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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 11. 2022
DETROIT, MICH. AT LITTLE CAESARS ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with three minute highlight package on the arrival of Cody Rhodes to WrestleMania and Raw.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE ought to be trying to get the most out of the Cody signing, and this is WWE making that effort. These video packages are part of making someone seem like a big star. They are also part of reinforcing a character and his mission and purpose.)
-Jimmy Smith introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd.
-The Miz made his ring entrance wearing a suit. They went to ringside where Jimmy welcomed guest commentator Jerry Lawler. Lawler thanked Corey Graves for “sacrificing his future happiness so I could be here tonight,” a reference to Corey Graves getting married. Byron Saxton, as usual, was also there.
-Miz TV: Miz asked the booing fans, “Tell me how you really feel!” He told them their opinion doesn’t count because they cheer for the Lions. He introduced his guest, “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes. Cody came out to his entrance theme wearing a blue suit. He played to the crowd for a while as Miz checked his watch. Miz said they just broke their pyro budget and took 45 minutes to “celebrate yourself.” He asked if he was trying to upstage him on his own show. He asked if he’s an egomaniac who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Cody told him not to begrudge him this moment. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to be in front of a crowd like this, baby!” he said. He played to the crowd. A “Cody” chant started. Cody stood and smiled, then blew them kisses.
Miz asked if they can get started now. He said last week he explained that he returned to WWE to make his dad proud. Fans chanted “Dusty! Dusty!” Miz said if it weren’t for his family name, he wouldn’t be the grandson of a plumber, he’d just be a plumber. Cody said, sarcastically, he’s clever. Cody said a plumber would be handy now because Miz is completely full of… “I stopped myself, but you guys know what I meant, right?” He told Miz that he hasn’t changed a bit. He said he is arrogant and obnoxious and a full-blown carny. He told Miz the fact that he embraces it so bravely makes him reliable. “Good ol’ reliable Mike,” he said. He asked Miz, “Do I look the same to you? What do you think I’ve been doing for six years?” That was risking an “AEW” chant starting, but it didn’t. He continued: “And every piece of that road provides me with crystal clear clarity not on what I want to do, but what I need to do.” He said he wants to win “the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship belt.” Miz leaned in and said, “It’s a title. A belt holds up your pants.” Cody shrugged.
Miz said anyone who beats Seth Rollins definitely deserves to be in title contention. He said he heard from a little birdy that Seth Rollins wants a rematch, and this time he won’t be able to surprise him. He said he doesn’t like his chances because Seth is an architect. He said he doesn’t like his chances against him later, either. Miz said with everything that happened at WrestleMania, more people were talking about Cody than anyone else. A “Cody” chant started. Miz protested and said when his hand goes up, their mouths go shut. Miz said he destroyed the Mysterio family and then embarrassed that social media megastar Logan Paul. He said everyone wanted to talk about Cody, though. He stood and began venting. He said they all know where he’s been for six years, but now he’s on “my show.” He yelled in his face. Cody held up his hand and asked him to settle down. He said he’s going to tell him something he’s maybe never heard on his show. He said he respects him and all of his accomplishments here. He said he senses this hostility is because he feels a bit threatened by him. He said he has respect for Seth because he gave him a tough fight. He said he’s be happy to give him a rematch. He said Miz, though, is being disrespectful.
Cody said he knew when he came back to WWE, there would be criticism and doubt. He said he’d be mature enough to handle it all. “I came back to beat the very best wrestlers in all of WWE.” Miz corrected him and said, “Superstars.” Cody said, “Superstar wrestlers. Whatever it may be.” He said he has enjoyed their chat, but he’s really looking forward to his first match on Raw in six years tonight against him. Another “Cody” chant began. Lawler said, “Please… don’t upset Miz again.” Cody said, “May the best man win.” He patted Miz on the arm and his music played. Miz charged at Cody. Cody side-stepped him and threw Miz out of the ring. Cody yelled down at him as Miz retreated.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cody was good here. The crowd was into him. The crowd isn’t going bonkers crazy for him, but he’s clearly over with a big part of the audience. He continues to carry himself like a star and he seemed comfortable out there doing a WWE-style talking segment. Miz is a pro and certainly makes it easier for Cody if Cody had any nerves as he reorients himself to performing for a different audience, one which includes a discerning Vince McMahon. The lingo corrections are interesting. I’m not sure what they’re going for, because it just draws more attention to it in general, and if Cody eventually “corrects himself,” it’ll seem like he’s been co-opted out of speaking naturally, and in the mean time every other babyface who says the “right words” will seem like they’re following corporate policy in a way that undercuts their sense of authenticity and agency.)
