Thursday, June 30, 2022

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Winners & Losers: RAW 01.18.21

Another week, another typical RAW on record. RAW is still the brand that suffers the most from booking issues. This week shows just that but there were a couple of high moments, in my opinion.

Let’s start off with Randy Orton’s response to having the fireball hurled at his face on last week’s RAW by Alexa Bliss. Orton address this via a segment in the dark where he is wearing a luchador mask to hide his burns. He drones on about how he can’t blame Bliss for what happened as she is just a vehicle for this attack. He blames The Fiend and then goes on to say he will be in the men’s Royal Rumble match.

Now that we know that Orton is suffering first degree burns, let’s move on to the first women’s match of the night. It was Charlotte Flair vs. Peyton Royce. This was a big opportunity for Royce to pick up another win against The Queen. Royce pinned her in tag team action two weeks ago.

Charlotte Flair defeated Peyton Royce

Unfortunately for Royce, Charlotte is back at her winning ways. Before the bell could win, Royce did try to gain the upper hand and attacked her opponent from behind as Charlotte was making her way down the ramp. The one good thing about this match was that they gave them plenty of time for it.

Charlotte hasn’t just had Royce to consider lately as a foe but Lacey Evans (Royce’s tag team partner) has been learning all the tricks from the dirtiest player in the game – Ric Flair. Evans and Ric have formed some type of relationship and bond that is certainly getting under the skin of Charlotte.

About midway through the match, Ric emerged from backstage as his music hits. Evans then comes out on stage wearing one of Ric’s robes to try and cost Charlotte the match. Royce tries to capitalize but only gets a two count. Moments later, Charlotte gets the Figure Eight locked in to win via submission. She spends significant time not breaking the hold to send a message to her father and Evans.

Next up was the feud that has been going on for months on end…Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose. They had their respective teammates at ringside and Nia Jax joined commentary. Baszler and Jax continue to not have the best teamwork or even like each other for that matter.

Shayna Baszler w/Nia Jax defeated Mandy Rose w/Dana Brooke

Throughout most of the match, Baszler did what she tends to always do and that is focus on her opponent’s arm. In the final moments of the match, Baszler focuses on joint manipulation of Rose’s hand/arm. Baszler locks in the Kirifuda Clutch for the win as Dana Brooke goes to comfort Rose.

After the match, Baszler and Jax argue for whatever reason at ringside. Brooke then hits a dropkick off the apron on Jax who then runs into Baszler to knock them down. Brooke then re-enters the ring to grab her tag team partner as they retreat up the ramp.

In a backstage segment after the commercial break, Baszler and Jax explain how they have never been friends – even when they were champs. They declared to have a tag team title match against the champs soon. This could either take place next week or perhaps some women will be playing double duty at the rumble event.

Taking a turn to the advertised match, Alexa Bliss was set to take on Asuka in a non-title match in the main event. Prior to that though, Bliss welcomed Asuka into Alexa’s Playground.

In the playground, Alexa announced that she declares herself into the Royal Rumble match a week from Sunday. During the segment, Asuka stays in a joyous mood. She goes to sit on the swing next to Bliss but the playful Bliss warns her she can’t sit there. After saying that she would be entering the rumble match, she confirms that if she wins and Asuka is RAW Women’s Champion then they could face each other at WrestleMania. The champ says it would be her honor and that she is a big fan of Bliss. This excites Bliss until Asuka says “yowie, wowie.”

Asuka then would start dancing to her own music until Bliss gets off her swing and yells at The Empress to stop it. Bliss tries to contain herself and starts talking to essentially the spirit of The Fiend on the swing next to her. Feeling sad, Bliss says it wasn’t supposed to be this way – clearly missing The Fiend. Asuka tries to make her feel better by saying that The Fiend is still here. This angers Bliss as she tells Asuka to not say his name. Bliss then starts smiling and waving at the horse rocking chair which starts moving in the corner of the ring.

Asuka leaves the ring fearful as Bliss goes over to sit on the horse rocking chair.

Now let’s get to the main event.

Alexa Bliss defeated Asuka

This match was done very well. The storytelling of Bliss is always great and combined with Asuka who can always sell made it fun to watch. On paper having Bliss vs. Asuka is something that used to be played out but with Bliss’ new gimmick it is great.

The first part of the match was pretty much standard between the two. About midway through, the lights go out and we go to a commercial break. When we return, Bliss is transformed from her playful persona to her pain persona.

We then go through moments where Bliss circles Asuka as the champion tries to figure out how to go on the attack. As the match comes to its conclusion, Bliss goes for the mandible claw but Asuka does her job at powering out of it. Bliss then delivers a right hand and gets a near fall. Asuka fights back with a roundhouse kick, spinning backhand, and one more roundhouse kick thinking this would put her opponent away. She would then get caught by Bliss in the Sister Abigail to end the match.

After the match, Bliss is transformed back into her pink shirt and the black lipstick is gone. She continues to smile as RAW went off the air.

Final Thoughts Overall:

Personally, other than Alexa/Asuka the rest of RAW this week (and for the past several weeks) was so convoluted. There is no need for Asuka and Charlotte to hold the tag titles. And who is going to be next to face them? Is it Shayna and Nia, Mandy and Dana, Peyton and Lacey? Everything is just thrown together. I like parts of what is going on but the execution and the future of it all lack a clear picture – if that makes sense.

Let’s get into the Winners & Losers of the week.

WINNER: Alexa Bliss

She pinned the champion.

Besides some of the segments, she does with Randy Orton, I am still completely sold on Alexa and this character. I love the fact of going between the two personas from play to pain. Changing her segments from A Moment of Bliss to Alexa’s Playground has been a great idea also.

I would prefer someone like Peyton Royce to be going for Asuka, however, Bliss facing Asuka at WrestleMania wouldn’t be bad either. She doesn’t even need to win the rumble for this to happen. I much rather Bianca still win the rumble and against Sasha personally. Alexa hasn’t held a singles title since 2018 so I wouldn’t be mad at it. It is far more interesting of an idea over Charlotte, Shayna, or Nia.

WINNER: Asuka

Okay, this is may be weird to put her in the winner spot this week as she was pinned but she sells everything so good. She put over Alexa in a big way tonight. I just want the tag titles off of her and Charlotte (I will continue to say the tag titles should go to NXT) and I want a clear concise title picture for the RAW Title. This could be between her and Alexa and tonight’s main event planted that seed.

LOSER: Peyton Royce

They are honestly going nowhere with her. It is always one step forward, two steps back. This was a perfect opportunity to propel her forward. She pins Bayley at Survivor Series – then nothing. She pins Charlotte two weeks ago -then nothing. Her booking continues to be one of the most frustrating things between all of the brands.

What did you think of this week’s RAW? Who were your Winners & Losers of the week? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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