We’ve done it, folks.
After going through the rosters of AEW, Smackdown, and NXT, we’ve finally reached the final week of the “Overpushed, Underpushed, or Just Right” series. To close it out, we’re going to be looking at the roster for Monday Night Raw. You already know the deal by now, so let’s not waste any more time. Let’s take a look at some pushes.
AJ Styles: Is he still one of the better in-ring performers on the WWE roster? Yes. Is he also getting ready for his 44th birthday in about a week? Yes. It was inevitable that he’d be out of the main event scene, even temporarily. Obviously, not everyone can be in the scene at the same time. I think WWE found a good spot for him, albeit in an oddly forced way at first. He’s in a position where he can do 99% of the work in his tag matches, which basically makes him a singles wrestler, anyway. I’m still not sure about the mileage that his team with Omos can have, but that’s not something that needs to be worried about right now. Let’s go ahead and say AJ’s current push is just right. He still gets to have a major focus on television, and he still gets to be an important part of entertaining matches and storylines, but he’s also helping to get Omos over, so it works in a lot of ways.
Akira Tozawa: Tozawa is one of my all-time favorite wrestlers from the Dragon Gate promotion in Japan. I was excited to see him sign with WWE, but clearly, I shouldn’t have been. It didn’t start off too poorly. He won the Cruiserweight Title in his first few months of being signed, but that reign lasted less than a week. Since then… oh, man, since then… he’s been nothing more than a comedy character and a fixture in the 24/7 Title picture. He’s a ten-time 24/7 Champion, which means about as much as a politician’s promise. WWE missed what I feel was a good idea by not pairing Tozawa up with Apollo Crews a few years back. As real-life friends and former tag partners in Dragon Gate, they would’ve been a fun addition to the tag division. This is an easy case of being underpushed, and that makes me sad.
Angel Garza: What do you say about a man whose current feud involves shoving flowers up another man’s ass? He had a ton of early momentum in his time with the company, winning the Cruiserweight Title and then going viral for proposing to his girlfriend in the middle of the ring after winning the belt. His title reign wasn’t all that long or particularly memorable, but he was the champion nonetheless. After moving to Raw, it looked like he could be built up again, being involved in a mini-feud with a top star like Rey Mysterio right off the bat and earning a Raw Tag Team Title shot (with Andrade) at WrestleMania 36. Once WrestleMania was done, the wheels completely fell off for Garza. He would lose matches left and right, and hasn’t really received any sort of sustained push since. Honestly, while he’s still an exciting, young talent for the company, I’m okay with where he is. His push is just right, because he still gets to have his moments in matches, and of course, someone has to lose.
Bobby Lashley: Just right. That was easy. He was floating around in the midcard scene for a while, but things have totally changed for the guy, and he’s being booked like an unstoppable force. That’s exactly what he should be.
Braun Strowman: On looks and measurables alone, this is someone that should be almost impossible to defeat. He’s bigger than just about everybody, stronger than just about everybody, and meaner than just about everybody. That makes his booking through the years even more baffling. Until he won the Universal Title at WrestleMania 36, he was 1-5-1 in Universal Title matches, with that win coming by disqualification as a challenger, which meant he still didn’t become the new champion. He would get pushed to the top, only to lose in his title shot, followed by being pushed to the top again, and then the cycle would continue. Now, he’s even losing matches for the WWE Title, failing to take the belt from Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania Backlash. He’s underpushed. I don’t think he should be portrayed as the “I’ve been bullied my whole life” babyface ever again, either.
Bray Wyatt: Bray has wrestled one time so far in 2021, and it was a match that went less than six minutes long, where he basically took no real bumps. He seems to be participating in those cinematic-style matches more often than not, which again means that he doesn’t take many real bumps. The character has run its course. It has been murdered, autopsied, buried, been dug up, had people touch the corpse inappropriately, been hacked up, had the different body parts mailed to addresses around the country, ended up on an episode of Criminal Minds, and so forth. Overpushed. WWE ruined one of the best things they had, and now, it’s impossible to take him seriously. If I were Windham Rotunda, I’d wonder if someone in charge of things in WWE hated me. The company keeps taking each new version of Bray Wyatt’s character and destroying it, all for no apparent reason. Every time they seem like they’re going to let him fly, it all goes to shit. He might as well be Husky Harris at this point.