-Smith transitioned to a video recap of Roman Reigns on Smackdown saying he wants the Usos to win the Raw Tag Team Titles too. Smith plugged Alpha Academy vs. RK-Bro. Saxton hyped MVP Lounge with Omos as a clip aired of MVP attacking Bobby Lashley last week. Smith hyped that at 9 p.m. ET, Cody will wrestle Miz.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s interesting they announced the time the match would air. Are they testing Cody’s drawing power specifically? Are they concerned fans would assume Miz vs. Cody would be at the very end and tune out until then?)
-Dominik Mysterio made his ring entrance. [c]
(1) VEER MAHAN vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO
Dominik side-stepped a charging Veer, but Veer immediately beat him down onto the mat. He grunted as he went on the attack. Dominik side-stepped Veer again, then tossed him to ringside. Dominik leaped over the top rope, but Veer caught him and rammed him into the barricade. Next he clotheslined him before throwing him back into the ring. Back in the ring he clotheslined him again. Smith gasped, “Wow!” (His clotheslines aren’t all that special, actually.) He then finished Dominik with a Cervical Clutch. Dominik immediately tapped out. After the match, Veer didn’t let go of his hold, so four officials ran out to the ring to pry him off. He released, but then reapplied it. He finally released again. Medics brought a gurney out to carry Dominik to the back. (Where was his dad?)
WINNER: Veer in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Veer looked fine, but there’s nothing all that remarkable about him, either. The way he’s being pushed reminds me of Sheik Adnon El Kaissey 40 years ago in the AWA from the facial expressions and intensity to the signature submission that he holds on after the bell. I don’t know if this type of heel is too old school to really work at a high level in today’s WWE, and even if it is, I’m not sure Veer stands out enough to pull it off.) [c]
-They replayed what Veer did to Dominik, then showed footage of him being stretchered out of the arena and into an ambulance during the break while in a neck brace.
-Kevin Patrick asked Veer why he attacked Dominik after he won. Veer said, “I strike fear into the heart of any man.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Veer looks like an actor in “Land of the Lost.” The acting isn’t especially convincing or maybe his facial expressions just aren’t a natural fit for this particular gimmick even though he “looks the part” to Vince McMahon.)
-A clip aired of what happened with Edge, Damian Priest, and A.J. Styles last week. Smith called it “frightening stuff.”
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Styles backstage earlier in the day. Styles said he’s afraid, afraid of what Edge and Priest are going to make him do to them. Styles said Edge talked about his family, and when that happens, “we have to throw hands.” Styles noticed off camera Priest walking by. Styles attacked him. Priest fought back. Officials separated them. [c]
-WWE showed the top ten Instagram photos of the week.
(2) A.J. STYLES vs. DAMIAN PRIEST
Lawler said Styles once told him he was a pacifist, but if you talk about his family, he’ll “pass a fist” to your face. They replayed Styles attacking Priest again. A soundbite aired during Priest’s ring entrance. Priest said last week he pledged his loyalty to Edge and tonight he’ll prove why he’s worthy to be by his side. He said Exhibit A will be Styles and it will be his judgment day. (This doesn’t feel any more natural a transition for Priest from the guy people got to know with Bad Bunny last year or the guy with the temper than this new version of Edge does.) Styles attacked Priest aggressively at the start including chops in the corner. Priest fought back with an uppercut. They brawled at ringside where Styles got the better of Priest. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, they showed how Priest avoided a charging Styles to take over during the break. Styles made a comeback. Styles’s forehead laceration from WrestleMania pyro opened up again. Priest face-planted Styles for a near fall. When Styles made a comeback a minute later, he went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Priest kicked him out of mid-air. Priest kneeled and the lights went to red and then dark and then a blue spotlight shined over him. (This is dumb.) They then cut to a break.
