5 Ups & 5 Downs From WWE Raw (Feb 12 - Results & Review)

Rollins and Rhodes sell Bloodline feud, Lynch is obsessed, Seth forgets his own title.

WWE Cody Rhodes Shinsuke Nakamura

Monday’s stop on the Road to WrestleMania resembled more of a rollercoaster than a highway, as WWE continued to reset its own narrative for some of their biggest stars.

The company’s pivot back to Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns while maintaining The Rock as a major factor in the story has the potential to be a tremendous success, even if WWE is just going to bluster right past what caused the uproar in the first place and act like it never happened.

Raw saw another excellent in-ring promo involving Cody and Seth Rollins, but it wasn’t without its own problems, particularly a World Champion more concerned with being backup to Roman’s challenger than with his own WrestleMania title match and opponent.

At the same time, Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley and Nia Jax continued their wonderful triangle feud that’s seemingly leading to Becky versus Rhea for the Women’s World Championship at WrestleMania. Jax has managed to not look like a simple speedbump, mainly thanks to pitch-perfect booking and a clean win over Lynch to sow doubt.

Sami Zayn might be nearly a decade removed from his incredible underdog journey to win the NXT Championship, but he’s very craftily recreating it in a different fashion on the main roster, as he continues to struggle while acknowledging that he has to start getting results before his Mania window closes.

Overall, this had plenty of strong, positive developments, but it also had a few more dips in the road than one would like at this stage.

Let’s get to it…


5. Pretty Standard Fare

Andrade WWE

After a rousing return at the Royal Rumble, Andrade got the vignette treatment Monday night, and it certainly was a video package.

Andrade talked about how life has taught him to decide what he wants. He noted that he wrestled his first match at 13, won championships around the world – including NXT and WWE – but he left the company because he needed to “remember who I am.” Now, the “real Latino man” was back, and his “direction is clear.”

It’s a very simple video, and there’s honestly nothing wrong with it. But at the same time, Andrade is not a strong live promo guy. He’s never going to deliver a home run performance on the mic, so this was the one chance to set the tone for his run in a controlled environment. They needed to nail this video. The should have gone all-in with an explanation of who he is, his motivations, and his goals.

Instead, fans got the overused and almost boilerplate “I needed to go away to rediscover myself, and now that I’ve figured out who I am and what I want, I’m back” speech. It’s disappointing when you realize that Andrade isn’t going to have a better opportunity to set the table for himself.

Still hoping for good things for him, but can’t help but feel this was a big missed opportunity.

4. Does He Get It NOW?

WWE Raw Judgment Day R-Truth

After months of a comedy storyline that has seen the Judgment Day become more of a goofball faction in trying to deal with R-Truth, they finally might have had a breakthrough with their hanger-on (not that this redeems this overcooked angle).

Truth’s entire shtick has been that he’s too obtuse to understand basic English, that he’s never been a member of the group. That might have finally changed Monday night when Damian Priest spoke slowly and clearly backstage to Truth, calling his upcoming match against JD McDonagh “an execution.”

Truth appeared to get the message, calling Miz in California to fly out to Kentucky to back him up. Obviously, it was way too late for that, and he fell to JD, then suffered a four-on-one beatdown until #DIY saved him… and then he later confused his saviors for D-Generation X, because, you see, Truth is an idiot.


For anyone keeping score, Truth apparently understands that he’s not in Judgment Day and that they aren’t his friends… after months of being told the same thing over and over and getting beat up. But now, he also can’t tell the difference between DX and #DIY… because their tag team names both start with “D.”

Although referencing Johnny Gargano as Shawn Michaels was laugh-out-loud funny.

3. Wrestling Happening In Front Of You

WWE Raw Zoey Stark Liv Morgan

Not every match during a three-hour Raw is going to be compelling television that’s going to grip fans, but when you have qualifying matches for a spot in a PLE match that could lead to a title match at WrestleMania, one might think those would be must-see bouts.

Sadly, Liv Morgan versus Zoey Stark and Ivar versus LA Knight were just two matches that happened and were forgotten seconds after Morgan and Knight won their foregone conclusions. The action was decent in both matches, with Liv and Zoey putting together some nice sequences, but they felt like obligations to fill time rather than struggles to earn a spot in the Elimination Chamber later this month.

Maybe that’s a function of the results not being terribly in question – the only real mystery was whether AJ Styles would distract Knight to cost him the match as payback for SmackDown – but the matches weren’t exactly pulling fans in aside from a few signature spots.

