WWE RAW 4/1/2024: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "WWE Raw," and let's just jump right iin tonight, shall we? You know the drill — these are our subjective opinions, we won't be covering everything, go check out our "Raw" results page, etc. No need to waste any time with that this week. It's the last "Raw" before WrestleMania 40, y'all. It had The Rock, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley, Drew McIntyre, GUNTHER, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso, and even (eventually) (briefly) Cody Rhodes. And in an act of mercy, nobody so much as mentioned April Fool's Day.


There's a lot to talk about. Let's get to it. Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 4/1/2024 episode of "WWE Raw."

Hated: 35-minute opener set the tone for a 'meh' Mania go-home show

"WWE Raw" opened with a commercial-free hour (it was really about 53 minutes when it went to the first commercial break). Instead of starting off hot and exciting, they kicked off the hour with The Bloodline and Seth Rollins. Like clockwork, "The Final Boss" made fun of "Cody Crybabies," but felt a little bad for children that he made cry when he bloodied up Cody Rhodes (that's his "Moana 2" demo, so he needs them not to hate him too much).


He brought someone with him — Rhodes' actual opponent at "WrestleMania 40" — Roman Reigns, flanked by the rest of The Bloodline. He said a whole lot of nothing. The entire 35-minute segment was a repeat of everything they've done for weeks. There was no storyline movement. All it did was set up a main event for Rollins and *checks notes* Solo Sikoa. That match did see the usage of "Bloodline Rules", so perhaps this means there won't be the same stipulations on Night Two of 'Mania. Who am I kidding? WWE loves to do things to death, so they probably will.

That's the thing: It's all so repetitive. They spoon0-feed fans the same things over and over until it becomes meaningless. We're days away from the biggest show(s) of the year, and they've taken away some of the intrigue and interest around the Night One main event. The opening segment also set the tone for the rest of the show — just a typical "RAW." Nothing special, which is especially disappointing coming off of last week's episode. This was functionally the go-home show for WWE's Super Bowl, and it was pretty meh.


Written by Samantha Schipman

Hated: Eight-man tag accomplishes nothing

WrestleMania is but a few days away and yes, I am excited for the announced cards just about through-and-through. This includes the Six-Pack Tag Team Ladder Match for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships. In fact, that match is high up on my list of ones to watch in terms of potential show-stealers this coming weekend. Having said that, I didn't get the point of Monday's announced eight-man tag featuring the men of The Judgment Day vs. The New Day and #DIY, with my thinking being, "What is accomplished with either possible definitive outcome?" Answer: nothing, as it turns out.


Worse yet, I thought The Judgment Day looked far too dominant over two teams that you can now just about rule out from winning the match come Saturday. Do I think many folks were holding out hope for either The New Day or DIY? No, not really. But if you look at the rest of the contenders in that one — The Awesome Truth, New Catch Republic, and A-Town Down Under — you can't really make an argument for any of them either so, to me, this one's already decided. Not that Finn Balor and Damian Priest continuing on as champs is a bad thing necessarily, but with all of these teams involved, it would be nice to be looking toward this one in a way that screams, "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN HERE!" Potential solve: Get Worst-Tag-Team-Name-Ever out of there (sorry, Grayson Waller; not sorry, Austin Theory), replace them with Pretty Deadly as has been rumored, and have the most unlikely team (character-wise) to win what should be a car crash of a match actually win the damn thing. Now that'd be fun!


Finally, there was some concern online for Johnny Gargano after a suicide dive spot that he overshot a bit, landing awkwardly on the floor and into the announce table. Personally, I didn't think it was all that bad, but I did not like this tweet from Gargano afterwards. Be careful, bud. This one's gonna be wild.

Written by Jon Jordan

Loved: Hey look, a Black & Gold match

"NXT" Takeover: New York is probably, objectively, the best Takeover. Even Tony Khan would agree with that, after looking at the Cagematch ratings to make sure. I would argue that all five matches on that show have at least an argument for Match of the Night, but my favorite is the opener, an "NXT" Tag Team Championship match between the War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson) and the unlikely duo of Aleister Black and Ricochet. If you've never seen this match (or even if it's just been a while highly recommend changing that in the near future.


That was five years ago, almost to the day. The War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson) are now The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar), and Erik is out injured with an uncertain future. Aleister Black is now Malaki Black and wrestling for a different company. But Ivar and Ricochet are still in WWE, and Monday night, they put on a match that would have been right at home on a Takeover card. They even re-used one of the biggest spots from that tag team match when Ricochet caught the much bigger Ivar in his arms and suplexed him over his head, and Ricochet got the win with his 630 Splash, which he hasn't used often on the main roster. It was a tremendous match between two guys who have always worked well together, and it's just not the kind of thing you would ever see on "Raw" with Vince McMahon in charge.


