Bobby Lashley Ready to Win WWE Title, Rhea Ripley Arrives, More Raw Fallout
After Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, the February 22 edition of WWE Raw had to follow up on a chaotic ending that saw the crowning of a new WWE champion.
The Miz had to pay the piper this week when Bobby Lashley and MVP made clear The All Mighty was owed the first shot at the title. WWE official Adam Pearce agreed, and the match was set for next week. Braun Strowman tried to get involved, but he was no match for a motivated Lashley.
Rhea Ripley may be the one woman who can save the struggling Raw women's division. A video package for The Nightmare was shown, promising her arrival on the red brand in short order.
Raw has long struggled to build up Retribution thanks to shoddy booking and wasted potential, and Monday's show sold the beginning of the end for this awkward stable. Mustafa Ali reprimanded his group for their loss and he seems ready to leave them behind.
Asuka must be feeling a case of deja vu as she begins another rivalry on The Road to WrestleMania with Charlotte Flair. The Queen cost The Empress of Tomorrow a match with a misplaced big boot, and it seems their feud is starting to open up.
Monday's Raw continued a trend toward the future and The Grandest Stage of Them All. WrestleMania 37 needed moments like this, though some of the booking left much to be desired.
Bobby Lashley Set to Become WWE Champion Next Week
The Miz tried to celebrate his shocking WWE Championship victory, but The Hurt Business came calling.
MVP demanded a title shot for Bobby Lashley, who had attacked Drew McIntyre after his successful defence of the belt inside the Elimination Chamber on Sunday before Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on the exhausted and battered Scot.
Braun Strowman interjected himself into the conversation on Monday, but The All Mighty defeated The Monster Among Men in the main event to earn his one-on-one shot at The A-Lister next week.
It is still unclear who will be in the title picture come WrestleMania 37 on April 10-11, but one thing is for certain: The All Mighty has the inside track. After losing his United States belt to Riddle on Sunday, he immediately rebounded by earning a crack at the WWE champion in dominant fashion.
The booking all makes sense at this point for Lashley. After a year of dominant performances, he is getting a push that makes him look unstoppable. Who could possibly match up to The All Mighty when everyone has fallen short against him? Even Drew McIntyre could only beat Lashley with the help of a Lana distraction.
Next week, Lashley will fight Miz, and the two have opposite momentum. The WWE champion is barely holding onto his gold, and the only way he can survive against the challenger is by using every trick in his playbook.
It would not be shocking if The A-Lister retained by getting himself disqualified or counted out next week, but it is just delaying the inevitable.
Lashley needs to be WWE champion. He is ready for the moment.
Rhea Ripley Brings Energy to Struggling Raw Women's Division
It's official: Rhea Ripley has arrived on Raw.
The Australian is one of the best in the business, and she will soon get a chance to add life to a Raw women's division desperately in need of it.
The division is WWE's least developed and organized of any brand. Despite having talent such as Asuka and Charlotte Flair, the company has not been able to make it work. Ripley might just be a major piece in a division that is a few wrestlers short.
Asuka has rarely defended her Raw Women's Championship since regaining it from Sasha Banks at SummerSlam in August. After Lacey Evans was taken out of the title picture with her surprise pregnancy announcement last week, The Empress of Tomorrow missed another title defense at a PPV.
Ripley vs. Asuka is a money match waiting to happen, but it's not the only big contest WWE can pull out of the hat here. The Nightmare is still owed a rematch with Flair after their WrestleMania 36 meeting for the NXT women's title, while Shayna Baszler is owed her own second shot at Ripley.
The Aussie has never faced Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Nia Jax, and so many others who could benefit from the chance to work with her. She adds opportunities for so many because any match she is in will draw attention.
WWE Looks Set to Break Up Retribution Before Group Ever Truly Started
The New Day again made fools out of Retribution as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods defeated T-Bar and Mace. Afterward, group leader Mustafa Ali told them he was done with all their regular defeats.
This is not the first time Ali has ranted at faction members for losing, but this did feel more like an end. He has failed to benefit from this group in any meaningful way, which is ridiculous based on the level of talent involved.
At Elimination Chamber, Ali let Kingston get another shot in the Chamber without saying a word. Meanwhile, he got pinned in a Fatal 4-Way to earn a shot at the United States title.
Ali is talented enough to be the leader of a major stable, but Retribution has never been booked like a major stable. They have lost almost every feud they have been in. They couldn't even win Monday's fight with two men.
At the very least, this could have led to Ali vs. Kingston with time, but that never came about. It's a shame that this much talent in one stable could not even get a positive win-loss record.
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair Continues WWE's Trend of Falling Back on Same Stories
After missing Sunday's Elimination Chamber, Asuka teamed with Charlotte Flair against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
After an accidental big boot from The Queen to The Empress of Tomorrow, though, The Irresistible Force pinned the Raw women's champion.
Tension is rising between Asuka and Charlotte, which can only mean one thing: We will once again get Asuka vs. Charlotte at WrestleMania. While this could be a chance to give The Empress her win back, it still showcases the lack of depth on Raw.
This story was the only one WWE could come up with for WrestleMania 37 after so much time to build any potential feud. Asuka's run has been defined by these repeat matches. She kept losing to Becky Lynch until The Man walked away due to her pregnancy, leaving The Empress with the gold but no true challengers.
She spent months dealing with Bayley and Sasha Banks, who were both SmackDown stars. After that, she had brief rivalries with Zelina Vega, Jax and Baszler that ultimately went nowhere. Now, The Empress is back to her most recognizable rival.
The match should be good, and the story should work. However, this second WrestleMania clash between Asuka and Flair is much less likely to get everyone's attention than their encounter at The Show of Shows three years ago.
WWE should have considered all options for a fresher opponent.