Preview: The fallout from Wrestlemania Backlash starts tonight with Monday Night Raw. We’ve got a Raw Tag Team Title match between RK-Bro and The Street Profits. Cody Rhodes will take on Theory for the United States Championship. Liv Morgan will face her former tag team partner, and the newest member of Edge’s Judgement Day stable, Rhea Ripley. Kevin Owens will once again confront Ezekiel about his belief that he is lying and is actually Elias. Finally in the main event Bianca Belair will face Asuka, If Asuka gets the victory tonight she will earn a possible future championship match.
GREAT RK-Bro in ring promo: After a brief recap of the wild 6 man main event from last night’s Wrestlemania Backlash, RK-Bro make their entrance to start Monday Night Raw. Randy Orton gives us the traditional welcome and then mentions the loss from last night. He says, “they may have lost the battle but they will win the war.” He follows that by calling out the Uso’s for being too scared to actually have a title unification match, and suggests they do it now. Riddle takes over and announces that they will be going to Smackdown this Friday to demand a Smackdown Tag Title match. Before Riddle can finish what he is saying they are interrupted by the Street Profits. It looks like we have a Raw Tag Team Title match coming up next to kick off the show. Dawkins and Ford do a little talking before the match gets underway but it is the standard, “don’t forget about us,” stuff we’ve been getting from them lately in this 3 team rivalry. The crowd this week is booing the Street Profits so it is safe to say they are officially heels. When the Profits say they, “Want the Smoke,” Riddle responds with a play on the famous Austin 3:16 line that was pretty funny, but not nearly as funny as Randy’s reaction which was classic.
Clark Taylor’s WR Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
AMAZING RK-Bro vs. Street Profits: Riddle and Montez Ford start the match for their teams and Riddle quickly throws up a flying armbar. Ford tries to fight out but Riddle takes his back and it’s cool to see Riddle incorporate some of his MMA background into this match. Dawkins is tagged in and he takes Riddle down quickly. After a brief exchange of strikes, Riddle tags in Orton who goes to work on Dawkins. Orton brings Riddle back in as Dawkins tags in Ford who knocks Riddle to the outside. Ford follows by landing a huge tope con giro to the floor as we head to commercial break. The Street Profits are still in control of Riddle as we are back from the break but he gets the tag to Orton and he passes out two powerslams followed by his signature ddt from the second rope. Orton is coiled and ready for the RKO but Dawkins has it scouted, Riddle makes a blind tag and delivers a knee to Dawkins before a running kick to Montez Ford outside the ring. Riddle tries to hit Ford with a dive but Montez throws Randy in the way and throws Riddle back in the ring. Dawkins scores with a spinebuster and Ford delivers the frog splash but Orton is there for the save. Orton is knocked out of the ring and again Montez tries for a frog splash, only this time Riddle is ready and catches him for an RKO in mid air. RK-Bro retain and that was an outstanding opening match. I really thought the Profits were about to pull this thing out but Riddle pulled an RKO from out of nowhere. The crowd was hot for RK-Bro the whole match, and it made it way more fun.
Results: RK-Bro by Pinfall via RKO
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 4.0 Stars
Theory Interview: Theory is interviewed on a set, up by the top of the main stage and it’s a question about how prepared he is for Cody Rhodes tonight. He explains that he’s the youngest US Champion for a reason and he doesn’t need to prepare. This was a decent promo and he’s booed loudly throughout. The match against Rhodes should be really interesting later. Too short to rate.
GOOD Judgement Day Promo: A recap of Rhea Ripley’s reveal as the newest member of Judgement Day plays before the group makes their entrance. After a commercial all 3 are standing in the ring and Edge has a new haircut that looks nearly identical to Rhea Ripley’s. His promo starts with a lot of bitterness towards the crowd. Priest takes over the promo second and he’s the one who introduces Rhea Ripley. He makes the crowd stand for her but only about half of them do. She starts by saying that joining Judgement Day was the easiest decision she’s ever made in her life. Next she addresses Liv Morgan and suggests that she will destroy her in their match tonight. Edge takes back over and refers to Priest and Ripley as his, “Saints of Fate,” which is interesting. He then takes credit for Ripley and Morgan splitting up in the first place. Liv Morgan’s music plays interrupting Edge and it’s time for this match already. The promo was solid and a nice way to introduce Rhea Ripley as the newest member after last night. The name for Ripley and Priest to me was the most interesting part of the segment.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.25 Stars
GOOD Liv Morgan vs. Rhea Ripley: Liv Morgan is completely overwhelmed out of the gates by Ripley. She briefly lands a hurricanrana but Ripley is right back to it responding with a huge boot to Liv’s head. Rhea then delivers right hands to a grounded Morgan, and the pace has slowed down greatly. Ripley bounces Liv’s head off the canvas over and over again and then locks in a body triangle while talking some trash about Morgan being, “nothing without her.” Liv is able to escape the Riptide and land an enziguri followed by a double knee facebreaker. Ripley kicks out at 2, and Edge has a concerned look on his face for the first time tonight. Rhea lands an upkick though and follows with an elevated inverted cloverleaf. Liv Morgan taps quickly as she is in a lot of pain. This was a really good match to show how much more vicious Rhea Ripley is under the tutelage of Edge but without completely burying Liv Morgan who fought valiantly. Edge commands Ripley to re-apply the submission hold and she does as Morgan screams in pain. Damian Priest’s music interrupts and that stops the beatdown of Morgan. Balor and Priest are up next. The Prince is not alone though as he’s joined by AJ Styles as we head to commercial.