That 2019 Takeover crowd popped for everything these guys did, but it's 2024 now, and you don't usually see "Raw" crowds going absolutely bonkers for lower midcard matches like this. Ricochet isn't on the WrestleMania 40 card; he's kind of feuding with The Judgment Day, but he's not part of any of the five teams challenging them for the tag titles this weekend. And yet, by the end of this absolute banger of a match, every person in Barclays was seemingly chanting along with the final pitfall. Obviously we'll have to wait to see what happens, but it felt like a potential star-making moment for Ricochet, who's still only 35 and who also demonstrated massive improvement in his character and promo work in his feud with Logan Paul over the summer. Monday's match wasn't just a throwback to the glory days of the Black & Gold — it was a reminder of who these two wrestlers how, and how high they could climb if WWE took away the ceiling.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Loved: Sami Zayn trains for WrestleMania

Many video packages across all of WWE programming (and not just "Raw") are made in a way to promote a match or a superstar in a way that is blatantly obvious, and it can get boring to watch them week in and week out. However, the video package of Sami Zayn training with Chad Gable for his Intercontinental Championship match with GUNTHER at WrestleMania was far from that and accomplished what it needed to in a subtle and enjoyable manner.


Gable has been unsuccessful in dethroning GUNTHER not just once but twice, meaning that he knows GUNTHER well as an in-ring competitor who plays mind games with his opponents and can pass that knowledge onto Zayn to better prepare him. Seeing as that the entire build for this match has been about GUNTHER underestimating Zayn and feeling that he is inferior to him, showing Zayn training and preparing for his match with someone who has been in the ring with GUNTHER is a great way to progress the storyline in a visual medium without utilizing a needless in-ring or backstage promo.

Having Gable get Zayn to admit that he was scared to let himself and his family down was a small but nice touch that only added to the complexity of what was otherwise a relatively simple video. It's been apparent to both the audience and other Superstars that Zayn's character has had that fear, but Zayn himself wasn't able to admit it. It reminds fans that wrestlers are humans that have the same emotions as the rest of us, and allowed for Zayn to work through his fear and use it as motivation in his WrestleMania match.


Written by Olivia Quinlan

Loved: Heat for GUNTHER ahead of Mania

There's a lot going on headed into GUNTHER's Intercontinental Championship defense against Sami Zayn at WrestleMania — and that is very much a good thing. Zayn training with Chad Gable, including a little bit of tough love throughout a cool video package, opens up some possibilities during and after the match. The fact that GUNTHER is still paying Gable some mind is also a positive, as one would imagine that no matter how the Mania match goes, Gable will still be in the mix for the industry's premier midcard title afterwards. And Zayn now squarely back in the underdog role, fighting against all odds, which is what has endeared him to fans in the past in similar situations, making for great theater when the payoff comes (or doesn't, such as at Elimination Chamber in Montreal, but I suppose that's a different story).


But the biggest win here, in my opinion, is GUNTHER looking every bit the big bad in what will likely be the last time we see him before Saturday's match. I take absolutely nothing away from his run as Intercontinental Champion whatsoever as I say that I feel like he's slipped away from that a little bit in recent weeks, whether that's from chastising his foolhardy minions in Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser, or simply by earning the respect of the collective thanks, simply, to his phenomenal work as champion. Come to think of it, that's just what happens with just about every outstanding heel — running the bad until the well is dry and rolling it right into a big face run. But we're not there yet for GUNTHER and tonight, he reminded us that he's all business, sending a violent message to Zayn, Gable, and anyone else who might dare get in his way anytime soon.


All that said, I'm still really going to have to think about my pick in this match as I could easily see any of three outcomes: 1) GUNTHER dominates, retains, and we spend a good portion of the early part of next year following Zayn trying to "find himself" again. 2) In a closely contested match, GUNTHER pulls it out in the end, with a jealous Gable turning on Zayn. Or 3) Zayn wins the damn thing outright, likely with Gable's help (if only to turn away those pesky minions), and GUNTHER moves on to greater goals. Whatever the outcome, this just worked perfectly.

Written by Jon Jordan

Hated: Rollins' Bloodline Rules ambitions lead to epic beatdown

I'm not entirely sure what was going through Seth Rollins' head when he asked for a Bloodline Rules match Monday night, but I'm pretty sure the man has a death wish. It was a match that was his first in three months after suffering a major knee injury, as well as one not even a week before he has to wrestle not once, but twice, during WrestleMania weekend. And he's defending his title against the formidable Drew McIntyre the second night. He's sure not making that his priority, but that's another story. At the beginning of the show, Rollins wouldn't even go down to the ring, instead going through the crowd to speak to the Bloodline, but... he challenged not just The Rock, but Roman Reigns, and finally landed on Solo Sikoa as an opponent. I'm not sure if that's much better on his part.


As we saw during the main event, Rollins had the absolute hell beat out of him by the entirety of the Bloodline. He also had his partner on Saturday, Cody Rhodes, as his "plan B," though commentary kept saying throughout the show that he wasn't medically cleared and wasn't supposed to be on the show at all. I bet Rhodes is certainly kicking himself now after the beating he took from Rock with the weight belt, as well as the massive spear he ate from Reigns.

I just simply don't understand, unless it means we're not going to be seeing Bloodline Rules in the main event on Sunday. Since, I mean, we've really already seen what the match could be, if it happened. Why would Rollins risk it all for a match on "Raw," just DAYS before Mania? The match was honestly pretty great, in my opinion, as someone who's extremely into gimmick matches, but still. I just couldn't shake the feeling that Rollins is an absolute idiot. If I didn't want McIntyre to take that title from him before, my opinions on Sunday's World Heavyweight Championship match would have switched tonight.


Written by Daisy Ruth