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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 18. 2022
BUFFALO, N.Y. AT KEYBANK CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler
-A two minute video package aired on the Cody Rhodes-Seth Rollins saga so far.
-They went right to Seth Rollins’s ring entrance. Byron Saxton said viewers are seeing everything one should expect from Seth including the awkward dancing. Saxton said a Rollins vs. Rhodes rematch is official for WrestleMania Backlash. Seth said nobody wants to party alone, so he invited his Backlash opponent Cody to join him in the ring. Cody’s ring entrance aired. Cody came out in a suit. They found a couple late-20s aged guys singing his theme song. Smith talked about Cody being away from Raw for six years; he said he looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Lawler said Cody’s outfit is bland compared to Seth. Fans chanted “Cody! Cody!”
Seth told fans not to stop chanting on his account. He called Cody “the man of the hour.” Cody said it all feels so familiar to him. “You and I in this ring, in this city,” he said. He said for those who don’t know the story, Buffalo is Rhodes Country. He asked Seth what he wants to talk about. Seth said this is about respect. Fans began chanting “Cody! Cody!” again. Cody played to the crowd and they cheered. That irked Seth. “Don’t ever do that to me again,” Seth said. As Seth began to talk, Cody played to the crowd again. Seth said this was going to go one direction, but now it’s going another. He said he was going to talk about all the respect he has for his family and his long journey. “You went away, you worked hard, you came back as the American Nightmare,” he said. He said that hard work means nothing because it was him who made Cody a star in one evening. Cody said there’s a lot of foreplay and pretense, but they should expend with the pretense and get to the point.
Seth said the point is that Cody had an unfair advantage because he didn’t have time to prepare for him. “So I lost,” Seth, painfully, said. Seth said that makes some think he’s better than him, and he can’t live with that. He said he is better than Cody in every single possible way. He said Cody might be the flavor of the month, but he talks the talk better than him. He said he dresses better than him. He said he has been to the mountain top as WWE Champion “and that makes me better than you!” Cody said Seth can talk and talk, but it doesn’t change that he beat him at WrestleMania. He said for the last six years he had a management position, and during that time he learned about mediation. He said they should bring in a third, neutral party – “the good folks of Buffalo.” Fans chanted “Cody!” again.
He asked the fans if they think he is better than Seth. Fans cheered. Seth got an idea. He said Cody should find out how easy it is to wrestle a mystery opponent of his choosing. Cody said everyone knows his answer is yes. He said he didn’t come to WWE to run from challenges, “so absolutely yes.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Cody was good here playing off of the bombastic ridiculousness of Seth. And the content was logical, with Seth obsessed with his loss and making excuses while Cody is willing to prove himself. Cody was on point and didn’t meander or go too far into any meta stuff other than a reference to his EVP status in AEW, but that worked well enough here.)
-They went to Smith, Byron, and Lawler at ringside who hyped upcoming matches and segments.
-Naomi and Sasha made their ring entrance. [c]
(1) SASHA BANKS & NAOMI vs. RHEA RIPLEY & LIV MORGAN – Women’s Tag Team Title match
Morgan and Ripley made their ring entrance. Saxton noted that this match was scheduled last week, but Ripley couldn’t compete. The action spilled to ringside with Sasha and Naomi chasing down the heels. They rammed Morgan into the ringpost. Ripley caught Sasha leaping at her and swung her into Naomi. Morgan then kicked Naomi face-first into the ringpost as Ripley gave Sasha a Rip Tide into the barricade. They cut to an early break. [c]
Morgan and Ripley mistimed a top rope move, with Ripley slamming Naomi face-first ahead of Morgan’s dive off the top rope. The announcers said they’re a new team that hasn’t figured out their chemistry just yet. Sasha broke up a cover on Naomi after a mid-ring Rip Tide. Sasha and Naomi hit a finishing sequence on Ripley to secure the win.
WINNERS: Sasha & Naomi in 8:00 to retain the Women’s Tag Team Titles.