WINNER: No contest in 10:00. [c]
-Saxton said they’re not sure what they witnessed. He said he can’t put his finger on the look at Priest’s face. They went to the announcers at ringside who said the power in the arena has been restored.
-Schreiber interviewed Styles who was upset because he wasn’t done with Priest yet. He said whatever that was won’t stop him from getting back at Priest. “He’s mine!” he said.
(Keller’s Analysis: So that was really dumb. Are we to believe that Edge commandeered the controls of the special effects in the arena, or that someone in production was paid off, or that it’s just magic? Having viewers invest in a match and end it that way just undercuts future investment in matches. It’s not intriguing enough to make up for the completely lack of a finish. That WWE doesn’t even given an official match result announcement makes it even worse.)
-Miz made his ring entrance first. Then Cody, who just stands on the stage as pryo blasts. The trap door and elevator appears to be done. (That’s good for Cody, too, as it was just a bit too much. Or a lot too much.)
(1) THE MIZ vs. CODY RHODES
As the match was about to begin, Seth’s music played and he walked to ringside. Miz tried to take advantage of a distracted Cody, but Cody saw it coming. Smith said Cody was raised in the business and is aware of all the tricks. Lawler said he knew his dad, so he knows. Cody dominated early and even did some push-ups after scoring a two count following a delayed-drop vertical suplex. Seth mock-applauded at ringside. Miz eventually took over. Cody did the Flair flip into the corner, but Miz kicked him off the ring apron and to the floor. They cut to a break at 5:00. [c]
Miz was still in control after the break. Cody got fired up and made a comeback. He powerslammed Miz for a two count. Cody dove through the ropes and speared Miz, then showed fire at ringside. He threw Miz into the ring and leaped off the top rope. Miz ducked and then dropkicked Cody’s ankles. He then quickly applied a figure-four leglock mid-ring. Cody slapped Miz. Miz slapped back. Cody turned over to reverse the pressure. Miz crawled over toward the bottom rope and eventually grabbed on to force a break. Cody then hit a Cody Cutter. He played to the crowd and waited for Miz to stand, then delivered a Crossroads for the win.
WINNER: Cody in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Decent match. Nothing flashy, but fundamentally solid. I’m still not sure how over Cody is going to be in a month. He has star power and the family legacy and he seems earnest as a babyface in a timeless way, but I’m not sure how the typical WWE fan is going to slot him in terms of how they react to him as a top tier act once the novelty of his arrival/return has subsided.)
-Afterward, Seth approached Cody. He said he heard him say he wanted a rematch. Seth said Cody had every single advantage at WrestleMania because he didn’t know he was his opponent. Seth challenged Cody to face him again. Cody said yes. Lawler said Cody just got reeled in.
(Keller’s Analysis: That seemed like a bit of a formality, since Cody had already said he was up for a rematch. Was Seth supposed to say “at Backlash”?)
-A recap aired of Ezekiel “debuting” last week with Kevin Owens.
-Patrick welcomed Tommaso Ciampa to Raw. Ezekiel interrupted and said he wanted to welcome him to Raw. He said he is Elias’s younger brother. Ciampa said it was nice to meet him. Kevin Owens walked in and said that’s actually Elias, so don’t get fooled. He asked Ezekiel what he was trying to pull. He said he doesn’t like liars. Ezekiel walked away. KO told Ciampa said he’s known Elias for years. Ciampa said it’s an easy mistake, but it’s Elias’s younger brother. KO yelled, “Am I the only one who’s still sane around here?” He told him to grow up.
(Keller’s Analysis: I am getting a kick out of Ezekiel’s matter-of-fact insistence that he’s Elias’s younger brother.)
-Liv Morgan made her ring entrance. [c]
-Smith touted the social media engagement for WrestleMania as a chart showed WWE doing more than the Super Bowl in various categories such as impressions, video views, engagement, and video watch hours.
