The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 04/02/18 Review

Submitted by John Canton on April 3, 2018 - 11:39am
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Live from Atlanta, Georgia, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1297 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Since it’s WrestleMania season, make you check out my reviews of every WrestleMania in the archives and you can always pick up a TJRWrestling t-shirt to support the site as well.

There was a shot of the crowd in Atlanta that looks pretty full. Michael Cole welcomed us to the show and threw it to Jonathon Coachman in the ring.

WrestleMania Face Off for Angle/Rousey and Triple H/McMahon

Stephanie McMahon, the Raw Commissioner, entered first wearing black leather pants that she can bump in. Triple H, her husband and the on screen WWE COO, joined her with him wearing a suit. They were booed like usual.

Kurt Angle, the Raw General Manager, entered first for his side. Fans chanted “you suck” for his song like usual. Ronda Rousey got a big pop for her entrance. She was wearing a different jacket than the usual black jacket.

The four combatants were seated at tables in the ring while Coachman stood behind a podium between them.

Triple H cut off Coach before he could ask a question. Triple H said that the ovation for Rousey will be silence after Triple H and Stephanie McMahon beat them because of Angle. Triple H said that he’s never disagreed with the intensity and integrity of Angle, but he doesn’t get the intelligence. Triple H called Rousey “probably biggest signing in WWE history” and that Angle ruined it because he’s set her up for embarrassment and a loss on the biggest stage ever at WrestleMania. Triple H asked Angle why.

Angle tried to speak, but Rousey spoke up wondering why they are so two faced to sign her with a hidden agenda. Stephanie said they will shine her up after they beat her at WrestleMania while claiming Rousey didn't understand what they were doing out there. Rousey said she understood the format and asked for an answer. Stephanie said they signed Rousey because she’s a huge star because fans want to see her in a WWE ring more than anything. Stephanie said that Rousey is best for business. Stephanie said that Angle has already derailed her career and cost her millions of dollars. Stephanie reminded them that Angle and Rousey work for her, so she asked Rousey: “Who the hell do you think you are?”

Angle: “She’s Ronda freakin’ Rousey.” Angle pointed out she’s an Olympic medalist, a UFC Champion and on Sunday she’s going to make Stephanie tap out. Triple H asked Angle what makes him so confident of that. Triple H talked about how they built entire divisions just for her and in WWE that means exactly nothing. Triple H rambled on about how the business is in Stephanie’s blood and it’s a foregone conclusion that Rousey is going to lose.

The first question was asked in a tweet about Stephanie and Triple H winning. Stephanie did a typical promo about how Kurt and Ronda will learn to respect authority. Cartman did that line better.

Angle was asked about teaming up with Rousey. Angle had a generic answer about Rousey is going to make her tap out.

Stephanie reminded Rousey that she chose this path and she’s going to lose in her first match to Stephanie. That led to Stephanie taking a cheap shot by telling Ronda how the world knows how Ronda handles losses. Stephanie laughed and complimented Rousey on her jacket. Ronda asked Stephanie if she’s right handed or left handed. Stephanie said right handed, so Rousey said she wanted to know so Steph can still sign her checks after Rousey rips her arm off. Fans chanted “yes” for that.

Coachman told them they are going to do a photo op while welcoming photographers into the ring. The four wrestlers (or combatants I guess you could say) stood in front of the tables and had a staredown. Triple H and Angle shook hands. Stephanie extended her hand for a shake. Rousey didn’t shake it. Rousey got in Stephanie’s face and Angle got in the middle of the women.

Triple H hit Angle in the back with a microphone that sent Angle out of the ring. Rousey went for Triple H by grabbing him by the throat, but Stephanie picked her up and put Rousey through one of the tables in the ring. Rousey was down on the table while Triple H and Stephanie posed over her. Rousey stared up at Stephanie while the heels celebrated what happened. Triple H’s music played to end it.

Analysis: That was pretty good with a few awkward moments from Rousey not delivering her lines perfectly, but she got through it okay. The crowd was hot for Rousey from the moment she got out there, which is great because it means they see her as a big star, which is what WWE wants. The best line in the whole promo exchange was from Stephanie when she mentioned how Rousey doesn’t handle losses well. When Rousey lost twice in UFC she ended up leaving the company, so that’s why there’s some validity to what Stephanie said. The physicality at the end of the promo was a first because it was the first real bump for Rousey. They promoted this as some fan Q&A, yet they only asked two fan questions that were the most generic questions they could find. As for the result at WrestleMania, Rousey and Angle winning is the biggest lock on the show. There’s absolutely no reason for Rousey to lose. It is following the “get beat up on TV, win on PPV” formula based on Rousey taking the bump there. Rousey could have sold the bump better. If she turned her head and looked like she was knocked out it would have been better than laying there with her eyes open staring at Stephanie, but that’s just a small nitpick. It was fine.

