Welcome to The “Essential” Raw Reaction where I offer my thoughts on this week’s show. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.
The Raw opening video kicks the show off live from the Performance Center. Given everything going on right now, do we really need Lawler on commentary? I know he loves doing commentary, but he is 70 with a bum ticker.
We start off with Promo Time starring the new WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. It was nice to show the replays of his two WrestleMania matches to show that he is indeed a fighting champion. US Champion Andrade shows up with Zelina Vega. Something happens and Andrade brings up their history in NXT and the injury Drew suffered in the match. Andrade said he won the title then and when they face off, he will take the WWE title. Drew accepted the challenge for a champion v. champion match later tonight.
Our first match is the Money in the Bank qualifier between Asuka and Ruby Riott. I absolutely love the new Asuka character. She dances to Ruby’s music while Ruby makes her entrance. They put together a really good competitive match. Asuka picked up the submission win after making Ruby look like a million bucks. After the match, Charly Caruso, looking mighty fine in pink, tried to interview Asuka and we get the usual Japanese ranting before finishing with “nobody is ready of Asuka”. I’m going to make Asuka my pick for Miss Money in the Bank.
MVP is up next for a quick VIP Lounge spot announcing the men’s Money in the Bank qualifiers for next week, Rey Mysterio v. Murphy, Aleister Black v. Austin Theory, and Apollo Crews v. MVP. I’ll go with Mysterio, Black, and Crews.
Up next is Aleister Black taking on Oney Lorcan. Lorcan is pretty good and makes Black look really good. We get a hard-hitting match, as one would expect out of Black, and Black picks up the win with Black Mass. After the match, Sarah Schreiber interviews Black, asking him what his plan was for Money in the Bank. Black responded was to win. I’ll go ahead and pencil him in as Mr. Money in the Bank right now.
Becky Lynch is out for Promo Time. Becky goes short and sweet putting Shayna Baszler over for their match at WrestleMania and challenges whoever wins Money in the Bank. This was an excellent promo for Becky trying to make Shayna look good in defeat.
Our next Money in the Bank qualifier is up next with Sarah Logan getting demolished by Shayna in about 30 seconds. Mike Rome botched the announcement, declaring Sarah Logan as the winner. Tom Phillips would later clarify the mistake on commentary. I have no desire to see Shayna in MITB, but she’s the likely winner to accept Becky’s earlier challenge.
Up next is Austin Theory taking on Akira Tozawa. Zelina Vega was on commentary to sell Theory to the viewers. Tozawa helped Theory look good but the match was just an okay showing for Theory, who picked up the win. I’m guessing they are making Theory look like he has a glimmer of a chance next week against Aleister Black. After the match, Angel Garza and Andrade show up and Vega jumps up on the announce desk. A heel triple team into Andrade Hammerlock DDT and it looks like these three are a thing now with Vega. We’ll see how well this goes. Can Vega go back to her Jasmine from Aladdin cosplay on Twitter instead?
Mysterio gives Charly a very confident promo for his Money in the Bank qualifier next week. It is the one accolade Rey has not captured throughout his long career. Mysterio has been cashed in on before and could be a dark horse in the match.
A quick Seth Rollins sighting leads us out to our next match, Angel Garza taking on Tehuti Miles. There was a woman taking pictures at ringside. Garza gives the rose he had with her and it is his fiancée, Zaide Lozano, that the announce team ignores identifying. Miles has had far better outings on Raw, but he was here for Job Duty and Garza picks up a quick win. Vega’s crew comes out and takes out Miles like Tozawa earlier. Is this to establish the new group or try to make Andrade look good for his match later?
Drew gives Charly a quick promo about the NXT title match and he’s ready for tonight.
Our final Money in the Bank qualifier has Kairi Sane get obliterated by Nia Jax. Do we really want to put Nia in a ladder match swinging ladders around at people? Anyway, Kairi deserves far better than this.
NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair is up next for Promo Time. Charlotte rambles on about how great she is and Io Shirai is next, after winning last week’s #1 Contender’s Ladder Match. Granted Charlotte is the heel in this case, she failed to put Rhea Ripley over like Becky did to Shayna earlier in her promo. I fear what Charlotte is going to do to Io in their match. You can be a heel and still make your defeated opponent look good, but Charlotte doesn’t seem to know how to do that.
Bobby Lashley is up to show No Way Jose how to live up to his name in quick fashion. Bobby yelled at Lana during the match. I wonder if Bobby is starting to realize the whole Lana thing didn’t get him over?
Another Seth Rollins sighting throws us to break.
Tag team action is up next with the Viking Raiders taking on the newly formed team of Ricochet and Cedric Alexander. Ricochet and Cedric have matching gear on so it looks like they will be part of the tag team division since they weren’t really being pushed as singles stars. We get another very good and competitive match from the two teams. Ricochet and Cedric are jelling well together. The ending was slightly botched as Cedric didn’t get high enough up to properly take the Viking Experience finisher. It was a good effort by both teams.
The Street Profits do a quick backstage spot with Bianca Belair to foreshadow an upcoming tag title match with the Viking Raiders. Maybe Sarah Logan can get lucky and WWE will acknowledge that she’s married to Erik and she can mix in with Belair?
Main event time with Drew McIntyre taking on Andrade. Zelina Vega and company are with Andrade. Since there are less than ten minutes left, I’m sure this match will be about Andrade having to serve his penance for the Wellness Violation. Andrade did use the arm for a bit before Drew did the comeback demolishment of the newly formed trio. Austin Theory got a very nice Welcome to Raw chop from Drew for trying to interfere. Drew picks up the win with the Claymore Kick before Seth Rollins shows up to drop Drew with two stomps to end the show.
Let’s look at tonight’s Highs and Lows.
I just love the new Asuka character. I’m very interested to see where it takes her. There’s also some character development with Kairi Sane, too.
There were two very competitive matches tonight, Asuka/Ruby Riott and Viking Raiders/Ricochet & Cedric Alexander. In both matches, both opponents looked good in the effort.
There were quite a few squash matches tonight. It just seemed to be a higher amount than normal for some reason.
Zelina Vega has a stable now. They tried to build them up throughout the night, but Drew demolished them in the end. Not a good way to start off a new group.
The big news was WWE miraculously got deemed an essential business by the Florida governor after the city shut down the Performance Center because it was deemed non-essential as relating to the Stay at Home order in Florida. I’m sure there were some behind the scenes shenanigans to make that happen as WWE is not an essential business. With the XFL filing for bankruptcy, Vince needed WWE to keep going to minimize the losses. It’s nice to have content that’s not Covid-19 related, but they have a library that’s 60 years old and could possibly draw back all of those viewers that they’ve lost over the years. These empty arena matches do wear thin after a while. We’ll see what happens once things return to what will be the new normal. Stay safe and stay home.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.