Welcome to the WWE Raw Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show in Knoxville, TN as we continue on the road to WrestleMania Backlash in less than two weeks.
As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth report here.
We kick off the show with the Randy Orton 20th Anniversary Celebration. They played a fantastic career retrospective video. Seriously, that is one thing the WWE always does right. Their video packages are always amazing.
Orton comes out to address the Raw roster at ringside and the WWE Universe. It was nice to see that they actually let Orton talk and very little, if any, was scripted. Orton mentioned that he was legit born in Knoxville and appreciated that this took place there. I’m sure it was planned out that way. After his terrific speech, Riddle introduces Cody Rhodes to come out. After Rhodes entered the ring, Seth Rollins interrupted. The interruptions continued with Ezekiel, Kevin Owens, and The Usos all coming down. Hmm, four faces and four heels in the ring. Where’s Teddy Long? I smell an eight-man tag coming and here’s Adam Pearce to make it so. Owens hits Ezekiel before eating an RKO to close out the segment. This was great and Orton was very deserving of the time to be honored. He has talked about wrestling until 50, so that’s another eight years or so.
Our opening contest had Bianca Belair defending her Raw Women’s Championship against Sonya Deville. The first match lasted about as long as the referee’s ten count to count out Deville. Deville restarts the match as no count-out. Deville promptly gets DQed and restarts the match as no DQ. Yes, we’ve seen this before in that never-ending, god-awful pointless feud with Naomi. Deville has help from Queen Zelina and Carmella. I thought these two hated each other. The third match was just as terrible as the first two but got some time in. Belair knocks out the former Women’s Tag Team Champions and plants Deville with the KOD to thankfully end this match. They couldn’t pull the Hometown Rib on Belair here, so we had to go this mess of a match. The fans deserved better.
After the match, Vega and Carmella were arguing with Deville and Deville reneged on her deal to give them a tag title match before slapping each of them. Carmella sold it like death. How much longer is Deville going to be a power-abusing WWE official? Let’s just hope Belair, Vega, and Carmella don’t get sucked into trying to recreate the Naomi/Deville feud on Raw.
The new face of WWE, Veer Mahaan, smothered some poor scrub dubbed as local talent.
We get an Arm Wrestling Challenge between Omos and Bobby Lashley. Given the previous segment, I don’t have very high hopes here. Lashley beat Omos so Omos beat him up afterwards. Not very exciting but at least they kept it short.
They recapped the awful double commitment ceremony from last week because we need to keep the terrible segment streak alive. I will admit that it was mildly funny with Tozawa digging under Tamina’s dress to roll her up. This all leads to an awful couple therapy spot before a mixed tag match with R-Truth certified in just about everything and will be our special guest ref. Tozawa actually won the match. That was surprising. After the match, Truth rolled up Brooke and counted his own pin but Brooke kicked out at two. They should have let Truth count the fall. It would have been something interesting with the 24/7 title in a long time. I know R-Truth makes Vince laugh, but can we just move on?
Maybe we can finally get serious with Promo Time with Becky Lynch. Lynch cut a great promo about being at Rock Bottom (ironic given how her Manhandle Slam looks very Rock Bottomish). This just set up for the return of Asuka. Wow, Creative finally came up with something that made sense. With Asuka back, Lynch can be kept away from Belair for now. Belair just needs a better opponent than Deville.
Damian Priest came out next with Edge to take on Finn Balor. Apparently, Edge’s group is called Judgement Day, since that’s what Mike Rome announced. I believe that Edge made reference to that in his promo last week. Anyway, Balor’s contract must be up soon (I don’t know, just saying based on booking) and Priest beats him relatively quickly. Yes, Priest needs big wins, but Balor just dropped the US Title to Theory last week. The match was good.
MizTV is up next with Theory as his guest. Miz and Theory have a love fest when Mustafa Ali interrupted. There’s another face coming back. Ali runs down both Miz and Theory about being cowards. Miz said he couldn’t make the match with Ali, so Theory texted Mr. McMahon while standing in the ring and the match is on next.
The match was pretty good and got a little bit of time. Thankfully, Ali picked up the win. Ali really should have kept the hacker gimmick. It could have been really fun. After the match, Graves complained that Miz wasn’t ready to compete despite the fact Miz came out in his ring gear. Ali stood on stage to celebrate before Ciampa attacked Ali from behind. I’m guessing that Ciampa was upset after losing to the WWE Name Shortening Machine and lost his first name.
Rhea Ripley was interviewed saying she was done with partners that bring her down and Liv Morgan attacked her since Ripley beat up Morgan last week. That’s another women’s feud on Raw. Hopefully they can build up Ripley to challenge Belair soon.
It’s main event time with Cody Rhodes, Ezekiel, and RK-Bro teaming up to take on Seth “Freakin” Rollins, Kevin Owens, and The Usos. Can someone inform Jimmy Smith that it is Seth “Freakin” Rollins and not Seth “Frickin” Rollins. The match was really, really good. Although, I do wonder why Ezekiel is doing an Ultimate Warrior 2.0 gimmick. He’s got the long hair, muscles, and arm tassels going. All he needs is a rock song and run to the ring. This was easily the best match of the night. Orton picked up the win for his team (of course) after four really creative RKOs to send the fans home happy.
Let’s take a look at tonight’s highs and lows.
Any segment that involved Randy Orton. The 20th Anniversary Celebration was really good and Orton deserved the spotlight there. The eight-man tag match that they set up for the end was really good. These are really the only two things you need to watch from Raw.
The rest of the first hour after the Orton celebration until Lynch came out was just not any good. The Belair/Deville match had very heavy Naomi/Deville undertones and Belair deserves better than a dead end feud with Deville. The 24/7 title just needs to go away.
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That’s all I’ve got, until next time.