Monday Night Raw
Date: April 24, 2023
Location: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
We’re less than two weeks away from Backlash but more importantly (maybe) we are only a few days away from the Draft. That means things could be all over the place this week, as Smackdown didn’t exactly feel like the most important show. Bad Bunny is back too and that probably means a match needs to be set up. Let’s get to it.
Here is Cody Rhodes to get things going. Rhodes asks what we want to talk about, first suggesting the Draft, before moving on to talking about Brock Lesnar and Backlash. Lesnar is one of the most decorated combat sports athlete of all time, which is why he waited for Rhodes’ back to be turned before attacking him.
We see some stills of the attack before Rhodes takes off his shirt to reveal the scar from his torn pectoral muscle. We’re in the same building where he beat Seth Rollins inside the Cell with that injury and no he has not watched the match back. Rhodes tells Lesnar to pick another spot on him to put the next scar because Rhodes can overcome that one too. That night, he had a sold out arena carry him to the finish line on their shoulders. If he never gets another chance to say it, thank you to the fans who were there that night.
Cue Finn Balor of all people to interrupt to talk about how everyone has scars. Rhodes went into a fight with Lesnar without backup but Rhodes says he isn’t buying anything Balor is selling. Balor asks Rhodes to hear him out and says joining the Judgment Day would be great. The fans are NOT pleased and Rhodes, respectfully, declines the offer. Balor tells Rhodes to watch his own match because you’re either with them or against them. The threat to knock the bleach out of Rhodes’ head has Rhodes chuckling and the challenge is on for tonight. We seem to have a main event as Balor leaves.
Bloodline vs. LWO
That would be the Usos/Solo Sikoa vs. Joaquin Wilde/Cruz del Toro/Santos Escobar. Wilde gets taken into the wrong corner to start and it’s quickly off to Sikoa to run them over. The Usos are cleared out rather quickly though and the non-Escobar LWO hit running flip dives, followed by Escobar’s non-flip dive to take Sikoa down.
We take a break and come back with Wilde hitting a desperation tornado DDT on Sikoa. Escobar comes back in to clean house, including a jumping knee to Jimmy. A high crossbody gets two on Jimmy and del Toro adds a rope walk dropkick for two. Everything breaks down and Sikoa plants del Toro on the apron. Back in and Jimmy gets knocked into the corner but Sikoa runs in to Spike Del Toro out of the air in a great crash. The 1D finishes Del Toro at 8:34.
Rating: B-. The ending alone (with the Spike landing more around the jaw) made this worth it but there is always room for some talented luchadors to go out there and do their thing. That is what we had here and I could go for more of it, or at least the LWO not losing so often. Sikoa gets another highlight reel moment though and Escobar didn’t get pinned, so maybe the LWO isn’t falling as fast as they seem to be.
Post match the Usos say Wrestlemania was one bad night but they’re taking the titles back on Smackdown.
Bianca Belair is ready for Iyo Sky at Backlash but Damage Ctrl comes in so Bayley can laugh at her. Sky eventually cuts them off and yells at Belair, which is apparently a challenge for a six woman tag.
Jey Uso is on the phone about how big of a win they just had when Sami Zayn pops in. Zayn laughs off the idea of the title match being dedicated to Roman Reigns, because it should be for the Usos. So what happens if the Usos lose after putting Reigns’ name on the match? It won’t be good, and Jey doesn’t deserve that. Jey wants to know why Zayn is saying that, with Zayn saying it’s because he feels bad. Jey doesn’t want to hear that because they have both made their choice.
We recap Trish Stratus’ big evil explanation from last week.
Stratus talks about how Becky Lynch isn’t here tonight because she is cracking underneath the pressures of being a star and a mom. While Stratus knows what it’s like to do that and thrives under it, Lynch needed a break. She also needs to say “thank you Trish”.
