Welcome to The Raw Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth report here.
A quick recap of last week setting up this week’s title match was shown to open the show. We go live to Promo Time with Drew McIntyre before his match with Sheamus. Drew recaps his month between Sheamus turning heel to surviving the Elimination Chamber only to have Miz cash in on him. Drew talked about how he carried the WWE through the pandemic and he’s ready to get back on track.
The Miz shows up to try to get Drew to help him against Bobby Lashley tonight and Drew doesn’t bite. MVP randomly shows up to announce that the WWE Title match starts at 9pm ET. Sheamus finally shows up and The Fella wants to fight, so he and Drew fight to throw us to the commercial. If this had been cut to just Drew and Sheamus dueling promos, it would have been good. The addition of The Miz and MVP was a bit too much.
We are treated to a fantastic opener. This was likely the best opening match on Raw in recent memory. They were given plenty of time for their hard-hitting affair. Drew and Sheamus had a great back and forth encounter. The go-home sequence had them hitting the other guy’s usual moves (White Noise and Alabama Slam) to show how well they know each other. The end came with Sheamus going for the Brogue Kick but Drew hit the Claymore first and got the pinfall victory. This match was definitely PPV worthy or at least the main event of Raw. Drew goes up 2-1 in their series and can we please get a best of seven out of these two?
I missed the next match but at least Nia Jax did not injure Naomi, so at least that was a good thing. It was an easy win for Nia Jax.
We arrive at the top of the hour and Bobby Lashley is ready for his WWE Title match against The Miz. Lashley now has pyro for his entrance, so that might tell us something. Backstage, Miz is complaining about his stomach and Not WWE Commissioner Adam Pearce showed up and told Miz he had an hour to get it sorted out. Lashley ran to the back and tossed Miz around telling him he’s ready for him. I get the angle here and it fits The Miz’s character, however, WWE does not have enough goodwill built up in order to pull this off without people tuning out to catch the highlights on YouTube in the morning.
Promo Time with Braun Strowman is up next to complain about Shane McMahon and Adam Pearce. I think we have our dreaded face vs. authority figure WrestleMania angle starting. Braun deserves better. Shane and Adam come out for a team-building exercise. Braun and Adam vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Braun starts wrecking the Hurt Business and has them finished off before Shane wants Adam tagged in. Braun obliges and Adam promptly falls into a small package by Benjamin to retain the tag titles. Braun tells Shane that when he starts wrecking things, it’ll all be on Shane’s hands before walking off. Authority figure angle confirmed. *sigh*
Elias does a spot backstage with Damien Priest to make us care about their match, which is up next. Elias is out first with Jaxson Ryker. The 24/7 Champion Bad Bunny comes out first before Damien Priest comes out. I get the whole reason for having Bad Bunny on TV right now, but really? Priest is likely the Latino star the WWE can build off of, as long as Vince doesn’t screw it up. Bad Bunny is just there to start building him up. Anyway, there was absolutely no reason why Elias lasted around 15 minutes in that match with Priest. It should have been done and over in about half the time. I give Elias credit for learning the gimmick, but he’s just not that good to go that long in a match. Priest picks up the win while Bad Bunny just stood around with the 24/7 Title.
Smackdown’s Kayla Braxton was backstage to interview Randy Orton about his Papa Shango moment last week. Randy said Alexa Bliss needs to stay out of his life. She appears to continue the feud before Evil Randy Orton appeared telling him he’s about to face all he’s done. I do have to give props to WWE for keeping The Fiend out for so long but it’s about time to set up the WrestleMania match between the two. Let’s hope it doesn’t suck like their last WrestleMania match.
The WWE Title match is up next between Bobby Lashley and The Miz. The bell rang, Miz bailed, grabbed the WWE title and ran as fast as he could out of the Thunderdome to take the countout loss. Again, there is not enough goodwill here to actually keep people tuned in for all of this nonsense. Back in the Attitude Era, this would have worked. It just wouldn’t work in this era given the low-quality shows.
MVP and Lashley found Shane McMahon backstage and MVP said that this was bullshit, hard to disagree with that assessment. Shane said if Miz does not defend the title tonight, he may potentially forfeit it to Lashley. MVP and Lashley were happy with that.
Charlotte Flair is out next to talk about Ric Flair, Lacey Evans, and Asuka. Charlotte says she wants to challenge Asuka for the title at WrestleMania. Sorry Charlotte, the world does not need another Charlotte Flair title match. Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley sounds like a far better matchup. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax appear. Shayna agrees that there is no real Raw women’s division left since Charlotte crushes everyone, Becky had a baby, and she’s stuck in the tag division with the boat anchor. Shayna and Nia double team Charlotte before the match starts. After the match starts, Charlotte reaches into her Super Cena bag of tricks and crushes Shayna with the Natural Selection instead of the Figure Eight. How soon until Rhea gets called up?
Six-man tag action is up next with Riddle teaming with Lucha House Party to take on T-Bar, Mace, and Slapjack from Retribution. Slapjack getting pinned in a three-minute (did somebody say three minutes?) Raw special by Lucha House Party is about all you need to know here. This shows you just how far Retribution has fallen out of favor with Creative. It had possibilities but not even a Three Minute Warning beatdown could save this. I miss Three Minute Warning, gone too soon. Mustafa Ali is upset he is the only one of the jobber group not wearing a mask so he beats Riddle up with some awkward-looking move off the second turnbuckle that was about as safe as they could pull it off. This likely sets up a US Title match for Ali at Fastlane.
Finally, it’s main event time and Lashley is ready for Miz in the ring. Miz looked like he was going to bail right after ring introductions and Shane appears to announce this as a Lumberjack Match. Miz got lashed by Lashley before tapping to the Hurt Lock for Lashley to capture the WWE Title. Miz got destroyed as expected and Lashley finally got the WWE Title. This was very well deserved and I’m really happy for the guy. We all knew that Miz was only the champ to get it off Drew and on to Lashley so Drew can win it in front of a crowd at WrestleMania, likely in the last match on Sunday night. Enjoy your short time with the title Bobby. Hopefully, it will not be your only time with it.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows.
Bobby Lashley is finally WWE Champion. A well-deserved honor after having to endure the Lana angle. I’m hoping he can get another longer run with the title in the fall. He deserves more than about six weeks with it.
The opening match with Drew McIntyre and Sheamus was phenomenal. If you missed it, go seek it out. Can we get a best of seven series with these two, please?
The false starts to get to the WWE title match was really unnecessary. The WWE has not been putting out quality programming on Raw in quite a long time and the goodwill to stay tuned in throughout the night just isn’t there. If this happened on Smackdown, you would have a better chance at keeping them tuned in because that show has been so good lately. Being an hour shorter would not be a factor either.
I really feel bad for Asuka right now. She has no real challenger for WrestleMania. We certainly do not need another Charlotte Flair title match, even if she agreed to job out to Asuka to give her her win back. If Becky isn’t coming back in time, there’s nobody credible for Asuka beyond Rhea Ripley. Shayna Baszler would be an option, but she’s being held down in the tag division with Nia Jax. With Lacey out pregnant; Peyton is nowhere near ready, Mandy and Brooke are tag division fodder, and Naomi is stuck in a tag team with Lana. Creative at its finest, folks.
Well, that’s all I’ve got. Until next time.