WWE Raw: Positivity & questions with Nikki A.S.H.’s cash-in

WWE, Nikki Cross Credit: WWE.com
WWE, Nikki Cross Credit: WWE.com /

A full-capacity crowd was in attendance for the first time on WWE’s flagship Monday night show since I believe March 2020, and they returned to a memorable show one night after Money in the Bank.

John Cena opened the show even though he squarely set his sights on Smackdown’s Universal Champion in Roman Reigns, delivering another Cena promo full of vigor, enthusiasm, and a bit of playing to the crowd. He explained his return and set his mission statement, then gave the proverbial rub to Riddle before heading off.

Keith Lee made his long-awaited return in his home state to answer the “All Mighty” WWE Champion Bobby Lashley’s Open Challenge. It was great to see Lee back, and though he lost, he also probably shouldn’t beat the most dominant champion in WWE this side of Reigns.

Of course, his return was immediately overshadowed when Goldberg (“Big GB”) returned to a THUNDEROUS reaction from the Dallas fans, simply yelling in Lashley’s face, “I’M NEXT!”

However, the most memorable moment, undoubtedly, was Nikki A.S.H. cashing in her Money in the Bank contract to become Women’s Champion.

If you missed it, here is video of the closing moments of last night’s show.

Live crowds generally LOVE seeing cash-ins, and they erupted as such when A.S.H.’s music hit. They also gave the appropriate reaction when she pinned Charlotte Flair to win her first Women’s Championship.

The reaction from the crowd also seemed to be one where fans are invested in her character, particularly children as the cameras found young kids celebrating her victory.

A.S.H. was congratulated on her victory by a bevy of current and former wrestlers (just scroll WWE’s Twitter page), but the likes of Dakota Kai, Funaki, Shelton Benjamin, Many Rose, Franky Monet, Tomasso Ciampa, and Hall of Famer Mick Foley sent her well wishes and glowingly praised her character.

Word has always been that no one has anything negative to say about Nikki Cross/A.S.H., and the outpouring of love for her only reinforces that point. The positivity fits in perfectly with this character, “almost a superhero,” striving to be the best because of who you are, not in spite of who you are.

I give all the credit in the world to A.S.H. and am very happy for her. She was the one who created the character, prepped it, pitched it, and most importantly, embodied Nikki A.S.H. so endearingly and wholeheartedly that she’s won over a large swath of the audience in about a month.

There has been a decided lack of true babyfaces on either Raw or Smackdown across all divisions. A.S.H. is one of the pure babyfaces on the roster, a bundle of joy and energy, and it’s so quickly paying dividends in the women’s division on Raw.

It probably doesn’t hurt that neither Flair nor Rhea Ripley had been very likable during their feud.

However, as we look forward, there are questions regarding A.S.H. as the Women’s Champion of the flagship show.

The first question is will this just be a feel-good moment and reign like Zack Ryder winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32? I would bet against it since Ryder’s was a mid-card title whereas A.S.H.’s is the main women’s title on the show, but I can never rule out such a move with WWE.

With that out of the way, the next question I have is will her first reign be a short or long reign? For me, anything less than or equal to three months is short, four to eight months on average, and anything nine months plus as a long reign (my frames are arbitrary, of course). She could just as easily drop the title back to Flair next Monday or at SummerSlam as she could carry the title until WrestleMania.

A connected question is just how will her matches be booked? Rey Mysterio’s first World Heavyweight Championship reign is remembered for two main things: winning the triple threat match against Kurt Angle and Randy Orton, and being booked to lose and look weak as champion.

That’s hopefully not the route we get for A.S.H., and I think her connection with the audience coupled with her character of “you can achieve greatness because of who you are” will have her booked stronger rather than weaker.

A micro question for A.S.H. is can she deliver championship promos? We’ve seen her give plenty of good promos in the past. Her promos as the A.S.H. character, though not for me, have done well to highlight her positivity and messages, all stemming from some kernel of her genuine self. Her messages only work because that genuineness is evident.

I do think she’s witty enough to hang with the likes of Flair in a promo battle (having been partnered with Alexa Bliss for so long probably helped her development here). I also think she’s so engrossed yet endearing in this character that her promos with heel characters will work just fine.

One question I don’t have is regarding her in-ring ability. Her Last Woman Standing match with Asuka in NXT is still one of the best matches in NXT history (during her Sanity days). Her style is unique, even more so now that she’s “almost a superhero.” Her matches probably won’t be “five-star classics,” but that’s fine.

Next. The perfect way to book Naomi on SmackDown. dark

Again, congratulations to A.S.H. on winning her first Women’s Championship! She pulled the LaVar Ball, basically: speaking it into existence, both the character and the title victory.

I’ll leave you with this video of A.S.H. celebrating with fans after the show ended. This scene seems so familiar yet so foreign after the past 16 months. A.S.H. also made a fan for life, and it’s scenes like that that will keep fans clamoring for A.S.H. to remain Women’s Champion.