The RAW Tag Team Championship Match will open tonight’s show, where Alpha Academy will attempt to defend their titles against RK-Bro and Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins & Kevin Owens. That’s also the only match on the preview. Logan Paul and The Miz are going to throw a Homecoming Party. Edge is going to explain why he beat up AJ Styles last week. And Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler is coming back to RAW for undisclosed reasons.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
RK-Bro def. Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens and Alpha Academy
Dana Brooke def. Tamina
Tommaso Ciampa & Bron Breakker def. The Dirty Dawgs
Omos def. Apollo Crews
Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan def. Queen Zelina & Carmella
Finn Balor def. Austin Theory (DQ)
♦ Before the credits, we saw some footage from the Madison Square Gardens house show, where Brock Lesnar had a run-in with Roman Reigns and The Usos. Reigns saved Paul Heyman from having his head squished like a grape. Lesnar was left bleeding in the middle of the ring on a set of steps at the end of it.
♦ Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins had some stuff to get off their chest before Alpha Academy (C) vs Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins vs RK-Bro, RAW Tag Team Championship Match. Rollins was excited that they were about to secure their path to WrestleMania. Owens reflected about the road bumps they keep hitting, preventing them from getting to WrestleMania, but Rollins reassured him that it was all going to change. Owens took some time to trash Texas and they played a couple of stories so far videos… and this was an unnecessary amount of talking and video clips for a show we were promised would start with a match. It felt like they were stalling. Was someone late for work?
Eventually, Alpha Academy arrived, but that just replaced one set of extraneous words with another. Gable bitched about last week and suggested that somehow his Olympic and academic history entitled him to a WrestleMania spot.
Kevin Patrick spoke to Riddle and Randy Orton. Riddle said it was the most important night of RK-Bro’s time together. Randy Orton said win at all costs. I wish the other teams had been so concise.
So, the match actually started after the first ad break. It was triple-threat rules, so one member of all three teams in the ring. RK-Bro lost their representation for a while early on, when Riddle took a suplex from Gable on the outside. It’s not a bad strategy to stay out of the way for a while early in a match like this. When he got taken out by Rollins suicide dive, he probably wished he’d stayed out a bit longer.
Randy Orton was the big pop tag. He didn’t come into the match until late and took everyone down when he did. Rollins and Gable took a double draping DDT. Rollins took an RKO after Gable countered but Owens pulled him out of the ring. Owens and Gable were bounced off the announce desk in retaliation, and Riddle helped him slam Otis on there as well. The desk still didn’t collapse, which always looks worse somehow.
Otis took down a tree o woe with his partner at the top. Owens and Rollins got slammed too, but Gable got the worst of it. It all broke down heading into the next round of ads, with all six men brawling in and out of the ring.
Gable took an RKO while flipping off the top turnbuckle before Owens superkicked Orton out of the ring. Owens and Rollins superkicked Otis until he fell out of the ring. The Rollins and Orton stunner Stomp finisher looked to have secured the win for them, but Riddle threw Rollins out of the ring after the Stomp and stole it.
RK-Bro are tag champs again. A popular choice with the crowd, and the right move for the Road to WrestleMania.
Seth Rollins had the spacy murder eyes on his way up the ramp and Owens looked bereft as he sat next to the ring, head in hands.
Kevin Patrick congratulated them in a quick in-ring interview. Riddle said they’re going to WrestleMania. Randy Orton said he’s having more fun than at any other time in his 20-year-plus career with Riddle. For the first time, he’s happy to say he’d call someone his friend, and Riddle is that man.
Backstage after a break, Kevin Owens was upset, angry, and alone.
♦ Dana Brooke, with Reggie, vs Tamina, with Akira Tozawa – 24/7 Championship Match – was better for being one on one rather than a mixed tag. We were shown Brooke ending Reggie’s backstage pep talk by asking for a good luck kiss while they waited for Tamina and Tozawa. Tozawa had asked to give Tamina a good luck kiss, and she kissed him so aggressively he slid down the shutter he was leaning on.
Reggie’s support was crucial as Brooke tried to resist Tamina’s submission hold. Somehow, she did and reversed it into a successful pin. The backstage stuff lasted longer.
After the match, Tozawa accused Brooke of cheating and called Tamina the love of his life. She rejected his hug and left him alone, but she blew him a kiss.
♦ Kevin Patrick was unable to get Seth Rollins to talk to him backstage. Rollins had a nasty cut under his eyebrow.
♦ The Miz got some extra time for Miz TV because RAW was in his hometown of Cleveland. He brought Logan Paul out after chatting for a while and showing the footage of them attacking The Mysterios. Paul shouted a lot about how much he loves his city.
Miz complained that people don’t love him as much as they love Rey Mysterio, and they accused Dominik of just riding his father’s coattails.
Miz brought out Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, another Ohio native. He also talked about how much he loves Ohio and asked what Miz thought about them having WrestleMania there. Miz got himself booed by saying it wasn’t a WrestleMania city, and he doesn’t even live there anymore. Apparently, successful people leave. Logan Paul looked less than happy as Miz told him they were leaving, but he went with him. – I have no idea what the point of all that was. Logan Paul and any ‘celebrity’ guests from now on need to go and watch Bad Bunny’s appearances. If they’re not delivering that level of commitment, don’t bother showing up.
♦ Sarah Schreiber reminded Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins they don’t currently have a path to WrestleMania. They said there’s plenty of time, and last week they pinned the new tag champs so they’re first in line for a shot.