A brief commercial aired advertising Daniel Bryan’s tag team match at WrestleMania.

Triple H and Stephanie posed on the ramp while Angle and Rousey were standing in the ring.

Still to come: Lesnar and Reigns, plus Cena needs to know if The Undertaker will answer the challenge.

Bayley was shown walking backstage because she’s up next.

(Commercial)

The video aired to let us know WrestleMania is just six days away.

Bayley was shown at ringside standing next to the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal trophy that looks very generic. Sonya Deville was already in the ring.

Bayley vs. Sonya Deville (w/Mandy Rose & Paige)

Bayley took control early on with a running cross body block. Bayley took down Deville with a side headlock. They messed up some spot with Bayley jumping off the middle rope and landed on top of Deville rather than hitting an armbar like she was supposed to do. They recovered with Bayley hitting a clothesline on Deville against the turnbuckle. Deville with a punch to the face followed by a kick. The show went to break with Bayley rolling to the floor like the good employee she is.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Deville was in control with a slam. There was a scroll across the bottom of the screen telling people that WrestleMania is free for new WWE Network subscribers. They have shown it multiple times. Deville with a running knee to Bayley’s face. The announcers were putting over Deville hard as Bayley made the comeback with forearms, two clotheslines and whipped Deville into the corner. Bayley went up top and connected with a cross body block followed by a running knee to the face for a two count. Paige and Mandy pulled Deville out of the ring. Bayley sent Deville back in the ring and hit the neckbreaker using the ropes for an assist for a two count. Rose on the apron, so Bayley kneed her to knock her down. Deville with a rollup for two. Bayley got the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win. It went ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bayley

Analysis: ** It was a decent match that started off badly with some miscues early. They got through it okay with the second half of the match being fine. I am sick of the ROLLUP OF DEATH~!, but somebody in WWE obviously loves it.

Post match, Rose went into the ring to attack Bayley with punches. The shaky camera was annoying me like usual. Deville joined in with the punches. Sasha Banks ran down to the ring and saved Bayley. Banks punched Rose repeatedly and tossed her over the top to the floor. Bayley threw Deville over the top to the floor.

Banks told Bayley to raise her hand. Bayley wouldn’t do it. Banks put her hand on Bayley’s face, so Bayley took her down. They got into a slugfest as they exchanged punches. Deville and Rose went back in the ring. Deville kicked Bayley while Rose hit her double underhook slam on Banks. Paige left with Deville and Rose standing tall.

Analysis: It was basic stuff to advertise the battle royal by having two women go over the top to the floor. It also continued the problems between Bayley and Banks, which should lead to them going far in the battle royal at Wrestlemania. The crowd reacted well to Bayley and Banks fighting, so the story is working although it’s not easy to tell which one might be the heel. Good ending with Deville and Rose looking good.

Still to come: Rollins vs. Balor. Also, some video about Asuka is next.

(Commercial)

The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Jonathon Coachman were shown on camera. Graves pointed out Cole won his only WrestleMania match in Atlanta. Don’t remind us. They shilled the free trial for new subscribers again.

A video aired about Asuka’s undefeated streak beginning at October 7, 2015. I was in the crowd for it (see pic above). I am taking credit for giving her good luck! I'm kidding. Anyway, the video mentioned 265 wins and 0 losses with 35 different women that have fallen victim to her with 8 of them holding WWE gold. They mentioned some other accolades for Asuka as well. At WrestleMania, Asuka will face Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Title.

The announcers talked about The Miz and Maryse giving birth to their baby girl Monroe Sky Mizanin born on March 27, which was last Tuesday. It’s nice that it happened that way because Miz was able to be there for it. Congrats to the happy couple.

Finn Balor made his entrance for his match. They went to break there.

(Commercial)

The Miz made his entrance. He was in a suit and he had the Intercontinental Championship with him. The Miz joined the announcers, who congratulated him on the new baby.

Seth Rollins made his entrance to a good ovation. He pointed at Miz on commentary and then he walked down to the ring. Balor and Seth Rollins will challenge The Miz for the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania. It should be a great match.

Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

They had a mat wrestling exchange. The Miz put over how the guys in the IC Title match are the best performers in WWE. Miz talked about how the greatest moment of his life was seeing his daughter Monroe being born and it just melted his heart while adding that it’s incredible. Miz said he is more focused than ever. Rollins nailed a running shoulder tackle to take control of the action in the ring. Balor with an arm drag followed by an armbar. Miz talked about how he was able to be with his wife and he knows how to swaddle now because he’s in the dad club. Rollins with an arm drag leading to another standoff. It was about three minutes of action with neither man getting the advantage as the match went to break.

(Commercial)

They returned from break with Rollins and Balor getting into a shoving match. Miz said he’s a new man because having a child changes a person. Miz said at WrestleMania, you will see three of the best in-ring performers go at it and you’ll have to pry the title from his hands. Rollins dumped Balor out of the ring. Rollins worked over Balor with a chop to the chest followed by a whip into the barricade. They went back into the ring with Balor hitting a dropkick that sent Rollins to the floor. Balor nailed his running kick on the apron that knocked down Rollins. Back in the ring, Balor with a kick to the back and a cover. Balor worked over Rollins with chops as the WrestleMania is free scroll appeared again. Rollins sent Balor face first into the middle turnbuckle followed by a Blockbuster off the middle ropes for a two count. Rollins slapped on a chinlock. While that was going on, a split screen commercial aired promoting Styles vs. Nakamura at WrestleMania for the WWE Championship.

Balor tried to break free from the chinlock, but Rollins dropped him with a neckbreaker. Rollins with a running kick leading to a two count. Miz spoke about how his WrestleMania experience will help him on Sunday. Rollins and Balor exchanged chops. Balor with two boots to the face followed by three forearms to give Balor control. Rollins went to the middle rope, so Balor pulled him off for a back bump. Balor with an elbow drop on Rollins for a two count while Miz pointed out that in between feedings for his daughter, he has been strategizing. Rollins hit a Slingblade leading to Balor going to the floor. Rollins hit a suicide dive on Balor that sent him into the barricade with Balor selling it as a big bump. That’s because they went to break there. They were at about 14 minutes at this point.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Balor with a Slingblade. Balor charged in again, but Rollins stopped him with a superkick. Slow cover by Rollins with one arm covering Balor for a two count. The crowd reacted well to that. Fans chanted “this is awesome” while Miz talked about how prestigious he has made the IC Title. Rollins missed a charge on Balor against the turnbuckle. Balor with a kick to the head. Balor up top, but Rollins stopped him with a punch. Balor with punches to Seth’s back to knock him down. Rollins with a superplex off the top and Balor got a cradle for two. Great nearfall that they did to end a match a few weeks ago. Rollins nailed his knee to the face for a two count. Rollins went up top. Rollins stared at the WrestleMania sign, he jumped off with a Frog Splash and Balor got his knees up. That damn WrestleMania sign is so distracting. Balor cradle gets two. That was a great nearfall too. The fans were going wild for this. Rollins rolled out to the floor. Balor’s running kick was blocked by Rollins, which led to Rollins teasing a Powerbomb into the barricade, but Balor fought out of it leading to a dropkick that sent Rollins into the barricade. Balor sent Rollins in the ring. Balor up top, he went for Coup de Gras, but Rollins moved and Rollins went for The Stomp. Balor avoided that, Rollins tried a rollup and Rollins nailed The Stomp to pin Balor for the victory after 22 minutes of action. The crowd was cheering that.

Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins

Analysis: **** This was an awesome match. Four stars out of five. One of the best TV matches of the year in WWE and one of the better matches of the year in WWE as well. What a great job by both guys of building up the excitement throughout the match, it was competitive from start to finish and the crowd was hot for all of it. The way the match was booked was done to make it look like either guy could win at any time. It ended up being Rollins because he was the first guy to hit his finishing move that gave him the victory. Balor came close to winning a few times. I liked the counter of the superplex into the pin because that’s what they have done before for a finish, so the crowd really bought into it. Rollins using The Stomp as a finish is what he should be using, so that makes me happy. I just wish they would give it a better name because that’s basic although I understand not wanting to call it The Curb Stomp as well. Anyway, great match that I recommend watching if you missed Raw. I hope the WrestleMania 3-Way is this good too.

A graphic reminded us it is The Miz vs. Balor vs. Rollins for the IC Title at WrestleMania. Rollins celebrated the win while Miz held up the IC Title while standing on the announce table.

Analysis: I am picking Finn Balor to win the IC Title at WrestleMania. The result of this match only helps my prediction.

Replays aired of the opening segment with Stephanie putting Rousey through the announce table.

