WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and MVP Kicked Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander Out of The Hurt Business
Of all the dumb booking decisions WWE has made so far this year, this might be the dumbest. Raw has been a slog to sit through for a good while now, but The Hurt Business have been the best thing going for that entire period. To break them up so soon is extremely stupid and premature. Lashley and MVP are obviously sticking together, but Benjamin and Alexander got the boot here. And no, I don't think it's a swerve, because if it was, they wouldn't have gotten physical and had a match later in the night. This segment set the tone for the rest of the episode, which ended up being one of worst in many months (and that's saying something).
Sheamus def. United States Champion Riddle (Non-Title)
These two have had a handful of matches dating back to last year and have always worked wonderfully together. This was another enjoyable. hard-hitting encounter from them, but I really wish the champion didn't have to lose a non-title match in order for the challenger to earn a title opportunity. It's lazy booking and makes the champion look weak. I mean, Riddle is already a goof as a character, but there's no need to hurt his credibility, too. I'm glad Sheamus is getting a somewhat meaningful match at WrestleMania 37 after all the awesome performances he's had over the last year.
Braun Strowman def. Jaxson Ryker
The stuff that preceded this from the heels was total trash. I guess Strowman was using his wrestling name back in fifth grade? It's like WWE finds new ways to outdo their awful material from the week before, because this was somehow worse than the crap with the slime two weeks ago. We were then subjected to a Strowman vs. Ryker match, and the best thing I can say about it is that it didn't waste more time than it needed to (though it would have been better off not happening at all). This rivalry can't end fast enough.
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest Interrupted the Premiere of "Hey Hey, Hop Hop" on The Dirt Sheet with The Miz and John Morrison
As if the garbage with Strowman and McMahon wasn't bad enough, we then had to sit through to Miz and Morrison's latest video, which was their stupidest yet. I know that's the intent, but it felt like it dragged on forever and wasn't funny in the slightest. How this was supposed to make me care about Miz vs. Bad Bunny at WrestleMania, I have no idea. Bunny slugging Miz was well done and I'm sure he'll give it a great effort at WrestleMania, but the build has been all over the place over the last few months.
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley def. Shelton Benjamin (Non-Title)
As much as I hated the implosion of The Hurt Business on this show, this was a well-wrestled match. Lashley and Benjamin have both been around forever, so I expected them to have great chemistry and they did for as long as this lasted. Benjamin scored more offense than I thought he would, but Lashley went over decisively in the end. As I mentioned earlier, breaking them up was a super shortsighted decision.
Raw Tag Team Champion Xavier Woods def. AJ Styles by Disqualification
I hate to sound like a broken record after crapping on the music video and the stuff with Shane and Strowman earlier in the evening, but the game show shit that preceded the match was awful. Seriously, who the hell is coming up with this nonsense? It wasn't entertaining or effective in building up the feud. Hell, the match wasn't very effective, either, especially since Styles lost by disqualification. I realize the interest is in how Omos will fare in his first match at 'Mania, but the heels have minimal heat right now. Remind me, why are they getting the shot again?
Naomi def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Shayna Baszler
Baszler and Nia Jax talk about their dominance quite a bit yet never back up that claim in singles matches, especially Baszler. The fact she's fallen so far in the span of one year isn't even worth complaining about anymore. It's just sad. Don't get me wrong, I like Naomi, but she too has felt devalued since returning to the ring at the Royal Rumble. A random tag team with Lana isn't exactly what I had in mind for her. This was a meaningless match designed to keep Naomi and Lana in the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship picture.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler Interrupted the Contract Signing Between Raw Women's Champion Asuka and Rhea Ripley
Ripley is one the few women who actually matters at the moment in the Raw women's division and that's only because she hasn't been ruined by bad booking yet. Asuka is a goof with a title at this point and doesn't come across as menacing in the slightest. Their contract signing was decent (even though they've been done to death over the years and this didn't stand out whatsoever), but the end result of Ripley agreeing to team with Asuka next week against Jax and Baszler was lame. Haven't we seen that story enough on Raw, SmackDown and even NXT this year? Rivals don't always have to team up and put their differences aside to take out a common enemy, you know.
Drew McIntyre def. Ricochet; McIntyre def. Mustafa Ali; WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and King Corbin Attacked McIntyre
Lashley put a bounty on McIntyre last week and agreed to give them a WWE Championship shot if they successfully took him out. McIntyre went backstage during this episode and told everyone to step up, but not even Riddle and Strowman were willing to do so because, um, they didn't want to? Ricochet and Ali ultimately accepted the offer, but both were quickly defeated by McIntyre. Those could have been killer matches with more time but were short squashes instead. What a waste. Corbin then emerged to take Lashley up on his offer and lay out McIntyre, giving me flashbacks of the horrid days of Raw from late 2018/early 2019 when those three were a unit. The angle was fine, but I hate that Corbin is in that spot. This is what they broke The Hurt Business up for? Ugh.
I don't think it's a stretch to say that this was the worst episode of Raw all year, beating out Legends' Night from January. There were a handful of boring moments and bad booking decisions on that show, but this edition had this one beat because we're less than two weeks out from WrestleMania and this show may have made me less excited for the event than I was previously. The comedy sucked, the women's division is all over the place, breaking up The Hurt Business was mind-boggling to me, and most of the feuds feel thrown-together. Not even a fun Sheamus vs. Riddle match could make these three hours worthwhile. The WrestleMania build on the Raw side just might be the weakest ever.