Cedric Alexander: Underpushed. Again, WWE took something that was working perfectly, and they put a bullet in the back of its head for no reason. Cedric Alexander was in a beautiful spot as a member of The Hurt Business. If the WWE Champion is in your group, you’re guaranteed to be on television a ton. Cedric teaming up with Shelton Benjamin was a good showcase for both men, and they were doing very well for themselves in the Raw tag division. MVP was the mouthpiece for the group. Everyone was in the perfect spot. Now, you can pretty much take it to the bank that Cedric is going to get lost in the mix AGAIN after his little feud with Shelton is over and done with. Sigh.
Damian Priest: If Vince McMahon is still trying to find his next big Latino star, does he have him in Damian Priest? I have a suspicion that we’re going to find out at some point soon. Right now, I think we can say his push is just right. He’s in a key spot on Raw, but not tooooo high up the card. It allows him to have longer matches in the midcard, preparing him for a potential bigger spot down the road. The bonus about being in the spot he’s in is that there’s no harm and no foul if Vince decides Priest isn’t going to be the guy yet. The pairing with Bad Bunny was a good first test, and he seemingly passed that with flying colors.
Drew Gulak: The man is getting flowers shoved straight up his anus. What do you think? I’d say he deserves slightly more than that, and no, I don’t mean he should have flowers and candies shoved up his ass. Underpushed.
Drew McIntyre: He’s been one of the top talents in WWE for about a year-and-a-half now, winning the Royal Rumble in 2020 and then going on to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania. His title reign lasted about seven months, but he would regain the title again three weeks later. The second reign would last three months, and he’s still trying to chase it down again. Drew has been on the losing end of five out of his last six matches. To show you how hot he’s been, you’d have to go all the way back to July 2019 to find the last time he had that kind of bad luck. The funny thing about the losing streak is that it hasn’t exactly knocked him down the card. It’s still rumored that he’s going to continue feuding with Bobby Lashley and try to become a three-time WWE Champion. I think that’s the right spot for him. Raw needs top-tier faces, and he’s someone filling one of those spots nicely. His push is just right.
Elias: When Elias first debuted on the main roster, it looked like he was destined for big things. He was in that spot where he wouldn’t win all of his matches, but those matches would almost always be lengthy and he’d get a chance to look really good in defeat. On the October 1st, 2018 episode of Raw, Elias got himself one of the biggest heel reactions in recent memory when he made fun of the city of Seattle for losing their NBA team to Oklahoma City. That was an all-time great moment. Did it lead anywhere? No. It did not. Three weeks after drawing one of the loudest heel reactions in years… WWE turned Elias face. That didn’t work, and he floated around for a bit before turning heel again after only three months as a face. A dip into the 24/7 Title pool didn’t do much for him, either. His current pairing with Jaxson Ryker isn’t working too well for him now, and he has been on the losing end of damn near every match he’s had since Ryker stood by his side. I’m a bit torn on this one. As I continue saying in this column series, someone has to lose. That hasn’t changed. However, Elias is someone that had something there, and he was never truly given a chance to do something like win a midcard title, etc. I’ll say that he’s underpushed for now, but he’s getting close to the point of no return, and that’s when his tag here will change.
Erik: I’m not even sure what’s going on here. After Ivar had to miss time with a neck injury, Erik was working as a singles wrestler for a bit. He dabbled in the world of Raw Underground, and also in the 24/7 Title division, but all without success, unless you count winning the 24/7 Title once as being successful. Ivar returned after being out for six months, and The Viking Raiders found immediate success. They won their first two matches back together, both coming against the team of Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. Then… nothing. They haven’t had a match in over a month. There haven’t been any rumors of injuries. They just haven’t been wrestling. Raw is in need of more tag teams, and here we have The Viking Raiders just sitting around and not being used. Underpushed.
Gran Metalik: If I had to guess, I would say the average WWE fan probably thinks Gran Metalik has “jobber” status. I was surprised to find out that Metalik is 4-4 on television so far in 2021. That’s slightly better than the 9-14 record he had during the “pandemic era” in 2020, but still a lot better than you would expect. He’s one of the best high-fliers in WWE right now, but there hasn’t been any real connection to the fans, pre-COVID or otherwise. Even still, I’ve already said that Raw is in need of tag teams. Metalik and Lince Dorado are a fun team that can do damage in the division with the right push. With any push, actually. Underpushed.