2. The Last Gripe

WWE Raw Cody Rhodes

It’s plainly obvious at this point that WWE is going to just ignore the fact that Cody Rhodes literally said he wasn’t coming for Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40 and completely backtracked without any explanation or justification, which is something a babyface typically would need to do.

Aside from that major flaw, the stories of Cody choosing Roman Reigns, The Rock turning heel and the notion of a tag match pitting the Super Bloodline against Cody and Seth Rollins are being handled exceptionally well. It would not be fair to continue to harp on the one – albeit massive – misstep from 10 days ago and pooh-pooh everything good that’s come since then.

So, for what hopefully will be the final time, a complaint about WWE sidestepping Cody’s sidestep, ignoring the literal cause of the entire #WeWantCody movement that they’re now so proud to tout.

Monday night, Rhodes acted as if the fans were what got him over the top to say he was choosing Roman. He took aim at Rock, saying he did not want Cody and that the Great One doesn’t listen well. And yet Cody sought him out for counsel in deciding what to do about his WrestleMania World Title shot. No mention of that conversation Monday night.

It’s still a giant plot hole hanging out there that hasn’t been addressed in any way whatsoever. It will continue to be a logic gap in the story. WWE deserves criticism for leaving it unanswered, but it shouldn’t derail people’s enjoyment of the build to WrestleMania.

1. There’s A Second World Title?

WWE Raw Cody Rhodes Seth Rollins

There will be plenty of praise for the Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins segment later, but a quick complaint about it…

Seth Rollins came out and took aim at Roman Reigns and The Rock before offering his support to Cody Rhodes in battling the Bloodline. He even told Cody he understood why he chose to face Roman instead of him at WrestleMania 40.

But at no point did Seth even mention the World Heavyweight Title around his waist, or the ongoing qualifying matches for the Elimination Chamber to identify his title challenger for 'Mania. He didn’t talk up his championship, or hint that he was closely watching the matches to see who he’d be facing in less than two months.

Nope, it was all Bloodline obsession all the time. Granted, that’s probably the biggest match on the card and will generate a ton of attention. But to have Rollins ignoring his own title while there are 12 men fighting to get into a match to face him at WrestleMania is malpractice and severely diminishes the World Heavyweight Championship as anything more than a very heavy paperweight.

WWE can’t simultaneously tell fans that its second world title – created because fans deserved to see a world champion defending his title regularly – is really important and then have the champion solely focused on the other world champ and playing backup to that title’s challenger.


5. Big Meaty Men Slapping Meat

WWE Raw Bronson Reed Bobby Lashley

Bronson Reed’s entrance video might depict him as Godzilla, running amok through a city, but he’s settled into a role more akin to a mid-level boss in a video game, the guy the hero needs to beat to get to the final stages of the game.

Reed battled Bobby Lashley for a spot in the Elimination Chamber later this month. The intrigue really centered on whether Bronson’s nationality would tip the scales and he’d advance because the eponymous PLE takes place in Australia, but The Almighty was no going to be denied Monday night.

Lashley overcame Reed’s size and power, showing off his resilience by slamming Bronson off the top rope to counter a Tsunami attempt, then put him away with a spear.


It was a very simple, straightforward match, but it reminded you of Lashley’s power and how big of a threat he still is, and it didn’t overstay its welcome, which is always appreciated on a Triple H-booked show.

4. Six-Man Tag Fires Up

WWE Raw Jey Uso Kofi Kingston Xavier Woods Giovanni Vinci

Just looking at the participants in Monday’s show-opening six-man tag match, it was plainly obvious that fans were in for a solid, fun contest.

New Day backing up former rival Jey Uso is a nice bit of tag team lore and respect, while Imperium continues to be a menacing force as a unit – and much better now that they’ve apparently ditched the infighting and sniping angle. The story for this has built nicely, with New Day feuding with Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci for several weeks. Jey has said he wants a singles title in 2024 and has targeted the Intercontinental Championship. Boom, instant feud, but one with a bit of depth.

Monday’s tag match featured all six men firing on all cylinders, but one moment in particular deserves praise: While he had Kofi Kingston locked in a Boston Crab, Gunther began trash-talking Uso on the apron. Jey didn’t waste any time and climbed in the ring. Rather than breaking up the hold, he simply slapped the Ring General across the face. Hard. That spicy confrontation later fed into a battle between the two that saw Jey get the upper hand and fend off Gunther’s vicious offense.

Naturally, Uso got the pin on designated loser Vinci, but this all set everything up fairly well, and next week’s IC Title match should be well received.