The announcers talked about the WrestleMania lineup while mentioning the Kickoff Show starting at 5pmET with a two-hour run time leading into WrestleMania at 7pmET. Coach mentioned that the Andre the Giant Battle Royal is on the Kickoff Show. Cole mentioned the WrestleMania women’s battle royal and Graves mentioned the Cruiserweight Championship between Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali is on the Kickoff Show.

Analysis: It’s no surprise that both battle royals and the Cruiserweight Championship match are on the Kickoff Show. That’s what I figured it would be based on previous years.

Still to come is John Cena and an in-depth look of Reigns vs. Lesnar is up next.

(Commercial)

A video aired about WrestleMania history showing Brock Lesnar beating Bill Goldberg for the Universal Championship at last year’s WrestleMania. Lesnar has been the Universal Champion for one year.

The video package aired to set up the Universal Championship match at WrestleMania between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. It showed Reigns trash talking Lesnar several weeks ago followed by the highlights of the last two weeks with Lesnar beating up Reigns.

Analysis: It would be a big surprise if Reigns doesn’t beat Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania.

Paul Heyman was shown talking on his phone talking to somebody about the “Brocktagon.” Kurt Angle showed up to talk to Heyman, so Heyman ended his call. Angle told Heyman that the most important of WrestleMania is the main event stays intact. Heyman said they will do it Angle’s way, say what they have to say and they’ll be done. Angle told him not to say anything to cause Reigns to injure Lesnar. Heyman laughed about it. Angle said that he wants Heyman to not add fuel to the fire. Heyman said they will take it under consideration, Heyman laughed some more and Angle left.

Analysis: It’s a good way to tease something big happening later in the show with Heyman laughing at Angle thinking that Reigns might injure Lesnar. Nice tease for later.

Cesaro and Sheamus, the Raw Tag Team Champions, made their entrance. The announcers plugged the NXT Takeover New Orleans show on Saturday night that will be awesome. The show went to break there.

(Commercial)

A commercial aired for Smackdown this week noting that Shane McMahon would be back.

Sheamus and Cesaro were in the ring. They face Braun Strowman and a partner at WrestleMania for the Raw Tag Team Titles with Graves noting that Braun must find a partner.

Sheamus said that Braun Strowman needs to listen up. Cesaro said it doesn’t matter who Braun’s tag team partner is as a scroll was shown again plugging free WrestleMania for new subscribers. Sheamus said that Strowman has to tag in his partner, whoever it is. Sheamus said that his partner has to have plans and Cesaro added that they will never have that. Sheamus added that they’re not a real team while Cesaro added that Braun and his partner are not a real team. They did their “We Are The Bar” catchphrase.

Braun Strowman made his entrance and stood on the stage. Fans cheered Strowman while chanting “get these hands” for him. Strowman said that if they are trying to say that he doesn’t play well with others then they are right. Strowman said that management has made it clear that he has to have a partner if he wants to challenge for the tag team titles, so he got one. Strowman said that he was just talking to him in the back and he doesn’t appreciate what those two clowns were just saying. Cesaro invited Strowman’s partner to come out there to tell them to their face. Strowman said his partner will come out if he has a match with one of them. Sheamus told Strowman that if his partner wants a match, he’s got it.

Strowman said he’ll go get him. Strowman warned them that his partner is a lot like him…just a little different. Strowman walked to the back.

Strowman’s music played again and he walked out there wearing a white dress shirt along with glasses. Graves sarcastically asked where Strowman found him. Strowman said his brother is Braun and he is “Brains” so he walked down to the ring.

“Brains” Strowman entered the ring. He took off his gear with Graves marveling that it was really Braun after all. Sheamus and Cesaro attacked with Sheamus hitting a Brogue Kick. Strowman came back by tossing Cesaro out of the ring. Sheamus and Cesaro left. The champs went up the ramp, so that ended the segment with no match. Strowman yelled while in the ring to end it.

Analysis: This was weak. They went for comedy, but it wasn't that funny. The story remains that we still don’t know who Braun Strowman’s partner will be at WrestleMania. This was okay, but it didn’t really answer the question of who the partner is. That’s going to be a mystery until we get to WrestleMania apparently. There are plenty of possible names ranging from Big Show if he's healthy (a respect thing with Strowman), Bray Wyatt because he might be a face now and Elias could fit since fans want to cheer him. Jeff Hardy is due back any time soon, so maybe he could be in that spot although they may want him to be with Matt Hardy again. There are so many options.

Goldust did a promo about wanting to win the Andre the Giant battle royal at WrestleMania. He said a quote from Andre in the movie “The Princess Bride” that Andre was in. He said that HBO will have to make a documentary about him since HBO is doing a documentary about Andre.

