It’s the go-home show for WrestleMania Backlash tonight. Bobby Lashley defends his WWE Championship in a triple-threat against Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre on Sunday. Tonight, he faces McIntyre one on one. Asuka teams with Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke to take on Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler, and Nia Jax because WWE like to mash storylines together. And in an even stranger storyline mashup, The New Day and R-K-Bro have an eight-man tag against AJ Styles, Omos, Elias, and Jaxson Ryker.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Asuka, Mandy Rose, & Dana Brooke def. Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler, & Nia Jax
Jinder Mahal def. Jeff Hardy
The New Day, Riddle, & Randy Orton def. AJ Styles, Omos, Elias, & Jaxson Ryker
Sheamus def. Humberto Carrillo
Shelton Benjamin def. Cedric Alexander
Rhea Ripley def. Asuka
Damian Priest def. John Morrison
Drew McIntyre def. Bobby Lashley (DQ)
♦ Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler, & Nia Jax, with Reginald, vs Asuka, Mandy Rose, & Dana Brooke opened the show. I spent a lot of the early part of the match looking for Lilly, but I shouldn’t have bothered because she appeared on the stage, sat next to Alexa Bliss on the swing set in Alexa’s Playground. Bliss said she was sorry to interrupt, but Lilly wasn’t. They were just there to keep an eye on someone, but she didn’t say who. We went into the ads with all six competitors staring at her.
When we came back, the match was back on, and Bliss was still watching from the swing. The match was fine until Baszler suddenly pulled up clutching her leg for no apparent reason. Unable to stand and move the few feet to tag Jax, she took a shining wizard from Asuka and got pinned. Charlotte Flair kicked Asuka in the head after the match.
Alexa Bliss and Lilly laughed afterwards and everyone started at her looking suitably creeped out.
♦ Riddle scared Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston when he joined them to thank them for giving him the registration forms to register R-K-Bro. Randy Orton appeared while they were laughing at him getting accidentally hit with tomatoes. It was awkward. He didn’t share the joke. He said the things he finds funny are ending careers, killing legends, and setting things on fire.
♦ MVP approached Braun Strowman in his locker room and suggested it would be better for everyone involved if Drew McIntyre became too injured to compete on Sunday. He said a lot of other disingenuous stuff about Lashley preferring to drop the title to Strowman. Strowman told MVP he doesn’t like him, which MVP said was ok because a lot of people don’t. Nothin
♦ The Miz versus Damian Priest has been added to the Backlash card. They, and John Morrison, met in Adam Pearce’s office because Priest had a suggestion to make Morrison’s rematch against him tonight more interesting. If Morrison wins he gets to pick the stipulation for Miz and Priest on Sunday, if Priest wins he gets to choose.
♦ Jinder Mahal is back, and he’s brought some friends. They’re called Shanky and Veer and they accompanied him to the ring for Jinder Mahal vs Jeff Hardy. They’re large, but so is Mahal. He didn’t need their help to finish Hardy, he did that all by himself with a Khallas after a short match.
♦ Sonya Deville and Charlotte Flair had another secret meeting in Deville’s office.
♦ Jaxson Ryker brought a big basket of tomatoes to take to the ring and Elias had written a song. AJ Styles vetoed both and Omos squashed a tomato to represent their opponents. The New Day, Riddle, & Randy Orton vs AJ Styles, Omos, Elias, & Jaxson Ryker. Randy Orton still looks like he can’t quite believe he’s teaming with Riddle, which is fair enough. He’s gone from punt-kicking Ric Flair in the head to teaming with New Day and the stoned cockapoo. The match was fin and entertaining, so I guess it served its purpose as filler. Riddle would have won with Bro Derek on Elias if Omos hadn’t broken it up. Orton tagged in then dropped off the apron. Woods got Omos’ attention then he and Kingston lured him from the ring by dragging Styles around at ringside so Orton could finish Elias with an RKO.
Randy Orton RKO’d The New Day after the match. Riddle yelled, ‘How are we ever going to have friends if you keep doing stuff like this?’ at him. Orton left, with the look on his face leaving no doubt as to how close Riddle came to getting one too. There was a moment on the ramp when it looked like he might go back and just do it, but he resisted.
♦ Asuka and Rhea Ripley were called into Sonya Deville’s office for her to tell them she was given an idea, which she has implemented. They’re going to go one on one tonight so they can focus on the triple-threat. Ripley asked whose idea it was, but Deville wouldn’t say. They, correctly, guessed it was Flair’s idea so they would weaken each other. Asuka pointed out she’d already competed once, but she agreed.
♦ Bobby Lashley and MVP had an interview with Kevin Patrick, or he tried to. MVP told him off for coming in unannounced and gave him the standard spiel about this just being the sequel of last time. Lashley said he pinned Braun like he said would last week and he’ll beat Drew this week. Patrick asked MVP about the conversation with Strowman earlier. MVP ended the interview in response.
♦ Before Sheamus vs Humberto Carrillo, Sheamus talked about Adam Pearce’s chat with him about the legacy of the United States Championship and how he wanted him to do an open challenge every week. Sheamus wanted to know why he’d want to follow in the footsteps of the has-beens who came before him. You have to earn a shot at his title, and that’s what Carrillo would be attempting to do. Good match, and a brutal one which Sheamus dominated. Carrillo had his moments, including a hurricanrana from the middle rope. Sadly, his next big move finished him. Humberto Carrillo tried to sunset flip powerbomb Sheamus off the apron and Sheamus landed on him. The ref stopped the match and declared Sheamus the winner as Carrillo couldn’t continue. He had to drag Sheamus off the floor to raise his hand, and that was as long as he stayed up for. That didn’t look like a planned finish. Carrillo was being tended to at the end of the segment.