-A clip aired of Morgan beating Sasha Banks on Smackdown.
(2) LIV MORGAN vs. NAOMI
Smith said Rhea Ripley was “in protocol” so she couldn’t be with Liv tonight. Naomi scored a leverage pin after some reversals.
WINNER: Naomi in 3:00.
-A recap aired of the angle with MVP, Omos, and Bobby Lashley last week. [c]
-Lashley made his ring entrance. The VIP Lounge set was empty. Lashley said Omos was impressive and he barely made it out of the match at WrestleMania. He said he felt his relentless power once again last week on Raw, but that was because he was stabbed in the back by the one man he thought he could trust, MVP. He asked MVP to bring his “punk ass” to the ring and explain why he did what he did.
After a pause, MVP walked out with Omos. MVP stood on the stage and told him not to be so emotional. He said his lawyers will be sending him a bill for damages if he messes with his set. Lashley said he can shove that bill up his ass. He told him to get to the ring so he can explain himself. MVP said he would love to allow Omos to teach him another lesson in humility, but Omos is learning to be a businessman so he’ll wait for the right time, place, and money. He said Lashley was floundering before he linked up with him. He said he resented that he thought he didn’t need him at WrestleMania. Lashley got fired up and said he came back for a farewell tour, but then he latched onto his meal ticket. He said he defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. MVP said he was with him every step of the way to make sure that happened.
MVP said that was the past, but this is the present, and he’s looking to the future. He said Omos is bigger, stronger, and meaner than Lashley. “He will take your place atop the mountain,” he said. He said Omos is smart enough to know he needs him. Lashley told MVP that he’ll chop Omos down again, and then he’s coming to get him. Lashley then threw a couch over the top rope. A woman in the front row near where it landed had a great reaction. Smith said lawyers are not on Lashley’s mind. [c]
-A recap aired from two weeks ago when the Tamina-Akira Tozawa and Reggie-Dana Brooke engagements took place. Then R-Truth, Reggie, Tozawa, and a few others came out of a back room and said it was the best bachelor party ever. Reggie said the 24/7 Title is safe at the double bachelorette party. Truth said it’s never safe and they need to go keep the title safe.
-Bianca Belair made her ring entrance.
-A commercial for Smackdown hyped Jinder Mahal challenging Ricochet for the Intercontinental Title. [c]
-Backstage Austin Theory told Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville that Mr. McMahon has assured him a U.S. Title match. He also said he and McMahon have decided he’s just “Theory” now because “Austin just doesn’t suit me.” KO crossed paths with Theory and called him an idiot. He then complained to Pearce and Deville that Steve Austin goaded him into a match when he was injured and now Ezekiel is pretending he’s Elias. He demanded to see his driver’s license or birth certificate or library card. Pearce said it’s confidential. KO said he’d get to the bottom of it. He said he wants to give him a lie detector test next week. Deville said if it ends this, they’ll do it. KO left. Deville told Pearce that Belair wants to know who her first title defense will be against. Deville said she has determined who it is. Pearce wanted to know. She said she didn’t have time to explain, then walked away.
(3) QUEEN ZELINA vs. BIANCA BELAIR
As Zelina made her entrance, she said she feels liberated now that she’s not with Carmella anymore. Belair finished Zelina with the K.O.D.
WINNER: Belair in 2:00.
-Afterward, Deville walked out with the contract in hand for Belair’s first title defense since WrestleMania. [c]
-After the break, Deville congratulated Belair on her historic title victory at WrestleMania and her victory tonight. She asked the fans to cheer. They did. She said she’s been asking who her next challenger is going to be. She said it wasn’t the easiest task because there are so many viable opponents right now.
Deville listed Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Liv Morgan, Doudrop, and Dana Brooke. “The options are endless for you,” she said. She said they’d all love a match with her. Belair said she’d be happy to defend against any of them, but she’ll walk out as champion just like she did at WrestleMania. She did the EST bit. “Whoever you’ve got, let’s do it,” she said. Deville said in her hands is an open contract, so if she’s serious about defending against anyone, sign it. Belair said she sees what she’s doing, but she “said what she said, so let’s do it.” She signed it. Deville then said it’s time to bring out her opponent so they can make it official. Deville said her challenger is a generational superstar who has defied gender barriers and has broken down social norms and has impeccable grace and style. As Belair look at the stage, Deville attacked her from behind. She slammed her to the mat and then said on the mic that she is her challenger. Lawler said, “I knew it!” Saxton said, “You can’t be serious.” Pearce came out and yelled at Deville. Deville left. Pearce checked on Belair and explained to her what happened.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who reacted.