Matt Hardy did a promo about the Andre Battle Royal as well. Hardy did a promo about how “Dust of Gold” aka Goldust is scheduled for deletion. It’s Hardy vs. Goldust up next.

(Commercial)

The match started during the break.

Matt Hardy vs. Goldust

Goldust nailed a punch, Goldust did the chomp and Hardy said it was wonderful. Goldust whipped Hardy shoulder first into the steel post followed by a punch. Goldust with a spinebuster. There was a shot of the Andre trophy at ringside. The announcers talked about battle royal winners. So we’re pretending Mojo Rawley’s title win helped him? No. It is meaningless. Hardy made a comeback with a Side Effect for two. Goldust with a powerslam got a two count. Goldust went to the middle rope and missed with something because Hardy moved. Goldust rollup got two. Hardy came back with a punch followed by the Twist of Fate for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Matt Hardy

Analysis: *1/4 They did okay for a match with very little build and not a lot of time given for the match. They are both veterans in their 40s who have been doing this a very long time. Hardy winning was obvious.

Post match, Hardy walked over to the Andre trophy and yelled “procure” repeatedly because he wants to procure the trophy.

An interview with Nia Jax is coming up later.

Alexa Bliss and Mickie James did a selfie promo and I was distracted by their beauty, but also by the dreaded WORDS ON THE SCREEN. We don’t need those words. They mocked Jax with James saying Jax has a face for radio, then Bliss talked about “blubbering” and said that Jax would be “blubbering in her blubber.” They laughed.

Analysis: I like them, but that was poorly written. The "blubbering" bit is so stupid.

John Cena is up next.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: Here are my rankings of The Undertaker’s 25 Matches at WrestleMania from worst to best exclusive to The Comeback. Sorry Giant Gonzalez fans, but there’s not a lot of praise for him here.

Let’s Hear From John Cena

John Cena made his entrance to a loud ovation full of cheers and some boos. Cena ran down to the ring like usual.

The crowd chanted “Undertaker” before Cena could start the promo. Cena said he hates saying this because he was wrong since they are out of time. Cena talked about how they have no more time left and silence means no Undertaker. Cena talked about how he did everything he possibly could to get Undertaker to do something. Cena said he’s going to WrestleMania fired up. Cena said people have asked him his match, so he said again that he is going to WrestleMania as a fan. Cena said that Cole told him to enter the battle royal. Then Cena said maybe he could be Braun’s partner if he needs it or get in a triple threat or Fatal 4-Way, so Cena said he’d tell us why it won’t happen. Cena said: “I lost to Roman Reigns, I lost at Survivor Series, I lost the Royal Rumble, I lost the Elimination Chamber and I lost at Fastlane.” He held up five fingers.

Analysis: What a loser! I wish he gave a shoutout to Barry Horowitz for all that losing. How’s that for analysis?

Cena talked about how the reason he called out Undertaker was for a last chance WrestleMania moment and it’s a match where nobody gets held back where neither of them will be stopping momentum or taking a spot. Actually, it sure sounds like taking a spot because if the match wasn’t happening then other wrestlers that are in the battle royal could be in a more meaningful match. Good effort, though.

Cena said it seemed perfect, but things change. Cena said that one year ago today his life changed and he did a shoutout to Nicole for their engagement at WrestleMania one year ago. Cena said that maybe this WrestleMania is the perfect time for a change. Fans chanted “Undertaker” again with Cena saying he hopes that Taker hears it. Cena fired off his line about being damn proud about being a fan at WrestleMania. Cena put over gifted performers like Seth Rollins and Finn Balor to put on the greatest WrestleMania card of all time and he’s humble enough to know they don’t need him to do it. Cena put over his future brother in law Daniel Bryan returning to the ring after three years. Cena talked about the greatest in-ring performer that he knows, AJ Styles, is in the WWE Championship match. The crowd cheered for that. Cena also had a good line about how WrestleMania happens to fall on Rusev Day, which led to “Rusev Day” chants. Cena even mentioned Elias and said he knows what WWE stands for leading to the fans chanting “Walk With Elias.” Cena added that he’s proud of the women’s division while adding that success is not based on gender. Cena said he’s going to WrestleMania as a fan and he’s damn proud of it, but he wanted to take a second to apologize about The Undertaker.

