A title change, a mystery opponent for Cody Rhodes, and the hunt for truth about Ezekiel all feature on tonight’s show. Jimmy Smith, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton are commentating from Buffalo, NY.
Seth Rollins, dressed rather conservatively in comparison to his usual outfits, wastes no time in getting into the ring and inviting his WrestleMania Backlash opponent Cody Rhodes out for “a chat”. Rollins wants the crowd to give it up for the Nightmare, and Cody gets them on his side immediately by calling Buffalo “Rhodes Country”. Both of them make sly references to a Cody Rhodes & Goldust VS. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns match from the 2013 Battleground PPV in Buffalo, in which the Rhodes emerged victorious to save the WWE careers of themselves and their father Dusty.
Getting to the point of the conversation, Rollins says that Rhodes capitalized on an unfair advantage to beat him at WrestleMania, and that’s why he lost (this is Rollins employing the “Batman can beat any superhero with enough prep time” argument). Rollins lays out a host of reasons why he thinks he’s superior to Rhodes, but Cody responds by involving the crowd as an impartial third party to voice their opinion on who is better (they choose Rhodes).
Rollins, getting fed up, proposes that Cody tries it out tonight in the main event and faces off against a surprise opponent, handpicked by Seth Rollins. Rhodes is all for it.
Naomi & Sasha Banks (C) VS. Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Banks opens up with a dropkick, just like I almost always do in wrestling video games. Ripley, though, simply side-steps away from it (which also happens to me a lot in games). She delivers her own dropkick and starts a much-longer-than-five seconds double-team attack with Morgan. Liv stays in the ring, but the champs deliver their own two-pronged attack, ending with Banks delivering a cross-body off the top for a two-count.
The fight spills to the floor where, creatively but not quite believably, Ripley hoists Banks up and uses her feet to kick Naomi in the head. A better move follows where Ripley drops Banks onto the barricade with a Riptide going into commercials. Back from the ads, Ripley has Naomi up on her shoulders and Morgan tries to perform a bulldog, but Ripley dropped Naomi too quickly so Morgan just leaps off into the great wide open with nothing to show for it (hey, that happens a lot in video games for me, too…).
Ripley tags herself in without Naomi realizing it, allowing her to feed Naomi to Morgan for a powerbomb. In a terrifically timed spot, Ripley drops Naomi with a Riptide while Morgan is holding Banks back, but The Boss hits a backstabber and escapes just in time to break up the pin. With Morgan out of the picture, the champs trap Ripley in their tandem finishing move, knocking one of Ripley’s flesh tunnel earrings out in the process.
Winners via pinfall: Naomi & Banks
Just like a couple of weeks ago, Ripley is frustrated and angry at Morgan for their loss. They jabber in the ring for a bit before Ripley inevitably attacks her now former partner from behind. As Jimmy Smith oddly says that you can’t blame Ripley for what she did (that’s not exactly how you call a heel turn), Morgan takes a Riptide and that team is done.
Coming back from the next break, we get a replay of Ripley’s attack and both Lawler and Saxton walk back Smith’s comment, chastising Ripley for her behaviour. Sarah Schreiber is backstage, looking for an explanation from Ripley, but the Aussie simply brushes her off.
In the ring, Sonya Deville wishes to address the accusations that she abused her power to name herself as Bianca Belair’s next challenger. She talks about her competitive fire and genuinely praises Belair, but all she gets from the crowd is booing and a “What?” chant. Her return to the ring is a great story and should be celebrated, mind you. Belair marches out and Deville brings out her oft-used argument used against Naomi, that Belair can’t put her hands on Deville while she’s still an official.
Belair wants the fight right now then, but Deville denies the “rusted-out suburb of New York City” the match, and instead wants their match to take place in Belair’s hometown of Knoxville, TN next week. Deville keeps talking smack until Belair picks the GM up for a KOD, but she thinks better of it and puts her down, albeit a little roughly, instead.
Veer Mahann VS. Jeff Brooks
Brooks, the Buffalo native, gets to put on a high-flying show for his hometown fans. By high-flying, of course, I mean that Mahaan throws him around all over the place. Smith makes sure to point out the Million Dollar Arm clothesline of Mahaan again (need to know what he’s talking about? Check last week’s review), before Mahaan locks in his neck-wrenching submission hold for the easy win.
