With WrestleMania only a month away, the entire WWE roster is jockeying to get a place on the card. In some cases, their desire can lead to desperation, or even cause a descent into darkness. Such was the case on Monday night’s episode or RAW for both Edge, who unleashed his violent side on an unsuspecting AJ Styles, and Damian Priest, whose loss of the United States Championship to Finn Balor, sent him into the abyss.

The show started off with a new introduction and theme song. Or maybe it wasn’t new and I’d just never heard it before, because I normally miss the first minute in order to move to the basement for RAW after watching Jeopardy. What is “AC/DC’s Smackdown theme song is better.”


Kevin Owens Show segment

Kevin Owens continued his mocking of Texas, this time by wearing a cowboy hat sideways. He was joined by Seth Rollins in the ring.They whined about not being booked for WrestleMania yet, but said this will be remedied when they win the Tag Team Championship next week. Owens namechecked Texas legends JBL and Shawn Michaels (pointedly not naming “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) and then stomped on his hat. Then they introduced their guests, the RAW Tag Team Champions, the Alpha Academy.

In the most awkward staging, all their chairs were lined up side by side facing the hard camera, so they all had to turn sideways to look at each other. Maybe they need Feng Shui to redesign the KO Show set. And, no, that’s not the name of a new NXT guy.

They took turns trying to out-heel each other, with Owens making fun of Chad Gable’s pronunciation of “Thank Yeeeewww” and Gable insulting them and Ohio. Gable pointed out that he had never had a Mania match, so wasn’t going to lose that chance by losing the titles to Owens and Rollins next week. Gable and Owens had a sandbox spat with them trying to out-shush each other, which ended when a frustrated Owens hit Gable with the Stunner.

If you like Chad Gable’s current schtick, you’d like this. Overall the segment was fun, despite the heel vs. heel dynamic.


Match 1: Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins vs. the Alpha Academy (Chad Gable and Otis)

The match started during the commercial and when we joined, Owens and Otis were having a big-man collision.

Seth came in, but some distraction by Gable allowed Otis to send Seth off the apron and into the barricade. After some back and forth, Owens was tagged in and cleaned house, hitting both AA members with a big Senton off the apron. He followed that up with a Frog Splash on Gable from the apron to the floor, but then ate a big Clothesline from Otis.

After the commercial break, the teams exchanged big power moves with a Powerbomb Neckbreaker on Gable by Owens and a Vader Bomb-Moonsault combo by AA on Owens that would have got them the win but for a last-second save by Seth. Rollins hit a big dive to the floor on Otis, and then Gable hit a big German Suplex on Owens. After avoiding a Gable Moonsault, Owens tagged in Seth and they hit a Buckle Bomb-Stunner-Stomp triple combination on Gable for the pin.

Again, despite the heel vs. heel nature of the match, this was pretty fun. That said, having the champions lose so decisively doesn’t really do anyone any favours.

Winners: Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins

A hype video for Omos aired. Afterwards, the British interviewer tried to get Omos’ comments about his match against T-Bar. Omos said he would dominate T-Bar like he’s done against all other opponents. They should let Omos grow his beard out really long and then call him Omosso Ciampa.


Match 2: Omos vs. T-Bar

T-Bar is the former Retribution member without the goofy mask but with all the jobber potential. Omos rushed and knocked T-Bar off the apron before he could enter the ring and knocked him silly. He dragged T-Bar into the ring and hit a couple of big moves, ending things with a Colossal Tree Slam.

Omos wins. Flawless victory. Fatality.

A replay aired of last week when Becky Lynch jawed it up with Bianca Belair, only to watch Belair beat Doudrop. After that, Doudrop, Becky, and Nikki A.S.H. cut a quick promo. They’re putting aside their differences to team up tonight. Doudrop said that Nikki can be a superhero, but she’ll be the villain.

After they made their entrances and they returned from commercial, they showed Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, and Bianca Belair backstage. Rhea and Liv agreed on a strategy tonight: brutality. Then Bianca joined them – being late for a strategy meeting is grounds for dismissal in most workplaces, but they didn’t care. Bianca made them promise that if Becky tagged in, they would defer to her to beat up Becky. They agreed.


