On a night of celebrations, hometown champs, and comebacks that fans have been clamouring for, there was plenty to make sure the fans at the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville went home happy. One big comeback, pictured above and essentially leaked earlier on, saw Asuka return to challenge Becky Lynch. The other? Well, in case you’ve been off social media for a couple of days there’s no need to spoil it — just read on as we bring you a recap of Raw.
We begin tonight with what I suppose you’d call a Lumberjack Celebration as wrestlers surround the ring in anticipation of honouring Randy Orton. In the ring is his co-champion partner from RK-Bro, Matt Riddle, introducing a compilation looking back upon Orton’s career. Orton’s voiceover attributes his current mood, which is loving life in the ring, thanks to Riddle and how much fun he is to be around. It sure would make for a big moment if Orton turned on Riddle tonight.
It’s an impressive compilation of clips, of course, but let’s not confuse longevity for excitement. Orton has been dependable above all else, but hasn’t always made for the most exhilarating TV — maybe he’s like the Cal Ripken, Jr. of wrestling.
Orton enters the ring and is rather humble in his appreciation of the fans and his greatest opponents. In the here and now, though, he says again how much he loves Riddle and how much fun he’s having these days. Riddle introduces the next guest, someone who considers Orton a mentor: Cody Rhodes, formerly, of course, of the legacy stable alongside Orton and Ted DiBiase, Jr. No, Ted isn’t here tonight, unfortunately.
Rhodes and Orton embrace, but one man isn’t finding this all that impressive: Seth Rollins grabs a mic from ringside and warns Orton not to trust Rhodes, and tells Cody that not everything is about The American Nightmare. Next up in the odd assortment of wrestlers in the ring is Ezekiel, introducing himself to Orton. That, naturally, brings Kevin Owens out to call out who he believes is Elias. Finally, Jimmy and Jey Uso come to the ring to talk a little smack on Orton as they await their match against RK-Bro at WrestleMania Backlash.
Adam Pearce steps out onto the stage, and I have a bad feeling of where this is going. Yup, he makes an 8-man tag match pitting all of the rivals against one another for later tonight.
Sonya Deville VS. Bianca Belair – Raw Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
I said it last week, but Deville’s return to the ring is a very welcome development. Belair opens the match by running Deville right over, fighting her to the floor and throwing her over the announcer’s table. The ref starts the count and, rather surprisingly, the match is over about ten seconds later.
Winner via count-out: Bianca Belair
However, reaching into her bag of tricks, Deville re-starts the match as a No Count-Out contest.
Belair goes out to the floor again and the two take turns running one another into the apron. Moments later, Deville hits Belair with a chair, the ref calls for the bell, and the match is over … again.
Winner via disqualification: Bianca Belair
You don’t really believe that though, do you? Deville restarts the match once more, this time as a No Count-Out, No DQ match. As Belair writhes in agony on the floor, Deville motions for some help and down come Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega. After the ads, Belair is fighting all three heels in the ring.
Oh, by the way: you’re not wrong. Vega turned on Carmella a couple of weeks back as a way to break up their partnership and send Carmella and Corey Graves off for their honeymoon. If they were just going to come back and work as a team again, surely there was another way they could have written that episode?
Belair succumbs to the numbers as Deville runs her face first into the turnbuckles, following up with a DDT straight into a chair that only gets a two-count. Belair reverses a throw into another chair wedged into the corner, kicks away both Vega and Carmella, then hits a KOD for another win.
Winner via pinfall: Bianca Belair
Coming back from the next break, Vega and Carmella are fighting again backstage. Deville slaps them both and says they blew it, and they’re not getting the tag team title shot she promised them. Elsewhere, as in, perhaps, Parts Unknown, Edge sits in his giant chair next to Damian Priest and runs down Tennessee and the mayor of Knox County, promising judgment for Finn Balor in a match against Priest tonight.
Veer Mahaan VS. Sam Smothers
Smothers, presumably a local talent and perhaps carrying the name of the late, Tennessee-born Tracy Smothers, takes a kick to the face, a Million Dollar Arm clothesline, and a cervical clutch for the loss.
Winner via submission: Veer Mahaan
Mahaan continues his attack, of course, inside and out of the ring, concluding with another clutch on top of the announcer’s table.
Backstage, Sarah Schreiber catches up with Bobby Lashley who is preparing for his arm-wrestling contest — though he’s suspicious that it will only actually be an arm-wrestling contest.
In the ring, MVP provides a graphic description of what’s about to come: that Omos will win the challenge by tearing Lashley’s hand off. Would that actually count as a win, though? I’ll have to watch Over the Top again to check up on the rules.
Omos (w/ MVP) VS. Omos – Arm-Wrestling Contest
With MVP on a mic talking trash, Omos takes the early advantage, but Lashley slowly brings the big man’s hand down. As MVP distracts his former client, Omos attacks from behind and beats Lashley onto the arm-wrestling table before clotheslining him to the mat.
We get an admittedly amusing recap of much of the Double Commitment ceremony from last week, because we need to know how we got to R-Truth’s office as a marriage counsellor, offering his services to Reggie/Dana and Tamina/Tozawa, leading to this:
Reggie & Dana Brooke VS. Tamina & Akira Tozawa – with special guest referee R-Truth
The 24/7 Championship rules are suspended for this match. Reggie bring Tozawa down with an arm drag before a double-tag. As Tamina holds Brooke down and the two look at each other somewhat amorously, Tozawa tags in which necessitates Reggie entering again. After a series of ducks and dodges, Tozawa climbs the ropes and calls out “I love you!” to Tamina before leaping off for a very high senton for the win.