Winner via submission: Veer Mahaan
After the bell, as is becoming his trademark, Mahaan applies his submission hold again and again while hapless officals try to break it up, and Jeff Brooks’ mom has everything she needs to try and convince her son to work at the Walden Galleria mall instead of staying in such a dangerous occupation.
Backstage, Sonya Deville approaches Adam Pearce and demands repurcussions against Belair for what she did. Pearce says that the champ has been fined, but that the WWE higher-ups are opening an investigation against Deville as well. Belair then arrives to pay her fine in front of Sonya: one dollar. Guess who isn’t impressed by that?
Next up is the lie detector test by Kevin Owens on Ezekiel; the promise of these two working together in a comedy feud is, frankly, very enticing. Owens has a laugh as he begins his entrance, pointing at Jeff Brooks as he’s wheeled away on a stretcher. Mrs. Brooks isn’t going to like that, either.
We take a break, and upon return the Jeff Brooks epic storyline continues as we see him continued to be gurneyed along backstage.
With the ring re-dressed for The KO Show, we see that a bespectacled Chad Gable is also in attendance to administer the test and then face Ezekiel immediately afterwards. Owens invites Elias out, but of course Elias isn’t here — Ezekiel is, though.
Ezekiel says he has one question for the crowd tonight: “Who wants to hear Zeke speak?” Owens shuts that pandering down right away and gets the test started. Gable offers some control questions to begin the test, with the results of Ezekiel’s responses splayed across the big screen. After Gable slips in a question of whether Gable Steveson is a spoiled brat and gets hot under the collar, Owens gets him to focus and reminds him that he’s being paid 150 Canadian dollars for this.
Gable cuts to the chase and asks Ezekiel if that is his real name. Ezekiel hesitates before answering yes, and it shows that he’s telling the truth. Gable follows by asking if Ezekiel is Elias’ younger brother, and Owens asks if his real name is Elias. he answers yes and then no, and both answers show as true. Owens has had enough and refuses to accept the results, skulking away and leaving Ezekiel open to a sneak attack by Gable before a break.
Ezekiel VS. Chad Gable
Ezekiel opens strong, launching Gable through the air and kicking him to the floor before dropping him face first onto the ring steps. Throwing him back in the ring and following with a low clothesline, Lawler comments that Ezekiel is certainly not photogenic, which is an odd, unsolicited comment.
Gable focuses several strikes on Ezekiel’s left leg, but Elias’ younger brother busts out some more clotheslines, a mule kick, and a spinebuster before calling out “Who wants to speak with Zeke?” so he’s going to have to decide what the catchphrase really is.
Ezekiel seems on the cusp of victory with an ankle lock when Otis charges in to knock him off of Gable, ending the match.
Winner via disqualification: Ezekiel
RK-Bro (Riddle & Randy Orton) (C) VS. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) – Non-Title Match
Orton opens with a headlock on Dawkins, posing for the crowd before taking a flying punch to the face. This is all just pretext, though, for the blueprint of an RK-Bro match. Riddle will come in to take a lot of punishment, Orton will get a hot tag and do his favourite moves, and that’ll be it. Or will it happen that way tonight?
Riddle tags in and he and Orton do a double-stomp before Orton backflips his partner onto Dawkins. Ford enters and brings Riddle down with a dropkick, followed by a back suplex, but when he ascends to the top rope Riddle leaps up and hits a very fast Spanish Fly going into a break. Coming back, Ford and Riddle trade kicks to the head allowing for a double-tag. Orton delivers: clotheslines, scoop slam, hangman’s DDT (alongside one by Riddle), but he opts to tag in Riddle to set up an RKO.
On the apron, Ford gestures for someone to come to the ring and The Usos entrance music hits. There are no Usos here tonight, but it allows the Streets Profits to regroup and hit Riddle with their tandem blockbuster for the win.
Winners via pinfall: The Street Profits
Somewhere in a very dark room, Damian Priest and Edge explain why they’re taking the dark path to get what they want. Edge hits Buffalo hard for yet another time tonight, saying that unlike the Sabres and Bills he actually wins championships. Guess who’s sleeping on the couch in his dark, brooding pajamas tonight? Edge challenges AJ Styles to another match at Backlash in order to finish the job.
After an ad break, Styles is in the dressing room talking to Sarah Schreiber about Edge’s message when the lights flicker and go purple, with Edge and Priest appearing and beating Styles down.