Humberto Carrillo: In the research for this column, I discovered that Carrillo has lost his last eight matches on television or pay-per-view. For some wrestlers, eight televised matches would take place over the span of two months or less. Not for Humberto Carrillo. For him, that means he hasn’t won a televised match since June 8th, 2020. By the way, that was a tag match where he wasn’t the team member who scored the pin. If you want to go back to his last televised singles win, you have to go back to April 27th, 2020. On that episode of Raw, he defeated a few people in a Gauntlet Match before ultimately losing to AJ Styles in the same match. If you don’t count THAT as a match win, then you have to go even further back, to April 6th, 2020. That was the post-WrestleMania episode of Raw (actually taped on March 24th), and he pinned Brendan Vink. Wow. That’s a long time ago. You know the deal, though. Say it with me… someone has to lose. It might as well be him. He has never been given any type of story whatsoever, other than the fact that he’s Angel Garza’s cousin. That is literally the only thing they’ve said about him. Let’s just say his push is just right and keep it moving.
Ivar: I’ve already said it for Erik, so I have to say it for Ivar… underpushed. Ivar gets injured, makes his big return, picks up two victories, and then… nothing. That’s just weird.
Jaxson Ryker: Whether you like it or not, Ryker’s tweets cost Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake their push. The rumor mill had it that those two were in line for a Smackdown Tag Team Title reign, and then it all went up in smoke. After being away from television for a while, Ryker would return at the side of Elias, where he has been ever since. He’s on a bit of a losing streak, not having won a televised match of any kind in over four months. Whatever. Long before people were mad at him because of the things he tweeted, they were mad at him because he wasn’t very good as a wrestler. He shouldn’t be getting a push, and he isn’t getting a push, so it’s just right.
Jeff Hardy: Underpushed. As far as star power is concerned, Jeff Hardy is one of the biggest talents on the Raw roster. He’s 6-23 in his last 29 televised matches, going back to September 2020, which absolutely boggles my mind. I don’t know if I would say that he should be WWE Champion again, but he is a sorely needed piece of the puzzle when it comes to people who are in contention for the WWE Title, at least. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Jinder Mahal: Obviously, this is an entry without a lot to base things on right now. Jinder just made his return to WWE television, and has only had one match. It was a victory over Jeff Hardy, but even I’ve defeated Jeff Hardy twice in the last few months, so that doesn’t mean much. I don’t have a choice but to label his push as just right for now. What I have to think about is the rumor that Jinder is going to be feuding with Drew McIntyre soon, with a possible trip back to the WWE Title scene after that. I have to say that I don’t want any parts of that, although I probably don’t have much of a choice.
John Morrison: I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, but it was a mistake putting John Morrison back with The Miz when Morrison returned to WWE in 2019. Yeah, yeah, yeah… they have a ton of history together. That’s super duper, but I don’t care. Tell me what it did for them. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Exactly. They were annoying as all fuck, but not in the way that heels can be where you want to see them get their comeuppance. Their level of annoyance was to where you don’t want to see them anymore. With The Miz now out of action with a torn ACL, Morrison is potentially going to be on his own for a lengthy period of time. I really think it would behoove WWE, and Morrison himself, if he goes to a more serious character moving ahead. It wouldn’t take any effort at all to put him in the United States Title picture, and honestly, he can be pushed to the WWE Title scene if the company decides they want it enough. For now, I’m going to say his push is just right, but only because it remains to be seen just what we’ll get from Morrison, post-Miz.
