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WWE RAW TV REPORT
APRIL 24, 2023
ROSEMONT, ILL. AT ALLSTATE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-After “Then, Now, Forever, Together,” they went right to the arena and a shot of the crowd as Kevin Patrick introduced the show and said “global sensation” Bad Bunny would appear later.
-Cody Rhodes made his ring entrance. Cody asked what Chicago wants to talk about. He said he could talk about the WWE Draft where he could be sent to Smackdown or “stay right here on Raw.” He said he could also talk with them about the “unenviable task” of slaying Brock Lesnar at Backlash. He said it was ironic, given his history of success in combat sports, that he attacked him from behind. (Not sure that’s technically “ironic.” It’s more like rain on your wedding day.) Freeze-frames of Lesnar’s attack on Cody were shown. Cody called it “craven and cowardly.”
He said he wanted to show everyone something. He began taking off his watch and shirt. Some fans squealed. He showed off the scar on his right shoulder. He told Lesnar to pick a spot and put another scar on him because it would show he hasn’t learned from the one he already has. He said the reason he doesn’t give this heroic spin, even though the no. 1 autograph photo he signs is a photo of his discolored chest, is because the fans propped him on their shoulders and carried him to the finish line. He said he was in the most pain of his entire life. He said they have had many milestone moments in Chicago and there will be many more to come. He said he wanted to tell them “here and now from the bottom of my heart, thank you guys very, very much.” He was interrupted by Finn Balor’s music.
Balor walked out wearing a “Finn: 14 Staples” t-shirt. He said they all have scars. He said he saw that Cody got screwed at WrestleMania. He said he knows how Cody feels. He asked why he got screwed. He said it was because no one was there to have his back. He said he gets why he accepted Lesnar’s offer for help and to tag with him, but he trusted the wrong man. He said he needs to be smarter. “Like me,” he said. He said he’s all beaten and bruised now, and he’s entering a match he can’t win. Fans booed. “Not on your own,” he said.
Cody said, “Let me stop you.” He said he thought there was an immense amount of mutual respect between them, but maybe he was wrong. He said his focus is on Lesnar right now, so respectfully, whatever he’s selling, he’s not buying. Balor said if he respects him, he’ll hear what he has to say. He said they all know that Cody in The Judgment Day would be unstoppable. Fans booed. He touted each member of The Judgment Day.
Cody said he respectfully declined the invite. Balor said that’s a shame because you’re either with or against The Judgment Day. Cody smiled. He said he is smiling because he appears to be under the impression that he is not medically cleared to compete tonight because of what happened a few weeks ago. He said a few hours ago, he was medically cleared to compete tonight. He said the best message he could send to Lesnar would be to beat him tonight. Fans cheered. Balor threw down the mic as Cody’s music started.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cody continues to be a likable alpha babyface. Balor is a good foe for him to face later as a TV opponent he can beat and shine against. Balor was good on the mic in this segment.)
-They went to Patrick and Corey Graves at ringside. They hyped Bad Bunny appearing, plus Damien Priest vs. Rey Mysterio and an announcement by Triple H “that will rock the foundation of WWE.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s setting the bar quite high.)
-The Usos and Solo Sikoa made their ring entrance. No Paul Heyman this week. Patrick hyped the WWE Tag Team Title match between Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens and the Usos this Friday on Smackdown. [c]
(1) THE USOS & SOLO SIKOA vs. LWO (Santos Escobar & Joaquin Wilde & Cruz Del Toro)
The bell rang 23 minutes into the hour. Graves said he knew Wilde for nearly 20 years dating back to the indy scene. He talked about Wilde’s travels around Japan and Mexico and called him a “walking encyclopedia.” An early flurry by the LWO led to the Usos and Solo retreating to ringside. The LWO then dove through the ropes and tackled the Bloodline members. They cut to a break at 1:00. [c]
Solo was in control of Wilde after the break. Graves said it crossed his mind during the break that this could be the last time these teams are together because of the WWE Draft. (This would be more compelling if WWE explained why so many wrestlers assigned to one show or the other are appearing on both regularly pre-Draft.) Solo one-arm slammed Wilde onto the ring apron at 7:00. Solo gave Del Toro a Samoan Spike as he flew off the top rope toward him. The Usos then gave him a 1D and Jey scored the pin.
