With 26 days to go until the Showcase of the Immortals, the Road to WrestleMania stopped at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse for Monday Night RAW. A RAW Tag Team Title bout, a response from the Rated-R Superstar and a Cleveland homecoming were all advertised beforehand. How did the show turn out?
‘F’ Is For Friend
Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins kicked off the broadcast by recapping what they did to their future opponents over the last two weeks. Alpha Academy shrugged off last week’s loss because the titles weren’t on the line and promised to retain their straps and head to WrestleMania. Then, there’s RK-BRO, who Randy Orton flat out told Riddle in the back before they made their way out to the WWE Universe that his only job was to WIN!
What transpired afterwards was a STUPENDOUS triple threat bout, probably the best match I have ever seen live! The match lasted almost the entire first hour, and one of the things I liked about it so much was everybody got their spots in. Early on, Riddle took most of the beating from all four of his opponents. Every time he tried to tag in the Viper, Orton either got yanked off the apron or Riddle was stopped before he could make the tag. The Cleveland crowd was begging for the Original Bro to make it to his corner, and when he finally did, the roof exploded off the Fieldhouse.
Off the hot tag, Orton did vintage Orton things, hitting Rollins and Gable with the mid-rope DDT before attempting an RKO on the man who graduated from Full Sail University with a 4.0 GPA. Orton couldn’t quite put Gable down as Owens ensured the match wouldn’t end. From there, a brawl ensued with all six superstars. A sweet spot occurred where Otis power-bombed Rollins and Owens, who were holding Gable in a suplex position. All four men wrecked in the middle of the ring, causing a ruckus sound.
Gable would recover and attempt a Moonsault from the top rope on Riddle, but he would up catching one of the greatest RKO’s in history!
Rollins and KO would dump Orton to the outside. They took advantage of their opportunity and hit Gable with a Bucklebomb, Stunner and Curb Stomp, just like they did last week. The titles looked to be in the grasp of the best friends until Riddle tossed them out of the ring and covered Gable to win back the titles.
I was truly shocked! Never in a million years would I have expected RK-BRO to regain the RAW Tag Team Titles heading into WrestleMania. I thought Orton would turn on Riddle, and their one year story as a team would culminate in a match on the Grandest Stage Of Them All. Instead, RK-BRO is headed to Dallas as the RAW Tag Team Champions, and Orton called Riddle the ‘F’ word! No, not that one! He called him his “Friend”, something the Apex Predator has never done in his 20 years in WWE!
Now we see who their challengers are for WrestleMania. A rematch with Alpha Academy in some kind of stipulation match is possible. As for Owens and Rollins, they have different plans in mind.
Texas Sized KO Show
Throughout the rest of the evening, WWE kept showing Rollins and Owens distraught over their loss. They couldn’t say any words in interviews. That is until finally KO said he figured out a plan to get to WrestleMania, and he would reveal it at the end of the night.
The plan was obvious: He was going to call out the biggest WWE Superstar to come out of Texas, Stone Cold Steve Austin. He did so, but not before calling out other Texas wrestling legends such as John Bradshaw Layfield, Booker T and Shawn Michaels. Texas has always been a dump to KO (an even bigger dump than Cleveland!), and he wants to Stun the Rattlesnake in his home state in Jerry World’s on April 2nd on the KO Show.
The glass shattered to end the broadcast, but there was no sight of the 3:16 man. We’ll have to wait till WrestleMania to see Austin back inside the squared circle and even though it’s not a match, the segment will rule! I’m excited for it, and I didn’t mind the KO promo for the main event. It had to be done this way to set up the intrigue for Austin. Simple storytelling.
Edge Turns Blue
Speaking of simple storytelling, after turning heel on the Phenomenal One last week, Edge appeared live to address his actions. Except instead of coming out to “You Think You Know Me”, he made his way into the Fieldhouse with an Undertaker-like glare in the arena. A blue haze that was unrecognizable. A suit-wearing Master Manipulator who didn’t need entrance music.
The veteran thanked A.J. Styles for waking him up. He thanked him for unlocking the true Edge, and because he knew Styles was listening at home, he once again challenged him to bring out the bulldog Styles at WrestleMania, so they can put on the best match possible.
This was a side of Edge we haven’t seen before, and as an Edgehead, I like it. Since his comeback in 2020, we’ve seen many different versions of the Rated-R Superstar. We’ve seen babyface Edge. We’ve seen desperate Edge. Now, we’re seeing heel Edge.