-As the announcers were talking about how “game” Morgan and Ripley were, Ripley yelled at Morgan that she failed this tag team. She said she was always there for Morgan, but she wasn’t there for her. As Morgan began to leave the ring in frustration, Ripley attacked her from behind. Smith said Ripley was completely losing control.
-A video recap aired of Sonya Deville attacking Bianca Belair last week and then revealing she is appointing herself the next challenger for her Raw Title. Lawler called it a stroke of brilliance.
-Deville made her entrance. [c]
-Postcard shots aired of Buffalo, N.Y. Smith called it one of the most loyal fanbases in the country.
-The announcers commented of a replay of Ripley attacking Morgan. Saxton called it unacceptable.
-Sarah Schreiber approached Ripley backstage and asked her to explain herself. Ripley angrily said she and no one else is entitled to an explanation.
-Deville stood mid-ring and said as of late she has heard chatter in WWE that she has misused her power by making herself the no. 1 contender. She said she was forced into a position of power until she could find her way back to competing. She said she never lost her desire to be a Superstar. She said she made the most of the opportunity to lead those who surround her. She touted it as a natural ability she has. But then when an opportunity arose, she took it. She said Belair is the B-E-S-T of WWE and that’s who she wants to win the title off of. She said fans can scrutinize her professionalism, but the bottom line is that Belair wanted a challenger “and I gave her one.” She said it’s nothing personal; it’s just business. Belair’s music interrupted her.
Belair stormed into the ring. Deville said she’s a WWE official and she will face repercussions if she lays a finger on her. Belair said they should have their match right here, right now tonight. Some (gullible) fans cheered. Deville said she didn’t work her way back for three years to have her opportunity “in this rusted out suburb of New York City.” Boos. She said the match is going to happen somewhere she really hates losing. “How about next week in your hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.” She said then her family and friends will be there to console her after she loses. She said they’re already used to her losing her title so quickly. Belair slapped Deville and then set up her K.O.D. Deville, mic in hand, threatened to strip her of her title if she didn’t put her down. Belair put her down roughly, then left the ring as her music played. Saxton said Belair followed Deville’s instructions
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Smith said she put her down so hard, there might be repercussions.
-Veer Mahan made his entrance. [c]
-Smith plugged Summerslam tickets in Nashville, Tenn.
(2) VEER MAHAN vs. JEFF BROOKS
Mahan dominated from the bell. Saxton called it a mauling. Officials ran out to stop a post-match attack.
WINNER: Mahan in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was very open to Veer’s potential impact, but I’m just not feeling this. It feels put on, like someone pretending to be a bad guy wrestler in a movie about pro wrestling who has never watched pro wrestling before and just doesn’t come across as authentic. It doesn’t help that his offense isn’t anything special.)
-Deville approached Adam Pearce and asked what he’s going to do about Belair putting her hands on her. He said the higher-ups are investigating her conduct with an official investigation. Deville said she does everything by the book. Deville said Belair deserves the “big-E-S-T” fine ever. Belair walked in and said she’s ready to pay her fine. As Deville told her to make the wire transfer, Belair presented Pearce with a one dollar bill. Pearce thanked her. Deville was outraged. Pearce said he did it by the book.
-Kevin Owens made his ring entrance. [c]
-The announcers reacted to Veer’s attack on Brooks as they replayed his attack. They showed Brooks moaning in pain as he was being stretchered into an ambulance. Lawler called him “another Buffalo crybaby.”
-The KO Show: Chad Gable was sitting at a desk in the ring, ready to administer a lie detector test. (Who knew all his talents?) Owens said he despises liars. Owens touted Gable’s “2.0 GPA.” Gable quickly corrected him. He said Gable will expose Ezekiel as a liar and then beat him in the ring. Gable thanked Owens for having him back on the KO Show. He said he will find out if Ezekiel is who he says he is. He told Owens it will be money well spent. KO introduced Elias. Ezekiel came out to his entrance theme. KO welcomed him and called him Elias. Ezekiel said he is not Elias, he is Ezekiel. Owens got frazzled and told him to admit he used to have the beard and guitar. “That’s you!” he said. Ezekiel said he had one question for fans – “Who wants to speak with Zeke!?”