-They showed the bachelorette party. Tamina told Dana that after their honeymoons, it’s open season. In walked Angel and Humberto. The Kiss Cam graphic came on the screen. They kissed Tamina and Brooke. Nikki then introduced some male strippers. One of them had a referee shirt. Nikki rolled up Dana to win the 24/7 Title. Tamina beat up Nikki and threw her onto the bar, then dragged her across it, knocking over gifts and glasses. Truth yelled for order. He said nobody loves that 24/7 Title more than him. He said the love keeps them all together, though. He said in the spirit of love, he presented a certificate that gave him power to marry them. He ordered all 24/7 Title matches to stop until then. He said there will be a double-wedding next week. He asked for a “What’s up!” They gave it to him. Tamina and Tozawa danced away.
-RK-Bro made their ring entrance. [c]
-A replay aired of what Sonya did to Belair. Then backstage Pearce told Deville it was a total abuse of power. “Who in the hell do you think you are?” he asked. She said she is the first authority figure to sign an open contract and she will shock the world. He said she won’t get away with it. She said there’s nothing he can do to stop it. “Don’t be jealous that I’m still in my prime,” she said.
-Alpha Academy made their ring entrance. Chad Gable said the only reason they’re not champions now is because of distractions, especially from Gable Steveson. He said Steveson might have a Gold Medal, but his mind is superior. He said Otis has the face of confidence on a tree trunk. He said they’ll win tonight and get one step closer to winning their Raw Tag Team Titles.
(4) RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. ALPHA ACADEMY (Otis & Chad Gable)
They cut to a break a few minutes in with Otis in control against Riddle. [c]
Otis was in control after the break. Riddle eventually made a comeback and hot-tagged in Orton. Gable scored a near fall with a backslide, but then Orton caught Gable with a sudden RKO for the win.
WINNER: Gable & Otis in 9:00.
-After the match, as Riddle and Orton celebrated, they showed the Usos arriving in the parking garage. [c]
-The Usos made their way to the ring. They said they’re the longest-reigning Smackdown Tag Team Champions. They challenged them to a unification match. Orton asked if they’re going to come to their show and challenge them to match for their titles. They were interrupted by The Street Profits. They said they should be next in line for a title shot. Montez Ford said they’re using their Bloodline privilege to jump ahead in line. Ford said they want to beat RK-Bro for the Raw Tag Titles, and then they’d be happy to beat the Usos to unify the belts. As the Usos and Profits argued, Orton told them to shut the hell up. He asked them to fight “right here, right now.” He asked if Detroit wants to see it. Fans cheered. [c]
-They replayed Dominik being stretchered.
(5) THE USOS vs. THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
Orton and Riddle remained at ringside. They cut to a break several minutes in. [c]
Back from the break, Jimmy had Dawkins grounded with a chinlock. The Profits got a near fall after a double-team blockbuster. A minute later Ford landed a top rope frog splash on Jey, but Jimmy made the save. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” The Usos made a comeback and landed their double-team faceplant for the win.
WINNERS: The Usos in 15:00.
-Afterward, RK-Bro entered the ring and held up their tag titles. The Usos held up their titles. They exchanged some words. The Usos left. Dawkins attacked Riddle from behind. Ford stumbled into the ring groggy. Orton gave him an RKO. The Usos returned to the ring and stereo superkicked Orton. The Usos then held up both sets of tag titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seems like more groundwork laid for Backlash, although it wasn’t explicitly stated. It feels like a big tag match at this point, and I’m curious if they actually unite the tag belts, and if they do, whether it’s long term or part of an angle that eventually leads to The Bloodline losing the Raw version of their respective belts back.)