This week’s WWE Raw featured a Randy Orton celebration, Becky Lynch’s return, an arm wrestling competition and Bianca Belair defending her title in her hometown.
Randy Orton’s 20th Anniversary Celebration
The show started with Riddle in the ring with a black carpet. The ring was surrounded by most of the Raw roster. Riddle welcomed us to Raw and cued up a video package showing some Randy Orton career highlights. If you don’t know, Orton’s WWE debut was 20 years ago in April 2002 and the first match was a win against Hardcore Holly on the date of tonight’s Raw. I wrote a review of WWE’s ranking of Orton’s Top 20 Greatest Moments here. This video was really well done covering Orton’s career with 14 World Titles in WWE, the other accomplishments like Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank, other titles and a focus on the present-day Orton having fun with Riddle as the Raw Tag Team Champions. They showed more images and clips of Orton’s legacy in WWE.
Analysis: Great video package. A 20-year run full of so many main event matches, titles and memorable moments. It’s a career worth celebrating for sure.
Riddle introduced his best friend, the Viper, Apex Predator, Legend Killer…Randy Orton. Randy made his entrance with his Raw Tag Team Title along with a smile on his face as the fans gave him a big ovation. The Raw commentary team of Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton talked about Orton’s impact in WWE over the last 20 years. Orton was greeted by “Randy” chants.
Randy Orton told Riddle he appreciates him with Orton noting that he was born in Knoxville, so it’s cool that they are doing this here. Orton talked about a lot of ups, a lot of downs, twists and turns. Orton said he hopes we’re not sick of him because he ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Orton spoke about how 20 years have gone by in a flash, he had killer matches with John Cena, Triple H, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley thanking him for becoming the Legend Killer and he said Ric Flair as well. Orton said he is having more fun right now than at any time of his career because of this guy, he said he loved Riddle and they hugged. Loud “RK-Bro” chants for that. Orton said that we’ve had the ups and downs with the WWE Universe, but you always have come right back to support him, so without the fans there would no Apex Predator, Legend Killer or The Viper, so he said he loved the fans.
Riddle told Orton he had a surprise for him because this man wants to come out to see him since they are friends and Riddle introduced…“The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes. Big pop for Cody making his entrance in a suit.
Analysis: Cody has a long history with Orton going back to their Legacy days over a decade ago, but they have not interacted since Cody came back earlier this month.
Cody went into the ring and gave Randy a big hug, which drew a big pop.
Seth “Freakin” Rollins, who was seated at ringside in a green suit, did an interruption saying isn’t this cute? Rollins told Orton not to trust Cody as Rollins got into the ring. Rollins said that Cody is trying to steal the spotlight he stole Seth’s spotlight at WrestleMania. Rollins told Cody that not everything is about him. Rollins said that tonight is about Randy Orton. Rollins spoke about Orton has had a great career of 20 years in the past. Rollins told Orton and Cody that they are not the future of him. Rollins said that the next generation is not going to be inspired by Cody, Orton or Riddle, but Rollins claimed that they will be inspired by him.
Ezekiel interrupted the promo to introduce himself as Ezekiel, the younger brother of Elias. Ezekiel said he’ll never forget Orton dominating as The Legend Killer. Kevin Owens showed up from the back part of the arena yelling at the Ezekiel was a liar. Owens got into the ring. Owens said that Ezekiel passed the lie detector test last week and he’ll figure out how he did it.
The Usos were up next as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions that are set to face RK-Bro at WrestleMania Backlash. Jimmy Uso mentioned 20 years for Orton with Jey saying that they were 15 years old watching him. The Usos got into the ring saying that their favorite Orton moment is going to be when they beat RK-Bro to unify the Tag Team Championships and solidify their legacy as the best tag team in the world.
Adam Pearce, the WWE Official, appeared by the entrance to make a match. Pearce said Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens & The Usos will team up against Cody Rhodes, Ezekiel and RK-Bro. It’s a big eight-man tag team main event. Owens knocked down Ezekiel, so Orton hit Owens with an RKO and the heels retreated. It took about 19 minutes to get through all that.