Winners via pinfall: Tamina & Tozawa
A scrap breaks out after the match, and R-Truth again offers to help Brooke escape, except this time he tries to pin for for the title. She escapes at the count of two, however, walking away with her faith in Truth shaken.
In her first appearance since losing the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, Becky Lynch is in the ring. She looks sullen as she admits she doesn’t know who she is without the title. She says that she’s hit rock bottom and looks about to leave, except that she has a sudden epiphany that she’s about to start her epic comeback.
Lynch says that nobody will be able to stop her — but at least one person disagrees. Fulfilling the rumours, Asuka makes her long-awaited return to Monday Night Raw. As Lynch looks on stunned, Asuka says simply: “I will stop you,” before the two trade near-miss strikes, with Lynch soon retreating.
Backstage, Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford philosophize on the potential results of the RK-Bro VS. Usos match, ultimately saying they’re ready to beat whoever comes out on top.
Finn Balor VS. Damian Priest (w/ Edge)
Edge simply watches from his big chair from up the ramp as Priest downs Balor with a shoulder tackle before running him hard from corner to corner. Balor fights back and sends Damian to the floor with a clothesline, only to receive a crucifix powerbomb into the apron when he follows.
Coming back from commercials, Balor lands a couple of flying forearms and a sling blade soon afterwards. With Priest down on the mat, Balor climbs the ropes, presumably for a Coup de Grace, but Edge rises from his seat, distracting Balor and allowing Priest to grab him and hit his chokeslam and lifting flatliner for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Damian Priest
Time for a segment of MizTV as Austin Theory takes the guest’s spot. They flatter each other for a while, but it also seems that these two alpha males might not manage to co-exist for the whole segment. By the way, when is Theory going to change his ring gear, since it still has “AT” all over it, but he no longer has a first name?
As the glad-handing continues, another return charges up the Monday Night Raw roster as Mustafa Ali strides to the MizTV set to stake his claim as a United States Championship challenger. Ali wants a match tonight and so does the crowd, but Theory unlocks the “Classic Heel” achievement by refusing him. As Ali turns his attention to Miz, Theory is busily texting away and he says that Vince McMahon just replied that Ali and Miz is on … for right now.
Mustafa Ali VS. The Miz
Miz is definitely the go-to notable match guy right now, from Logan Paul to Cody Rhodes and now Ali. The match starts slowly, but Ali flips over top of Miz and calls out how “awesome” it was. Miz cinches in a headlock, but Ali wriggles and chops his way out of it only to set off a chopfest in both directions. The It Kicks beat Ali down, but he responds with a rolling neckbreaker coming in from the apron before having to kick out following a low DDT as the action swings back and forth.
After Ali backflips away from a top rope attack and tweaks his knee, Miz tries for a figure-four leglock only for Ali to roll him up and grab the win.
Winner via pinfall: Mustafa Ali
Ali backs up the ramp, celebrating, but is blindsided by Tommaso Ciampa (I know, he’s not supposed to have a first name anymore, either). Lots of interesting people coming together in this segment.
After some ads, Sarah Schreiber is backstage with Rhea Ripley, seeking an answer as to why she turned on Liv Morgan. Ripley starts to explain herself but is attacked by a feral Morgan, abruptly ending the segment. Elsewhere, Otis and Seth Rollins stand by awkwardly as Kevin Owens and Gable argue about the lie detector test from last week. The Alpha Academy slide out and The Usos take their place, demanding a win with their partners tonight.
Before we get to the main event, Kevin Patrick catches up with MVP and Omos, where they break the news that Omos has challenged Bobby Lashley to a rematch at WrestleMania Backlash.
Cody Rhodes, Ezekiel, and RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Matt Riddle) VS. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
Ezekiel throws the first attack at Owens, kicking off a brawl before the bell rings — and whew, with so many entrances it’s time for a commercial break. Upon our return, Ezekiel is muscling Jimmy around before tagging in Riddle, who then tags in Orton for their assisted shooting star press/stomp move, and then in comes Rhodes who misses a blind tag by Jey and suffers a Samoan Drop.
With Rhodes down, Rollins wants in but by the time he arrives he’s facing off with Riddle, blocking a Bro-Ton and bringing him down with an inverted superplex. After another break, Rollins tags in Jimmy, who keeps Riddle from tagging and starts a double-team assault with his brother. Even in 8-man tag matches, it seems that Riddle’s main function is taking punishment before Orton comes in to win.
That’s put on hold temporarily, as Rollins pulls Orton off the apron when Riddle was about to tag him. Owens lands a senton off the top rope for a two-count, but as Jey comes in, Riddle takes a kick and stumbles into a tag to Orton. Clothesline, scoop-slam, side suplex onto the announcer’s table, hangman’s DDT … you know the greatest hits.
As Orton is about to try an RKO, Rollins interrupts which leads to a cavalcade of interfering wrestlers, with every heel receiving an RKO. The last one lands on Jey and secures the win.
Winners via pinfall: Rhodes, Ezekial, & RK-Bro
Monday Night Raw, April 24, 2022
Big tag matches like the main event are traditionally more messy than they’re worth, but on a night like this, giving Randy Orton as many people to RKO made sense. This episode of Raw pushed a lot of the right buttons and was almost like a second “Raw After WrestleMania” this month.