Kofi Kingston: When we went through KofiMania a couple years back, it didn’t do anything to hurt The New Day as a trio. Kofi was able to do his thing as a singles wrestler, while Big E and Xavier Woods continued working as a team. It all made sense. Now, if you were going to have Kofi as a singles wrestler, that leaves Woods as his own singles wrestler on Raw, while E works singles matches on Smackdown. If it were going to be that way, I would have no problems with Woods going after the United States Title. In fact, you could tell a really good story down the road if, say, Kofi was the WWE Champion on Raw and Big E was the Universal Champion on Smackdown. Imagine those two having a fun match at Survivor Series, where WWE likes to put on those types of matches. None of this really matters, more than likely, as Kofi will fail to take the WWE Title from Bobby Lashley, and we’ll just go right back to Kofi and Woods as a team. It’s still fun to think about. I can’t help but say Kofi is underpushed, though. Nobody in WWE history has more Tag Team Title reigns than Kofi, who has 14 of them in his career. He also holds the record for most cumulative days spent as a Tag Team Champion with 1,330. I have no doubt he’ll add to both of those records, but why not move him back to a spot that many people are demanding? After all, he never should’ve been pushed back down in the first place after that traveshamockery of a loss to Brock Lesnar that ended his WWE Title reign.
Lince Dorado: As I said for Gran Metalik, I think Lince Dorado is underpushed. When Raw needs more tag teams, wouldn’t it make sense to actually put an effort into pushing some of the teams that are there?
Mace: The Amazon River runs for thousands of miles. At some points, it runs through areas of the rainforest that are almost untouched and have barely been explored. Because of the porous limestone in these areas, the river water leaks through the stone and travels deep into the earth and forms underground pools almost a mile below the surface. Over thousands of years, small, blind transparent fish have lived and evolved in these pools. These fish have never seen the sun or surface and have never been seen by humans. These fish cared more about Retribution than I did. Get Mace and his “overacting college Drama student pretending to be a wrestler” facial expressions out of here. Overpushed. He doesn’t belong on television.
Mansoor: Imagine if you will… a Saudi Arabian wrestler signing a WWE contract. He is the first Saudi wrestler to ever compete in the company. WWE puts effort… not a lot, but effort nonetheless… into pushing him, giving him a 49-match win streak on shows like 205 Live, Main Event, and the Network events from Saudi Arabia. After three years with the company, the wrestler finally gets to make his main roster debut… where he promptly ends his winning streak after losing a match by disqualification. What in thee entire fuck was the point of any of that?!? Before you answer, yes, I’m aware it had to do with Vince McMahon getting on his knees for the Royal Family. Mansoor still isn’t ready to be wrestling anybody on Raw or Smackdown, so he’s overpushed. I’m sure he’s a swell guy, and none of this is his fault, but it doesn’t make it less true.
Mustafa Ali: There might not be a more underpushed wrestler under WWE contract right now. If you take the combination of his in-ring skills, promo ability, desire, and mind for the business, you’re looking at someone that could/should be a main event player. In reality, he’s someone that is a week away from being ineligible for this column, because he hasn’t wrestled on television in nearly two months. His last televised victory came against Ricochet on the December 28th, 2020 episode of Raw. Someone make it make sense.
Omos: WWE has been very careful with this guy. He’s less than two years into his career, with his first match taking place in July 2019. Omos has made more appearances as one of Akira Tozawa’s ninjas than he has matches wrestled on the main roster. Yet, he’s still one-half of the Raw Tag Team Champions, and is being pushed like a video game final boss type of monster. So far, I don’t have any issues with his push and presentation. He probably isn’t ready to wrestle for 20 minutes every week, so luckily for him he doesn’t have to do that. As mentioned, AJ Styles can handle almost all of the in-ring work, allowing for Omos to have a spot or two where he dominates and helps his team win. I’ll say his push is just right. With this being WWE, though, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they ruin this and have Omos work more than he should be. I guess we’ll have to see.
Randy Orton: Well… it looks like Team R-K-Bro is going to be a thing for a while. I’ve seen arguments that it “devalues” Orton, who has been putting in some of the best work of his Hall Of Fame career in the last year or two. However, I’ve also seen arguments that it benefits Orton, as it keeps him busy and away from the main event scene for a bit so that he doesn’t get “stale” and all that. Both arguments are factual to an extent. It’s probably good to have Orton doing something different for a while. At the same time, though, it has been three months since Orton has competed for any title, and that title shot came three months after his previous title shot. It’s not like he’s been the WWE Title challenger at every single pay-per-view with a couple title matches on Raw on top of that. I’m pretty curious about this team with Riddle. The “odd couple” tag teams are usually pretty entertaining, and it’s even better when both members can also put in work in the ring. I want to give them a shot, so I’ll say Orton’s push is just right. As soon as it becomes clear the pairing isn’t working out, or they overstay their welcome, then Orton goes right back into the underpushed category.