Results: Rhea Ripley by Submission via Elevated Inverted Cloverleaf
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.25 Stars
GOOD Finn Balor vs. Damian Priest: I like the idea of Ripley and Priest competing in back to back matches with the entire group at ringside and hope they do it more often. Edge’s expressions at ringside during both matches have been great. Priest hits his signature bell clap and stomps away at the faster, more agile Finn Balor. He follows with a Broken Arrow and a pin attempt but Balor kicks out at 2. Priest stays on the offensive though as he goes to work on Finn Balor’s chin and neck. He sends Finn into the ropes but Balor has Priest scouted and lands a russian leg-sweep and then a shotgun dropkick to Priest’s kneecaps. Balor connects on a slingblade and then sends Damian Priest to the outside. Just as Balor is about to land a dive on Priest, Ripley stands in the way which stops Finn in his tracks. Edge delivers a spear on Balor which ends the match but not the beating. Edge and Priest follow up by delivering a spear and a kick to the back of the legs at the same time, which was a really cool spot. Judgement Day stands tall in the center of the ring over Balor and Styles’ battered bodies. While the match was solid while it lasted, this was one of the better DQ finishes I have seen in a while. It was unexpected and that combination of spear and kick was really interesting.
Results: Finn Balor by DQ Speared by Edge
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.25 Stars
GREAT Kevin Owens and Alpha Academy backstage promo: Gable tells Kevin Owens that he has sent a cup that they confiscated from Ezekiel to a DNA lab to prove that Ezekiel is really Elias. Kevin Owens said he has a guest, his brother Ken Owens and he’s going to wrestle Ezekiel tonight. He makes sure to specify that it is his older brother before the segment ends.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
GREAT VIP Lounge with Omos: There is security surrounding the ring for this edition of the VIP lounge. MVP asks the fans to show respect to Omos, which just leads to booing. Omos is unfazed and stands expressionless as MVP talks more trash about Bobby Lashley. Cedric Alexander interrupts the VIP lounge and he’s acting as if MVP is expecting him but it appears he is not. MVP does however allow him to enter the lounge. Cedric suggests joining up with Omos, but MVP and Omos appear unsure. Before MVP can really answer Alexander, Lashley’s music plays and he destroys all the security surrounding the ring, and then Cedric Alexander before stepping in the ring. Bobby gets right in Omos’ face and then shoves and clotheslines him out of the ring. Before he can get his hands on MVP Cedric Alexander jumps on Lashley’s back, which gives MVP time to escape with Omos. Bobby Lashley puts Cedric Alexander out with the Hurt-Lock to end the segment standing tall in the ring. This was one of the best VIP lounges in a while, it all made sense and introducing Alexander to the story was nice to see.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.50
Adam Pierce and Sonya Deville backstage segment: Sonya Deville is asking who her opponent is tonight, but Adam Pierce is more concerned with everything being by the book. The match is not announced as Deville cuts the segment off after saying it doesn’t matter who her opponent will be. Too short to rate.
SQUASH Sonya Deville vs. Alexa Bliss: Sonya Deville enters first and then we head to commercial break. Before announcing her opponent, Adam Pierce has another announcement, and it is that due to her reckless abuse of power she is no longer considered a WWE official. Next Pierce announces Sonya’s mystery opponent and it is Alexa Bliss who gets a huge pop from the fans. Deville’s expression is perfect, she is in complete shock, almost on the verge of tears. Bliss starts quickly with a ddt, and then immediately delivers Twisted Bliss. This one is over that quickly. Deville looks completely devastated. I should note that Bliss entered to her old entrance theme but still had Lily as well as some of the mannerisms from her darker character.