Cena said that he did everything he could in the ring and on social media. Cena gave a shoutout to audiences in Dallas, Detroit, Cleveland and right here in Atlanta while saying they didn’t even really try in Atlanta. Cena fired up the crowd telling them to make some noise to summon The Undertaker, so the fans cheered. Cena urged them to cheer more, so they did. The fans chanted “Undertaker” again. Cena said that is four weeks straight of people around the world pouring their hearts out for Undertaker, yet Undertaker had no decency to do a damn thing.

Cena said he’s not upset about WrestleMania, but he’s upset with Undertaker because he ignored these people and called him a dead man walking. Cena said that it’s obvious that Undertaker left his hat in the ring, but it’s obvious to everybody there that he left his balls at home. The crowd had an "ohhhh" reaction to that. Cena left.

Analysis: It was the same thing we saw for the last four weeks. A lot of people thought this was the week where Undertaker would show up or there would be some sort of message from him. Nope. It didn’t happen. I don’t know who thought this was the best direction for this story, but I think it’s a poor storyline. They could have had The Undertaker out there for weeks trying to get the upper hand on Cena, delivering a few words about his legacy and Cena firing back on him. Instead, they are not even going to advertise the match that is still probably happening at WrestleMania.

Analysis x2: One of the questions I have been asked a lot about WrestleMania is if Undertaker will be in his traditional attire or if he’ll go back to the “American Badass” gimmick. I’m not sure what it will be, nor do I really care. I just hope that The Undertaker, at 53 years old, can have a decent match because I have my doubts about that. I think he should use the traditional Taker attire, but I understand why people think he might change it since he left the hat in the ring at last year’s WrestleMania and there’s also Kid Rock inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. Kid Rock sang one of the Undertaker theme songs during his American Badass run in the early 2000s, so that’s why it is possible. Whatever outfit Undertaker wears, he's still a 53-year-0ld man with a lot of injuries and I hope he is able to get through the match okay.

The announce team went over the WrestleMania card. I have the whole thing at the bottom of the post. I am going to do an in-depth preview on Friday.

(Commercial)

Roman Reigns was shown in the locker room when Kurt Angle showed up. Angle let Reigns know that he Lesnar is there. Reigns told him he’s not going anywhere. Reigns said he’s willing to hear Paul Heyman out, but the past six years of disrespect of Lesnar is something they are tired of, so if Heyman says something stupid Reigns is heading out there. Reigns told Angle he doesn’t care about a peace treaty and told him to take it back to a pawn shop where he sold his Olympic Gold Medals. Reigns left.

Analysis: Another tease for the main event segment. Reigns was mean at the end there.

Elias was in the ring doing one of his songs. Elias did his “Walk With Elias” bit two times while claiming it was another sold out crowd screaming his name. Elias ripped on Atlanta by calling it a “hell hole of a dump.” Elias said at WrestleMania he’s got the greatest performance of a lifetime for everyone. Elias tried to sing, but he was interrupted by Heath Slater and Rhyno.

Heath Slater and Rhyno entered to lose…I mean…have a match.

Elias vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno)

Elias with a chop followed by a clothesline. Slater with a running knee to the face followed by a jumping kick. Cole was yelling for some reason. Elias with a jumping knee attack followed by the Drift Away neckbreaker for the pinfall win after about two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Elias

Analysis: 1/2* Match of the year! Or not. Easy win for Elias as expected. This show is too long.

Nia Jax interview up next.

(Commercial)

Braun Strowman was shown backstage. Curt Hawkins was standing there with a “Pick Me Braun” shirt. Hawkins wanted to be his partner. Strowman asked him his win-loss record. Hawkins didn’t tell him he loses every match. Hawkins said if he picks him this could be his big break. Strowman Hawkins into some fake wall that collapsed when Hawkins went through it: “That’s your big break.”

The announcers plugged all the shows on WWE Network and USA Network during WrestleMania week. I am going to be writing a lot this week. That’s all I know.

Nia Jax Interview

Nia Jax was seated in a room with Renee Young doing the interview. Jax is in her ring gear for some reason. Young just did a statement without asking a question. Jax said some of Alexa Bliss’ comments made her feel like when she was like growing up, but you have to be true to who you are inside and seize the opportunities that present themselves. Jax said she’s not a goddess, nor does she claim to be. Renee said that women in the locker room and admire who she is. Jax said she thought Alexa was her best friend and mentioned some of the things that Bliss said that she’s a desperate, needy, gullible loser. Jax said those comments took a toll on her and shattered a bit of her confidence. Jax talked about how she doesn’t take that shit (“shit” got bleeped) with Jax saying she’s confident and she loves who she is. Jax said she is proud of this and Bliss represents the people that keep her down. Jax stared into the camera telling Alexa she is nothing but an insecure little girl. Jax called Bliss a pathetic fly and at WrestleMania she’s going to squash Bliss like a bug.

