WrestleMania Backlash was a decent PPV (read the full review here), although the zombies proved divisive. The fallout from Backlash will probably fill the majority of the show, but the only item on the preview features superstars not included in the PPV. Alexa Bliss and Lilly have invited new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Natalya and Tamina to join her in Alexa’s Playground. I’m not sure I’d have accepted that invitation…
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
AJ Styles def. Elias – DQ
Angel Garza def. Drew Gulak
Kofi Kingston def. Randy Orton
Tamina & Natalya def. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Sheamus def. Ricochet
Asuka def. Charlotte Flair
Damian Priest def. John Morrison
Kofi Kingston defeated WWE Champion Lashley
♦ Bobby Lashley, walking through backstage with an entourage of attractive women was the opening of the show. He brought them all to the ring with him after MVP’s introduction as well. Very Godfather vibes.
During MVP’s spiel about the heroism of Lashley’s win last night, he mentioned that Braun Strowman has broken ribs and Drew McIntyre couldn’t get out of bed he was so hurt. Lashley was also injured, he damaged his knuckles smashing them into McIntyre and Strowman’s faces. The almighty era will never end and we are all blessed to witness it.
It was supposed to be a night off, but Lashley insisted MVP issued an open challenge to anyone in the back who wanted to step up. Drew McIntyre answered it before MVP had finished speaking.
McIntyre said he couldn’t think of a better way for Lashley to impress his ladies than with Lashley versus McIntyre. MVP said he was going to exclude him and Strowman from the open challenge because they have to go to the back of the line. Lashley swung at McIntyre, but McIntyre ducked and punched him in the face. Lashley rolled out of the ring, MVP followed to hold him back, and the ladies screamed from the ring.
♦ AJ Styles, with Omos, vs Elias, with Jaxson Ryker, was our opening match and it was good. With tag team partners on the outside, it wasn’t likely to be a clean contest, but interference was minimal during the match itself. Just the presence of Omos made Elias hesitant to follow Styles out in front of him, and he prevented Ryker from attacking Styles after he launched himself over the top rope onto Elias. Styles backed up to Omos and Ryker opted for just checking on Elias instead. Elias controlled long periods of the match. His gimmick is so annoying I sometimes forget how good he is. Sadly, we didn’t get a proper finish. Ryker pulled Styles off the apron as he was going up for the Phenomenal Forearm and caused the DQ. Omos stalked him, but that was all part of the plan. While Ryker had Omos’ attention, Elias was throwing Styles over the steps. By the time Omos came back and chased him off, the damage to Styles was done. It would appear to be a rib injury.
♦ I like this new thing of having NXT promos on RAW. It was Johnny Gargano this week. He defends his NXT North American Championship tomorrow night against Bronson Reed, in a steel cage.
♦ Riddle set up a meeting between Randy Orton and The New Day to try to resolve their issues. He wanted to continue their alliance and asked Orton to apologise. Orton refused because he’s not sorry. Kofi Kingston tried to warn Riddle he’ll eventually end up on the wrong side of an RKO. After Orton threatened to drop him again, Kingston challenged him to a match. Orton accepted. After The New Day left, Riddle tried to explain but one admonishment from Orton and he made the motion to zip his lips and throw away the key.
♦ Alexa Bliss said she’s a big fan of Natalya and Tamina in Alexa’s playground intro. She also said Lilly has been dying to meet them, which sounds like bad news for them. When they arrived, Bliss congratulated them. Natalya thanked her and gave a brief response about it being tough to beat Baszler and Jax, and mentioned it being Tamina’s first title. Tamina asked if they could leave yet.
Lilly wanted to know their favourite colours. Natalya said pink. Tamina said black and blue which will look good on Bliss’ face if she tries anything weird. Bliss said that wasn’t very nice and she was lucky Lilly likes her. Lilly really liked the way Tamina beat up Reginald, and Bliss asked if it was fun. Tamina said yes and if ‘that pesky little fly’ interfered with their rematch she’d have no problem swatting him again.
At that point, Bliss went off on a slight tangent about catching flies out of the air and squishing them. Lilly collects wings of dead bugs and hair and teeth. Natalya and Tamina left during the tangent, but Bliss wished them luck anyway and said they’d be watching.
