Raw recap & reactions: Property in the friend zone

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Alpha Academy just can’t catch a break, and Becky Lynch is afraid of the EST.

If you’re anything like me, when someone asks you “what you know about..” you’re answering said question with “rolling down in the deep” because WWE that song to death. Even tonight during Monday Night Raw, which came to us live from South Carolina.

With Elimination Chamber firmly in the rearview, WrestleMania is everyone’s focus. How did Raw establish a path forward? Who needs something to do at the two-night show? Will Veer ever show up and will Logan Paul wrestle before he does?

I’ve got some of the answers while Claire has the much more in-depth ones on her blog.

Let’s talk Raw!


StrongEST

Not sure if I used that headline before but sue me if I have. I normally don’t like rerun matches on Raw. Or in general. Bianca Belair dismissed Doudrop at least three times in the not-too-distant past. And the matches weren’t really close.

But my eyeballing stopped mid-match because Bianca and Doudrop put on an entertaining match that told the story of Bianca’s raw—pun intended—power. Doudrop, to her credit, looked like a force, a thread continued from previous matches. She ate forearms from Belair, refused to get bulled around, and made Bianca work this W. More importantly, she made Bianca look fantastic in at least three big moments during the match.

First, Bianca suplexed Doudrop, which was followed later by a powerbomb off the top rope by the former champ, and then, finally a KOD What made those last two moments shine was the fact Bianca managed to hold Doudrop long enough to truly show off her strength . Of course, it was all made sweeter because Becky Lynch was ringside. Every time Bianca did something incredible, Becky started to sweat. At one moment, she said the heat was because of her jacket—hilarious—and needed Graves to fan her.

Becky thinks this will be an easy go against Bianca because she thinks her smarts will win the day. But Bianca, through this match, and since last year’s SummerSlam, showed how tough of a challenge that is for anyone, let alone Becky.

Props to Doudrop for helping Bianca go over even bigger with a crowd she is already eating out the palm of her hands.

And not for nothing, but they proved me wrong.


Friends Forever

Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins want spots at WrestleMania. You know what that means? Challenge for the tag team championships. The two best friends convinced Adam Pearce—world’s worst boss—to add them to the RK-Bro and Alpha Academy tag title match if they defeat RK-Bro this week. It’s really easy to hustle or convince Pearce.

KO and Rollins started the match on their back feet. RK-Bro is too seasoned as a team and an actual unit. KO and Rollins? Not so much. RK-Bro was all about fast tags, cutting off the ring to do as much damage to Seth as possible, paying attention to KO every now and then for a quick punch of a back suplex on top of the commentary table.

KO and Rollins played desperate the entire time because, well, they are. That desperation showed when Randy was sidelined, leaving Riddle to fend for himself. KO and Rollins came up with a few tandem moves, with a top rope swanton bomb followed by a frog splash being the best of the bunch. KO and Owens saw Riddle as the weak link and, no diss to the man, but they were right.

The match—and the gameplan—hit its apex when Randy tagged in after seeing his partner get beat down for far too long. Orton came in coiled and ready to strike because snake references, and looked ready to end the match on his terms. But as the saying goes about best laid plans…

Seth and KO, again, desperate as hell, avoided Randy’s double DDT and threw the Viper off his game if only a bit. Rollins escaped and KO fought back, causing Riddle to make a tag as his partner stumbles to the mat outside of the ring. Rollins, ever lurking, picked his spot for the curb stomp to neutralize Randy, while KO stunned Riddle.

And just like that, a triple threat tag team championship match for next week is a thing. What gives this match its edge, besides the title on the line, is the fact all three teams know their spots at Mania are written in pencil—no seriously—unless there is gold around their waists. While KO and Rollins were the ones with that hunger this week, all three men are fighting for the limelight and the big payday on February’s last Raw.

Exciting. Right?


Extracurriculars

NXT, NXT!

We have a Finn Balor showing, people! Weeks after suffering a beatdown courtesy of Austin Theory and his weird relationship with Mr. McMahon, the Prince returned to partner with an old rival: Tommaso Ciampa. For those of you who don’t watch NXT 2.0—yeah, I know—Ciampa and Dolph Ziggler have a match on this week’s episode. Ciampa believes Dolph disrespected NXT and Ziggler doesn’t disagree. In a bit of logical storytelling, when Ciampa needed a partner to fight the Dirty Dawgs, he reached out to Finn.