Results: Alexa Bliss by Pinfall via Twisted Bliss
GREAT Ezekiel vs. Ken Owens in ring segment: Ken Owens turns out to be Kevin Owens with a gray wig. This is pretty funny, Ezekiel might have pretended as if it is not Kevin Owens and introduces himself to Ken Owens. Owens immediately goes into a spiel about how no one believes that he is actually Elias’ younger brother. The fans all raise their hands saying they do believe and Owens is losing his cool now. Ezekiel still addresses him as Ken Owens and now this is hysterical. KO rips the wig off in anger and is now begging Ezekiel to admit that he is Elias. Ezekiel says he is not Elias once again but then he says it would be a good time for Elias to come down and sing to KO to calm him down. Owens attacks Ezekiel and just when Zeke looks like he’s gained the upper hand the Alpha Academy run down and the 3 of them decimate Ezekiel. After a stunner the 3 stand tall to end the segment, which turned out to be really fun. Ezekiel and Kevin Owens have turned a storyline I was skeptical about at first into one I look forward to week in and week out.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.50
GOOD Asuka backstage segment with Adam Pierce: Becky Lynch interrupts before anything can be said and is complaining about Asuka being handed an opportunity. Lynch is convinced the deck has been stacked against her. The highlight of the segment was her saying that it, “doesn’t make sense to have to beat the Champion to get an opportunity to fight for the title.” It ends with Asuka calling Lynch a crybaby.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
SQUASH Veer Mahan vs. Frank Lohman: It’s another local talent, this guy does have the size to match Veer compared to some of the others, but he still does not appear to have much confidence. They at least lock up in this match before Veer takes him down with two body lock slams. Lohman gets offense in for half a second before a huge splash and a sideslam by Mahan. Veer lands the Million Dollar Clothesline, and then it’s Cervical Clutch time. It’s another Veer Mahan squash and another victim.
Results: Veer Mahaan by Submission via Cervical Clutch
Cody Rhodes backstage interview: Cody appears ready for his match and he’s got on his red gold and blue jacket. Rhodes states that he expects Rollins to try to interfere in his match against Theory. He’s ready to be the new United States Champion is how he ends the short interview segment.
GREAT Cody Rhodes vs. Theory United States Championship match: Cody enters first before commercial followed by Theory after the break. The match starts with some chain wrestling where Cody is able to show his veteran instincts. Theory looks frustrated but is game and re locks up with Rhodes before grabbing a chin lock. Rhodes breaks free but is clotheslined by Theory who does the Stardust cartwheel to taunt Cody. This only fires Cody up more and the pace quickly picks up drastically. These two are both so agile and smooth in the ring this is a really quality match. While the majority has been back and forth, Cody has gotten in the majority of the offense in this one, and he adds to it with a springboard enziguri sending Theory to the outside. Cody is caught on the apron though as Theory recovers quickly. Theory then clears off the announce table and brings Rhodes to the outside. Cody recovers though and almost slams him through the table but Theory scrambles back into the ring as we head to commercial. Back from the break Theory is controlling Cody, but Rhodes hits the ropes and they connect with simultaneous crossbodys. Cody is to his feet quicker and delivers his signature turn over powerslam. He scores on a moonsault but Theory is able to kick out at 2. Theory is then hit with a disaster kick and a Cody Cutter. Just as Rhodes looks for the Cross-Rhodes, Seth Rollins hits him from behind to cost him the opportunity. It’s our second DQ finish of the night but they both made some sense. This one was just as solid as the last. After a truly outstanding wrestling match Rollins decimated Rhodes and then landed the Stomp on the announce table.
Results: Cody Rhodes by DQ via Seth Rollins Interference.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
GOOD Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Nikki ASH and Doudrop: This is a non title match and Doudrop starts in the ring with Naomi. Doudrop shows her strength advantage, gaining the early edge on Naomi with a banzai drop. Nikki ASH is still wearing the super hero gear but her mannerisms are much different. As the match goes on Doudrop is totally dominating Naomi until she scores with a bulldog into her own corner and tags in Sasha Banks. Banks tries for a crossbody off the top rope but is caught by Doudrop for a huge slam and then a tag to Nikki ASH. Nikki hits a blockbuster on Banks and then as she looks for a ddt Doudrop tells her to tag her in. The distraction gives Banks time for a reversal and a tag to Naomi. Sasha knocks Doudrop off the apron and they use the combination move they’re calling, “Let’s Do,” (?) on Nikki ASH to pick up the win. Doudrop chews out Nikki after the match and asks her when she’s going to start taking things seriously. This was a solid match and Doudrop looked incredibly impressive. The Miz’s music plays and he enters wearing a special guest referee shirt, for the next match which is between Mustafa Ali and Ciampa.
