The road to Money In The Bank!
In a time where entertainment news is space or revolving around the ongoing pandemic; where sports events and tv shows have been postponed, there has been one constant. Wrestling.
With wrestling being consistently released every week, despite ongoing circumstances, now seems like a perfect time to go over each match in a short detail and give them a grade. We aren’t the first site to do this, but this will be based entirely on the writer’s opinion. Anyone looking for some great wrestling content during this time should check out Cultaholic on YouTube, who do their very own Graded series each week, going over the show in great detail.
These recaps will go over every much in short detail, giving a grade and opinion. We will also look at certain promo sections that make a big impact on the show. We won’t be going over every moment from each show, but we will be looking at the big moments throughout.
This week’s episode of Raw follows on from last week’s Wrestlemania and Raw, starting with Drew McIntyre making his appearance to open the show:
The new WWE Champion goes over his win against Brock Lesnar, as well as his title defence immediately after where he took down the Big Show. Drew states that any superstar who feels they deserve a shot at the title can have one. This prompts the swift entrance of Zelina Vega and US Champion Andrade. The following promo reignites the feud the two had in NXT, where Drew lost the title to Andrade and was subsequently sidelined with an injury for 6 months before emerging on Raw. Zelina Vega and Drew McIntyre go back and forth, with Vega making references to Braveheart and Drew’s Scottish accent, while both look back at their time in NXT. A match is set up later in the night between McIntyre and Andrade, Champion v Champion.
A good opener to the show, shining a light on Drew’s past (from NXT to Wrestlemania), as well as to his future, where he will be a defending champion with his second defence of the title coming later on in the show.
Nobody Is Ready For Asuka!
Tonight’s show featured three women’s qualifier matches for Money In The Bank. The first of which featured recently former WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion (and the MVP of many of the recent shows) Asuka, going up against Rub Riott. In what was definitely the longest and best in terms of in-ring action of the qualifiers, saw Asuka defeat Ruby Riott via the Asuka Lock for a submission victory.
Asuka defeats Ruby Riott via Submission – Grade: B
As Asuka states, nobody is ready for her. The match was always going in Asuka’s favour, as it should have. Asuka has appeared on both Raw and Smackdown in recent weeks and has really been a star and highlight on both, from commentary to her random dancing, and her incredible in-ring ability. The match was a decent bout but was not the best match on the show.
MVP is the MVP!
In a backstage segment, bring back the MVP lounge, MVP himself announced three matches for next week as qualifiers for the Men’s MITB Ladder Match. Those qualifiers include Rey Mysterio vs Murphy, Aleister Black vs Austin Theory and Apollo Crews vs MVP. The segment was short but entertaining and informative.
Fade to Black!
The next match and one of the best of the night was Aleister Black vs Oney Lorcan. The two complement each other well, with Oney’s hard-hitting offence working well with Black’s precision striking. Eventually, Lorcan succumbs to the Black Mass, but not before putting in a good performance.
Aleister Black wins via Pinfall – Grade: B+
Next up is the Raw Women’s Champion…
Becky Lynch has now been Raw Women’s Champion for over a year, defeating Shayna Baszler in a shock victory at Wrestlemania (and one which allows the feud to continue, for more detail, check out the recap here). Becky states that her recent behaviour on Raw, where she may have come across as arrogant and seemingly underestimating Baszler, was all a ruse. She made it look like she wasn’t prepared for Baszler, only to shock her in the match with the roll-up victory. She hypes up the MITB match and dares the winner to come after her.
An enjoyable promo, but one that didn’t achieve much. WWE is seemingly still attempting to set-up another Shayna v Becky match, most likely one in-front of a crowd, so possibly giving Bazler the MITB contract works perfectly for this situation. While the explanation by Lynch for her actions on past Raw’s was a good idea, I can’t help but feel that it was done in the face of recent online backlash, with many fans seemingly turning on the champion.
Snap, Crackle, Advance…
As Baszler said previously about her match with Becky, “No one in the arena to dampen the sound of tendons ripping and bones cracking & snapping”… That statement works very well here, in a match that lasts about a minute. Baszler dominates Sarah Logan in the second qualifier of the night. The match ends due to ref stoppage as Baszler stomps on Logan’s arm.
Shayna Baszler defeats Sarah Logan via Ref Stoppage – Grade: B+
This was not a good match… but it was a great piece of storytelling. I love Shayna Baszler, and I also love when she is depicted as the beast she is. From her silence during her pre-match interview, where Ronda Rousey’s recent comments on wrestling being “fake” (which is definitely not a work…) were mentioned, to her exit from the ringside area after the match. The grade may seem generous, but I am glad that WWE’s portrayal of Shayna hasn’t lessened after her Wrestlemania loss.
Austin Theory takes on Akira Tozawa in a solid match, ending with Theory hitting the ATL for the pinfall victory. After the match, Andrade and Angel Garza join Theory and beatdown Tozawa to stand tall.