Analysis: Good interview from Jax giving her perspective of a woman that was hurt by what Bliss said although Jax is also confident in the person that she is. It’s a relatable storyline for a lot of people watching. I just wish they had Jax earn the title match by booking her stronger. Anyway, the WrestleMania match should be a dominant win for Jax in under five minutes. It shouldn’t go longer than that.

Analysis x2: "Hey Nia, we're going to do a sitdown interview with you."
"Okay, let me go dress in my wrestling gear."
"Why? It's just an interview."
"Because I'm not like most girls."
It must have gone something like that.

Alexa Bliss, the Raw Women’s Champion, entered along with her friend Mickie James for a tag team match.

(Commercial)

Dana Brooke entered first for her team. Asuka was up next. There was a funny shot of Bliss with her hands on her hears during Asuka’s entrance.

Asuka and Dana Brooke vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James

Brooke with an armbar on Bliss early on followed by a corner elbow by Brooke. Bliss broke free with a forearm to the back. James tagged in with a kick on Brooke. Fans chanted for Asuka as James punched Brooke. Broke drove James into the corner with shoulder tackles. A corner attack missed by Brooke and James with a running kick. Brooke went for a splash leading to James getting her knees up to block it. They went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, James was still in control of Brooke. James slapped on a headlock. Bliss tagged in with a slap on Brooke. Bliss headlock and Brooke managed to hit a suplex. Asuka got the hot tag against James with the crowd cheering. Asuka with a running hip attack, knee to the face, kicks to the chest and a kick to the head. Asuka with a running hip attack to knock Bliss off the apron. Sliding kick by Asuka sent James to the floor. Back in the ring, James with a kick to the face for two. James up top, she jumped off, Asuka moved and Asuka slapped on the Asuka Lock submission. James tapped out. It went about 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Asuka and Dana Brooke

Analysis: ** It was a basic tag match with a predictable outcome because Asuka was involved. Brooke did a fine job of selling for most of the match while the heels offense looked good. The finish could have been built up a bit better. This might be the Raw farewell of Asuka since she's probably winning the Smackdown Women's Title at WrestleMania.

Post match, Bliss went back into the ring with a forearm to the back of Asuka. Brooke went back in, but he heels double teamed her wit ha double DDT. Nia Jax’s music hit and she ran down to the ring. Bliss left the ring, Jax tried to grab her and James hit a forearm to the back. Jax slammed James down followed by a corner splash. Jax hit a Samoan Drop on James. Jax stared at Bliss, who was at the top of the ramp with the title on her shoulder.

Analysis: It was predictable with Bliss running away again, which continues their story of Bliss being scared of Jax. I think Jax winning the title is a lock. Like I said earlier, keep it under five minutes.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were shown walking backstage. Kurt Angle showed up to ask where they are going. Heyman said they are going to the ring. Angle told them not to forget what they talked about. Heyman said big box office and he’s going to talk positive about Roman Reigns. They left.

(Commercial)

Main Event PromoMania

Brock Lesnar, the Universal Champion, made his entrance with Paul Heyman. A graphic was shown reminding us it’s Lesnar vs. Reigns for the Universal Title at WrestleMania. When Lesnar and Heyman got into the ring, other superstars on Raw formed a bit of a human wall on the ramp while facing the entrance.

Heyman did his usual intro for himself, but he stopped when he saw the guys on the ramp. Heyman said that Kurt Angle had no control because control is yielded by the person holding the Universal Title leading to Heyman introducing Lesnar like usual.

Heyman said it’s the truth before the last WrestleMania in New Orleans, Heyman said that Lesnar would conquer the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Heyman said it wasn’t a prediction, it was a spoiler and then Lesnar conquered The Undertaker’s undefeated streak. Heyman said nobody laughed at them, but they laughed at the fans. Heyman said the only two beings that hold a victory over The Undertaker at WrestleMania will collide at WrestleMania (Lesnar and Reigns).

Heyman talked about how people believe that Reigns will beat Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Heyman said you have to respect a guy like Roman Reigns, but the truth is that Lesnar will F5 Reigns and pin him in the center of the ring…one…two…three. Heyman said that’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler.