Styles hasn’t been a singles face since 2019, so seeing him be the hero here is going to be a cool maturation of the guy who’s been in the mid card and tag teaming for the last couple of years. These two may very well steal the show WrestleMania weekend, and it may catapult Styles back into the World Title picture.
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin gets booed almost every place he travels to… except his hometown of Cleveland!
Last night was no different as the crowd showered him with love and “Welcome Home” chants. He embraced being back in the CLE and brought out his WrestleMania tag partner, and fellow Clevelander, Logan Paul, to celebrate the great city of Cleveland! While Paul didn’t get a hometown ovation like Miz, the two reminisced on their great upbringings in Cleveland, and how they both turned into superstars. To celebrate the city even more, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler joined the party while wearing a Myles Garrett jersey!
The Cleveland celebration turned for the worse though when Lawler asked Miz and Paul if they wanted to have their WrestleMania match with the Mysterio’s in the Fieldhouse. Miz admittedly declined and said there’s a reason why he lives in Los Angeles now and not in Parma, OH. Stars become stars away from Cleveland. After all, it’s the same reason why the Browns will never host a Super Bowl and why LeBron James and Odell Beckham both won titles after leaving the city!
With the crowd barking for the Browns, Miz and Logan Paul left to boos as the Fieldhouse cheered for The King. The segment was great, the crowd was into it the whole time, and Miz worked his heel magic by flipping the crowd on the drop of a dime. No complaints here whatsoever! I’m curious to see Paul perform at WrestleMania.
Austin Theory Is Going To Be A Star
One of the biggest points to note from this RAW was Austin Theory is a great heel for being only 24-years-old. The dude can work a crowd! Cleveland was all over him while he took on the new United States Champion Finn Balor. Outside of Paul and Miz hating on Cleveland, he probably got the loudest boos of the night. His match with SmackDown commentator and podcaster Pat McAfee at WrestleMania should be STUPENDOUS!
The same could not be said for Balor, who got choke slammed by Damian Priest as he was going for the Coup De Grace to force the disqualification. Those two seemed destined for a rematch in four weeks. For his first full night as a heel, Priest got the crowd to boo him, a good sign going forward as I wasn’t particularly a fan of the mood swings gimmick he was on.
Omos is a huge man! TV doesn’t do him justice! He squashed Apollo Crews and then stared down at Commander Azeez. A big man match between the two seven footers next week is possible.
With Carmella whining to her fiance Corey Graves at ringside about her beautiful face, Rhea Ripley hit a Riptide on Zelina Vega to send her and Liv Morgan to WrestleMania. The Women’s Tag Titles will now be a triple threat, also involving Naomi and Sasha Banks from SmackDown. Ripley is bigger in person than she is on TV, and I cared more about her being at the Fieldhouse than I typically do.
I don’t watch NXT 2.0, but I heard about the champ Bron Breakker and his potential. I could see why many in the wrestling business are high on him. The man can flat out wrestle. He and Tommaso Ciampa took care of the Dirty Dawgz pretty quickly in anticipation of the triple threat between Breakker, Ciampa and Dolph Ziggler for the NXT Title tonight. A nice match, but nothing special.
Dana Brooke pinned Tamina to remain 24/7 Champion in her hometown. Afterwards, Akira Tozawa tried to kiss Tamina, and she blew him a kiss instead. 24/7 Title segments are always better outside of the ring then in them.
After The Show:
Owens, still out in the ring from his main event promo, continued talking about how horrible of a city Cleveland is (even though it’s a paradise compared to Texas!)! He said he would make a joke about the Cleveland sports teams, but he’s from Canada, so he doesn’t watch “crappy sports” like football and baseball! He said he hoped he never has to come to the 216 again!
The new RAW Tag Team Champs heard enough of KO’s mouth and made their entrance to a loud pop from the fans, who were mostly still in attendance. KO asked Orton why he’s teaming with Riddle. He sounds like Scooby Doo! RK-BRO is not natural! Orton’s finisher is called the RKO! R-KO! Orton should be teaming with KO!
Orton told Owens to take his offer and shove it before Riddle nailed Owens with an RKO of his own to send the fans home happy.
WWE definitely hits different live! The opening segment was the highlight of the show. The crowd never quite recovered from the banger that was the RAW Tag Team Title match. With no live appearance from Becky Lynch, Brock Lesnar or Styles, that match made up for it! There was nothing terrible on the show, and I had a great time! The crowd was loud and enthusiastic, and I was into the show the whole time. It was certainly better to see the show live rather than watching it on television. I could understand where the TV product could have fell flat. The storytelling was better than the wrestling, but it was another STUPENDOUS show in Cleveland!