♦ Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker spoke to Kevin Patrick, Breakker’s first RAW appearance. They’re fighting each other and Dolph Ziggler tomorrow on NXT 2.0, but tonight they’re partnering to face Ziggler and Robert Roode, who they already beat on 2.0. Breakker was so excited about being on RAW (he’ll be a regular in no time). Ciampa was, as always, focused on what needed to be done.
Tommaso Ciampa & Bron Breakker vs The Dirty Dawgs was good. Ciampa and Breakker are quite a decent team at this point. Breakker, the 24-year-old son of Rick Steiner, is a major star in waiting. It’s much too early to call him up, but he’ll be fine if they do. He pressed Ziggler above his head and left him up there for an age before slamming him into the mat for the win.
Ziggler congratulated him after the match and promised to strike the second Breakker looks at Ciampa and become NXT Champion.
♦ Bobby Lashley is still in concussion protocols.
♦ Filming Omos from below does not emphasise his height the way WWE hope it does. If anything, it’s more impactful to show him in context. He wants to know how many people he has to squash to get his WrestleMania moment.
This week it was Omos vs Apollo Crews, with Commander Azeez, which appeared to be the setup for Omos vs Commander Azeez. Crews got brutalised, but the looks between Omos and Azeez were much focused on. Unlike T-Bar last week, Crews got to throw in a bit of offence. It didn’t do him any good though. He still got splatted onto the mat and pinned.
The Omos and Azeez stare down happened after the match but no physicality.
♦ After the longest look at last week’s attack on AJ Styles, Edge cut his entrance music short and appeared to silence under the glow of a blacklight, wearing a suit. He took almost Roman Reigns and Charlotte Flair levels of time to get to the ring and drank in the boos from the crowd. He’s not got universal boos, and I don’t think he’ll get them, but they increased each time he refused to start speaking.
‘You think you know me’ was his opening line and he addressed the rest of the promo directly to AJ Styles, at home recovering from a severe neck contusion. He attacked him last week to help make sure he gets the best AJ Styles, but it helped him too. He’s never met this version of himself before but it feels good and he’s fallen in love with it. He finally feels in control of everything that will ever happen in the ring. He’s standing on the mountain of omnipotence, and the view is phenomenal.
♦ Kevin Patrick asked Kevin Owens what was going on in his head. He said he doesn’t ever again want to feel as distraught as he felt after the tag match. He won’t have to though because he’s had an epiphany. He declined to share it, but he’s going to let everyone know when he’s ironed out some details.
♦ We got another extended look at Brock Lesnar’s confrontation with The Bloodline at Madison Square Gardens. The same one they showed at the beginning of the show. Just in case you’ve forgotten they have a Championship Unification Match at WrestleMania.
♦ Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley vs Carmella & Queen Zelina was an opportunity for Morgan and Ripley to be added to Sasha Banks & Naomi’s title match at WrestleMania… which means they split Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. just to throw Ripley into a ‘just because’ team. The look at Lesnar getting beaten down meant Carmella and Vega didn’t get an entrance and we didn’t have to witness Carmella getting the gimp mask put on.
Carmella struggled against Ripley, so Vega knocked Morgan off the apron before she had a go. A tornado DDT took Ripley down and out of the ring, where Carmella kicked her head into the steps going into a break.
Unusually, it was Rhea Ripley who took the extended punishment and Liv Morgan who got to make the comeback. When Queen Zelina needed her partner, she was busy talking to her fiancé on commentary. She didn’t even notice as Morgan tagged Ripley back in to finish it with a Riptide.
The women’s tag title match at WrestleMania will now be a triple-threat one.
♦ Vader is to be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
♦ We saw Vince McMahon offering Pat McAfee a WrestleMania match and Austin Theory revealing he’s going to be his opponent, during Theory’s entrance for Finn Balor vs Austin Theory. It was a non-title match, which is just as well as commentary spent most of it talking about McAfee’s chances against Theory, somehow without mentioning Adam Cole (McAfee’s sole NXT feud) once. Impressive match from Theory but it would have been a bad look for the brand new United States Champion to lose his first match.
He didn’t win t either really. He got a DQ victory when Damian Priest threw him off the top turnbuckle as he was about to deliver the Coup de Grace. Priest left after planting Balor in the centre of the ring. Theory reappeared once he’d gone to give Balor an ATL and take a selfie.
♦ Bianca Belair was wearing a shirt that said ‘Thou Shalt Not Touch My Hair’. She told Kevin Patrick she didn’t need to use her hair to win, but Lynch got what she deserved. The scarring might last forever, but Lynch’s title reign won’t. Belair is taking the title at WrestleMania.
Commentary noted that Becky Lynch isn’t at RAW following an altercation with Belair at the MSG house show. Lynch herself posted that she’s been hospitalised for damage to her voice box, but hopes to be back next week.
♦ Kevin Owens acknowledged he doesn’t have a match at WrestleMania but he thinks he’s found a way. He wants to have the biggest KO Show in history, but he knows he has to have someone from Texas as a guest. He dismissed JBL and Booker T as options and said he can’t have Shawn Michaels out of loyalty to Bret Hart. It was the most insulting of introductions to his intended guest. He’s asking Stone Cold Steve Austin and he wants to beat the hell out of him, give him a stunner, then pour milk over his lifeless body.
There was so much filler in this episode of RAW, it could have been cut to an hour and a half without losing anything important. The triple-threat tag was great, as was Ciampa & Breakker’s match. Most of the rest could have been done with taking some of the time wasted with endless extended replays and WrestleMania reminders.