Ricochet: When you have a wrestler that defies any possible law of gravity and physics in the ring, you’d think you would want him in some sort of a featured role. In the land of the “sports entertainer” and larger-than-life characters, that wrestler can be punished a bit by not having the greatest of mic skills, but you should still find a way to make things work. Those shortcomings will probably prevent Ricochet from ever being a permanent main event wrestler on Raw or Smackdown. His positives should absolutely make him a permanent fixture in the United States or Intercontinental Title pictures. In case you were wondering, the last time he competed for one of those midcard titles was at SummerSlam 2019, when AJ Styles successfully defended the United States Title against him after beating Ricochet for said title at Extreme Rules the month before. That was almost two years ago. It’s been too long. Underpushed. You have to let your stars shine.
Riddle: I’ll say Riddle’s push is just right, just like Randy Orton. As I said, I want to give them a fair shot as a tag team to see if it works. Riddle’s matches are main event quality, but his character is one of the prime examples of not exactly being for everybody. We’ll see what the team does for him. If it doesn’t work out, Riddle is still someone that, if things can be toned down a bit, can be a World Champion for this company.
R-Truth: If you were to make a list of pro wrestlers who have had the greatest comedic timing ever, R-Truth would top that list for many, many people. He’s fantastically hilarious, and has been given endless opportunities to show that off through the years. As a two-time United States Champion and a one-time Tag Team Champion (with Kofi Kingston), he has also had chances to be a “normal” wrestler, too. It certainly appears as though he’s locked into this 24/7 Title comedy stuff now. 2021 has only seen him have one match that wasn’t for the 24/7 Title, and that was four months ago. This is coming off of only having eight non-24/7 matches in all of 2020. Truth celebrated his 49th birthday a few months ago, so it’s probably not likely that things are going to change much for him. The 24/7 Title was an idea that was good in theory, but WWE massacred it and decided on giving us the same cookie-cutter bullshit on every show in every week during every month. I just don’t know where else Truth would get a chance to do anything right now, so I’ll say his push is just right.
Sheamus: There might not be anyone in WWE that is on a bigger hot streak right now than Sheamus. Whenever he steps in the ring now, no matter who he’s facing, you’re going to get some high-quality work. Not all that long ago, people were thinking Sheamus would be in one of the top matches at WrestleMania because of that hot streak and his feud with Drew McIntyre. I think he’s underpushed right now. Yes, he’s the current United States Champion, but he’s earned a spot higher up the card. Whether or not he gets it is one thing, but he deserves it.
Shelton Benjamin: You might as well take just about everything I said in Cedric Alexander’s entry and place it here, too. Shelton was in a perfect position with The Hurt Business, and WWE pissed it all away. Underpushed. Even at the age of 45 (46 in a little over a month), he’s got a lot to contribute, and given WWE’s track record, he probably won’t get the chance to do so now.
T-Bar: I still don’t give one Kentucky fried fuck about Retribution, but T-Bar, minus the stupid name, is someone that is underpushed. If you’re only familiar with his work since making his main roster debut, do yourself a favor and check out his work with Keith Lee. They have about ten matches against each other in NXT that you can check out, or you can hunt down their matches from EVOLVE, PWG, and other places on the independent scene. He’s got other fun stuff to look at, but his matches against Keith Lee really showcase the type of work that he’s capable of. If… IF… he ever gets the chance to do stuff like that on the main roster, there’s hope for him yet.
Xavier Woods: I feel bad for Woods sometimes. The wrestling world got caught up in KofiMania, and rightfully so. Then, the wrestling world got caught up in wanting to give the Universal Title to Big E. All the while, Xavier Woods was just there in the background as the third member of The New Day. Woods is an ultra-talented in-ring worker, too, you know. He doesn’t have the veteran story that Kofi has, nor does he look like a superhero come to life like Big E, but he’s underpushed because he should also be moving beyond the tag team scene. I want to see Kofi Kingston back in the main event, and I also want to see Xavier Woods competing for the United States Title. He has only competed for a midcard title three times in his WWE career, and two of those times (Battleground 2014 for the Intercontinental Title and the May 5th, 2014 episode of Raw for the United States Title) were in Battle Royals.