Match 3: Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan vs. Nikki A.S.H., Doudrop, and Becky Lynch

There were some quick tags in and out in the opening minute as Becky tried to avoid being in the ring with Bianca. But Becky was on the floor with her teammates when they were dove upon by Liv who leaped from the top rope to wipe them out.


Returning from the ad break, Becky’s team was in control, so she did get in there to take some shots at Bianca. At one point, Becky used Bianca’s ponytail to great effect, using it to yank Bianca’s face and shoulder into the ring post. Bianca was finally able to escape and make the tag and tag in Rhea. Rhea dominated Becky (and in that minute showed how potentially good a Rhea-Becky match would be at Mania instead of Bianca). Then a bunch of other things happened, including a big Splash by Doudrop, a High Cross Body by Nikki, and Flying Dive by Liv to the floor.

But the coolest thing by far was a series of half a dozen hair-whips by Bianca onto Becky – they looked vicious and the cracking sound just sounded painful. Becky ran off screaming in pain and bailed up the ramp, showing off numerous welts from the whipping. Ouch.

After that, Bianca hit the KOD on Nikki to win the match.

This was a bit busy, but overall it was good. Not sure the whipping should have happened like it did – that could easily have been saved for Mania, because what big spot can they do now? As an aside, Rhea Ripley deserves so much better than being in the position she’s in – hopefully after Mania, they give her a title program.

Winners: Bianca Belair, Liv Morgan, and Rhea Ripley

They showed the replay from last week’s main event of NXT 2.0 where Robert Roode helped Dolph Ziggler beat Tomasso Ciampa, only for the two of them to get chased away by Bron Breakker.


Match 4: Robert Roode (w/ Dolph Ziggler) vs. Tommaso Ciampa

They started off with a heated exchange that went from the ring to the floor, with Ciampa getting the edge – even having a second to swat the Jericho hat off the head of Ziggler who stuck his nose in there. In the ring, Roode hit a big Spinebuster that slowed down Ciampa. But Ciampa fired back, thigh-slapped Ziggler off the apron, and then rolled up Roode for the pin.

After the match, Roode attacked Ciampa from behind and the Dirty Dawgs beat Ciampa down like… a dirty dog? Ziggler grabbed a mic and berated Ciampa, predicting that the Dawgs beat Ciampa and Breakker tomorrow night.

Good match. Bobby Roode needs a singles push. That is all.

Winner: Tommaso Ciampa

They replayed the segment from a couple of weeks ago where Dana Brooke friend-zoned Reggie, so he rolled her up to win the 24/7 Championship, and then last week’s match where her kiss kept him down for the count, and Tamina sent Tozawa to take a cold shower.


Match 5: Dana Brooke and Reggie vs. Akira Tozawa and Tamina

Tozawa stared all moon-eyed at Tamina during their introduction, but his longing stares were certainly not Bobo-level. The match was a short mess. Dana hit a terrible dropkick that sent Tamina out to the floor. And then Reggie did a front flip that completely missed Tozawa, but that was enough to get the pin. After the match, Dana passionately kissed Reggie. And maybe in a game of one-upmanship, Tamina planted a liplock on Tozawa that stunned Tozawa.

Does anyone find any of this entertaining?

Winners: Dana Brooke and Reggie

Backstage, the British announcer interviewed the Street Profits. They yelled a promo about RK-Bro.

The commentators mentioned that Bobby Lashley is still undergoing concussion protocols. But that Brock Lesnar will be defending his Universal Championship this Saturday at Madison Square Garden regardless.

Rey and Dominik Mysterio came to the ring. During their introductions, the commentators mentioned that the Mysterios will take on the Miz and Logan Paul on Saturday night of WrestleMania.

Rey said that Miz and Logan were going to pay the price for attacking them last week, and then Dominik insulted Miz and Logan Paul. Miz then came to the entrance ramp and ran down his and Logan Paul’s accolades. To paraphrase, Miz he basically said: Miz and Logan Paul? New hotness. Rey and Dom Mysterio? Old and busted.