Street Profits vs. Cedric Alexander/Shelton Benjamin
Ford punches away at Benjamin to start and gets powerbombed for his efforts. Alexander comes in to hammer away but Ford is back with a jumping enziguri to drop Benjamin. The diving tag (a minute and ten seconds in) brings Dawkins in to pick up the pace, including the spinning splash to Alexander in the corner. Everything breaks down and a spinebuster into the Cash Out gives Ford the pin at 2:17.
Post match the Profits get to pose a bit more, which feels a bit like a farewell (or like what we are supposed to believe is a farewell).
Here is HHH for a major announcement. HHH talks about how he got to wrestle at a high level in front of these people, including at Wrestlemania XXII, where he defended the WWE Title (no he didn’t) against John Cena. Tonight, he is here to talk about Roman Reigns, who is coming up on 1,000 days as Universal Champion. Reigns has defended the title against all comers and after thirty years, HHH has seen very few who can hang with him.
Sometime along that 1,000 days, Reigns dis something very smart: he negotiated himself into a position where he did not have to defend the title as frequently. While that is great for Reigns, it is not great for WWE. The people deserve and needs more than that, which is why he said the Draft would shake to its very core. That is why when Reigns is drafted to one show, he is taking the Undisputed WWE Universal Title with him, but the other brand will determine a new champion.
At Night Of Champions on May 27, we will crown a new World Heavyweight Champion. HHH pulls off a sheet to reveal the new title, which is a smaller belt with the WWE logo in the middle, though nowhere near the size of Reigns’ titles. The new champion will be able to defend the title around the world and will not have to demand your acknowledgment, but rather earn it. No word on who will be participating or how.
That certainly opens up a bunch of doors and now there are a lot of questions to be answered. WWE can go with the safe and easy picks or take the chance to make someone new, which could be a lot of fun. Either way, this is something that WWE probably should have done a bit ago, but having Reigns as the sole World Champion is only so interesting for so long. For now though, the have options and I’m curious to see where it goes so they have my interest. The smaller title is going to take some getting used to, but I do like it so far.
Damien Priest is ready for Bad Bunny for getting in his way.
Video on Bronson Reed.
Jimmy Uso is ready for Smackdown but Jey is clearly distracted. Jey asks what happens if they don’t win the titles back, but the mention of Sami Zayn sends Jimmy over the edge. Jimmy assures him they’ll win.
Damage Ctrl vs. Bianca Belair/Liv Morgan/Raquel Rodriguez
Rodriguez takes over on Kai to start and Morgan adds a splash. Morgan hits a Codebreaker but gets sent outside as we take a break. Back with Morgan sending Sky outside and clotheslining Kai, allowing the hot tag to Rodriguez. Everything breaks down and it’s off to Belair, who can’t hit the KOD on Sky. She can hit it on Bayley though, which is enough for the pin at 9:34.
Rating: C. I think you know what you’re getting with a match like this one and that isn’t a bad thing. They did their stuff, pinned the one of the right people and kept the champions looking strong. Damage Ctrl continues to sink and it doesn’t seem like they have the strongest future. Without winning the Women’s Title, not much else they are going to do matters, and I don’t see Belair losing anytime soon.
We look back at Bronson Reed costing Bobby Lashley the US Title last week.
Here is US Champion Austin Theory for a chat. Theory isn’t happy with the disrespect being shown to him by having to defend his title in a triple threat match. He sees the World Heavyweight Title on the floor and thinks it belongs around his waist. Cue Bobby Lashley to interrupt, wondering if Theory is lazy or scared. Lashley says the triple threat was his idea, but Theory asks where Lashley’s Wrestlemania match was. The fight is on but here is Bronson Reed for the fight. Lashley gets beaten down but Reed turns on Theory and gives him the Tsunami. Perfectly fine segment that did what it needed to do.
Rick Boogs, Elias, the Alpha Academy and Maxxine Dupri are worried about the Draft. Mustafa Ali comes in and says chill.
Mustafa Ali vs. Chad Gable
Otis and Maxxine are here with Gable. Ali gets wrestled down to start and a fast dragon suplex gives Gable two. The tornado DDT sets up a missed 450 but the rolling Chaos Theory is reversed into a cradle to give Ali the pin at 1:48. That’s nice for the hometown boy.