♦ WWE Superstars are still urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Go and do it as soon as you can.
♦ Angel Garza vs Drew Gulak was another demonstration that the new Angel Garza is not there to play. Poor Drew Gulak was little more than a prop and he’s way better than that. It finished after only a couple of minutes, with a Wing Clipper. He shoved the rose in Gulak’s mouth this time.
♦ Kevin Patrick had a go at interviewing R-Truth while Truth was hiding from everyone and Akira Tozawa was sneaking up behind him. He didn’t notice Tozawa, so Akira Tozawa got an easy pin and ran off with the 24/7 title.
♦ Randy Orton, with Riddle, vs Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods, was a lot of fun. Riddle insisted he accompanied Orton to the ring, on his scooter. Orton allowed it, but there was some heavy sighing and gritting of teeth. The match was great but Kingston got the win with a rollup when Orton let himself get distracted by Xavier Woods trombone.
Riddle stopped Orton RKO’ing The New Day again and Orton left them arguing. Riddle pushed Woods over and went after Orton.
♦ Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Naomi, and Lana were arguing with Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about who should get the next tag title shot when Charlotte Flair inserted herself into the conversation. She said both teams have had a million chances and blown them all. Brooke muttered, ‘Like you did last night’ under her breath, but wasn’t brave enough to repeat it to Flair. Deville threw them out so they could talk to Flair about a private matter, saying they would decide who’s next after tonight’s tag title match.
When they’d gone Flair made her case for being given a one on one match against Ripley, essentially because she wasn’t pinned. Deville said it wasn’t entirely her decision, but if she beats Asuka tonight then she and Pearce will discuss it. Flair didn’t think that would be a problem.
Rhea Ripley arrived and disagreed, but she doesn’t care about Flair’s problems. She was there because she wanted to ask Deville and Pearce for some new competition. As far as she’s concerned, Flair is yesterday’s news. Flair told Ripley to watch closely because when history repeats itself like it has thirteen times before when they go one on one she’ll be the champion. After Flair left Ripley said she might go and watch after all, just in case The Queen falls off her throne.
♦ Natalya & Tamina (C) vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax, with Reginald, – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match – started with Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler taking their obvious bad moods out on Natalya. Baszler backed off when she ended up too close to Tamina, which is sensible, but was noteworthy enough for commentary to mention it because nothing usually intimidates Shayna Baszler.
They were right to be intimidated. Tamina was ferocious when she came in, but she got caught and slammed by Jax and ended up in a Kirifuda about the same time Alexa Bliss and Lilly arrived on the stage.
There was a plume of flame from the ring post which blasted Reginald off the steps he’d climbed when it looked like Baszler was in trouble. Baszler was shaken and went to peer over the corner where Jax was attending to Reginald, who was holding his eyes. Tamina and Natalya took advantage of her distraction and pinned her off a Hart Attack.
Lilly’s laugh disturbed the celebrations… and it is a very disturbing laugh.
♦ Sheamus came to the ring yelling accusations that Ricochet stole his jacket and hat. He demanded he come and face him but Ricochet was still being interviewed by Sarah Schreiber backstage. He’s looking forward to shutting Sheamus up for good, and he did steal Sheamus’ clothes. He was wearing them to the ring for Sheamus vs Ricochet the rematch. Ricochet started well, but it’s rarely a good idea to piss Sheamus off and he took a beating. Going into a break, he was dumped in the timekeeper’s area after being rammed spine-first into the barricades. Sheamus kicked out of a Spanish fly from the top, a shooting star, got his knees up for the springboard moonsault and kicked out after several other dives. Ricochet kicked out after being kicked out of the air. When Sheamus said Ricochet was no match for him, Ricochet slapped him. Incensed by the disrespect, Sheamus Brogue Kicked his face off and pinned him.
Sheamus had a little gloat after the match and said he loves his gold but his other shoulder feels empty, so he might be accepting Bobby Lashley’s open challenge soon.
♦ MACE and T-BAR said Bobby Lashley’s title has an expiration date. That expiration is tonight. One of them plans to accept the open challenge. They flipped a coin to decide, but we didn’t get to find out.
