Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City, UT)
The show began with a recap video of Randy Orton’s attack on Edge to end last week’s episode. Orton came down to the ring and earned loud boos from an unforgiving crowd that taunted Randy with “Edge” chants. After a few minutes, Randy gave up, dropped the microphone and walked to the back as the fans made their displeasure loudly apparent.
The first match of the night was a rematch of Liv Morgan and Lana, which Morgan quickly won in a nearly identical finish as last week’s victory. Ruby Riott surprised Liv after the match. Ruby smiled and went to give her old friend a hug before slamming her and beating her down as Lana looked on and smiled. Lana slammed Morgan to the canvas and shrieked before walking off as Morgan laid crying in the middle of the ring.
Drew McIntyre got an encouraging reaction from the fans when he came out to face 24/7 champion Mojo Rawley in a non-title match. McIntyre thanked the fans and warned Rawley that a Claymore Kick was in his near future. Drew discussed Brock Lesnar’s postmatch attack last week, which he said occurred because Brock is apprehensive about facing him at Wrestlemania 36. McIntyre fulfilled on his promise and drilled Mojo with a Claymore Kick to pick up a victory in just a few seconds. Riddick Moss is certainly not flourishing in his new role as Rawley’s bodyguard.
Backstage, Charly Caruso talked with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP. Charly asked Rollins about his triple-threat match with Bobby Lashley and Ricochet with a chance to face Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown. The Beast Slayer said that he’s beaten Lesnar twice before and that he’ll beat him again in Saudi Arabia.
Kevin Owens and The Viking Raiders squared off with AOP and Murphy in a six-man tag team elimination match. Murphy and AOP worked over Erik for a bit to start off before a fired up Ivar made his way into the ring with a head full of steam and turned the tide back in the favor of the Raiders and KO. Ivar took a nasty bump face first into the LED board, which distracted the referee long enough for Seth to stomp Erik on the outside and throw him back into the ring to get pinned by Murphy. After the elimination of Erik, the officials came down to a bring a shoulder-favoring Ivar to the back, leaving Owens facing a dire 3-on-1 situation. Murphy and AOP took turns beating on Owens. KO eventually was able to knock down all three of his foes in succession, starting with a cannonball to Akam on the outside. He followed that up by tossing Rezar into the steps and superkicking Buddy. Kevin looked to put away Buddy with a swanton bomb but Murphy got the knees up. Owens hit a pop up powerbomb to put away one half of the Raw tag champs. He quickly pinned Akam after a stunner. A few superkicks to Rezar followed by a successful swanton bomb got a near fall. Seth distracted KO for long enough for Rezar to turn him inside out with a clotheline. Rezar finished off a Kevin with a few hard slams to end the match. The Monday Night Messiah’s three disciples all met at the top of the stage to celebrate.
Backstage, Charly interviewed Ricochet, who admitted that he’s not as big or strong as Bobby Lashley and didn’t have the game of Seth Rollins but what he does have is determination and promised to make the most of the opportunity presented to him.
Aleister Black finished off Eric Young in his usual quick, dominant fashion, knocking out Young with a Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and said he was going to engulf the Raw Locker room with shadows of black mass.
A video recap was shown of Humberto Carrillo delivering a DDT to Andrade on the exposed concrete last week. Carrillo came down to the ring and was surprised by Angel Garza and Zelina Vega, who said she found Humberto’s liability. Vega called Garza the hottest latino prospect. Garza told Carrillo that the reason he’s here is because he’s the leader of their family and that Humberto was a disgrace to him, their family and all latinos. An angered Humberto yanked the mic out of his cousin’s hand and started screaming at him before Vega slapped him and Angel began to attack him. The former Cruiserweight champion nailed Carrillo with a wing clipper before tossing him out of the ring and attempting to DDT him onto the exposed concrete at ringside. Luckily for Carrillo, Rey Mysterio ran out to stop the attack. Mysterio entered the ring and the two had an impromptu match.
Garza had a good showing in his debut, toeing the line between vicious heel and smiling cocky crowd taunter well. The two went back and forth before Garza attempted the first big move of the match, a moonsault off the second rope, which Rey was able to avoid. Angel was able to catch Rey running the ropes and knee him in the head. Mysterio was able to recover and looked to finish off the match with a 619 but Zelina yanked Garza out of the way at the last second. Mysterio was able to take out Garza with a cannonball over the top rope. On the outsize, Zelina shouted at Mysterio before Angel superkicked him from behind, dragged Rey over to the exposed concrete and hit him a DDT, which earned a disqualification.