Analysis: It was a lot of talking to begin the show. I liked most of it. They gave Orton the platform to speak from the heart, talk about his career and how much fun he is having in his current WWE run. It seems genuine when he talks about Riddle although it could be a way to set up a future heel turn too. I liked seeing Orton and Cody have that hug in the ring considering their history in Legacy. At some point they’ll have a big match, I’m sure. Anyway, the interruptions were to be expected. Rollins did a nice job of getting heat, Ezekiel did fine while Owens continues to call him a liar and The Usos had a lot of confidence as usual. The eight-man tag team main event is a big match for later. They don’t do multi-man tag team main events that often, so I think it’s a good idea and something to look forward to.
Bianca Belair was shown talking to Kane aka Mayor Glenn Jacobs ahead of her title match up next.
Sonya Deville was already in the ring, so they didn’t show her entrance. Bianca Belair got a big pop in her hometown of Knoxville.
Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs. Sonya Deville
Belair with a running shoulder tackle knocking Deville down and out of the ring. Deville pulled Belair out of the ring, but then Belair tossed her over the commentary table onto the chairs. Deville didn’t get up before the ten count. Deville claimed that she slipped on some water. Belair said that they are going to restart the match as a match with no countouts.
Belair left the ring to brawl with Deville on the floor. Deville grabbed Belair’s hair, so Belair tossed her over the barricade. Deville hit Belair with a chair to the ribs and a chair to the back. It looked like a disqualification, but Deville said that Belair cheated by using a foreign object – her hair. Deville announced it will be No Countouts and No Disqualifications. The bell rang for the third time.
Sonya Deville called out for some help as Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega made their way down to ringside.
The match continued with Carmella in the ring holding Belair as Deville punched Belair. Bianca managed to break free and hit a spinebuster on Deville. Vega jumped on Belair’s back, then they sent Belair into the turnbuckle, Deville with a shoulder tackle and Belair cleared the ring of Deville’s helpers. Belair got a hold of Deville, but then Deville did a roll through that sent Belair into the middle turnbuckle. Deville hit a DDT on a steel chair in the middle of the ring, but Belair got her shoulder up. A chair was wedged against the turnbuckle, so Belair threw Deville into the chair. Belair knocked Vega and Carmella off the apron. Belair hit the KOD (Kiss of Death) slam on Deville for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair
Analysis: *3/4 It was more of a story than a match with Belair having to overcome a 3-on-1 disadvantage rather than a fair matchup for the title. Deville got that one good nearfall after the DDT on the chair, but I doubt anybody watching thought Belair was going to lose the title. I think the story worked fine for a TV match. Belair winning in her hometown is good to see.
Edge and Damian Priest were shown backstage in a darkened room. They are up next.
There was a replay of Belair beating Deville.
Carmella and Zelina Vega were arguing about what happened, so Sonya Deville walked up to them saying that they are not getting a Women’s Tag Team Title match. Vega complained that Deville promised them a title match. Deville slapped Vega, Carmella tried a slap, Deville blocked it and reminded Carmella that Deville is her boss. Deville slapped Carmella too with Carmella doing a nice job of selling it. Deville left.
A replay was shown of Edge and Damian Priest attacking AJ Styles last week.
Edge was seated in his high chair with Damian Priest standing by. Edge mentioned the “Mountain of Omnipotence” as usual. Edge talked about how they are better than everyone, but they haven’t shown that. Edge talked about their rivals mentioning AJ Styles and how Priest faces Finn Balor later on Raw. He ripped on the fans for cheering the Tennessee Volunteers and ripped on the current mayor of Knox County (that’s Kane). Edge impersonated people with a southern accent while mentioning his purple light and people thinking it belongs to The Undertaker, so he made fun of the fans for thinking that. Edge asked where’s AJ Styles this week? Maybe he’ll use a jury duty excuse or at home mending that left shoulder that they attacked last week. Edge said he realized Styles didn’t hit the Phenomenal Forearm at WrestleMania and now Edge knows that AJ can’t hit that move at WrestleMania Backlash with one good arm. Edge told AJ to hug his kids tight with his one good arm. Edge said they’ll see Finn later. Priest told Finn that his judgment day has arrived.
