Randy Orton Refused to Explain His Attack on Edge
This reminded me of when Roman Reigns was booed out of the building the night after WrestleMania 33 and I loved every second of it. Orton was a beloved babyface just a week ago and he's already returned to his roots as a hated heel. That's a testament to the type of performer Orton is. You can argue this was a waste of time because nothing was accomplished, but the heat he generated was off the charts. WWE is smart to drag this feud out since WrestleMania isn't for another two months. I would keep Edge off TV for another month to sell the injury.
Liv Morgan def. Lana
As a match, this was a complete dud. Why WWE felt the need to rematch these two after Morgan already beat Lana last week is beyond me. Morgan is serviceable, but Lana is absolutely atrocious. Yes, it was once again on the shorter side, but it shouldn't have happened at all. The real interesting stuff happened afterward with Ruby Riott returning and attacking Morgan. It played out predictably, but I'll take them feuding over The Riott Squad reuniting. My only issue with the angle is that it appears Riott and Lana are aligned. Can we please move on from this Lana vs. Liv nonsense?
Drew McIntyre def. 24/7 Champion Mojo Rawley (Non-Title)
The best part about this whole thing is that McIntyre said beforehand that he'd beat Rawley within three seconds as soon as the bell rang. Granted, it was a littler longer than that, but it was still a squash. I wish the 24/7 Championship was on the line so McIntyre could win it and throw it in the garbage, but alas, we weren't that lucky. Meanwhile, Riddick Moss' main roster run isn't off to the strongest start so far, but I guess I should have figured that based off how he was paired off with Mojo Rawley from the get-go. On a side note, McIntyre is getting louder and louder reactions by the week and it's awesome to hear.
Raw Tag Team Champion Buddy Murphy and AOP def. Kevin Owens and The Viking Raiders in a Six-Man Tag Team Elimination Match
This match made sense given Owens and Viking Raiders' recent issues with Seth Rollins' stable. Samoa Joe apparently still hasn't been cleared for competition after suffering a concussion last week, but hopefully he'll be back soon. Viking Raiders were eliminated fairly quickly, but Owens looked great as he held his own and pinned Murphy and Akam. He came close to taking out Rezar too but ultimately fell short. Owens is super popular right now, but I don't want him to lose steam once his rivalry with Rollins runs its course.
Aleister Black def. Eric Young
Black is back to beating members of the roster. This was no different than any other squash he's had in that he dominated from start to finish and won with ease. Black destroying fools with Black Mass is entertaining and all, but I'm ready for whatever's next for him. His post-match promos are similar to what he was saying in those pointless backstage segments months ago on SmackDown, but at least it seems like he's talking about someone in particular and his next feud is (hopefully) right around the corner.
Rey Mysterio def. Angel Garza by Disqualification
Humberto Carrillo didn't receive much of a reaction when he made his entrance, but the crowd got behind him once he showed some aggression and attacked Garza. Mysterio making the save was a nice surprise, which led to him and Garza squaring off for the first time ever. They worked well together and Garza being made to look like an equal to Mysterio was encouraging. He didn't win, but he did plant Mysterio on the concrete and stood tall to close out the segment. Garza and Zelina Vega is a perfect pairing, especially during Andrade's absence. A Fatal 4-Way with Mysterio, Carrillo, Garza and Andrade for the United States Championship at WrestleMania (assuming that's the direction they're headed in) could be a show-stealer.
NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley Confronted Charlotte Flair
Flair said multiple times that she's beaten both Bayley and Becky Lynch, so you had to know Ripley would be her opponent for WrestleMania (unless she was going to set her sights on the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship which would have been an awful idea). Sure enough, Ripley emerged and threw down the gauntlet for a match at 'Mania. Flair didn't give an answer, but she will this Wednesday on NXT. That's a hell of a hook for that show. As long as Ripley retains her title on the grand stage, I am all for it.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Asuka def. Natalya
As overexposed as Natalya is, I don't think she's ever faced Asuka before, so I appreciated that this was a fresh match. Not only that, it was very well wrestled and both women had excellent showings. Asuka winning clean was the right call. Next week, she'll challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship again. She won't win, of course, but it should be terrific and is a big attraction for that show. By the way, is it just me or does it feel like Lynch might be in the midst of a heel turn? It may not be immediate (and I'd be shocked if they pulled the trigger on it any time soon because of her rumored rivalry with Shayna Baszler coming up), but it seems the seeds are being planted.
Ricochet def. Bobby Lashley and Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins in a WWE Championship No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match
I liked that they got the interference from Murphy, AOP, Owens and Viking Raiders out of the way early so the wrestlers could shine in the remainder of the match. It was a fun three-way while it lasted even if it felt slightly rushed at the end. Ricochet is the most logical opponent for Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown based off what happened with the two last month, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want Lashley to score the shocking win and get his long awaited matchup against The Beast Incarnate. Alas, maybe another day. Speaking of Lesnar, the crowd popped huge for him showing up unexpected afterward and laying out Ricochet with an F5. I'm very interested to see how Lesnar vs. Ricochet goes down and if Ricochet will be able to muster up any offense before being slaughtered.
Paul Heyman being appointed the Executive Director of Raw six months ago didn't make much of a difference at first, but it feels like it's finally paying off. He's responsible for the bad stuff (Liv vs. Lana, Erick Rowan's odd push) as much as he is the good stuff (Rollins' heel turn, Lynch vs. Asuka being revisited, McIntyre winning the Royal Rumble), but it's hard to argue that these shows are gradually getting better by the week. I really thought this was one of the best episodes in recent memory. There was hype for next week's show as well as Super ShowDown, quality wrestling, and some cool surprises with Garza, Riott and Ripley showing up. Raw won't be red-hot every week, but as long as the three hours don't drag too much and almost everything serves a purpose, I'm content. More of this on the road to WrestleMania, please.