WINNERS: The Usos & Solo in 8:00.
-Afterward, the Usos and Solo stood mid-ring. Jey said the Usos had “one bad night” at WrestleMania 39. (He said “39,” which it seems WWE rarely if ever says.) Jimmy said they become nine-time tag champs on Friday. He said they dedicate the victory to “your Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns.”
-Backstage Cathy Kelley interviewed Bianca Belair about facing Iyo Sky at Backlash. Belair said Sky is a worthy competitor, and she stays ready. Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky walked into the set laughing. Bayley told Belair she’s never been in a title match against Sky. Sky jumped in and said some words in Japanese. Bayley said the three of them tonight feel like beating her and two partners of her choice tonight. Belair said she was up for that. Sky gave Belair a final look before walking away. [c]
-Jey Uso walked up to Sami Zayn backstage and asked what he wants. Sami said they can fight on Friday, but he wanted to talk to him about his dedicating his predicted title win to Reigns. He said he should be winning for himself, not Roman. “Don’t you think that’s a little weird?” Sami asked. He asked Jey what will happens when he loses after putting Reigns’s name on the match. Sami said Jey doesn’t deserve the fallout. Jey asked why he cares. Sami said he feels bad for him. Jey told Sami not to feel bad. He said Sami made his choice and, like the other night, he made his choice too. He glared at Sami, then turned and left.
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside. Graves said choices have consequences.
-A video package aired on Trish Stratus explaining her heel turn.
-Kelley interviewed Trish and asked if she knows why Becky hasn’t been around. Trish said she heard Becky isn’t dealing well with the pressure of being a mother and a wrestler. She said she could see her crumbling under the pressure, so she took her out of her misery. She said she should be saying “Thank you, Trish” from home.
-The Street Profits made their ring entrance. [c]
(2) THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN
The bell rang 50 minutes into the hour. Graves said this could be the last time these wrestlers team together. The Profits won quickly with a frog splash on Shelton by Ford.
WINNERS: The Street Profits in 3:00.
-Graves said speculation is running rampant regarding Triple H’s big announcement tonight. [c]
-Triple H’s ring entrance took place.
Triple H talked about having the privilege of wrestling in front of them, including defending the WWE Title against John Cena in that arena for WrestleMania 22. Cena’s name got scattered boos. He said he now has the privilege of making sure WWE is all that it can be for generations going forward. He said that’s why he is there to talk about Roman Reigns. He said the Undisputed WWE Champion, who is coming up on 1,000 days as champion, has defended his title against a who’s who of Superstars. He said he can’t name too many who would be able to hang in the ring with Reigns. “He is that damn good,” he said.
He said along the way in that 1,000 days, Reigns did something very smart, something he says he himself would have done. He said he negotiated himself into a position where he didn’t have to defend his title as frequently. He said he doesn’t blame Reigns for that. He said it’s great for Reigns, but it’s not great for WWE. He said the fans deserve more than that. He said the WWE Draft this week will change WWE at its very core. He said when Reigns get drafted to a brand, he will take his title with him and he will stay there. He said the other brand will determine a new champion. (Muted cheers.) He said at Night of Champions, they will crown a new World Heavyweight Champion. He revealed a new title belt that was on a table under a cloth covering. A “Yes!” chant broke out.
Triple H said it will be a champion they can be proud of and respect and admire. He said that champion will defend it anywhere, anyplace, any time all over the world. (That sounds like the 24/7 Title!) He said that champion won’t demand their acknowledgment, but will earn their acknowledgment.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE just watered down the importance of the title Reigns holds, the title Austin Theory holds, and the title Gunther holds. Will Reigns’s title still be called “Undisputed”? This new title has no lineage and, at best, half the prestige of the Universal Title. Another negative aspect is the title will always be tainted by the first champion being crowned for the first time in Saudi Arabia, too. We’ve been here before with two world-title level championships that are brand-specific, and I get WWE feeling like Raw or Smackdown are weaker when there isn’t a full time roster member billed as World Champion. A big trade-off comes with adding a second world title, though.)
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) April 25, 2023
-They went to an very excited Graves and Patrick who talked about how excited the wrestlers in the back must feel over a chance to be the first person to hold that title.
-A video recap aired of the Judgment Day-Bad Bunny angle.
-Kelley approached Balor, Priest, and Dominik Mysterio backstage. When she asked to speak to Priest, Balor asked Priest and Dominik if he’s invisible. Priest told Balor to get ready for his match. Kelly asked Priest his thoughts on Bunny being there. He said it’s great because he’s a big star, but he’s only had success in WWE when he had his back. He said if he gets in their business again, he’ll go through a table again. Dominik said Bad Bunny can watch him “take out my deadbeat dad.” Priest smiled and said everyone can see that.
-Damage CTRL made their ring entrance. [c]
-A vignette aired on Bronson Reed.
-Backstage, the Usos were talking to each other while sitting in big black leather chairs as Solo stood behind him. Jimmy talked and Jey seemed to be staring off into space. Jimmy asked what was wrong. Jey asked if Jimmy ever thinks about what will happen to them if they don’t win the titles on Friday. He said he ran into Sami in the hallway. Jimmy stood and yelled that Sami is playing mind games with him and he shouldn’t talk to him. He told Jey to stay focused. Jey said, “All I’m saying is what – if – we – don’t – win?” Jimmy said on Friday, they’re going to do what they always do and win for The Bloodline and the Tribal Chief. Jimmy stormed off, looking frustrated with Jey.
(3) DAMAGE CTRL (Bayley & Iyo Sky & Dakota Kai) vs. BIANCA BELAIR & RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ & LIV MORGAN
The bell rang 18 minutes into the hour. Rodriguez launched Morgan onto Kai for a two count. They cut to a very early break seconds later after Sky blindsided Morgan with a kick on the ring apron. [c]
The heel trio was in control after the break. Liv crawled over to hot-tag Belair, but Sky yanked Belair off the ring apron and then into the ringside steps. Liv hot-tagged in Rodriguez a minute later, though. Belair tagged in a minute later and finished off Bayley with a K.O.D.
WINNERS: Belair & Rodriguez & Morgan in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A pretty generic match. It allowed Sky and Belair to interact a bit and in theory Sky throwing Belair into the ringside steps intensifies their rivalry, but not by much.)
-Clips aired of the Bronson Reed-Bobby Lashley match last week.
-Austin Theory made his ring entrance, wearing the (suddenly devalued) U.S. Title around his waist. [c]
-Patrick hyped the Triple Threat match for the U.S. Title at Backlash with Theory, Reed, and Lashley.
-Theory stood mid-ring and talked about Reed and Lashley. He said he should have earned the respect to have a say-so over whom he defends hit title against. He complained that he doesn’t have to be pinned or submitted to lose his title. He said the new WWE Title should be his. Fans chanted “You suck!” He said he’s the guy who pinned John Cena at WrestleMania.
Bobby Lashley’s music interrupted. Lashley came out, smiling and slapping hands on his way to the ring. Lashley walked past the new WWE Title belt that was at ringside. Lashley called Theory “kid” and said his only issue with him is that he has “his title.” Lashley said if he wants to be seen as the greatest U.S. Champion, he should defend it more. He asked if he doesn’t want to work hard or if he’s just scared to defend it. Lashley praised Theory’s toughness, and then he revealed he was the one who asked for the Triple Threat match.
Theory said if Lashley is good at requesting matches, why didn’t he have a match at WrestleMania. Lashley said he should knock Theory’s teeth down his throat for saying that. Theory swung at Lashley, but Lashley ducked and then beat up Theory. As they brawled at ringside, Bronson Reed attacked Lashley. The announcers said it appeared to be a temporary alliance between them. As Theory held Lashley, Reed splashed him against the ringpost. Then they threw Lashley into the ring. Theory gave Lashley an A-Town Down and trash-talked him afterward. Reed then attacked Theory and hit him with the Tsunami Splash. Reed held the U.S. Title belt over a fallen Theory.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’ve established it’s every man for himself, but also that there are two heels against one babyface in the dynamic. Lashley feels damaged by how inconsistent his character has been the past few years, but fans are still inclined to cheer for him.)