Analysis: A good heel promo from Edge as usual.
Veer Mahaan made his entrance for a match.
They showed Veer Mahaan’s Raw “debut” that was really a debut from two weeks ago when he beat Dominik Mysterio and attacked him after the match. Veer also beat a local competitor last week along with a post match attack.
Veer Mahaan vs. Sam Smothers
Veer whipped Smothers into the corner followed by a whip into the corner. Veer with a lefty clothesline. Veer jumped on the back followed by the Cervical Clutch submission for the tapout win. It was under one minute.
Winner by submission: Veer Mahaan
Analysis: 1/4* A squash match win by Veer as expected.
After the match, Veer whipped Smothers shoulder first into the ring post. Veer applied the Cervical Clutch on Smothers on the floor. Some WWE referees showed up to break it up, but Veer picked up Smothers and gave him a two handed Choke Bomb onto the commentary table. Veer gave Smothers the Cervical Clutch on the commentary table. The fans booed.
Bobby Lashley was shown warming up as Sarah Schreiber for an interview. Lashley said he was ready for the arm wrestling contest, but he doesn’t trust Omos or MVP, so he was getting ready to fight.
Omos and MVP made their entrance for the arm wrestling contest between Omos and Lashley after a break.
They showed some tweets from John Cena, Drew McIntyre and Triple H commenting on the 20-year anniversary of Randy Orton in WWE. Orton wrestled those guys many times.
Omos and MVP were in the ring with MVP saying that he was looking forward to seeing Bobby Lashley destroyed by his own ego. MVP complained about Lashley going to WrestleMania without him. MVP put over Omos as a colossus. MVP said that Omos will wrap his hand around Lashley’s hand and rip it off straight from the wrist.
Bobby Lashley made his entrance in his wrestling gear looking huge as usual.
Arm Wrestling Challenge: Omos vs. Bobby Lashley
There was a table in the ring for the arm wrestling setup. The wrestlers locked hands, the referee let them go and MVP was trash talking Lashley saying he had second thoughts while adding that Lashley was nothing without MVP. Omos was leading, but Lashley made the comeback and Lashley slammed Omos’ right hand to get the win.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
After the challenge, MVP teased an attack, so Omos hit Lashley from behind. Omos slammed Lashley’s head into the table a few times. Omos delivered a knee to the ribs followed by a giant punch that put Lashley down. MVP told Omos to crush Lashley, so Omos grabbed the arm wrestling table and slammed it on top of Lashley’s chest a few times. Lashley slammed the table onto Lashley’s right/arm shoulder as well. The fans booed or at least that’s the reaction that was the reaction we heard. Omos tossed the table out of the ring. Lashley was down while Omos stood tall with MVP by his side.
Analysis: If I did predictions for this challenge I would have picked the babyface Lashley to win and then the heel Usos to attack after the loss. It was a simple way to get heat on the heel as a sore loser.
A video aired about the double commitment ceremony (they didn’t call it weddings) from last week featuring the 24/7 Title competitors.
There’s a mixed tag team match up next with R-Truth as the referee.
This Friday on Smackdown: Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey will face off in separate Beat The Clock challenge matches and Drew McIntyre vs. Sami Zayn in a Steel Cage Match kicks off Smackdown. It’s a taped show because the Smackdown crew will be in Europe for a live event. Spoilers are out there, but we did not post them on TJRWrestling.
There was an Earlier Today segment with 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke with Reggie and Tamina with Akira Tozawa. R-Truth was there serving as a Couples Counsellor. Truth informed them about having a mixed tag team match while the 24/7 Title rules are suspended during the match and Truth is the special referee. Truth had a referee certification as well.