Heyman said that if Roman Reigns becomes the Universal Champion then this is the last time you will ever see Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman on Monday Night Raw. Some fans cheered that. Heyman said he’ll save his goodbyes for his own personal social media, but since Brock will be saying hello to us from UFC. Heyman said this whole image of Lesnar that he looks at the entire locker room that none of them can shine his boots or win his title or thinks the WWE Universe deserves his contempt and Lesnar only fights on his own terms. Heyman said this whole thing is 100% true. Heyman said that Lesnar believes there’s not one member of the locker room that can hold his jock. Heyman said that Roman’s only choice is to accept defeat when you run out of options while adding that Roman’s are like his ass because they are both owned by Brock Lesnar.

Heyman said that Reigns will have to go home on Sunday night to his wife, kids, fathers, uncles, cousins and say he got beat, victimized and conquered by Brock Lesnar. Heyman said that Reigns isn’t the big dog against Lesnar and he’s only going to be another notch on Lesnar’s title belt. Heyman said the truth is that Roman Reigns is Brock Lesnar’s bitch. Heyman tossed the microphone looking like they were going to lave, but Roman Reigns’ music hit.

Reigns walked out onto the stage where the other Raw superstars were standing in front of him with Titus O’Neil, Sheamus and Cesaro in the front. Reigns wondered why they wanted to protect the part time bastard Lesnar. Reigns told them to think about it, so they talked amongst themselves. They moved to allow Reigns a clear path to the ring.

Reigns walked down to the ring for a face off with Lesnar. When Reigns got close to the ring, Lesnar told him to “think about it real hard.”

Reigns and Lesnar were both in the ring. Lesnar thought better of it and bailed to the floor like the heel he is. Lesnar grabbed his title. Lesnar brought a steel chair into the ring. Reigns charged at Lesnar with a Superman Punch. Reigns hit two more Superman Punches with the crowd cheering him. Reigns hit another Superman Punch on a stumbling Lesnar. When Lesnar got back up holding the steel chair, Reigns knocked him down with a fifth Superman Punch. Reigns grabbed the Universal Championship with the crowd cheering. Reigns held the championship in the air over a fallen Lesnar. Reigns stared at the WrestleMania sign. Lesnar popped up back to his feet and hit a F5 on Reigns. Heyman told Lesnar that the F5 put him down.

Lesnar did a good job of selling the Reigns attack. Lesnar put the Universal Championship on his shoulder and went up the ramp with Heyman by his side. Lesnar’s music played as Reigns was selling in the ring. That’s how Raw ended with Lesnar and Reigns staring at eachother on the road to WrestleMania.

Analysis: I thought Heyman’s promo was solid as usual. It’s hard to really say anything original at this point, but I like the way he kept mentioning things that he thought were the truth. As for the brawl, Reigns got in a lot of more offense here while Lesnar stood tall for the third week in a row. I think it’s a lock that Reigns is winning the Universal Championship at WrestleMania and I would be very surprised if that doesn’t happen. What will be most interesting is the crowd reaction to yet another Reigns main event win because we know he has been booed in the past few years. I’m not sure if Lesnar will be cheered, though. The crowd dynamic will be the most intriguing part of a predictable match.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Seth Rollins
  2. Finn Balor
  3. Stephanie/Triple H

 

The Scoreboard

5.5 out of 10

Last week: 4.5

2018 Average: 5.89

Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 5.5, 6, 5, 6.5

2018 High: 8 (February 19)

2018 Low: 4.5 (March 26)

 

Here's the Raw Deal banner I was going to use. It was made by Melo Man if Undertaker showed up, but with no Taker there it makes no sense to use it. I figured I would at least share it here.

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 5.5 out of 10.

It felt like an average show. A lot of promos and video packages as expected. They did a good job of promoting some of the matches at WrestleMania although some stuff may have been hurt by how boring some segments were.

The best match was clearly Balor vs. Rollins with nothing else coming close to that.

The Cena promo felt like a waste of time again, Strowman’s angle was boring and Reigns/Lesnar build to a fight was okay although I wouldn’t say it was that exciting.

It was a good crowd in Atlanta. It just wasn’t an exciting show.

Does it matter if the show was just average? Not really. The lineup for WrestleMania was set weeks ago and as long as the key matches get time, it should be an awesome show. Nobody is going to remember the build to the matches that much anyway.

The next WWE PPV is WrestleMania 34 on April 8. Here’s what we know so far.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka

Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (If Zayn/Owens lose they are still fired, but if they win they get their jobs back.)

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

United States Championship: Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev

Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Braun Strowman and ???

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax

Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The New Day

Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal (Kickoff Show)

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal (Kickoff Show)

Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali – The championship is currently vacant. (Kickoff Show)

John Cena vs. The Undertaker is probably going to happen too.

---

That's all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.

Go Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

 

 





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