVP has been all over Raw lately and I'm not complaining, but is it just me or has The VIP Lounge been done to death over the last month or so? The segments would be more effective if they didn't always end with McIntyre showing up and either threatening MVP or straight-up laying him out with a Claymore. The sole purpose of this was to lead into Lashley and MVP vs. The Viking Raiders and tease McIntyre and Lashley getting physical before they clash for the WWE Championship at Backlash.
Bobby Lashley and MVP def. The Viking Raiders
The decathlon between The Street Profits and Viking Raiders earlier in the episode was entertaining enough, but it is odd that the two teams are taking a backseat to the WWE Championship feud right now and are being fed to Lashley and MVP. On the bright side, Lashley and MVP are a winning combo and have been protected pretty heavily lately, except for when MVP gets his head kicked off by McIntyre. The match itself was decent and succeeded in giving Lashley an additional momentum boost.
Charlotte Flair def. Raw Women's Champion Asuka (Non-Title)
I really wish WWE held off on this as they're on the verge of burning viewers out on it. It can be a money match if built up the right way and they always work well together, but the more they do it now, the less it's going to mean on pay-per-view down the road. The story is that Asuka can't beat Flair (even though she did on Raw one-on-one back in November) and they'll pay that off down the road, but having Asuka get pinned five days before she defends her title at Backlash (thanks to interference from Nia Jax, no less) was no ideal. I suppose it's better than her getting beat clean, but the timing wasn't right and it felt too cliche.
In terms of generating more interest for Backlash, I can't say this edition of Raw did much for me. It was far from a bad show in my opinion as the wrestling was solid on the whole and some of the promo work was on point, but I think most of us just want Backlash to be over with so we can move past the ridiculous "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" nonsense. I realize the ending to the main event left a sour taste in people's mouths (including mine), but I honestly didn't mind this episode all things considered. Let's just hope they have a stronger creative direction in mind coming out of the pay-per-view to get fans hooked on the product (which I don't get the feeling is the case at the at this current point).
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