Dana Brooke & Reggie vs. Tamina & Akira Tozawa
R-Truth was the referee. The guys started with simple takedowns, then the women tagged in and Brooke kicked Tamina in the ribs. Tamina held Brooke in a position looking like there might be a kiss, but there was not. Tozawa tagged in against Reggie with Tozawa hitting a spin kick to the head. Tozawa went up top (yelling “I love you” to Tamina) and hit a senton splash on Reggie for the pinfall win in under two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Tamina & Akira Tozawa
Analysis: 1/4* At least Tozawa got to hit a couple of cool moves.
Post match, Tamina slammed Dana down and Tozawa tried to pin Dana, but Truth pulled Tozawa off. Dana went to leave, R-Truth tried to rollup Dana and count the pin herself, but Dana kicked out. Dana left with her title.
Analysis: The crowd was dead during all of this. I don’t blame them. Why doesn’t WWE just end this lame 24/7 Title comedy crap? It’s the worst part of the show every week for several months now.
A replay aired of last week when Cody Rhodes faced Kevin Owens and Owens walked out of the match, much to the dismay of Seth Rollins. After the match, Rollins shoved Cody off the turnbuckle into the barricade.
“Big Time” Becky Lynch made her entrance in a ridiculous outfit that had some black leather, some really high white shoes and large sunglasses as well. The shoes she had on probably added like six inches.
Let’s Hear from Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch was alone in the ring with a microphone as she took her giant sunglasses off to gather her thoughts. Lynch said it’s been three years since she walked out on Raw without her championship. Lynch talked about how it’s been that long since somebody beat her and now she doesn’t know who Becky Lynch is without that title. Lynch said she didn’t recognize herself anymore. Lynch added that she has hit rock bottom, that’s all she has to say and it looked like she was about to leave. Lynch said that there’s nowhere else to go but up. Lynch talked about how this was the beginning of a legendary Becky Lynch comeback. Lynch said that nobody does a comeback better than her, she can’t stay down like the shlubs of the Earth and she’s like an arrow being shot into heights of the unknown. Lynch said we all get to be inspired by her when she overcomes Bianca Belair to become the Raw Women’s Champion again. Lynch said nobody was able to stop her while listing off some names…and here comes Asuka making her return from injury.
Asuka got a big ovation from the crowd with Asuka wearing a colorful robe as usual. Asuka took off a mask while posing on the turnbuckle and the fans were cheering for her. Good dance moves by Asuka.
Asuka did some ranting in Japanese while doing more dancing in the ring. Asuka: “I will stop you because no one is ready for Asuka.” Asuka flicked the nose of Lynch. Lynch went for a punch, Asuka ducked, Asuka did a spinning fist attack and Lynch bailed to avoid it.
Analysis: Welcome back Asuka. She has been out for a long time since her last match was in the Women’s Money in the Bank match last July. That’s a nine-month layoff dealing with injuries. I know she had an arm issue at one point. Anyway, Asuka is back and now she is probably going to feud with Lynch, so that’s cool with me because they’ve always had great matches together. Becky’s promo was solid as usual.
The Street Profits duo of Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins talked about respecting Randy Orton. Ford mentioned his wife Bianca Belair retaining her title. Dawkins talked about the eight-man tag team match later in the night. Ford said that no matter who wins tonight or WrestleMania Backlash needs to know that they are coming after the Unified Tag Team Titles because they want the smoke.
Analysis: I like those guys. They have a bit more edge to them of late, so that’s a good thing.
Finn Balor made his entrance for singles action.
Damian Priest made his entrance in the purple light while Edge was with him. Edge was seated on the throne that he sits on and they were on a platform that slowly moved them towards the ring, or at least most of the way. Damian Priest walked the rest of the way. They said Priest was “representing Judgment Day” so I guess Judgment Day is the name of Edge’s group.
Damian Priest (w/Edge) vs. Finn Balor
Priest sent Balor into the ropes leading to a shoulder tackle. Priest sent Balor into the turnbuckle, Balor moved and Priest hit the turnbuckle. They were out on the floor, Priest was in control and hit a Razor’s Edge onto the ring apron. Edge laughed about it.