♦ Lucha House Party had a reintroduction package. Looks like we might be seeing a more serious side from them in the coming months.
♦ Eva Marie is coming back, in case you missed it last week. There’s no arrival date yet, just ‘Coming Soon’. I guess we give her a chance, see what she brings. Everyone deserves a second chance.
♦ Cedric Alexander vs Shelton Benjamin was great. Alexander was dominant for much of the match, but he got too arrogant and wasted too much time making sure commentary were talking about him. He was yelling at Benjamin to get up and kicking him in the ribs when Benajmin grabbed him and pinned him with a T-bone suplex.
♦ Drew Gulak crashed Angel Garza’s photoshoot and yelled at him about whether he’s got any respect for the business. He was still pretty annoyed about Garza sticking a rose down the back of his trunks and kicking his ass, calling it embarrassing and humiliating. Garza asked if he wanted it to happen again and suggested he’d shove the rose down his throat next time.
♦ Rhea Ripley vs Asuka was a non-title match created by Charlotte Flair to wear out her opponents and give her an advantage on Sunday, sanctioned by her puppet in authority, Sonya Deville. Ripley was in good spirits, trying to wind Asuka up and laughing at her. She even slapped her then offered her face. Asuka swept her feet out from under her and dropkicked her instead. Ripley took a break on the outside after getting to the ropes in an armbar. They had an exchange at the edge of the ring, then Charlotte Flair’s music played. Ripley was stood on the apron watching Flair instead of Asuka and got caught with a spinning backfist. Flair told Asuka she’s was just there to watch as we went to the ads.
She was on commentary by the time we came back. Byron Saxton asked if the match was her idea and she said, of course it was because she can’t get enough of watching Asuka and Ripley wrestle. Corey Graves being a sycophant never ceases to be exactly as irritating as it’s supposed to be. Sadly, Flair’s presence meant most of the rest of the match was ignored. Flair almost got involved when Asuka fronted up to her, but Ripley headbutted the thought out of Asuka’s head. Finishers were countered and finishers were kicked out of. Ripley got in Flair’s face and got hip attacked in the head from the announce desk. Asuka’s missile dropkick back in the ring found its target, but Ripley kicked out. Rhea Ripley got a hard-fought win with the Riptide.
♦ Kevin Patrick asked Drew McIntyre why he attacked Strowman and Lashley last week. He said he wasn’t going to get involved until Strowman put his hands on him, then he had no choice. He’s heard about MVP’s proposition to Strowman and if it happens he’s toast because no one man can withstand that onslaught. But he’ll worry about that if it happens. Tonight he’s going to do the one thing he wasn’t able to do at WrestleMania, connect with the Claymore. And on Sunday, he’s going to be champion again.
♦ John Morrison, with The Miz, vs Damian Priest for the right to decide the stipulation for The Miz versus Damian Priest on Sunday, was good. Morrison is a lot more entertaining to watch than listen to. Miz, of course, got involved. He kicked Priest in the face, wearing normal shoes, while Morrison had the ref’s attention. He blamed the floor being slippery and even wiped it with a towel to cover up. Morrison kicked out of a broken arrow, but Miz looked worried. He distracted Priest long enough for Morrison to recover and join him on the turnbuckle. The didn’t work out for him, but Priest’s kick from the top didn’t get the job done either. Miz’ distraction to stop Morrison getting pinned, stopped Morrison getting the pin instead. He attacked Damian Priest within seconds of the three count after Priest Hit the Lights. Priest powered out of the Skull Crushing Finale attempt and narrowly missed Miz’ head with a kick. Miz ran away, so Priest made his point with another hit the Lights on Morrison.
Damian Priest picked a Lumberjack match for Sunday, so Miz can’t run away.
♦ There was another Eva Marie segment. A photoshoot.
♦ The WWE Superstars are still encouraging people to go and get vaccinated. It remains excellent advice.
♦ They aired a Karrion Kross promo aimed at Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory after they attacked him last week. Theory’s in for a bad time on tomorrow’s NXT.
♦ Bobby Lashley vs Drew McIntyre was the main event of the evening and it was everything you’d expect it to be based on the many times they’ve shared a ring recently. McIntyre held Lashley up in an impressively long vertical suplex, but moments later Lashley was stepping on his throat in the corner and knocking him off the apron with a blow to the head. Lashley ran McIntyre into the ringpost and left him dazed, but Lashley also ended up dazed after an upside-down trip into the corner.
MVP got very nervous that McIntyre’s spinebuster was going to be a Claymore. Lashley countered the actual Claymore with a crossbody that looked super-awkward. He struggled to get McIntyre into the Hurt lock and took a Claymore, but Braun Strowman’s music hit before he could make the pin. Strowman came from behind him, handed him the DQ win, and gave him a running powerslam. With McIntyre down, Strowman helped Lashley up, then gave him one too. He went back and gave McIntyre another, and put Lashley through the barricades. It looked for a moment like MVP would get one too, but it was not to be. McIntyre got a third though, after Strowman told him his alliance lies with no one.
That was a very average episode of RAW, which is weird for a go-home show. Despite that, WrestleMania Backlash should be a fun PPV. It also looks like RAW might have ended in legitimate injury to Humberto Carrillo. At the time of writing, there is no official confirmation, but it seems likely. Here’s hoping he’s ok.