Owens said it’s time for the lie detector test. He said he’s about to get exposed. Gable asked the crowd to “shushhh.” Gable asked if the sky is blue. Ezekiel said yes. He then asked if it was Monday, but told him to answer incorrectly. Ezekiel said no. Owens said that proves he’s a liar. Gable explained to KO he asked Ezekiel to lie. Gable stood and asked Ezekiel if Gable Steveson is a spoiled little brat who messed with the wrong guy at WrestleMania. KO told him to stay focused and go back to his issue because he’s paying him $150 Canadian. Gable settled down and asked if his real name is Ezekiel. Ezekiel paused and said, “Yes.” Gable said he’s telling the truth. Gable then asked if Elias is his older brother. Ezekiel paused and said, “Yes.” Gable said it’s true. KO couldn’t accept it. “Ask it better!” KO said. Gable said the machine doesn’t lie. KO asked if Ezekiel is paying him more than him. Gable said he’s a man of academic integrity. KO got in Ezekiel’s face. Ezekiel stood and said he’s tired of being called a liar by KO, whom he accused of being the biggest liar in WWE. He said he wants his first match in WWE.
KO said he doesn’t know what he’s up to, but if he wants to have his first match in “Canada’a Nashville,” that’s his problem. KO said he will admit he is Elias or else. KO left the ring. Gable attacked Elias from behind. [c]
(3) EZEKIEL vs. CHAD GABLE
Lawler said he is skeptical of Ezekiel. Saxton said the lie detector can’t be denied. Ezekiel was aggressive at the start, knocking Gable to ringside and dropping him over the ringside steps. Gable took over back in the ring, working over Ezekiel’s leg. Smith said Ezekiel feels disrespected by KO and Gable. Gable overhead suplexed Ezekiel to cut off his string of offense. Gable then went for a top rope moonsault, but Ezekiel lifted his boot. He followed with a spinebuster and applied an anklelock. Otis attacked Ezekiel for the DQ. Otis helped Gable out of the ring. Gable kissed Otis’s cheek.
WINNER: Ezekiel via DQ in 5:00.
-A video package aired the Usos vs. RK-Bro feud with highlights from Smackdown last Friday.
-RK-Bro made their ring entrance. Smith said they’ve returned from hostile territory at Smackdown back home to Raw. Easter Bunny graphics rather than seagulls scattered in augmented reality when Riddle kicked off his flip-flops. [c]
(4) RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
Nice back and forth action early. Ford climbed up to the top rope, but Riddle met him up there and landed a top rope slam. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Riddle hot-tagged Orton who went after Dawkins who kindly charged at him and ate two clotheslines and a snap powerslam. Orton and Riddle gave stereo draping DDTs to both Dawkins and Ford. Riddle tagged in and pounded the mat. The Usos music played. That distracted Riddle and Orton. The Profits seized the situation with their double-team super blockbuster for a three count on Riddle.
WINNERS: Street Profits in 9:00.
-Afterward, Ford said the Usos aren’t the only tag team they need to be worried about. He implied credit for playing the Usos theme to distract them.
(Keller’s Analysis: Although the Profits are supposed to be heels, this is the most appealing they’ve been because they’re acting like serious focused athletes and not clowning around in an over-the-top way.)
-The announcers commented on what happened last week with the arena lights going dark and then blue during the Damien Priest match.
