It took about 15 video recaps to get there, but the main event of this episode of Raw finally gave the crowd what they wanted: Edge.
This was a show that seemed to start a lot of little stories now that we’re genuinely in WrestleMania season, but nothing had the emotional weight of Edge charging out onto the stage, soaking in the reception, and grabbing at his hair as he stared into the crowd.
Edge then got a microphone and reminded everyone how freaking accurate his “wrestlers are artists” comment was. This man is a savant of storytelling, and he set the stage for his apparent WrestleMania storyline in a way that’s just...I have no words, man! It was incredible.
It came down to Edge’s framing, really. After soaking in the crowd’s adulation, he first addressed the question of how it was possible that he could ever return from a permanently-disqualifying injury. And folks, this part probably hit me harder than most of you. I’ve got two spinal fusions myself, so I can relate to what Edge went through with his neck. It’s a really crummy process, and it takes years to feel “normal.”
Edge said that he couldn’t stand the “what if” of the whole ordeal. He had another surgery - I’m assuming to remove the rods from his fusion? - and trained with the intentions of reaching the mountaintop one last time. He’s finally back. For how long? Who knows. But that’s why he wants to cherish this last ride with everything he has. He had the grit to make this happen, and he’s going to continue to get back up - adversity be damned.
What an awesome framing of his return, right?! In essence, everything we get from Edge is a cherry on top, a gift we never expected to receive. And he’s so excited that it’s infectious.
But that brought out Randy Orton, the final man that Edge eliminated in the Royal Rumble. And Orton took the framing that Edge gave us and knocked it out of the park. We don’t get to see vulnerable Orton very often, but he briefly touched on the self-destructive tendencies of his youth and revealed the person who always brought him out it: Edge.
It hit the exact note of valuing health and understanding our mortality that Edge just touched upon. Orton also suggested embracing that “one last time” by reforming Rated RKO. Edge was overcome with emotion. He let his guard down...and the Viper struck.
Y’all, game on. All in on this feud. Hope you’ve got enough grit to overcome a chair shot to the back of the head, Edge.
This is going to be so fun.
Kevin Owens needs more help
We see faces confronting heels each and every week, but there was a moment to the Rollins/KO & Joe feud that just felt more real than normal. It was a moment where the AOP was shown on the video tron, and Rollins declared the AOP was in his locker room and wouldn’t interfere in the Raw Tag Team Championship match. When Joe and Owens expressed their doubts, Rollins clutched his pearls and bemoaned the fact that anyone would ever question his character.
“Are you calling me a liar?” Rollins gasped.
Joe immediately said yes. Like, before Rollins could even get his complaint out. Owens was quick to agree. Rollins made a big deal of the whole thing and had AOP say some words to prove that it was a live feed, and the whole interaction was awesome and stood out from the usual script.
With that said...the good guys just can’t figure out a way to thwart Rollins, even if they see through his tricks. The Viking Raiders were successful in subduing the AOP this time, but Samoa Joe seemed to legitimately get hurt in this match. It forced Owens to go it alone, and despite plenty of near falls and a Stunner to Rollins, he still couldn’t get the job done.
Firstly, I really hope Joe’s going to be alright. He’s been so great in this feud so far, and losing him for any significant amount of time would really hurt. The point remains that these guys need some more backup - and luckily, it seems like the groundwork has been laid for at least one person to...pick a fight with Seth Rollins.
Oh look! A babyface finally doing a thing other than just accepting a heel’s cheating and doing nothing to retaliate!
Andrade hit his Hammerlock DDT a while back on Humberto Carrillo onto the concrete floor, putting him out of commission for several weeks. Carrillo got another shot at Andrade on this show, and snapped when the US Champion cheated again to retain his title.
The key here is that Carrillo had been in command, and was furious at being robbed yet again. The young babyface decided it was time to get even, and planted Andrade with a DDT onto the exposed concrete.
Atta boy, Carrillo! No one likes a goody two-shoes! More mean stuff moving forward!
Drew McIntyre def. The OC, gets F5’d - McIntyre declared that he’s going after Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, and Lesnar immediately fired the opening salvos. Not much happened other than that.
Rey Mysterio def. MVP - This happened...because MVP’s kid is a fan of Rey? I’m honestly fine with that. Not every match needs massive stakes; it just needs a reason to happen, you know what I mean? I’m totally fine with MVP returning to work as a sort of enhancement talent for midcarders as well.
Aleister Black def. Local Talent, is now the one who knocks - Man, that Black Mass was brutal. Also, an eager Black on the prowl is absolutely terrifying.
Charlotte Flair def. Asuka via DQ - Charlotte was content to put off her championship match decision, and was confronted by Asuka for her troubles. Solid match that basically led to Sane making the save and both parties arriving at a stalemate. Seems like they’re going to do this feud for just a little bit.
Mojo Rawley’s...got an offensive lineman? - Nothing more annoying than some overly-obsessed jock who can’t say anything without a sports metaphor, amirite?
Liv Morgan def. Lana - This is just depressing to watch. Glad Liv got the win, but the crowd didn’t give either person much of a reaction. In fact, the strongest reaction was a “Rusev Day!” chant.
Erick Rowan def. Local Talent - We didn’t even get any cage shenanigans this time!
There was plenty of story progression on this show, and that final segment was flat-out awesome. It also had a lot of undercard stuff that’s just not clicking.
Not a perfect show, but definitely worth your time; it’s WrestleMania season, after all.