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5 Big Takeaways from WWE Monday Night RAW - April 24, 2023

ALL STATE ARENA | ROSEMONT, IL

This week's episode of Monday Night RAW was presented LIVE from the Chicago area, as the winds of change are blowing through WWE. The Draft is coming up soon, and Triple H promised that there was another big announcement coming. Needless to say, these changes are a huge influence on the programming and storylines right now, as there's still some unfinished business on both brands.


It's been all quiet on the Universal title front as Roman Reigns has been comfortably off to TV for a few episodes now, taking a scheduled (and deserved) break. As he creeps closer and closer to 1,000 days as the Head of the Table in WWE, it's always noticeable when he's not around. The shows haven't had quite the same (Superman) punch without him. Despite this, Reigns' cast of supporting characters is still pretty strong. And despite a somewhat lackluster episode of Smackdown on Friday, they always manage to get through a couple of weeks here and there when he's gone.


This week's RAW was no different with major names laying the ground for the promotion's Backlash event on May 6. So... having gotten all that business out of the way? Here's a look at five things that really stood out on this edition of Monday Night RAW.


#1 - Cody is back in a City that he knows very well

Cody Rhodes and Chicago have a long history. It was in this area that his brainchild, All In, helped change the face of pro wrestling forever. It was also the site of his grueling Hell In Cell battle with Seth Rollins. In many ways, the Windy City is where Cody grew from a star to an icon.

As he opened the show with a promo, Rhodes reminded the crowd of their shared past, before discussing his issues with Brock Lesnar and showed the crowd the scar from his torn pectoral muscle last year.


It was the usual Cody fare, very much following his regular formula when addressing the audience. Simple, yet effective.


It wasn't long before Finn Balor was out to interrupt The American Nightmare's filibuster.


While Balor wasn't exactly considered the strongest candidate to lead a heel faction like Judgment Day, the group has thrived with him as their established star. While Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley have been established as new stars, veterans Balor and Damian Priest have provided guidance and support. So in reality, the combination of the four WWE Superstars has worked out pretty much as well as the promotion could have expected.


This verbal sparring match set up a showdown in the ring between the two men for later in the evening. The folks in the Allstate Arena seemed to be just fine with that.


#2 - The Usos continue to be two of the most intriguing characters in pro wrestling

Not only have Jimmy and Jey Uso cutting the best promos of their lives in the last few years, but they have also been cementing their legacy as one of the greatest duos of all time. These two performers have come a long way since their days of dancing around in traditional Samoan garb.


Today, they're still explosive great athletes, but two of the industry's most awesome entertainers, as well. Their tenure in The Bloodline has put a major stamp on that.


As they continue to be a vital part of the program, Jey has once again taken center stage as the man in the middle. After a successful six-man win with little brother Solo Sikoa, the Usos will face Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in a title re-match on Friday night. They have vowed to win the belts back in honor of their Tribal Chief.


Later, there was a foreboding meeting backstage between Jey and Sami, where they exchanged thoughts on how things got to this point.


Zayn continued to warn Jey that he needs to escape from Roman's grip, saying that a loss could cost him and Jimmy dearly. His former Bloodline brother was hearing none of it at the time, but it still continued to weigh on his mind throughout the show.


#3 - Triple H has BIG NEWS

As promised, the WWE Hall of Famer made his way out to huge cheers from the Chi-Town crowd, who were anticipating his huge announcement.


The Game pointed out that while Roman Reigns has done a tremendous job in his near-1000-day run on top as the Universal Champion, he's not around very much. He said that while it was very smart of the Tribal Chief to have that written into his contract, the WWE Universe deserved more.


That's when The Cerebral Assasin revealed that Roman would be keeping the Universal Championship and taking it to whatever he was drafted to. But in the meantime, the birth of a brand, new WWE World Championship would take place at Night of Champions.


The crowd with approval as Triple H unveiled a gorgeous new championship that should have the cash registers ringing at WWEShop. Reminiscent of the famous 'Big Gold Belt' (made famous by Ric Flair), it's much more in line with a traditional trinket than some of the more outlandish designs we've seen recently. Very elegant, and it will look fantastic around the inaugural champion's waist.


#4 - Cody Rhodes vs. Finn Balor was exactly what you would expect

One of the great benefits that being the number-one promotion in the world is it affords you the chance to stock your roster with the best talent. And we got a look at the level of competitor WWE has once again this week with the Balor-Rhodes showdown.


Obviously, Rhodes needed to look strong in this one, as he prepares to face Brock Lesnar at Backlash, and Balor did a great job of that here. These two are the absolute definition of the word 'pro' in the ring and they showed why both can work with any wrestler - regardless of size or skill. Together, they looked almost effortless.


While AEW has a deep and talented roster, they don't utilize it as well as the folks at WWE do. That's not a knock on Tony Khan, it's just an indication (once again) of the difference between a company that is still going through its early growing pains, as opposed to the other - that has been on the top of the industry for decades. This match, and these two performers, were an example of that.


#5 - The World Championship is on everyone's minds

After Triple H's announcement, the sparkling new title belt was displayed at ringside for everyone to see throughout the remainder of the show. Needless to say, it became the MacGuffin of the company immediately - as nearly every main event star kept making a case for why they should be the champ.

US titleholder Austin Theory discussed it right before he had a three-way throwdown with future challengers Bronson Reed and Bobby Lashley. Seth Rollins made it clear in a promo segment with Omos that he feels like he is deserved of the belt - and it's hard to argue against that. He'd certainly be an entertaining face of whatever program he's on with that championship.


At the end of the day, fans should be prepared for this to be the centerpiece of the storylines until the end of the month. Yes, the Draft will be huge, but the title chase and what they do with this new crown will tell us a LOT about the future. Will the World Championship be the one primarily defended, as it sounds like that's the plan? Is the Universal title going to be moved into a special status and only used for mega events like WrestleMania or SummerSlam?


Whatever the programming strategy is going forward will likely be what WWE stays with, at least in the coming months. So what we see unfold in the next month will be a huge indicator of what the immediate future will hold.


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