Asuka: Do you remember when Asuka was in NXT? When she was on top, you couldn’t name many women on the planet who could’ve beaten her in a fight. Hell, you couldn’t name many men who could’ve beaten her. Things changed for her when she was finally called up to the main roster. Don’t get me wrong… she has seen a ton of success. She is a two-time Raw Women’s Champion, one-time Smackdown Women’s Champion, two-time Women’s Tag Team Champion, a Royal Rumble winner, and a Money In The Bank Winner. Even with all that, how often does she seem like the top woman on whatever brand she’s on? Either someone else (Becky Lynch, Charlotte, etc.) will be treated better, even though Asuka is the champion, or her booking will be so weird that it brings her down a couple notches. There was also that weird stretch when she was also being overused, feuding for the Raw Women’s Title, Smackdown Women’s Title, and the Women’s Tag Team Titles at the same time. It’s hard to really discuss Asuka in a column like this. There are so many issues with the way she’s booked, but bah gawd, she’s still booked better than most women in the history of the company. Gun to my head, I’ll go with Asuka being underpushed. There is money to be made with Asuka being the legit badass that she can be.
Charlotte Flair: Whether you like Charlotte or not, she has earned the pushes she gets. She looks like, and carries herself as, an absolute superstar, and you can’t say that about a lot of the women in wrestling. Charlotte has also proven to have great in-ring chemistry with almost everyone she feuds with, which helps to prolong said feuds and make you look forward to her matches more. I will never deny her these things. Now that we’ve got all that good stuff out of the way… she is listed as a 12-time World Champion, after only eight years in the business. To put that into perspective, Ric Flair and John Cena are credited as 16-time World Champions. Ric was 23 years into his career when he won his 12th World Title, while Cena was just short of 12 years into his career when he won his 12th. WWE is laying it on very thick when it comes to them labeling Charlotte as the greatest of all-time. Too thick. Even if you do consider her the greatest woman to ever step foot in a wrestling ring, there’s no need for her to retire as a 47-time World Champion, or whatever asinine number these people are aiming for. Controversial or not, Charlotte is overpushed, simply because she doesn’t need so many title reigns. Men have feuds without titles being involved. In fact, they have them all the time. Charlotte seems to ONLY feud for titles, and that needs to stop.
Dana Brooke: Her 2021 win/loss record in televised matches is currently sitting at 4-9, which is actually much better than I was expecting it to be. It’s down from a 10-12 in those matches in 2020, but she has yet to be pushed as a serious wrestler, so I just expected a lot more losses. Raw has been the home of nonsensical bullshit for a long time now, and a lot of Dana’s recent booking is a prime example of that. She and Mandy Rose have been somewhat feuding with Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, but again… nonsensical bullshit. Nia and her painful butthole get made fun of by Dana and Mandy, but oh no, Dana and Mandy don’t want to make fun of Nia from too close… you know, because Nia would destroy them both all by herself. It led to them basically teasing her from afar and running away from her. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but those are tactics of chickenshit heels, not of faces. It was just so bad. So, so bad. As for Dana’s push, she isn’t really receiving one, and she doesn’t deserve one, so… just right? I guess.
Lana: Hey, while we’re on the subject of women who aren’t to be taken seriously… Lana. She has a 4-7 record on television and pay-per-view in 2021, and that is only boosted because the women’s scene on Raw has been such a joke. Lana and Naomi have been having matches against the teams of Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, as well as Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, all to battle it out for the worst booking of the year. Wins don’t mean anything because your opponents look like shit. Because I’m nice, I will say that Lana isn’t as bad in the ring as many people make her out to be. Now, that’s not saying she’s all that good in the ring, but hey… it’s something. Like I said with Dana Brooke, Lana isn’t receiving a push, but she shouldn’t be getting one. Put her in the “just right” category, as well.
Mandy Rose: Hey, while we’re on the subject of women who aren’t to be taken seriously… Mandy Rose. These paragraphs are starting to blend together. A 3-10 record in 2021 on television and pay-per-view… piss poor booking… match results not mattering… not deserving of a push and not getting one, anyway. Another “just right” entry.