Priest sent Balor into the turnbuckle, Balor got a boot up and a forearm. Balor with a running forearm followed by a stomp to the chest. Priest tried a slam, Balor slipped out and hit an elbow drop to the chest for a two count. Priest with forearms/kicks to the body, but Balor came back with a Slingblade neckbreaker. Balor countered a Chokeslam into a pin attempt for two. Balor jumped up with a kick to the head. Balor went up top, he looked at Edge standing up from his chair and got a hold of Balor with the South of Heaven Chokeslam. Priest hit a lifting flatliner for the pinfall win after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest
Analysis: ** It was okay for a shorter match with Priest getting the win after Balor was distracted because he looked at Edge in the aisle. Priest capitalized on that with two big moves to get the win. I’d like to see Balor used better, but sadly he doesn’t seem to be a priority right now.
The Miz made his entrance to host Miz TV with the US Champion Theory as the guest.
Miz TV with Theory
The Miz was in his wrestling gear as he welcomed us to Miz TV. Miz talked about how they were celebrating the 20th anniversary of Randy Orton, whose career might stack up against The Miz today. Miz introduced the new US Champion…Theory.
Theory, the US Champion without a first name, made his entrance and took a selfie with The Miz in the ring. Miz said it’s kind of like looking in a mirror since they are obnoxious heels. Theory made it clear that his name is just Theory. Miz talked about how he was US Champion 12 years ago. Theory said that Miz was like an inspiration, Miz overcame the odds and became a grand slam champion that was also a WrestleMania main eventer. Theory said that he is going to prove he is the best investment that Mr. McMahon has ever made. Miz wanted the crowd to show respect, so the fans booed. Balor said he’s the youngest US Champion in history, but he’ll be remembered as THE US Champion while adding he can do this all day. Miz said when you become champion, everybody around you becomes jealous. Miz told Theory that everybody needs to earn the right to face Theory for that title. Miz said nobody can just demand a title match.
Mustafa Ali made his entrance to some new generic music with the announcers noting we haven’t seen Ali in months. Ali had a smile on his face as he stood in the ring and fans chanted “welcome back” for him.
Miz to Ali: “You still work here?” Theory asked if Ali was the guy that took his ball and went home. Miz thought that Ali was Moufasa, Ali’s younger brother. Ali told Miz that wasn’t funny at all. Ali said if he needs a laugh then all he has to do is watch Miz wrestle. Ali said he’s back on Monday Night Raw. When he heard that Theory was on Miz TV, he was hoping that Theory would have an Open Challenge for the US Title. Ali suggested a US Title match tonight. Theory replied with a resounding “no” in Ali’s face. Ali asked if Theory was all biceps and no balls. Ali said that Theory was running away from a fight and he was running away like his name was The Miz. Theory put over Miz’s credentials saying he doesn’t run away from a fight. Miz said he doesn’t have a magic wand where he can make a match. Theory said he texted Vince and Miz has a match with Ali right now. Miz told Ali he’ll make him wish he got his walking papers. Ali slapped Miz in the face and left.
Analysis: Good to see Ali back. He asked for his release months ago, WWE said no and now they are finally using him the right way. I’m glad that’s happening. Ali had some clever lines there. Theory and Miz getting along made sense since they are similar type of heels.
Randy Orton was talking to Kane/Glenn Jacobs in the backstage area.
The Miz vs. Mustafa Ali
The Miz got an armbar, Ali got out of it and Miz punched him in the head. Miz charged at Ali, who jumped over Miz leading to punches. However, Miz was ready for the charge leading to Miz delivering a kick to the head. Miz splashed Ali against the ropes. Miz grabbed a chinlock, Ali with chops to the chest and Miz followed up with a knee to the ribs. Miz with a running boot to the head. Miz chopped Ali a few times, Ali avoided a chop and delivered his own hard chop to the chest. Miz whipped Ali into the corner with Ali taking a stiff bump into the turnbuckles. Miz delivered kicks to the chest, Ali sold them well and Miz was booed as he set up for a big kick. Ali avoided a charging kick followed by a spin kick. Ali with a running kick, more corner chops and Ali hit an impressive neckbreaker for two. Miz with an elbow to the head, then a kick to the knee and a DDT for two. Miz was on the turnbuckle, Ali stopped him there, Ali wanted a moonsault, but Miz got out of it and wanted a Figure Four Leglock. While Miz was applying the Figure Four, Ali got a rollup using his feet to sit on top for the pinfall win after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mustafa Ali
Analysis: **1/4 It’s good to see Ali pick up the win. I assume they might trade wins in the coming weeks. Since Ali got the win with a rollup, it puts over the idea that it was a close win, so that’s why I assume they will have a rematch soon.