-Backstage, Priest stood behind Edge who sat in a throne. Priest said people are wondering what happened last week and why are they focused on making Styles’s life so miserable. He said it’s time to remind them who they are. Edge said these seeds were planted 20 years ago when he was in the Brood, “but how soon you forget.” He said this version is much more dangerous. Edge said they haven’t lived up to their true capabilities. Edge talked about Bad Bunny getting all the glory last year when Priest was the one who kept him from being smeared all over the mat like a Picasso. Edge said unlike the Bills and Sabres, he wins championships. He said after two years back, fans began complaining about him being around too much or not enough. He said he decided not to cater to them anymore. He said the only person with the guts to stand in their way is A.J. Styles, and he hasn’t gotten the message yet. He said they finally decided to seize the day, which means it’s Styles’s judgment day if he accepts his challenge for a match at Backlash. Edge then laughed and took a deep breath and fell into a trance-like state.
-Austin Theory made his way to the ring. [c]
-Schreiber approached Styles for his response to Edge’s challenge for a match at Backlash. Styles accepted. The lights began blinking. Styles told Schreiber to leave. Suddenly Priest and Edge stood on either side of him. Styles started to fight, but was overwhelmed. They put his arm over the ledge of a bench and slammed a storage lid over it several times. Styles went down wincing in pain as Priest and Edge laughed.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Lawler guaranteed that was “a dislocated shoulder in the least.”
-A vignette aired on Theory showing off his athleticism and selfies, plus a focus on Mr. McMahon believing in him.
-Finn Balor made his ring entrance. [c]
(5) FINN BALOR vs. AUSTIN THEORY – United States Title match
Saxton talked about the pressure Theory must feel knowing the expectations Vince McMahon has for him. Theory landed a neckbreaker at ringside a few minutes into the match as they cut to a break. [c]
Theory remained in control after the break. Balor came back with a flying forearm and double stomp mid-ring. They continued to battle back and forth. Theory eventually landed a top rope springboard Spanish fly for a near fall. Balor avoided a top rope Coup de Gras. Theory then landed his finisher for the win. They showed some fans reacting with shock.
WINNER: Theory to capture the United States Title in 12:00.
-Afterward, Otis, Gable, Shelton Benjamin, Apollo Crews, Cedric, T-Bar, and Commander Azzez came out to celebrate with Theory. Azeez and T-Bar lifted him onto their shoulders. Then Mr. McMahon’s music played and he walked out onto the stage. He played to the crowd. Theory joined him on the stage and took a selfie with McMahon. McMahon raised his arm and said, “You’re the champ!”
-They went to the announcers at ringside.
-Seth was walking backstage looking at his phone, chuckling. He said, “Twitter is a wild place.” Kevin Patrick approached Seth and asked if he has determined who will face Cody. Seth said he has. Patrick asked if he’d reveal it. Seth asked if he is dim and understands the whole point. “I need Cody Rhodes to feel the exact same way or the test doesn’t work.” He was understandably exasperated by Patrick’s question.
-R-Truth’s ring entrance took place. Once he arrived in the ring, the wedding song played as the ring was being decorated. [c]
-R-Truth introduced the brides and grooms. They came out all dressed up. Sasha Banks, Naomi, Nikki, Angel, Humberto, and others were there. Truth said “Dana Brooks” She said it’s “Brook, not Brooks.” He said, “My bad.” The crowd began “What’ing” him. He said, “Don’t what me.” They kept what’ing. Dana began talking. Truth told the crowd not to “what” her and give her a minute “because y’all are going to get married some day.” Dana said some nice things about Reggie. Reggie smiled and again told the crowd to let him speak. He said they can sing later. They began to sing right away. Truth said, “Not yet! We’ll get to that.” Reggie called Dana “a dream come true” and “a goddess.” He said they’ve been through so much as part of their path to this moment. Truth said, “That was deep. Okay, we got through that one.”