Results: Sasha Banks and Naomi by Pinfall via Assisted Double Knee Facebreaker
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 3.00 Stars
SQUASH Mustafa Ali vs. Ciampa special referee The Miz: The Miz has a microphone in his hand and he lets Ali know that it was Theory who called Mr. Mcmahon to get Miz booked as the referee. Miz gets in the way early and causes a distraction that allows Ciampa to take Ali down. Ali rolls Ciampa up though but Miz is slow to count. He’s even slower to count when back on his feet Ciampa stomps away at Ali in the corner. Ciampa drills Ali with a series of lariats and Ali is in trouble. He manages to roll Ciampa up but again Miz is slow to count. As the match goes on Miz shows more and more bias towards Ciampa. While Ali is fighting valiantly, this is basically a handicap match. Ali uses his agility to duck a clothesline and land a flying forearm which he follows with a neckbreaker. He tries a 450 splash but Ciampa evades. Ali rolls through though and then scores on a springboard tornado ddt. The Miz gives his slowest count of the night by far. Ali gets in The Miz’s face which allows Ciampa to hit an inverted ddt. He goes for the cover and The Miz gives the fastest count possible which ends the match. The Miz did a great job of playing his part. Ali looked outstanding in this match, but it was kind of a shame that Ciampa was sort of a secondary character in the whole thing. The attention was on Ali and Miz for the majority of the match.
Results: Ciampa by Pinfall via Inverted DDT
Lacey Evans promo: Lacey’s babyface promos are intense, and getting to see the real Lacey Evans has been cool. This is so serious and so emotional. Her story is amazing and seeing her booked in line with her real life story is great to see. Promo package so unrateable.
Bobby Lashley promo: Too short to rate but Lashley calls out Omos for a match next week inside of a Steel Cage!
AVERAGE 24/7 backstage segment: Truth is asking Dana and Tamina if they are sure they want the divorces. Tozawa and Reggie show up with flowers asking to avoid divorce. Truth serves them but Tozawa will not accept the papers and he runs away. Tamina tells Truth it’s not official until Tozawa takes the papers and he runs after him to complete the segment.
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 2.25 Stars
ABOVE AVERAGE Asuka vs. Bianca Belair: Becky Lynch will be joining commentary for this non-title match and she enters before we head to a commercial break. They start the match incredibly fast and go back and forth knocking each other down with shoulder blocks. Lynch has basically only complained on commentary and I can’t lie it has been slightly distracting. Asuka tries to sink in a triangle choke but she is powerbombed by Belair. They hit the ropes and Becky Lynch hits Belair to end the match via disqualification. Lynch attacks both Belair and then hits the Manhandle Slam on Asuka to end Monday Night Raw. We did not need a 3rd DQ finish tonight and this one was totally telegraphed compared to the other two. While the back and forth between Asuka and Belair in the beginning of the match was exciting, the end of the match was a real letdown, but the action between Belair and Asuka at the beginning was exciting.
Results: Bianca Belair by DQ via Becky Lynch Interference
Clark Taylor Star Rating: 2.50 Stars
Overall: This was a show that started off really well and then came to a screeching halt in the 3rd hour. Omos and Bobby Lashley in a steel cage next week was easily the most exciting thing in that final hour, as the DQ finish in the main event fell flat, and the 24/7 segment slowed down the momentum of the show considerably. The opening match between RK-Bro and the Street Profits was easily the match of the night and could have served as a great main event. The first two hours were really entertaining and had a lot more wrestling action than we have gotten on Raw in previous weeks. While there were a few squash matches they were entertaining and added to the storytelling. The crowd was hot for a lot of the night, and especially during Cody and Theory’s, as well as the entire time Judgement Day was on the screen. Oh yeah, Edge now sports almost the same haircut as his newest stable member Rhea Ripley.
Matches: 0.50/1 Star
Show Structure: 0.50/1 Star
Atmosphere: 0.75/1 Star
Storytelling: 0.75/1 Star
Production/Theme: 0.75/1 Star
Overall Rating. 3.25/5 Stars
Photo Credit: WWE
For inquiries about the rating criteria check out the article announcing the new system here: