Wrestling

Raw recap and reactions: New year, new Alexa Bliss

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Raw recap & reactions: New year, new Alexa Bliss
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Alexa Bliss shows her true colors, or does she? Meanwhile The Bloodline partially dominated once again on the first Raw of 2023.

MERRY NEW YEAR! That’s specifically for my Trading Places fans. For everyone else, Happy New Year!

With that out of the way, Monday was rough. Not because of Raw but everything that happened with Damar Hamlin, which was truly scary. Just using this space to wish him and his family well right now and ask everyone to send their love and pray to whatever deity in which you believe that the young man survives.

With that out of the way, let’s talk Raw.


What the Bloodclot

Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair got a lot of time as Raw’s opening match, which I didn’t expect. Not because either woman doesn’t deserve the minutes because they definitely do, but Raw started so freaking chaotically that all bets were off.

But I also wondered about the outcome more than the match itself. Everyone reading this knows how talented these two are, so just a decent wrestling match was in the cards like a couple of Aces. So the intrigue lied in the destination, not the journey. That said, we got an ending I dug that raised good questions and created more intrigue.

Alexa and Bianca wrestled a very physical match. Alexa tried countering Bianca’s power early but found very little success. I mean, seriously, have you seen Bianca? Alexa used her cunning and experience but only slightly evened the odds by bringing back some of the old Alexa Bliss. By that, I mean she got aggressive. She went for body blows, she took it outside the ring, and she talked her trash.

But then she saw a couple cats in the crowd rocking Uncle Howdy masks. The sight of the masks shook Alexa, and she slowed down her attack. Bray Wyatt’s symbol flashed on screen, then Alexa finally lost it. Bliss attacked the referee with a Lou Thesz Press, which basically DQ’d her right then and there. Then she attacked Bianca with the same move, pounding on the champion pretty damn mercilessly.

Oh but wait, there’s more.

Alexa dragged Bianca outside the ring, tossed her into the ring posts, into the ring apron, and then engineered a meeting between the ring steps and Bianca’s face. Rather than leave well enough alone, Alexa DDT’d Bianca on said ring steps not once but twice. Alexa seemed more obsessed with demolishing Bianca than winning the championship, illustrated through the devilish grin she flashed as blood dripped from Bianca’s mouth. It was a pretty cool image.

Alexa walked back to the ring and the stretcher gang came out for Bianca, but the champ walked out on he own power with her husband’s help.

I hope this represents a change for Alexa as she’s done the Dr. Jekyl Ms. Hyde thing for a while now. The DQ finish and Bianca’s post match rage at Alexa indicates she’s not finished, and I think a stipulation match at Royal Rumble is the perfect place for this story’s next chapter.

As an aside, this ties into the larger mystery involving Bray and Uncle Howdy. Howdy seems obsessed with reminding Bray and Alexa who they truly are, while the rest of us want to know who the hell he is. Questions, questions, questions.


Extracurriculars

Tambourine

Solo Sikoa and Elias’ Music City Street Fight came as a result of the Bloodline running roughshod during Raw’s opening minutes. Elias begged for Solo, and Adam Pearce played the role of a genie.

This was anarchy because it was two guys hitting each other with instruments, which included an electric piano, a tambourine, a guitar (courtesy of Hardy), and a drum.

But the best moment was a Spinning Solo onto a piano. Yes, an actual piano. Elias is a G for taking that bump because that wood is unforgiving.

The wild thing here is how dominant Solo looks. I like the guy a lot but damn he survived a guitar shot to the back, along with everything else Elias threw at him. It’s especially weird allowing the celebrity interference and still giving Solo the win. Maybe it’s because I like Elias too, but it’s always weird to me when the heel overcomes that many odds in a no DQ match filled with shenanigans. Solo can take the L there without any hit to his stock.

Ruff Ryders Anthem

Elias wanted Solo, while the Street Profits & Kevin Owens wanted all the smoke with Sami Zayn & The Usos. The Profits & KO hit the ring hard and got busy before the bell rang. The ref restored some order and the match played out like most of the Bloodline matches in that the faces rocked them early until they found their footing later. Oh, and they were just a tad underhanded.

The most interesting part of the match for me was Montez Ford. Tez started very hot and around the middle, he clearly lost focus while thinking about his wife. KO begged him for a tag but Tez looked out of it. He looked down at the ring mat, looked down at Angelo Dawkins, and never reached for KO’s hand.

Eventually, Tez got his head in the game, no doubt after envisioning Bianca telling him to give it all he’s got, and the tables finally turned.

But then came Solo, who, once again, enforced! I mean, he’s the enforcer. Solo attacked KO outside the ring and threw off all the momentum the good guys carefully cultivated. Montez tossed Sami back into the ring but left him just a little too much time and found himself on the wrong end of a Helluva Kick. Bloodline wins again.

But wait, there’s more!

Drew McIntyre and Sheamus showed up out of nowhere and saved KO from a post match beatdown.

IF/WHEN we get the eventual Bloodline downfall, this feels like more seeds planted for that story. These dudes have targets on their backs the size of watermelons, and everyone wants them out of commission. No group, not even this one, can withstand that type of pressure.

The problem for me is I wasn’t that into the match because knew the outcome. Solo winning against Elias foreshadowed this W. So, yeah, that’s not a knock to anyone involved but just the reality.

Worked Business

Seth Rollins and Austin Theory don’t have bad or even meh matches. These two gave it all in a ferocious main event that, hopefully, closes the door on this feud. Seth needs to move on to bigger and better things, while Austin finds his footing and another gear for his character.

They protected Seth a lot here: He hurt his knee early in the match, Austin threatened a walk out and nailed Seth with the belt, the ref bump, and, finally, Austin’s low blow that sealed the deal. Effective for what it was and Austin loses nothing winning in that fashion since he’s a heel and he’ll sell it like he beat Seth clean in the middle of the ring with the world watching.

HURT BUSINESS

We got a Hurt Business sighting as Damage CTRL walked to the ring. Cedric Alexander, Shelton Benjamin, and MVP chatted with Adam Pearce in a background shot. I’m excited.

Minimal Damage

Becky Lynch confronted Damage CTRL and actually took on the tag champs by herself in a two-on-one match. And I’m glad she got help because the tag champs getting beat by one person rubbed me the wrong way. Michin showed up because she still has beef with Bayley’s crew.

This was definitely a bit chaotic but thankfully, the right team won. Becky took her eyes off the match the minute Bayley interfered and that caused Michin’s downfall. She took the pin while Becky looked like someone stole her lunch.

Locked Up

Dominik cut a promo from…some white room. Dom told us all how hard he is now that he did real time behind bars, and he’ll see mami soon.

Hilarious. After the rough night Monday was for other sports-related reasons, that was the lone thing that made me smile.

Psycho Dance

Dexter Lumis defeated Chad Gable and I’m still not sure if they’re using Dexter correctly. The win is great for him but I question the direction. And why this match on this show when everything else was part of a larger more consequential story? Meh.


Going to be honest here and say Raw felt inconsequential tonight with what happened to Damar Hamlin. I can’t front like I wasn’t distracted most of the night but I still enjoyed what WWE did this week. Raw was all gas at 100 mph from the opening moments until the final credits minus one match, which truly felt like it took up space.

If I have one big critique, I vote for extending the Bloodline story for the whole night rather than simply ending with the United States championship match. The Bloodline kicked off the show as the main story and that main story ended before we even got to the third hour.

Grade: B+

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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