Randy Orton's Value, Prepare for Asuka and Mustafa Ali Pushes, More Raw Takes
While the WWE Raw after WrestleMania is renowned as the night when the company throws out its biggest surprises, it was the April 26 edition that may have outshined it for big moments.
Before some surprise returns, the show highlighted Randy Orton's 20 years in the business. He opened the show and closed it on top with another fine performance.
Becky Lynch returned after a short hiatus and met a familiar rival, when Asuka made her own return after nine months to begin a sure-fire rise in the ranks of the women's division.
In his first appearance in five months, Mustafa Ali interrupted The Miz and Theory to challenge the new United States champion. However, he found a different rival when he was attacked from behind by Tommaso Ciampa.
It was a night that continued to create a fresh foundation for Raw by bringing back key stars in interesting angles.
Randy Orton Is an Invaluable Veteran for WWE
It is remarkable to think Randy Orton has been wrestling in WWE for 20 years. One of the most reliable Superstars the company has produced, he has done so much in a variety of roles over the years.
While many point to The Viper's 14 world championships as the sign of his impact on the industry, his current run may be even more important. He reinvents himself to fit the story he is in, and he has made his reign with the Raw Tag Team Championships alongside Riddle feel special.
The 42-year-old has held every major title in WWE outside of the Universal Championship, and he has made each reign matter. He is a safe, reliable worker who adapts to his opponents to create memorable matches.
Orton has made the most of every year in the company, and he will make the most of every year to come. He is a definite first-ballot WWE Hall of Famer, yet there is a good chance he will wrestle full-time for another decade before his induction.
Asuka Is Missing Piece for Raw Women's Division
Few wrestlers have left more of an indelible mark on the women's division in WWE than Asuka. She was the first woman to truly compete with the Four Horsewomen in the ring and stand above them.
The Raw women's division has desperately needed at least one more great Superstar to create enough interesting feuds. And The Empress of Tomorrow adds that final piece to make the division special.
Asuka and Becky Lynch may be the immediate plan, but both can help elevate the talent around them in the long term. Big Time Becks can also help to reestablish The Empress as a top contender again.
From there, Asuka can go on to challenge Bianca Belair.
The EST of WWE put Sonya Deville behind her on Monday's show and will likely face Queen Zelina or Carmella as she waits for The Empress, Rhea Ripley and others to complete their current angles.
Mustafa Ali Needs to Finally Win Gold in New Run
When Mustafa Ali took time away from WWE, few expected he would be gone for nearly six months. He has been a consistent professional for the company, even taking on the unenviable task of trying to revitalize Retribution.
After some behind-the-scenes drama, most did not expect him to return. Instead, he is now on the rise again after Monday's win over The Miz. In order to help mend his fractured relationship with the company, though, it's time to give him what his talent deserves.
Ali is one of the smoothest wrestlers in WWE and a great storyteller who often stepped up to develop his feuds when the company would not give him enough airtime.
On Monday, though, the 36-year-old challenged United States champion Theory. It may be too soon for anyone to dethrone Vince McMahon’s protege, but he can be a perfect next titleholder when the time is right.
It is a travesty that Ali has yet to hold any gold in WWE. While the company has a stacked roster, there are few who can compete with him in terms of overall ability.
Tommaso Ciampa Will Work Much Better as a Heel on Main Roster
Tommaso Ciampa was the rock of NXT for almost seven years and was a heel for most of that run. He knows how to turn a crowd against him, and he will have a much easier time selling himself as a villain on Raw.
His move set, which is focused on dominating and humiliating opponents, can be brutal. While he isn't the biggest wrestler at 201 pounds, The Blackheart knows how to adapt his style to any kind of opponent to look dangerous.
It was hard to believe Ciampa would succeed as a babyface on a roster packed with smaller guys with serious talent. He needed to stand out, and his attack on Mustafa Ali on Monday represents the first step toward that goal.
The two men can now help raise each other's standing on the red brand. It is a great pairing that will lead to matches everyone will be talking about.