Naomi: Naomi won the Smackdown Women’s Title at WrestleMania 33, which was just over four years ago. I’m pointing that out because it might as well have been 404 years ago with how far Naomi has fallen in that time. I’ve made my opinions of Naomi very clear in the past. She has some of the worst offense I’ve ever seen, almost completely exposing the business at every turn, but I can’t deny her popularity. Whether she’s a champion or going months in between victories, she’s still one of the most over women that WWE has under contract. As much as it pains me to say this, I think she’s underpushed. I don’t think she should be the Raw Women’s Champion or anything, but when you have as much popularity as she does, you’ve earned something better than what she’s been having.
Nia Jax: For the love of all that is holy, can we stop the Nia Jax experiment already? She… is… horrible. When she isn’t injuring an opponent, she’s botching something, and when she isn’t botching something, she’s moving as fast as a post-surgery bowel movement. Now that she and Shayna Baszler have dropped the Women’s Tag Team Titles and then lost a rematch, we all need to move on. Overpushed.
Nikki Cross: If I did this column last week, Nikki wouldn’t even be eligible. Her two-minute Beat The Clock type match on Raw this week was her first televised match in almost three months. It was also her first win on television or pay-per-view since she defeated Lacey Evans on the September 18th, 2020 episode of Smackdown. She has been underpushed and underutilized from the very beginning. There is such a frantic and frenetic energy to her character and her matches, and it’s unlike anything else WWE presents with its women right now. It’s a shame that she was away from television for so long. Now that she’s back, I’m interested to see where things go. I don’t think anyone is expecting her to dethrone Rhea Ripley to become the new Raw Women’s Champion, but this was at least the start of her possibly earning a shot at the title.
Rhea Ripley: Man, it’s almost like every woman has to have a weird push and some even weirder circumstances. Rhea Ripley is someone that was seriously screwed with even before she became a permanent fixture on the main roster. As I’ve mentioned in columns before, it could be argued that Rhea was the hottest act in pro wrestling in the last few months of 2019. She was being pushed as an obvious choice to defeat Shayna Baszler and end Shayna’s epic NXT Women’s Title reign. 2019 was the year that WWE decided to run with a “Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT” theme for the year’s Survivor Series event. Rhea made some appearances on Smackdown, picking up some wins, including one in a Triple Threat against Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks. The next night, Ripley scored the pin to win the match for her team in War Games at the Takeover War Games event. Just one night after THAT, Rhea’s Team NXT would defeat Team Raw and Team Smackdown in a traditional Survivor Series elimination match, with Rhea scoring the final pin to get the victory. Three weeks later, the result everyone expected actually happened, as Rhea would defeat Baszler to become the new NXT Women’s Champion. She was ON FIRE, and people were going nuts trying to predict just how big she could get. Then… she dropped the title to Charlotte Flair, a mere three months after winning it. That led to a major downward spiral, to the point where she wasn’t even being used on television for stretches at a time. WWE had a sure thing on their hands, and they found a way, against all odds, to screw it up. Fast forward a bit, and then Ripley won the Raw Women’s Title three weeks after making her official Raw debut. As of the day this column is posted, her title reign is now at 45 days. Will WWE find a way to screw this up, too? Well, if they’re the ones that had Rhea thumb her nose to Charlotte after their match at WrestleMania Backlash and act like a fucking child, they probably will. Ripley looked really, really stupid doing that. For the time being, let’s say her push is just right. I don’t have a good feeling about where any of it is going, though.
Shayna Baszler: Underpushed. Please get her the fuck away from Nia Jax. Shayna just needs to be Shayna, hurting people and tearing limbs out of sockets.
The series is finally over. As always, I want to hear from you out there in ReaderLand. What are your thoughts on the pushes for the members of the Raw roster? Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Wrestling Back On The Road: AEW announced that they were going back on the road, and now, WWE has done the same. God, it’s going to be so good to see these companies do their thing in front of hot crowds in new cities every week. My hope is that these crowds will be on fire after having wrestling taken away from them for so long. I don’t have any doubts that AEW’s crowds will be crazy, but WWE’s crowds, even when the product is good, can be pretty iffy sometimes.
- Xavier Woods vs Riddle: My Match Of The Week. It was a fresh matchup, with two motivated workers who put some very creative spots together. Fun, fun stuff.