After the match, Ciampa attacked Ali by the entrance area. The announcers just called him Ciampa, so WWE must have removed the “Tommaso” part of the name.
Rhea Ripley was shown backstage for an interview up next.
A replay was shown of last week’s Raw when Rhea Ripley turned on Liv Morgan after losing the Women’s Tag Team Title match.
Rhea Ripley was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber with Ripley having blonde hair now. Ripley complained about tag team partners that bring her down to their level. Ripley said she’s done with partners like that and then Liv Morgan showed up to attack Ripley. It was quickly followed by officials separating the women.
Kevin Owens was talking to Alpha Academy. Seth Rollins walked into the scene, Owens told Alpha Academy to leave and Owens complained about Rollins not being a good friend last week. The Usos walked up to them saying the should fall in line. The Usos said they want the win and they better be on the same page. Jey said you don’t want to get on The Tribal Chief’s bad side. The Usos left, Rollins put his arm on Kev’s shoulder and Rollins said he’ll do it on own.
Cody Rhodes made his entrance for the main event. Big ovation for Cody in his American Nightmare gear.
There was a replay of what happened earlier on Raw when Omos attacked Lashley after the arm wrestling contest.
Omos and MVP were shown walking backstage with Kevin Patrick showing up for an interview. MVP noted that Lashley didn’t look like a winner. MVP said that Lashley is not the All Mighty without MVP while adding that Omos has challenged Lashley to a match at WrestleMania Backlash. Omos said that after he’s done with him, there isn’t going to be much left of the All Mighty. They left.
Analysis: It was obvious they were going to do Omos vs. Lashley at WrestleMania Backlash. At least it’s been okay from a storyline standpoint.
Cody Rhodes was in the ring for the main event followed by Ezekiel’s entrance to no reaction. The RK-Bro duo of Raw Tag Team Champions Randy Orton & Riddle made their entrance. The Usos, who are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, were up first for the heel side followed by Kevin Owens and their other partner Seth “Freakin’” Rollins. It’s Rollins against Rhodes at WrestleMania Backlash.
The bell didn’t even ring yet and they started brawling. The four faces tossed the heels from the ring leading to a commercial break.
Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso vs. Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, Riddle & Ezekiel
They had about 17 minutes left in the show at the start of the match as Ezekiel hit a shoulder tackle on Jimmy. Ezekiel with a boot to the face followed by a backslide pin attempt. Ezekiel with a delayed vertical suplex into a slam. Riddle tagged in with a kick to Jimmy’s chest, Orton tagged in for Riddle’s assisted splash. Orton with some stomps on Jimmy, Cody got the tag and worked over Jimmy in the corner. Cody gave Jimmy a suplex into a slam. Cody with the kick, uppercut combo, Jey tagged in and hit a Samoan Drop on Cody. Cody with punches, but Jey stopped that with an uppercut to the jaw. Jimmy set up Cody across the middle rope leading to Owens hitting a knee to stun Cody a bit. The Usos continued to work on Cody as Rollins finally made the tag. Rollins went for a corner splash, Cody moved and Rollins hit the turnbuckle. Rollins kicked Orton off the apron, Cody with a punch on Rollins and Ezekiel got the tag with a back elbow on Rollins. Ezekiel with a jumping knee followed by a spinebuster for two. Ezekiel lifted up Rollins, who shoved Ezekiel into the corner and Riddle tagged in with a jumping kick to Rollins. Riddle with an overhead suplex and a Broton attempt, but Rollins got the knees up. Riddle up top, Jimmy tripped him up there and Rollins followed Riddle up top leading to Rollins hitting a reverse superplex on Riddle. They went to break there.