Austin Theory defeats Akira Tozawa via Pinfall – Grade: B-
After a few promos, Angel Garza returns to the ring for the next squash match of the night. Garza makes quick work of NXT talent Tehuti Miles, finishing him with the Wing Clipper for the pinfall victory. Zelina Vega’s boys all return to the ring once again to beatdown Miles and close the segment.
Angel Garza defeats Tehuti Miles via Pinfall – Grade: C+
Not Like Most Girls…
The Kabuki Warriors are interviewed backstage, where they are seen singing to their theme song and enjoying their time… this doesn’t last long, sadly…
What follows is another squash match, this one sadly comes in the form of Nia Jax dominating Kairi Sane. The newly returned Jax was a sure winner before the match, but the manner in which WWE has thrown Kairi Sane to the side is shocking. As a former NXT champion who went toe-to-toe with Shayna Baszler, you would think she’d be portrayed as stronger here… Nia Jax finishes the match with a Samoan Drop, which she calls the Annihilator.
Nia Jax defeats Kairi Sane via Pinfall – Grade: D+
The match felt sluggish, which is understandable due to Nia’s style, but it just wasn’t entertaining. Seeing Kairi get jobbed out feels like a waste, hopefully, there is more to come from the former tag champ in the future.
Time For A History Lesson!
The New NXT Women’s Champion made a Raw appearance to give everyone a history lesson. She talks about beating Becky in the past, beating Bayley “a million times”, winning the Royal Rumble, being placed by Vince in the main event of last year’s Wrestlemania.
She gives credit to Rhea Ripley for standing up and making the challenge, when neither Becky or Bayley would, but states that she did it because she wants to be just like her. Charlotte claims that there are levels to this, that there is, “always going to be someone faster, there is always going to be someone stronger, there’s is always going to be someone better.” She states that she is going to remind NXT of humility before hyping up her match with Io Shirai.
A good promo, but one that almost feels that she is going to be keeping that belt for a while. Io Shirai seemed like the perfect challenger for the title, but this has cast doubt on the winner of that match, which is what makes it a good promo. I was shocked by the initial result at Wrestlemania, but I am not as disappointed as others. Charlotte as champion makes sense and will elevate whoever takes that title from her, hopefully, WWE make the right call here.
Let’s keep this one short. Bobby Lashley hits No Way Jose with a spear for the victory, telling Lana to shut up halfway through the match and again near the end. This continues the storyline from Wrestlemania which is seemingly leading to the divorce (hopefully) of Lashley and Lana.
Bobby Lashley defeats No Way Jose via Pinfall – Grade: D
The Raiders Return!
The War Raider return in what was the best match of the night against the newly formed tag team of Cedric Alexander & Ricochet. Both teams got some great offence in and this was thankfully not a squash match, like half of the card from tonight. The Raiders pick up the win with the Viking Experience, seemingly setting up a future tag title shot against the Street Profits.
War Raiders defeat Cedric Alexander & Ricochet via Pinfall – Grade B+
A great match here. While many may consider a loss so early for Ricochet and Cedric to be a bad thing, this decision was the correct ones. Allowing the Raiders a chance to reclaim the titles they unfairly lost to Seth Rollins and Murphy a few months ago.
“Your Messiah Has Truly Risen.”
Other promos and backstage segments throughout the show include Rey Mysterio’s interview, showing his determination to qualify and win the elusive MITB contract. Showcasing his admiration for Murphy, but bringing up his own past where he lost the title to Kane due to a cash-in.
Multiple segments are featured through the night with Seth Rollins, hinting at what’s next for the Monday Night Messiah… which we will get back to a bit later.
The Street Profits are also interviewed, commenting on The Viking Raiders and re-introducing Bianca Belair as a full-time member of the WWE Raw roster.
Drew McIntyre also speaks further on his NXT loss and injury backstage before tonight’s match against Andrade…
Crucifixion on the Horizon…
Now for the main event, Drew McIntyre vs Andrade for the WWE Championship. Commentary heavily referenced Drew’s injury in NXT, which is reflected on the match as Andrade focuses his offence on the arm. The match itself started with a huge chop from Andrade, which was no-sold by Drew, who retaliated by hitting a headbutt which knocked Andrade to the ground. Distractions were made during the match by Garza and Theory, leading to Andrade taking control at times. After avoiding Andrade’s Hammerlock DDT, McIntyre hit the Claymore to retain the title…
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre defeats Andrade to Retain – Grade B+
…BUT WAIT, there’s more. After the match, Garza strikes Drew from behind, before Seth Rollins runs in to hit the Curb Stomp, setting up McIntyre’s next challenger on the road to Money In The Bank.
Overall Grade: B
This Raw was filled to the brim with squash matches but still featured some good matches in the first Raw in a while to feature a full card. There were more matches on this show than there has been in a while, even if half of them were squashes. The promos throughout were good and the main event was solid and is leading to a feud that will really elevate Drew’s championship reign if he wins (which he should).
Join us on Thursday for AEW Dynamite, where we will try this again for another company. We will also return for Smackdown on Saturday.
By Jimmy Ioannou
Images provided by WWE.com