Truth pointed at Tamina who told Tozawa, “What she said?” Truth said, “Can we do that?” Tozawa said, “Tamina, same.” Truth said before he finalizes “this commitmentship,” he asked anyone to speak up “or forever shut your trap.” Tamina said she objects. She shoved Tozawa over to Brooke and yanked Reggie over to her. Truth said that was an okie-doke he wasn’t expecting. He asked if there were any other objections. Tamina then switched places with Tozawa. Garza got really excited. Brooke and Tamina smiled at each other and held hands. Truth asked for five minutes “because I don’t even know if that’s PG.” Tamina went back to her spot next to Tozawa. Fans booed. Truth said, “Come on, y’all, y’all with the person you want to be with, right?” He said everyone should keep their objections to themselves. He said with the power in his vest, he is certified to declare them committed. “Get your smooching on.” He asked if they had rings first. Tozawa put a ring on Tamina’s finger. Reggie did the same. Truth said it’s time for smooching. The couples did smooch. Dana fainted. Reggie landed on top. The ref counted to three and Reggeie won the 24/7 Title. Tamina then knocked Reggie over and pinned him to win the 24/7 Title. Tozawa rolled up Tamina from under her wedding dress to win the 24/7 Title. As he celebrated, Brooke leaped off the top rope onto him to regain the title. Throughout, of course, Lawler took shots at marriage.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s roughly and precisely what I expected. Some will hate it and others will get a kick out of it.)
-Smith threw to a video package on the MVP/Omos-Lashley angle last week. [c]
-As Schreiber was about to interview Bobby Lashley backstage, she said MVP and Omos sent in a video. MVP said Lashley is about to find out what a big mistake he made, trying to hog the glory and spotlight for himself at WrestleMania without him. He said he’s now moved on to bigger, meaner, stronger things. MVP challenged him to an arm wrestling contest with Omos. Lashley said MVP thinks he’s safe because he run his mouth and talk trash standing behind Omos. He said he’ll need to get past Omos in order to get to MVP. He said Omos is big, strong, and scary, but he is too. He said they’ll find out next week who is stronger. He said they’ll find out why they call him The All Mighty.
-Cody’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-Smith hyped the WrestleMania Backlash line-up so far.
-Seth came out and said it’s time to show Cody he’s not as good as he thinks he is. Seth said it’s a man who never backs down from a fight and is a former World Champion. “And that’s no lie,” he said. Out came Kevin Owens.
(6) CODY RHODES vs. KEVIN OWENS
KO took control a minute in with stomps. When Cody knocked KO to the floor and dove through the ropes, KO caught him with a punch mid-air. KO then overhead tossed Cody into the barricade. They cut to a break as KO paraded around the ring. [c]
KO controlled the action after the break. Smith gave Cody credit for agreeing to the match without knowing who his opponent would be. Cody lifted his knees on a top rope Senton by KO. KO rolled to the floor. Cody pursued him and tackled him over the commentary table. Seth’s music played. They cut to a break as Cody stood. [c]
Back live, KO landed a top rope frog splash for a two count. Seth was cheering at ringside. KO landed a top rope swanton for a near fall. Cody surprised KO with a quick small package for a near fall. Cody landed a huracanrana and superkick and clothesline in a flurry of offense. Both were down and slow to get up. KO climbed to the top rope. Cody met him up there and went for a superplex, but KO countered into a fisherman’s suplex off the top. Cody put his foot on the bottom rope during KO’s cover. KO went for a powerbomb on the ring apron, but Cody backdropped out of it. The ref began counting KO out. Seth encouraged him to get up and beat the count. Owens didn’t like the way Seth was talking to him and yelled, “Screw you!” He turned to leave and was counted out.
WINNER: Cody via countout in 16:00.
-As Cody began to celebrate on the ropes, Seth shoved him off the ropes to the floor. Seth stood and celebrated as Cody clutched his ankle at ringside.
(Keller’s Analysis: The finish makes storyline sense, with the joke being on Seth. I wouldn’t want KO to job to Cody in their first match as a surrogate to Seth, so I’m not upset with the finish. WWE, though, is doing too many match finishes that aren’t paying off the investment fans have in them these days and that can add up and backfire.)