The match continued with Riddle battling Rollins, Riddle went up top and hit a twisting splash onto a standing Rollins. Jimmy tagged in with a double axhandle to stop Riddle from tagging out. Jey was next with a stomp to the body followed by a backbreaker. Riddle tried to fight out of the heel corner as he sent Rollins out of the ring and Jimmy lifted Riddle up, Riddle flipped over and Riddle hit a rising knee to the face. While Orton was about to get the hot tag, Rollins pulled him off the apron. Jimmy hit a running hip attack on Riddle, Owens tagged in and hit a Senton Bomb for a two count. Jey hit a spin kick on Riddle, which led to Riddle stumbled to his corner and Orton got the hot tag. Orton with a snap powerslam on Jey, a powerslam on Jimmy, punches for the other guys on the heel team and Jey pulled Orton out of the ring. Orton gave Jey a belly to back suplex on the commentary table. Orton with a belly to back suplex on Rollins on the commentary table. Orton with an eye poke on Owens (KO had a funny sell of the eye poke), then a belly to back suplex on the commentary table and Orton hit a draping DDT that Graves called “vintage Orton” like Michael Cole. Graves said that “the boss was on vacation” referring to Cole as the boss since he was in charge of the announcers. Cody with a Disaster Kick on Rollins. It was RKO time with Orton hitting an RKO on Rollins and Owens hit a superkick on Rhodes, but Zeke punched Owens right into an RKO by Orton. Jimmy with a superkick on Ezekiel, Orton blocked a superkick by Jimmy, Riddle with a knee to Jimmy and Riddle launched Jimmy into the air leading to an assisted RKO by Orton. Jey jumped off the top rope into an RKO for Orton. That was great. Orton covered Jey for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, Riddle & Ezekiel
Analysis: ***3/4 A great match that was booked in a way to build up to Orton getting the hot tag. The ending a was a lot of fun with the RKO fest by Orton while others were taken out of the match, so it was done in a way that made sense. Cody did well while he was in there, Rollins got a lot of offense and I liked their interactions on general. I’m not that impressed by Ezekiel, but he has a good look, so maybe this will work out better for him than it did when he was Elias. It was interesting that Owens wasn’t in there very much for his team. Maybe he’s banged up a bit. The Usos and Rollins worked most of the match. Big win for Orton on the 20th anniversary celebration of his career. That makes sense that Orton would look strong.
The babyface team of Orton, Riddle, Rhodes and Ezekiel celebrated with the fans cheering them. They showed a lot of replays of the finish. Orton was really happy and smiling. The show ended there.
Analysis: The RK-Bro team is going into WrestleMania Backlash with a lot more positive momentum than The Usos are because Riddle beat both Usos in singles matches recently. Maybe it’s a sign that The Usos win at WrestleMania Backlash? I think they will.
Three Stars of the Show
- Randy Orton
- Asuka & Mustafa Ali – Welcome back!
6.75 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
It felt like an average Raw or slightly above average. I liked the main event eight-man tag team match a lot. That was the highlight of the show to me. Good job of celebrating Randy Orton’s 20 years with a video package and he hit four RKOs in the main event. The fans loved it.
Happy to see Asuka back. Out since last July. It was also nice to see Mustafa Ali return. Ali had a strong face promo and solid match with Miz.
Most of the Raw matches at WM Backlash have been built up well.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is called WrestleMania Backlash on Sunday, May 8th. Here’s what we know so far:
* Cody Rhodes vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins
* Winners Take All Tag Team Championship Unification Match: RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
* Edge vs. AJ Styles
* Smackdown Women’s Championship – I Quit Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
* Happy Corbin vs. Madcap Moss
* Bobby Lashley vs. Omos
You can watch WrestleMania Backlash streaming live on Sunday, May 8, at 8 ET/5 PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
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