Finn Balor (C) VS. (Austin) Theory
This does not look good for Balor. Jimmy Smith surely gets in trouble by referring to Austin Theory by both names right off the bat. Balor is the aggressor with hard chops, but Theory responds with a backbreaker and chinlock. The crowd is pretty dead, maybe also feeling the inevitability of the title change here. After a commercial break, Theory is holding Balor in another chinlock, but Balor picks up the pace with a flying forearm and stomp to Theory’s chest.
As Balor tries a suplex from the apron into the ring, but Theory drops him neck-first onto the ropes, then both chop and punch each other in the middle of the ring. Balor hits a slingblade and a dropkick, putting Theory in place for a Coup de Grace, but the challenger crotches Balor on the turnbuckle and brings him crashing to the mat. Moments later, Balor tries again from the other corner, but this time Theory rolls away and picks him up for A-Town Down and the win.
Winner via pinfall and NEW United States Champion: (Austin) Theory
Poor Balor. Out come several heel wrestlers to lift up Theory like he’s Bret Hart at WrestleMania X, and even Vince McMahon joins Theory at the top of the ramp for a selfie.
Kevin Patrick catches up with Seth Rollins and asks if he can share who the mystery opponent is. Rollins rightly calls him out for asking such a silly question.
Speaking of silly: the ring is now dressed up for the Double Commitment ceremony featuring Tamina/Tozawa & Dana/Reggie. Officiating the ceremony is R-Truth, who announces that the 24/7 title is off-limits during this event. The crowd is not into this at all, shockingly, and they boo, chant, and “What?” throughout the whole thing (R-Truth admittedly eggs them on a bit, too).
Brooke and Reggie offer some heartfelt vows, while Tamina and Tozawa offer “What she said” and “Same”, respectively before R-Truth asks if there are any objections. Tamina says she objects, and then swaps Tozawa for Reggie, and then puts the two of them together and stands with Brooke, before finally going back to where she started with Tozawa.
Rings are given, kisses are planted, and the couples are committed. However, Reggie’s kiss takes Brooke to the mat and a ref appears to count to three and crown a new champ. Tamina then pins Reggie, Tozawa pins Tamina, and Brooke regains the belt by pinning Tozawa before taking off with R-Truth. What an incredible waste of time.
After ads, Sarah Schreiber is with Bobby Lashley, watching a video message by MVP and Omos promising pain for The All Mighty and challenging him to an arm wrestling match. Lashley is unimpressed and agrees to the challenge.
Cody Rhodes VS …?
Seth Rollins comes out to introduce his hand-picked opponent for Rhodes, and it’s his sometimes best friend Kevin Owens. Moments in, Owens blocks Rhodes falling uppercut, mocking his brother Dustin’s Goldust posturing in the process. Rhodes throws Owens to the floor but a suicide dive attempt is caught, with Owens then throwing Cody over his head into the barricade.
After a break, Owens hits an emphatic senton onto Rhodes’ back, following with stretches and kicks to the back as well. Rhodes fights back by powering Owens up slowly for a suplex, ending up dropping him forwards instead. Owens gets up to the top rope and tries a swanton only to find Rhodes with his knees up to block it. As they fight to the floor, Rollins returns to watch the match more closely and we head off for a break.
As we return, Rhodes and Owens are trading punches on top of a corner, but Owens knocks him down and lands a frosg splash for two, and then a top rope senton for another two. Rhodes and Owens trade superkicks before Owens hits a pop-up powerbomb but still can’t get a three-count.
Rhodes tries to set up a superplex, but Owens turns it into his avalanche fisherman’s suplex, still unable to get the pin and Rhodes gets a foot on the rope at two. They brawl to the apron where Rhodes backdrops Owens, wth Kevin rolling down to the floor. Rollins admonishes Owens, yelling at him to get into the ring, and Kevin doesn’t take kindly to that so he simply walks away, accepting the count-out loss.
Winner via count-out: Cody Rhodes
Rhodes is hesitant to celebrate, but when he finally mounts he ropes to acknowledge the crowd, he’s pushed off all the way to the floor by Rollins to close out the evening.
Monday Night Raw, April 18, 2022
There was good comedy between Owens, Gable, and Ezekiel, and bad comedy with a commitment ceremony (although R-Truth did his best to pull it together). There a predictable title change, and there was a solid main event. In other words, a mixed bag on tonight’s Raw.