3. Babyface Fighting Up

WWE Raw Sami Zayn Shinsuke Nakamura

Anyone dismissing Sami Zayn’s losing streak and psych-up interviews that precede them are missing the point… or they haven’t been paying attention.

Losing streaks often are blown off as not being helpful to a wrestler, and 95% of the time, that’s the correct assessment. But when it involves a babyface Sami Zayn, the rulebook goes out the window.

Zayn did another empty arena taped interview Monday where he talked about how he’s been embarrassed by his recent losses, but he counters that with “an unwavering belief in myself.” That belief is what has carried him throughout his career, allowing him to overcome the odds numerous times.

Sami then went out and wrestled Shinsuke Nakamura… and once again lost – though Drew McIntyre played a big hand in that defeat. The story here is not that Zayn is losing a lot. It’s that fans want him to win, he wants to win, and he knows his window to turn it around is closing. He’s setting the goals and expectations for fans, and when he starts hitting them, they’re going to react accordingly.


It's a solid story, not of a loser, but of an underdog being beaten down and having to find that fighting spirit to overcome and triumph. Fans have seen Sami do this before, and that’s why you have faith in WWE to nail this.

2. Becky’s Obsession

WWE Raw Becky Lynch

Is telegraphing a WrestleMania match when one of the participants still has to qualify for the big show a bit too much? Not at all, especially when it’s well done and it’s a rivalry fans desperately want to see.

Becky Lynch challenging Rhea Ripley for the Women’s World Championship seems all but a sure thing, even though The Man still has to win the women’s Elimination Chamber later this month. Monday, Lynch spoke about her obsession with wrestling, and how it led her to unparalleled heights, to meeting her husband and gaining a daughter… but that obsession also led to her missing family functions, including her father’s funeral.

She talked about having to explain to her three-year-old daughter about her bloody face or separated shoulder (or why her daddy wanted to beat up Maui). This obsession is now focused on winning a women’s World Title she hasn’t held in nearly two years, which perfectly set the table.

Then Nia Jax walked out to remind everyone that she’s the wild card in all of this, because she could beat Ripley at Elimination Chamber. Cue Rhea and the ensuing brawl, which left Becky and the Eradicator facing off in the ring.

Lynch’s promo was the “I need the title like I need oxygen” speech that makes the destination and motivation very clear, if a bit too obvious. But every staredown between Becky and Rhea has been electric, so there’s no sense in quibbling over that. It’s a great direction, and it could be a show-stealing match at Mania.

1. Mega Powers 2.0

WWE Cody Rhodes Seth Rollins

Where to start with the Cody Rhodes-Seth Rollins segment? It needed to be a serious, strong and commanding promo between the two, as they are planning to stand against the biggest movie star on the planet and the biggest figure in WWE today, The Rock and Roman Reigns. Anything short of a forceful display from either man would render their budding alliance inferior.

Thankfully, Cody is still riding an impressive wave that continues to build despite the huge misstep a week-plus ago. And Rollins – when he manages to tamp down the focus on the garish outfits, the sing-along entrance and the cackling – has shown recently that he can deliver the verbal goods when it comes time to be serious.

Rhodes was buoyed by the fans almost universally panning Rock and standing by the American Nightmare, particularly when they played the Pat McAfee Show clip of Rocky bashing fans as “Cody crybabies” and suggested where they could stick their chicken McNuggets. Cody took his swipes at Rock, first in jest, and then dialed in on the slap at last week’s press conference, promising to put his hands on the Great One in response.

Enter Rollins, who quickly absolved Cody for choosing Roman Reigns for his World Title match at WrestleMania 40. He then implored Rhodes to “finish the story” because if he doesn’t Roman will become even more powerful and be around less, making this the last real chance to topple Reigns.

From there, Rollins offered up his services, as the guy who helped bring Roman into WWE, to fight the battle against the Bloodline alongside Cody so he doesn’t have to go it alone again this year.

These two longtime rivals careening toward a partnership forged by their hatred of Roman, Rock, the Bloodline and everything they represent is a great angle. But Rollins really was the weakest link of the four, and he did well to cast himself not only as Cody’s “shield,” but as the person who taught Reigns everything when they came into the company. (He’s also one of only two men to defeat Roman in the past four years.)

Solid start to this tag team angle.

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Scott is a former journalist and longtime wrestling fan who was smart enough to abandon WCW during the Monday Night Wars the same time as the Radicalz. He fortunately became a fan in time for WrestleMania III and came back as a fan after a long high school hiatus before WM XIV. Monday nights in the Carlson household are reserved for viewing Raw -- for better or worse.