Match 6: Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs. Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin)

The match was joined in progress. This was pretty standard, with Rey taking a beating for a while before escaping the corner and tagging in Dominik who regained control of the match for his team. Things picked up after that, with Cedric being sent over the top by Rey, followed by Rey hitting a Hurancarana that put Cedric down. Shelton avoided a 619 by Dom, but when Dom tried Plan B, the Miz interfered from the outside.

Rey chased Miz away, but in doing so, left Dom alone and vulnerable to the dreaded roll-up from behind by Benjamin.

This was fine while it lasted, though it was really just to further the story with the Mysterios and Miz. Well, at least it got Shelton and Cedric off of Main Event for a week.

Winners: the Hurt Business

In the back, Riddle and Randy Orton made a pot joke and confirmed they are on the same page before they headed down to the ring.

Apparently, RK-Bro are on a smoke break or something, because instead of going back to them or announcing their opponents, they showed a clip from last week’s Smackdown where Naomi and Sasha Banks said they will become the new Women’s Tag Team Champions.

The current champions Carmella and Queen Zelina were in the back and after talking about how much talking about sex Carmella and Corey Graves do on their reality show, they accepted the challenge from Naomi and Sasha. Carmella then teased she would not just talk about sex with Corey but actually do the sex with Corey at Mania after they win.

Speaking of doing the sex, we cut back to Riddle and Randy Orton in the ring. Who actually weren’t doing the sex or even talking about sex, but the segue made you curious, right? Anyway, they were still in the ring awaiting their opponents, the Street Profits.


Match 7: RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) vs. the Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)

So we saw a heel vs. heel match earlier, and now we’re seeing a face vs. face match. Couldn’t they have mixed things up?

A nice move up front saw Dawkins drop Ford onto Riddle, but Riddle caught Ford in a Triangle submission. Then we saw some big moves in somewhat rapid succession: a big Dropkick by Ford, a Springboard Asai Moonsault by Riddle onto Dawkins on the floor, and a huge Somersault Senton by Ford onto Riddle off the apron and onto the floor. All this before the commercial break.

The Profits were in control after the ads, but a big knee to Dawkins’ face let Riddle tag in Orton. And then business picked up, with all four men hitting moves on each other. Ford avoided an RKO and then hit Orton with a Boot to the Head. He hit an ugly Frog Splash on Orton that looked like it landed right on Orton’s head and shoulder – ouch! Orton rolled over towards the ropes before Montez covered him. In the end, it looked like Orton was to get his foot on the bottom rope during the pinfall and Dawkins, from the floor, was to push Orton’s foot off of it. But Orton was too far away so whiffed by the rope and the clumsy mishandling by Dawkins made it look particularly botched.

After the  match, it looked like Orton was really hurt, with even Ford checking in on his condition. You never want to see anyone get injured. But if Randy Orton bores you like he bores me, you never want to see him wrestle either. So, can we call this one bittersweet?

Winners: The Street Profits

The British fellow interviewed Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins because apparently the first segment of the show wasn’t enough time for Seth to get in his fake laughing. Owens insulted Dallas again.

No need to fear, because it’s clear: Veer Mahaan will soon be here. His arrival is near, get ready to cheer. He’s sure to appear… maybe sometime this year?

Okay, this was obnoxious.

They did Finn’s entrance for his title match against US Champion Damian Priest.   Then went to commercial. They came back for a teaser video of Veer Mahaan’s imminent (or more accurately, eventual) arrival. Then they showed a lengthy recap video of the Roman Reigns / Brock Lesnar contract signing, before showing Damian Priest’s entrance. At which point they went to another commercial. When they came back, they showed a video of the Top 10 Instagram Photos of the week, saved only by the angelic beauty of Mandy Rose. Then went into a vignette with Mr. McMahon and Austin Theory. So Finn just had to stand in the ring like a dope for about 10 to 12 minutes while all this was going on? Hey, Nick Khan – can’t you cite budget reasons to fire whoever is directing this show?