Jimmy Uso yells at Sami Zayn and promises to get the titles back. Zayn needs to worry about his own brother turning on him.
Finn Balor vs. Cody Rhodes
Balor grabs a headlock to start but gets taken into the corner for the break. A headlock takeover works a bit better for Rhodes but Balor shoves him off. Rhodes is dropped into the corner as we take a break. Back with Rhodes hitting the Disaster Kick but having the Cross Rhodes broken up.
There’s a Sling Blade to make it worse, but Rhodes hits a Cody Cutter for a breather. Balor gets in a shot to the bad ribs and scores with the shotgun dropkick but it’s too early for the Coup de Grace. A Pedigree knocks Balor silly and sets up Cross Rhodes to give Rhodes the pin at 11:28.
Rating: B-. It was what you would expect from these two in this kind of setup as Rhodes gets another win to help move him back up the ladder. That is something he has needed to do after the Reigns loss, but all that matters for him at the moment is Backlash. As for Balor, he is in need of some kind of nice win and I’m not sure where that is going to come from anytime soon.
Here is Seth Rollins for a chat. He is happy to see the fans but has his eyes on the new World Heavyweight Championship. We need a World Champion that the fans can believe in with no politics or anything else, but here are MVP and Omos to interrupt. MVP praises Rollins but promises pain at Backlash. Rollins knows that Omos is huge because he was born that way, but Rollins is great because he became that way. At Backlash, Rollins is bouncing Omos’ head off that mat and beating him in the match of Omos’ life because that is what he does. Well, I guess that’s something of a reason for this random match.
Matt Riddle is pitching ideas to Kevin Owens when Sami Zayn comes in. Owens wants to know where Zayn is and isn’t happy when he hears about talking to the Usos. They have to beat the Usos on Friday and that is what Zayn needs to focus on. Owens leaves and Riddle talks about how he and Randy Orton were always supposed to split up but they stayed together, just like Owens and Zayn will do too.
Rey Mysterio vs. Damien Priest
Rey slugs away to start and gets kicked in the face for his efforts. There’s a gutbuster to drop Rey again but we cut to the back where Bad Bunny has arrived. The distraction lets Rey get in a fast two but Priest is back up with a shot to the face. Mysterio gets knocked outside and we take a break.
Back with Priest missing a hard charge into the post and getting dropped again with an Asai moonsault. The 619 is cut off with another big boot but Rey slips out of a Razor’s Edge. Instead Priest hits the lifting Downward Spiral for two and it’s time to grab a chair. Rey manages to cut him off and hits a 619, earning himself a chair to the face for the DQ at 11:20.
Rating: C+. This was all about the Bad Bunny stuff and sweet goodness he has some nice timing to show up with about ten minutes left in the show. Other than that, it was smart to have the DQ ending so neither of them took a loss. Not a great match or anything like that, but it did its job of setting up whatever the Backlash match is supposed to be.
Post match Priest gives Rey the South of Heaven but here is Bad Bunny for the save with a kendo stick. Bunny says he’s not going to be the host of Backlash, because he’s going to face Priest in a street fight. I would have bet on the tag match with the Mysterios but this works too. It sounds better than a host as well.
Overall Rating: C+. This show wasn’t all that great, but its action was good enough to get by. The big announcement and the Bad Bunny appearance were the main draws, which is more than I would have expected for what is basically a lame duck show before the Draft. That is going to change everything again and next week will see where everything shakes out after the big switch. It wasn’t a must see show, but that title announcement will be quite move.
Bloodline b. LWO – 1D to Del Toro
Street Profits b. Cedric Alexander/Shelton Benjamin – Cash Out to Alexander
Bianca Belair/Liv Morgan/Raquel Rodriguez b. Damage Ctrl – KOD to Bayley
Mustafa Ali b. Chad Gable – Rollup
Cody Rhodes b. Finn Balor – Cross Rhodes
Rey Mysterio b. Damien Priest via DQ when Priest used a chair
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