Welcome to this week's edition of things WWE subtly told us on RAW. It was a big improvement from last week, but the first half wasn't particularly great. We're not going to get into the six-man tag team match that involved tomato throwing, because it's simply not worth discussing.
However, the continued absence of the RAW Tag Team Champions AJ Styles and Omos has been surprising. We're not sure why they've been taken away from TV, but given that they're the champions of their brand, it makes no sense as to why they're away.
Let's start with perhaps the most interesting part about RAW this week:
#6. The R-K-Bro dynamic on RAW
While we thought that Randy Orton would simply have a rematch and defeat Riddle on RAW this week, we were pleasantly surprised. Orton's character status has been up in the air for a while - especially since he spent almost all of 2021 feuding against Alexa Bliss and 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt.
During that feud, there was a blur in the character dynamic. While Orton was "logically" the babyface, Bliss and Wyatt weren't necessarily presented as heels. Either way, post-WrestleMania has seen a bit of clarification on Randy Orton's character.
Last week on RAW, Orton was defeated by surprise in a match against the up-and-coming Riddle. This week on RAW backstage, The Viper mentioned that he had a bit of respect for Riddle, and took up his offer to form a tag team called "R-K-Bro" - but only if they won on the night.
They teamed up to take out Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander, who have drastically dropped down the card. It seems to be the start of a tag team, but there could be a small twist.
Remember the Y2AJ storyline involving Chris Jericho and AJ Styles in early 2016? The two formed a tag team after a series of matches against each other, and they even released Y2AJ merchandise before breaking up in a matter of weeks. This could be a small repetition of the RAW storyline from 2016.
#5. Is WWE teasing a faction with RAW Women's Champion Rhea Ripley?
It's interesting that Rhea Ripley is the RAW Women's Champion despite only having a few matches under her belt on the WWE main roster. An obvious replacement for Charlotte Flair, Ripley now finds herself as the face of the RAW Women's division.
Her biggest adversary is a more established superstar in Asuka. This week on RAW, Ripley teamed up with Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler to defeat the trio of Lana, Naomi, and Asuka. It was Jax who ultimately pinned Lana.
WWE continued to have Jax slip because of a mistake that happened to Mandy Rose at WrestleMania. Rose and her partner Dana Brooke, who aren't acting like babyfaces these days interfered in the Tag Team match and poured water on the floor - making Nia Jax slip again.
Given Ripley's "Tweener" status, WWE seemed to be hinting at her leading a faction involving Jax and Baszler. Would a three-champion faction help elevate Rhea Ripley on RAW?
#4. Sheamus' Anti-Open challenge on RAW
John Cena set the gold standard for open challenges on RAW during the first of two United States Title reigns in 2015. It's been six years since then, and while numerous champions have attempted to replicate the concept, none have come close.
Sheamus, now the United States Champion, tried to start that on RAW as well. Last week, he was met by Humberto Carrillo, who he assaulted before the bell could ring.
Sheamus held another "open challenge" on RAW this week, where he revealed anticlimactically that the US Title would not be on the line. Carrillo got his revenge when he assaulted Sheamus before the bell could ring.
He left the ring standing tall, while Sheamus was at ringside bewildered at what happened. While Sheamus vs. Carrillo is an admittedly weak feud for the US Title post-WrestleMania, at least the 25-year old is getting a spot on RAW.
Carrillo spent almost all of 2020 being completely underutilized, which is why it makes sense for him to be thrust into a feud like this. Given how limited the RAW roster seems right now, it's hard to blame WWE.
#3. Charlotte Flair weasels her way back into RAW, but what is Sonya Deville's involvement
RAW may not have been fascinating from a storyline perspective recently, but one part captured some interest. Last week on RAW, Charlotte Flair was fined $100,000 and suspended indefinitely for assaulting a referee.
She was seen entering RAW backstage this week, and authority figure Sonya Deville was the one who let her in. She made a case to give Flair a chance to voice her opinion - all without the authority of Adam Pearce.
Flair "apologized" and made the referee apologize for saying he made a mistake in the match last week that led to her defeat against Asuka. Deville declared that Charlotte Flair would be reinstated as she had already paid her fine.
Adam Pearce wasn't happy about it but did nothing. To make up for last week, the same referee was assigned to Flair's match on RAW. Sonya Deville wasn't pleased by the antics of Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke (involving Nia Jax) and booked her former tag team partner to face Charlotte Flair.
It was a nice subtle moment where Deville's grudge against Rose came out, and The Queen won on RAW in a solid match.
#2. Alexa Bliss and Lily's intentions on RAW
Alexa Bliss was in her playground on RAW as usual, and she didn't have her first match since Fastlane as we predicted. She did, however, continue to tease re-entering the Women's division.
She spoke a little more in-depth about Lily and trolled fans watching by displaying a calm and peaceful background. Alexa Bliss has truly deviated from The Fiend on RAW and has become an entity of her own. Lily seems to be the biggest threat of them all, and could actor into her next singles feud.
It will be interesting to see who Bliss chooses as her first opponent on RAW. Nikki Cross would make perfect sense since she isn't being utilized anymore, and she's Alexa Bliss' former partner from last year.
The change in character affected Cross as well, and she may have to suffer a defeat on RAW. Bliss' character work was on point, and we wonder where this is going. We don't expect her to compete for titles anytime soon, but she's big enough to directly enter a title feud.
#1. The explosive WWE Title scene on RAW
The WWE Title scene on RAW has had Braun Strowman looming around, and he finally went to Adam Pearce and asked to be added to the match at WrestleMania Backlash.
On this week's episode of RAW, Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre faced T-Bar and Mace in a tag team match. While Strowman went out by himself at first, McIntyre soon joined - only to lose the match via a count-out.
T-Bar and Mace's jobs for the night was done at that point. Braun Strowman told Pearce that he didn't technically lose the Triple Threat match on the RAW after WrestleMania. Pearce agreed and said that if Strowman could beat McIntyre in the main event, he would get added to the WWE Title match at WrestleMania Backlash.
Braun Strowman won after a lot of interference from Bobby Lashley and MVP, and the whole episode of RAW was centered around this match. Strowman will now officially challenge for the WWE Title at WrestleMania Backlash. While he may not win it, the decision to add Braun Strowman seems to be one made only last week.