Finn and Ciampa work pretty well as a tag team too. Ciampa got the pin for his team when Big Bob Roode reversed the Fairytale Ending and Ciampa countered with a pinning combination. BUT, the story here for me was Finn. Balor got enough offense in on Roode to show why he’s a missing element of Raw. If there’s one nitpick with this match, it’s that Finn has nowhere to go once the bell ding dinged. Dolph and Tommaso? NXT this week. Bobby? He’s part of a tag team. But what about the Prince? Right? Well, keep reading.

Live Forever

Edge wants a WrestleMania dance partner and, if his “I’ll make ya live forever” challenge is any indication, that partner might be Cody Rhodes. OR, even better, AJ Styles. TBD. But a good promo from the R-rated one and an intriguing prelude of things to come.

The Champ is Here…for Now

WWE Champion Brock Lesnar opened the show this week, and I was highly sports entertained. His presence meant Paul Heyman wasn’t far behind, telling Brock—and us—that the champ has a rematch with Bobby Lashley in Madison Square Garden next month. Therefore, there’s a good chance Brock won’t have a title at WrestleMania. Yeah, sure, Paul.

Of course, all of this is assuming Lashley “passes concussion protocol” and isn’t injured. This is a weird announcement considering the rumors over the weekend about Lashley’s health. Maybe those rumors were, in fact, just that. Or, WWE is just messing with us and the swerve is a foot.

High Priest

This Damian Priest thing just doesn’t work for me. Combine that with the fact Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander are wasted. This was a boring match that—surprise—Priest won, and only served as set up for a returning Finn Balor to accept Damian’s “championship caliber” challenge. Next week, Finn and Damian will battle one-on-one for Damian’s United States championship.

One interesting thing from the match: Priest might be gaining control of his Damian side. Cedric Alexander interfered a couple times and in the past, Damian would let that send him over the edge. But this week, he managed to focus that rage into getting a clean victory. I don’t know where they can go with that fro a story standpoint, but it’s at least some development.

Thank youuuuu!

Alpha Academy is gold right now. It’s crazy this tag team works as well as it does, and both men deserve credit. The chemistry Chad Gable and Otis share with the Street Profits makes for good matches. This one was no exception, with Angelo Dawkins showing out. The best moment of the match was Dawkins showing he’s just as explosive as his partner.

Alas, the Profits took another L, although Alpha Academy chicanery was the reason. Otis pinned Montez—nice haircut, Tez—while Chad held Montez’s foot, stopping him from kicking out.

There are a few teams gunning for the Academy on Raw. The Street Profits, as of now, have a legit claim to being hustled, cheated, and in need of an actual title shot.

We are Brutality

So here’s what I don’t get: Why are we still doing this Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki ASH thing? Rhea’s beaten this woman more times than the Harlem Globetrotters beat the Washington Generals. It says something when the most interesting part of the match was Nikki screaming at the commentators that Rhea is the real villain based on how she bullies Nikki.

There was something here initially when Nikki sucker punched Rhea weeks ago. Now? It’s boring and ridiculous. Clearly they don’t know what to do with Rhea right now so yeah.

Miz’s Partner

Miz is teaming with Logan Paul to wrestle the Mysterios at WrestleMania. Okay, cool.

Feminine Wiles 24/7

I have very complicated feelings about this segment. So, Reggie wanted to apologize to Dana Brooke for sneaking a pin on her on Valentine’s Day. He also led down to give her the title. But then he was messing with her and kicking out of pin attempts. At that point, Dana kisses him, leaving enough makeup on his face to make him look like Al Pacino’s extra in Scarface, and then they kiss for a pretty long time. Was he holding her to force the kiss at that point? Was she down with it? Then they ran away together to escape the three 24/7 stooges.

To quote Stella, the whole segment was a mess.


While there were a few things I didn’t like about this week’s Monday Night Raw, I was sports entertained through most of the three hours. One segment overstayed its welcome but most of the matches were solid, stories progressed, and a running theme of wrestlers doing whatever to make sure they’re on the WrestleMania card was a great touch.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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