-A very excited Rick Boogs talked with Elias about the WWE Draft and the new WWE Title belt. Elias told him not to get overwhelmed. Chad Gable walked in and said he’d tell Boogs one more time that some wrestlers are eligible to be drafted on night one, others on night two, and if you’re in a team, you need to be sure you’re a unit in the draft so you cannot be split. Maxxine Dupri walked in and said she’s made sure that wherever Otis goes, she goes. Mustafa Ali walked in and told them to have a more positive outlook. Ali told Gable he could be the new WWE Champion, although that would be the end of Alpha Academy. He said first he’ll be a loser tonight when he beats him. Otis said Gable is going to win.
-They showed Bad Bunny filming himself on Instagram on his way to the arena.
-Gable made his ring entrance. Maxxine and Otis joined him, arm in arm. [c]
(4) MUSTAFA ALI vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis, Maxxine Dupri)
As Ali made his entrance, Graves said the Draft could change everything for both wrestlers in the match. He noted Ali has always been on the cusp of greatness. Ali DDT’d Gable and then leaped off the top rope, but Gable moved. Gable then rolled up Ali, but Ali rolled through and scored a leverage three count. Graves said Ali’s future is looking absolutely positive.
WINNER: Ali in 2:00.
-Jimmy confronted Sami backstage and asked if he thinks Kevin Owens has forgotten all the times he has kicked him in the face. He said KO never forgot or forgave him. He said he just used him to get the tag titles. He said this Friday, when he loses the titles, Owens will turn on him “and you’re going to deserve every bit of it.” He told Sami not to worry about Jey because he should be worried about Owens. Sami looked concerned with that scenario Jimmy presented.
-Balor made his ring entrance. [c]
(5) FINN BALOR vs. CODY RHODES
Cody’s second ring entrance of the night aired after the break. The bell rang a minute into the hour. At 3:00 Balor rammed Cody into the announce desk. They cut to a break. [c]
Cody made a comeback after the break. He landed a Disaster Kick for a two count. Balor blocked a Crossroads attempt. Cody went for a Cody Cutter, but Balor countered that and scored a two count at 8:00. Cody landed a Cody Cutter a minute later for a near fall. Cody avoided a Coup de Grace a minute later. He went for a Crossroads, but Balor small packaged Cody for a two count. Cody then hit a Pedigree and fired up. The crowd responded with cheers. He then hit Crossroads for the win. Fans popped for the three count.
WINNER: Cody in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. I think one of the reasons fans are cheering so much for Cody is that he is a top star who is wrestling frequently on TV.)
-They went to Patrick and Graves at ringside. They threw to clips again of Bad Bunny getting beaten up at ringside by The Judgment Day three weeks ago on Raw. Patrick plugged the Priest vs. Mysterio match.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance. He wore a zebra striped one-piece body suit with lapels. [c]
-Seth said he wanted to talk to the fans about his match at Backlash against Omos, but now something bigger has caught his eye. He looked over at the WWE Title belt at ringside. Fans chanted, “You deserve it!” He asked Chicago if they’re just saying that because he’s a Bears fan. He walked to ringside and approached the belt. He said Triple H listed wrestlers Reigns has defeated during his title reign, but he’s not on that list. “The truth is, some of us still want to fight!” he said. He pointed at the belt and said that belt represents a chance to fight and push the industry forward and “for us to have a World Heavyweight Championship that is about more than politics and part-timers.” He said if they’re going to crown a new World Hvt. Champion, he will give them one guess who he’d put his money on.
Omos interrupted and walked to the ring to his music. MVP joined him and said he didn’t mean any disrespect by interrupting him. He told Seth that he has accomplished nearly everything that there is to be accomplished other than his fashion choices. He said it is because of those accolades that he’s been chosen. He said it’s his responsibility to give the giant Omos giant matches. He said a win over Seth would be “absolutely huge.” He cautioned him against making predictions about his future. He said when Omos is finished with him, he might not have much of a future after Backlash. Omos stepped right up to Seth’s chest and stared down at him. Fans began singing Seth’s theme song.