♦ Asuka vs Charlotte Flair was really very good, just like it’s been good the last however many – too many – times we’ve seen it over the last couple of months. Rhea Ripley turned up as we went to a break. She was sat near, but not with commentary by the time we returned. She was shown looking very amused as Flair checked her nose and teeth after taking a kick to the head. Asuka countered natural Selection and almost got an Asuka Lock, and she evaded a big boot. She also had to kick out of a very odd pin that was essentially Flair grabbing whatever of Asuka she could reach and having a go. Flair failed a Spanish fly when Asuka held onto the ropes and had to power her way out of two submission holds and get to the ropes in an Asuka Lock.
Flair got in Ripley’s face after bouncing Asuka off the announce desk and Ripley found herself blocking a misplaced back fist from Asuka while she was calling Flair a loser. Ripley got up on the apron and was kicked to the floor by a boot from Flair that left her hung up on the ropes. Finally (and the match did get a good amount of time) Asuka countered the start of a Figure-Four by folding Flair up and got the pin.
♦ John Morrison said The Miz might never be the same after last night’s Lumberjack match and he was dedicating tonight’s match to his memory. He described the zombies to Kevin Patrick but didn’t seem to realise they were zombies. Happily, the Lumberjacks for Damian Priest vs John Morrison were just regular WWE Superstars, not a zombie in sight. Priest fell foul of MACE, T-BAR, and Cedric Alexander. Morrison got chucked back into the ring by Nikki Cross, the only woman out there. She got high fives from The Viking Raiders. Morrison threw Tozawa into the ring and did some fancy footwork on the outside to avoid tangling with the lumberjacks, but got slammed into the mat on his return to the ring.
MACE, T-BAR and Alexander again stomped Priest when he ended up in front of them, but rolled him back into the ring when Ivar and Erik came over. He got his own back, taking them down with a dive over the top. Alexander took the opportunity to rush through the ring to take out Shelton Benjamin and the lumberjacks rushed to separate them. Damian Priest superplexed Morrison onto the entire group. Once that was sorted a hurricanrana from the second rope from Priest preceded Hit the Lights and the win.
After the match, Damian Priest told Sarah Schreiber The Miz and John Morrison were in the past. She asked, ‘What’s next?’ He said maybe he’d accept Bobby Lashley’s open challenge and become WWE Champion.
♦ Bronson Reed also got a promo segment for tomorrow’s NXT steel cage match.
♦ This week’s Eva Marie vignette was about the behind the scenes people and the people who have guided her along her path. She’s coming back to WWE to be a hero because being a star isn’t enough for her. She wants to be someone little girls look up to. She’s still listed as coming soon.
♦ Kevin Patrick asked Shelton Benjamin about Cedric Alexander, but Benjamin didn’t want to talk about that, he wanted to say he was challenging Bobby Lashley tonight. Alexander turned up slow-clapping and congratulated him for having the guts to challenge Lashley. He said a bunch of mean things after that, so Benjamin punched him.
♦ It took a while for anyone to step up for the open challenge, but Kofi Kingston stepped up. Unexpected, considering Kingston had already had a tough match with Randy Orton, but why the hell not.
Bobby Lashley (C), with MVP, vs Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods, was declared a non-title match by MVP after the ring announcements, despite it being sold as a title match all night. In fairness, when they replayed it the title wasn’t mentioned. Kingston went for it anyway, after all, beating the champion generally gets you a title shot. He took a beating, but he almost certainly expected to and Kingston is a resilient wrestler.
Xavier Woods trombone-based distraction worked again and Kingston bounced Lashley off the ropes, but that was all he got. Lashley planted him into the mat then threw him out of the ring to smash his head into a ring post. Woods got himself ejected for pulling Kingston off Lashley’s shoulders. While he was arguing with the ref, Drew McIntyre appeared, grabbed MVP’s cane just as he was about to hit Kingston with it, and hit Lashley in the gut with it. Kofi Kingston rolled him up and got a win over the WWE Champion. McIntyre kept the cane to celebrate on the ramp with The New Day.
There were some signs tonight of storylines moving forwards, which is nice to see but it’s probably too early to get our hopes up. All in all, not a bad episode.