2020 Women’s Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair came down to the ring and talked about who she plans on challenging at Wrestlemania. Flair said she’s already held both the Raw and Smackdown women’s titles multiple times and that she’s already beat both current champions Becky Lynch and Bayley. Flair acknowledged the crowd chanting for “Rhea” and said that she has love for NXT. NXT women’s champion Rhea Ripley interrupted Charlotte and reminded Flair that she’s never beaten Ripley but Rhea has beaten her. She challenged Charlotte and held up her belt. Flair responded by staring at her, walking away and giving one final woo at the top of the ramp.
Backstage, Sarah Schreiber asked Bobby Lashley if he was distracted because his new wife Lana lost her match earlier in the night. Lashley said he wasn’t distracted and confidently proclaimed that he was going to win tonight’s triple-threat match, beat Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown and beat Drew McIntyre at Wrestlemania.
Asuka beat Natalya with an Asuka Lock. It was a 10-minute bout that felt about five minutes too long. After the match, Asuka called out Becky Lynch and said she wanted a rematch. Lynch said that beating Asuka at the Royal Rumble damn near gave her superpowers and she’d love to beat her ass again. Kairi Sane tried to attack the Raw Women’s champion from behind but Becky caught her and threw her out of the ring. Lynch said that was one of her superpowers now, she’s got eyes in the back of her head.
Seth Rollins cut an in-ring promo and told the fans that he will be the one to save the wrestling business and that he will be the one to beat Brock Lesnar and go on to successfully defend the WWE title against McIntyre at Wrestlemania. The triple-threat kicked off with some high-flying maneuvers by Ricochet. It didn’t take long for AOP and Buddy Murphy to take advantage of the no disqualification rules and come down to attack Ricochet and Bobby Lashley. Kevin Owens and Erik intervened with the help of two steel chairs, brawling with Akam & Rezar throughout the crowd and out of sight. Back in the ring, all three competitors took turns gaining a brief advantage before being thwarted. The highlight of the match was Lashley and Ricochet superplexing Seth Rollins from the top rope. With Rollins taken out and Lashley dazed, Ricochet was able to climb to the top and hit a 630 to put away Bobby and punch his ticket to Saudi Arabia. His celebration was short lived, however, since Brock Lesnar came down and immediately F-5ed him to a chorus of boos as the show went off the air.
The show started and ended with loud boos from the crowd, which is actually a good thing. At the start, Randy Orton was met with the level of boos and jeers that were reminiscent of Roman Reigns’ promo the night after he beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 33. They were so loud, Orton couldn’t even get a word out before frustratingly just deciding to leave. The show ended with Lesnar sending a message to Ricochet and robbing the crowd of the chance to properly celebrate one of the biggest wins of Ricochet’s WWE tenure.
The Lesnar-Ricochet title match up for Super ShowDown is an interesting pairing. the confrontation the two had on the Raw before the Royal Rumble, which ended with Lesnar low-blowing Ricochet, is a good starting point for what could be an interesting smaller, scrappy underdog takes on the big bully champion storyline. Obviously, Ricochet’s chances of victory are low but Lesnar has had some of his matches with smaller competitors in recent years such as Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles and Finn Balor. Hopefully, it isn’t just a quick suplex-filled squash match.
There didn’t seem to be much of a reason for a Liv Morgan and Lana rematch, considering Liv beat her clean last week. It did at least serve a purpose for Ruby Riott’s return and ultimate betrayal of her former friend and teammate.
The triple-threat main event was a little quicker than expected and was chopped up by a long outside attack sequence and a commercial break at a key point in the match.
The crowd had good passion and heat tonight. Rhea Ripley and Drew McIntyre both got positive reactions, which is encouraging, considering they’re both on track for spotlight matches at Wrestlemania, and they’ll benefit from investment and support from the fans.
Andrade’s 30-day suspension opens the door for a debuting Angel Garza, who was one of the best performers on NXT television since the show started on USA. Garza is loaded with charisma and a potential pairing with Zelina Vega should aid him in his transition if he is in fact making the move up to the main roster.
A Becky Lynch-Asuka rematch should be entertaining but it feels like a bit of a placeholder, especially since Lynch has already avenged her loss at the 2019 Rumble and beaten Asuka clean to retain her title.
Kevin Owens had another valiant individual effort tonight, as he once again faced tough odds following a tag partner’s injury.
Overall, the show lacked a big memorable moment like Orton attacking Edge last week, but in-ring, all the matches besides the two squashes and Lana vs. Liv, were entertaining and served a purpose. The action was helped by one of the more energetic and vocal crowds that Raw has had in a while.
New feuds such as Liv/Ruby, Brock/Ricochet, Charlotte/Rhea and Garza/Humberto were all kicked off and existing feuds such as Becky/Asuka and KO/Seth Rollins and his gang were built on. Raw is a show that has direction right now, which is no easy task considering there’s speed bump (the Super ShowDown show) right in the middle of the road to Wrestlemania.