Seth told Omos he is a once-in-a-generation star because he was born that way. He said he, Seth, is a once-in-a-generation star because he made himself into one. He told Omos he should be afraid of him, but he’s not. He said he’ll give him the match of his life and bounce his head off the mat. He said when he wakes up from his three second nap, the fans will be singing his song.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good segment to build to what otherwise felt like a random match-up. Seth has the crowd behind him in general, and they also seem to want him to win the WWE Title. I wonder if WWE will go through with that or if they’ll want a heel to win first before Seth wins it from the heel? It’d be quite a letdown if that’s the WWE Title that Cody wins because it’ll mean less if he wins a tournament rather than beating Reigns.) [c]
-They showed Make-a-Wish families in the crowd. Patrick called it a beautiful sight.
-Backstage Riddle was telling Owens about a plan to annex Puerto Rico or something. Sami walked in. Owens stood and angrily asked Sami where he’s been. Sami said he spoke to Jey earlier and then Jimmy. An irked Owens asked why he’s still talking to those guys and what he could possibly have to say to them. He guessed it was about what Reigns will think if they lose. Owens said they deserve whatever happens because they made their choice to be with him. Owens stormed off. Riddle said he knows exactly what Sami s going through. Sami looked at him quizzically and asked how he could possibly know what he’s going through. Riddle said when he was in RK-Bro, everyone said Randy Orton was going to RKO him, but he never did. He told Sami people think Owens will do that to him, but they’ll remain loyal friends.
(Keller’s Analysis: I do like the intrigue developing regarding how long Owens will stand for Sami being preoccupied with Jey. I don’t know what the payoff will ultimately be, but you can understand the points of view of both Sami and Owens in this situation.)
-Graves hyped the Owens & Sami vs. Usos match on Smackdown on Friday. Then Graves and Patrick hyped the Backlash line-up. They cut to the parking area where Bad Bunny was arriving.
-Rey Mysterio made his ring entrance. Patrick asked, “Who’s ready for the main event of Monday Night Raw!?” [c]
-Patrick announced that Lesnar would return to Raw next week.
(6) REY MYSTERIO vs. DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Dominik Mysterio)
The bell rang 45 minutes into the hour. As Priest beat up Rey a minute into the match, they showed an inset image of Bad Bunny arriving. Rey took control and head scissored Priest off the top rope and scored a two count. Priest nailed Rey with an elbow to the side of his head as he charged at him. Priest then slid Rey under the bottom rope where Rey crashed on the floor. Priest posed as they cut to a break. [c]
Priest remained in control after the break. Graves said Priest was “wrecking” Rey. Rey avoided a charging Priest, who flew shoulder-first into the ringpost. Rey landed an Asai moonsault on Priest at ringside. Rey leaped off the top rope with a senton splash followed by a springboard body press for a two count. Rey slingshot himself at Priest and head scissored him into position for a 619. When Rey went for it, Priest countered with a kick to the face for a near fall. Priest continued to hit big moves on Rey and scored another two count at 10:00. Graves said Priest was growing frustrated, but he just needed to stay the course.
Priest grabbed a chair from ringside. Rey slidekicked it out of his hands. They fought over the chair. Rey sent Priest into position for a 619 again and landed it. He climbed to the top rope. Priest threw the chair at his head. The ref DQ’d him.
WINNER: Mysterio via DQ in 11:00.
-Priest gave Rey his South of Heaven. Graves said Priest will get another fine for this. Bad Bunny then walked out, kendo stick in hand. Priest turned to him and shook his head. Bunny walked to ringside and stared at Priest. He entered the ring. When Priest charged, Bunny hit him twice with the kendo stick. Priest bailed out to ringside. Bad Bunny went after him. Priest fought back and set up a move on the announce desk, but Bad Bunny slipped free and swept Priest’s legs out from under him with the kendo stick. Priest fled up to the entrance stage. Bad Bunny stood on the announce desk and asked if he has heard that he’s not hosting Backlash anymore. He said he’s going to Puerto Rico to kick his ass in a street fight. Priest yelled, “I’ll kill you!” Bad Bunny’s music played as the show ended. Graves said Bad Bunny is fearless.