As to the Vince-Theory vignette, they plugged Vince’s upcoming appearance on this Thursday’s episode of Pat McAfee’s podcast. Theory planted doubts in McMahon’s mind about the potential for McAfee to do violence, and volunteered to be there to back up McMahon in case things get physical. McMahon denied the possibility of McAfee getting violent and left. After he left, Theory hinted to himself that he may do something to instigate something.


Match 8: Finn Balor vs. Damian Priest (c) – for the United States Championship

They did the in-ring introductions for this one. Despite both of them being babyfaces, they didn’t shake hands to start the match. Or, as both of them have inner dark passengers, maybe they’re actually both heels? I really should have thought of this during the interminable time it took for the match to start instead of now when I should be recapping the match.

After a bit of jockeying with some mat wrestling, Finn turned up the aggression with some stomps and a Flying Somersault Dive to the floor, leading into yet another commercial.

When we returned, Priest was briefly in control before they had a slugfest that Finn won with some well-timed kicks. Finn hit a Slingblade and a Running Dropkick, but Priest rolled out of the way of a Coup de Grace. Priest then hit a big South of Heaven Chokeslam, but Finn kicked out.

Finn reversed the Reckoning, dropped Priest with an Inverted Twisting DDT, then scrambled up the ropes and hit Priest with the Coup de Grace to become the new United States Champion.

After the match, Priest grabbed the mic and blamed the fans for his loss. He said that the fans never supported him despite him giving it his all for them. He said that he would regain the championship. And then sucker-punched Finn with a hard Clothesline out of nowhere.

Priest then rolled Finn outside and dropped him with a hard Crucifix Bomb onto the announce table. This looked especially great since the table didn’t break and Finn hit with huge impact. Ouch!


If this had been given any time and made to feel important instead of an afterthought between commercials, this would have been really good and felt much more significant. At least the aftermath was strong and Priest as a heel makes a lot of sense.

Winner, and new United States Champion: Finn Balor


Edge promo

In the ring, Edge reiterated his challenge from last week, basically begging anyone in the locker room to step up and volunteer to face him at WrestleMania.

AJ Styles’ music hit and the Phenomenal One made his way to the ring and accepted the match. Edge was pleased that AJ would do so. But he told AJ that he wanted the bulldog version of AJ and not the female dog version, which angered AJ so much that he actually even appeared to mouth a couple of curse words (if you know AJ, that’s a big deal).

But in an apparent effort to make amends, Edge extended his hand to AJ. AJ went to shake Edge’s hand but then Edge sucker-punched him and started beating him down in the corner. AJ fired back, though, and laid out Edge with an Enziguri, and then got into position to deliver the Phenomenal Forearm. Edge ducked it, and when AJ came back at him on the rebound, AJ punted him in the crotchel area.

Edge then climbed onto a fallen AJ and ground-and-pounded him.

Edge left the ring, but seemed to have a conflicted look on his face. But the conflict was resolved when he went over to the timekeeper’s area and grabbed a couple of chairs. He took them to the ring and, after some internal deliberation, decided to go full evil and blasted AJ with a pair of Con-chair-tos. The show ended with Edge standing over AJ’s fallen body with an indeterminable expression on his face.

Edge’s facial reactions were fantastic, and the chair shots looked brutal. This match could easily be the match of Mania weekend and has potential Match of the Year potential. Strong ending to the show.



WWE Monday Night RAW - February 28th, 2022

Nationwide Arena - Columbus, OH

This episode was a mixed bag. There were some good matches and some strong angles to help flesh out the card for Mania. But it was hampered by some weak comedy, some lengthy promos that didn’t really pay off, and whatever the 24/7 nonsense was.  The two heel turns were done well, but the US Title change felt somewhat perfunctory, and it really could have benefited if it were the main event, and not squeezed in between a series of commercials and other non-content. Lucky for us, Veer is coming to RAW, because that’s going to make everything better.