Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka, Bad Bunny Set for WrestleMania and More WWE Raw FalloutMarch 23, 2021
Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka, Bad Bunny Set for WrestleMania and More WWE Raw Fallout
WWE has pushed full steam ahead. The Martch 22 edition of Monday Night Raw focused on the key matches for WrestleMania 37. Three major contests were set by the end of the night for The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Bad Bunny has been a thorn in The Miz's side for month, and The A-Lister was fed up. Before defeating Jeff Hardy, he challenged the Grammy winner to a match at WrestleMania. Bunny accepted that monumental opportunity.
With Charlotte Flair out of action for a couple weeks with a positive COVID test, Rhea Ripley stepped up to challenge Asuka. The Nightmare has finally arrived and instantly feels poised to be one of WWE"s top women.
Before accepting Ripley's challenge, The Empress of Tomorrow faced another challenger. Peyton Royce stepped up and pushed Asuka nearly to the brink. It was a show-stealing performance from an underused asset.
Randy Orton called out Bray Wyatt once again, and The Fiend answered the call. He and Alexa Bliss laid out The Viper again, and this time they made their intentions clear. They wanted Orton at WrestleMania.
Raw's main event angle continued to build as well. Drew McIntyre took out Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, leaving Bobby Lashley seething. MVP was forced to look for outside reinforcements against The Scottish Warrior.
The night was long as always but filled with plenty of interesting developments on the Road to WrestleMania. Only time will tell if the right decisions are made to sell the best show possible.
Rhea Ripley Needs to Be Treated as a Top Star for the Sake of Raw's Women
Rhea Ripley arrived after Asuka's match with Peyton Royce to announce that she wanted to fight The Empress of Tomorrow at WrestleMania. The Raw women's champion gladly accepting, especially given the news that Charlotte Flair may not be able to compete due to a positive COVID test.
The Nightmare is one of the best women's wrestlers in the world today, and she brings a unique skill set that no one can match. Despite this, it was unclear where she would fit on any WWE brand after she ended her run in NXT by emphatically putting over Raquel Gonzalez.
It feels like WWE has fallen into this match. Asuka vs. Charlotte was the original plan, and it likely did not include Ripley, who had no build to this point. There is a chance The Queen is added to the contest to make it a triple threat, but that only happens if she cleared before the show.
While WWE loves to book triple threat women's matches, Asuka vs. Ripley feels big enough to not need anyone else. Just let the two perform. Alongside Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair, these two singles matches can define the journeys of the women to 'Mania, giving a massive spotlight to fresh talent.
Last year, The Nightmare and The Queen arguably stole the show as far as pure in-ring action. It is possible if not likely that Ripley and Asuka can do even more together.
Peyton Royce Proved That She Deserves So Much More
Peyton Royce asked for an opportunity at Asuka, and she got it. The two went long in a physical contest where the former IIconic got too frustrated to put The Empress of Tomorrow down. She ran into the Asuka Lock and tapped out.
This was a chance for Royce to prove she is undervalued, and she absolutely delivered. With time she desperately needed, she pushed Asuka in a match that should have happened at WWE Fastlane with the title on the line.
It was proof that Raw's women's division is not nearly as barren as WWE makes it look too often. The former IIconic has been shuffled into tag teams at every turn. While she and Billie Kay had a connection, the alliance with Lacey Evans never worked.
It is time to really let the women shine that can deliver. Royce has the talent to compete against the very best of Raw and SmackDown. At the very least, she should be given some multi-woman opportunity on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Bad Bunny Should Not Debut Solo
WWE brought in Bad Bunny with big plans to highlight one of the biggest musical talents in the world today. The stage has now been set for how he will factor into WrestleMania. The Miz laid down the challenge, and Bunny accepted, a one-on-one clash at The Show of Shows.
While the prospect may cause some to buy the show, Bunny is most certainly not ready to have a full match on The Grandest Stage of Them All. He began training a few months back, and it was likely more for a few spots than a full match.
The A-Lister is safe veteran that can protect Bunny, but he's not the kind of star to genuinely elevate a talent in the ring. He's a controlled steady heel that needs his opponents to be flashy to perform at his absolute best.
Luckily, the easy answer is the right answer. Miz and John Morrison can face Bunny and Damian Priest. That way, Bunny can get his moments in the ring, but The Archer of Infamy can do the heavy-lifting.
The Shaman of Sexy and The Archer of Infamy deserve better than watching from the sidelines. Priest has potential to be a megastar for the next few years in WWE with the right build. Morrison is a journeyman that has earned a spot every year at the event. Let them all work and make the better match.
WWE Has Chance to Highlight or Bury Underused Talent Against Drew McIntyre
After Drew McIntyre defeated both Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in a handicap match. MVP snapped. He decided he would find someone else to help Bobby Lashley get an edge against The Scottish Warrior. He went to a locker room including Lucha House Party, Ricochet and more for help.
Already, McIntyre has helped further to push Alexander and Benjamin back after they had been given second life as members of The Hurt Business. It seems most likely that anyone sent after McIntyre will regret taking that chance.
However, there is an opportunity for WWE to rewrite someone's fortune. The Hurt Business is an opportunity for fresh talent to get a spotlight. Someone like Humberto Carrillo or Akira Tozawa, who can barely get genuine screen time, could benefit from MVP's guidance or even just a WWE Championship match.
All it would take is for WWE to let a wrestler get a cheap shot on the former champion. Let a young star shine by putting them in that major spotlight. Even if McIntyre ultimately gets his revenge, it could be an important spotlight to get someone underused on the 'Mania card in some way.
Instead, it is more likely whoever steps up will get knocked down. McIntyre is such a massive star now that most are not going to get any rub going after him.
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt Are in a Unique Precarious Situation
Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss followed up on brutalizing Randy Orton on Sunday by answering his challenge on Monday. The Fiend laid out The Viper with Bliss' help, and The Goddess pointed to the WrestleMania sign.
Since it first began, Orton and Wyatt have had a unique rivalry. This is a story that is about to reach its dramatic conclusion. Two nights of WrestleMania will lead to plenty of different kinds of wrestling, but nothing will be quite like this rivalry.
The question is ultimately what type of match WWE puts together for the two. This could be a wrestling match with some effects, but that will likely lead to a similar reception as their first match had at WrestleMania.
It would be better for them to have some kind of cinematic match instead. The obvious answer would be a Firefly Fun House match, but the burned visage of The Fiend may be best used in a different kind of contest.
WWE has a major task ahead to sell a live crowd on the antics they have gotten away with thanks to a lack of an audience. However, the reward could be even greater if The Fiend's new fiery powers can play out in a satisfying way.