- Apollo Crews vs Kevin Owens vs Big E vs Sami Zayn: You knew it was going to be quality based on the people involved, and it met the high expectations people had going in. As an added bonus, it got Aleister Black back in the swing of things. A feud with Big E should be a blast.
- Hikaru Shida: This past Sunday marked the 365th day of Shida’s AEW Women’s Title reign, giving her a full calendar year as champion. She has done a tremendous job at the top of the division, and has been captaining the division’s rise from laughingstock to dynamic force.
- The Varsity Blonds vs The Young Bucks: Some wrestling matches can be hurt when the outcome is never in question. Other matches aren’t affected by that at all. This was definitely the latter. Everyone knew the Bucks were going to win, and they did, but the Blonds continued to show a ton of improvement. They’re a team to watch in the coming months, and I love the addition of Julia Hart to the group. She’s a great fit in the cheerleader-like role.
- Asuka vs Charlotte Flair: There’s never a question about the in-ring chemistry these two have together. All of their matches are good. The problem is that this week’s match was the fifth time they’ve faced each other in the last five weeks. In typical WWE fashion, a matchup is being driven into the ground. Maybe give them something else to do for a while.
- Karrion Kross: Another big match for Kross ends up as another victory for Kross. As usual, the internet is torn over a Kross performance, with some praising the match and others saying it was boring. No matter your opinion of the match, and of his performance, the NXT Champion retains and awaits his next challenger. As for Finn Balor, let the rumor mill go into overdrive, as he is definitively out of the NXT Title picture and just went public with his desire to return to Raw or Smackdown.
- Santos Escobar Moving Up The Card: I’ve been saying it for a while now, but Santos Escobar can be a main event guy in NXT without any effort whatsoever. I’m glad to see that he is moving up the card, targeting Bronson Reed and the NXT North American Title next. This is another feud for NXT where they have an interesting decision to make. They just gave Reed the title, but at the same time, Escobar has been trending down (at least with wins and losses) since losing the Cruiserweight Title. Do they go with a short reign for Reed, or do they continue handing losses to Escobar?
- Kofi Kingston vs Drew McIntyre: It was another fresh matchup, with something on the line, as both men are competing for a WWE Title shot against Bobby Lashley. The only reason the match isn’t higher on this list is that it ended up meaning nothing at all. Getting it all thrown out and having them face off again next week is fine, and I’m sure the rematch will be good, too, but… you couldn’t have just given us a winner here? I would’ve accepted having the match thrown out early in the show, only to give them another match at the end of the show where there must be a winner. Beggars, choosers, something something something.
- Adnan Virk Leaving WWE: I’m not normally someone who cheers for someone losing their job, but this was something that needed to happen. Virk was just not cut out to be the lead guy on a pro wrestling commentary team. It was a fucking Mike Adamle situation all over again, where Virk clearly wasn’t a diehard fan of the product going in, and it showed. His lack of enthusiasm was also a major problem. This wasn’t his fault, of course. He had no business being put into that type of spot, and he tried what he could, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
This Week’s Playlist: “Rite Where U Stand” by Gang Starr & Jadakiss… “Skills” by Gang Starr… “Froggy Style” by Nuttin’ Nyce… “They Want EFX” by Das EFX… “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock?)” by FU-Schnickens & Shaquille O’Neal… “The Choice Is Yours” by Black Sheep… “Pop Goes The Weasel” by 3rd Bass… “Don’t Sweat The Technique” by Eric B & Rakim… “I Ain’t No Joke” by Eric B & Rakim… “Paid In Full” by Eric B & Rakim… “Tootsee Roll” by 69 Boyz… “Dazzey Duks” by Duice… “Rodeo” by 95 South… “Let It Burn” by Playa Poncho… “Whatz Up, Whatz Up” by Playa Poncho & LA Sno… “Time After Time” by INOJ… “Love You Down” by INOJ… “Wuz Up” by Bohagon, Diamond, Princess & Fabo… “My Boo (Hitman’s Club Mix)” by Ghost Town DJs… “Come & Talk To Me (Remix)” by Jodeci… “Freek’n You” by Jodeci… “Cry For You” by Jodeci… “Love U 4 Life” by Jodeci… “Feenin” by Jodeci… “Get On Up” by Jodeci