Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for this week’s show featuring Ric Flair's 70th birthday with some big name friends showing up for the party. Also, Roman Reigns is back to share some news about his health at the start of the show. Plus, they have less than two weeks until Fastlane, so we'll probably find out some matches.
Live from Atlanta, Georgia, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1343 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you want to support us at TJRWrestling, here’s a Donate Link for our Paypal to contribute in some way to help us grow the site. Thank you.
The show began with a video package showing Roman Reigns making the big announcement on October 22, 2018 to let us know that leukemia he’s been living with leukemia for 11 years and unfortunately it was back in his body. Reigns said it wasn’t a retirement speech because he has faith and after he’s done whipping leukemia’s ass, he is coming back home. Reigns relinquished the Universal Title that night. That was the last time he was on Raw.
Let’s Hear From Roman Reigns
The music of Roman Reigns hit and the Big Dog was cheered heavily by the crowd as expected. It’s great to see him again. Reigns slapped hands with the fans in the aisle. There were loud “Roman” chants for him as he took a deep breath on the ramp and continued his walk down to the ring. Reigns was wearing a new shirt about his fight against cancer that said: "We Fight, We Overcome, We Believe." Reigns greeted the fans at ringside and even former WCW Champion David Arquette was there. Reigns hugged some people at ringside, one of whom I believe was his mom and The Rock’s mom was there too. Reigns posed on the turnbuckle as the fans cheered him again. Reigns had a long pause as he stepped into the ring. It took about five minutes for him to get into the ring and that’s okay because we all know this is an emotional night for him.
Reigns grabbed a microphone as fans chanted “welcome back” for him. Reigns said he’s going to say this a lot, but he’s going to start off by saying thank you. Reigns: “I missed y’all.” Reigns said that there is no other job like this and no other fan base like this. Some fans started a “this is your yard” chant. Reigns said that he used to say that this is his yard, but he said this is our yard. Reigns talked about how he’s a man of faith that believes in God and believes in him looking out for Roman, but he was terrified and scared. Reigns said that he didn’t know if he wanted to share that secret with the world. Reigns said he was scared because he didn’t know how people would react. Reigns talked about how when he got home after his announcement in October, the support was overwhelming and he thanked everybody for it. Reigns said that it wasn’t just WWE fans, it was everyone and everybody was surrounding him with love and support. Reigns talked about how so many people prayed for him that God’s voicemail was full. Reigns said that it was great to be surrounded by the love and grace of the fans. Reigns talked about how he can do anything with that type of strength and love. Reigns paused again.
Reigns said that strength gave him a new purpose. He said that in WWE you want to try to climb the mountain to be at the top when you’re competing in the ring and for him, he’s going to use the WWE platform to raise awareness and to support those in need just like he was. There was another “Roman” chant for him.
Reigns talked about how when he made his announcement, he said he was going to swing for the fences. Reigns: “We didn’t just swing for the fences, we hit a home run.” Reigns said he’s so humbled, grateful and honored to announce this: “The good news is I’m in remission, y’all!” Huge cheers for that! He got a standing ovation from the crowd. Reigns said that with that being said, “The Big Dog is back!” He was greeted with “welcome back” chants from the crowd again.
Analysis: Awesome news. That’s what we wanted to hear. I didn’t expect him to return with bad news.
Reigns said that before he goes, he’s going to say it a whole bunch more times: “Thank you so much, y’all. I love y’all.” Roman’s music played and he saluted the crowd again.
Reigns greeted the fans at ringside again while the announcers shilled what was coming up with Ric Flair’s birthday celebration. Reigns hugged his mom at ringside again.
Seth Rollins’ music hit as Reigns was walking up the aisle and Rollins hugged Reigns. They embraced on the stage with smiles on their faces.
Analysis: It was the right way to begin the show with Reigns greeting fans at ringside showing how happy he was to get back and letting us know he is doing much better. In remission means he has beaten leukemia and can continue his wrestling career. I really liked Roman's speech as he spoke from the heart and you could tell he was genuinely touched by all the support he received. I also liked what he said about the fans. I know wrestling fans bicker about every little thing, but when somebody is down, we all remember we're on the same team as fans of this business and we support that person. Good job Atlanta crowd by representing all of us because I know everybody reading this is supporting him too. The whole segment was very well done. Welcome back, Roman.
Aleister Black made his entrance as a video package aired about him showing some highlights from his NXT run. Ricochet made his entrance as Black’s tag team partner and a Ricochet highlight reel athlete video was shown. The Raw announce team is Michael Cole, Renee Young and Corey Graves.
First Raw match is The Revival vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet. The Revival were already in the ring, so they attacked before the bell. Ricochet and Black cleaned house on both Revival guys by sending them out of the ring. Ricochet hit a suicide dive on Wilder and Black hit a dive over the top on Dawson as the show went to break. The match will start after a break.
Analysis: Last week saw The Revival lose to Gargano/Ciampa, so now they face the other new guys from NXT.
The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black
The match started during the break. This is not for the Raw Tag Team Titles.
Ricochet was in the ring for his team, but Black tagged in with kicks on Wilder, he kicked Dawson off the apron and Black hit a moonsault press on Wilder. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable were shown watching the match on a TV backstage. Dawson tagged in with a sunset flip on Black for two followed by a DDT for a two count. Ricochet hit a moonsault off the apron to take out Wilder on the floor. Black hit a Black Mass kick on Dawson for the pinfall after about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Ricochet and Aleister Black
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Ricochet and Black over the Tag Team Champions, who did not look like champions for the second week in a row. I don’t know why the creative team has The Revival lose non-title two weeks in a row, but I think they’re just focused on putting over the new NXT guys to make them look like stars. It could set up a multi-team tag team match at Fastlane.
Baron Corbin was interviewed by Charly Caruso, who mentioned Corbin said in the past that he didn’t want Roman Reigns to come back. Corbin said that he never said those things. Caruso said that they had the footage and Corbin said that he was under the stress of being the acting GM of Raw. Corbin said that nobody, not even Reigns, can understand what he was going through. Caruso insinuated that it was as if Corbin was saying what he went through as GM was worse than Reigns dealing with leukemia and Corbin brushed it off while suggesting that Reigns should stay out of his way.
Analysis: It seems like WWE is positioning Corbin as Roman’s first opponent whenever Roman is back, which is fine since the fans don’t like Corbin. The promo was a bit cheesy right after Reigns made his return, but that's WWE wanting to get heat for a heel.
There was a shot of Shawn Michaels on the red carpet for the Ric Flair birthday party with Dasha Fuentes interviewing Shawn, who was in an NXT hat. Johnny Gargano walked up to Shawn to greet him.
The guitar of Elias played because he’s up next.
There was a video from WWE Hall of Famer Snoop Dogg saying happy 70th birthday to Ric Flair.
Elias was in the ring playing his guitar and was about to play a song. Lacey Evans made her entrance, walked down to the ring while wearing a dress and walked back up the ramp because that’s what she does. Elias wanted to play again, but here’s Dean Ambrose.
Dean Ambrose said that all this celebrating has him in a festive mood. Ambrose said he feels good, positivity is flowing through his veins and he wanted to issue a challenge with Drew McIntyre, but this time he wants a No Disqualification match. Ambrose walked into the ring.
Elias complained about how Ambrose interrupted him while saying that he was going to sing about how he loved Atlanta. Elias said that Atlanta can host the Super Bowl, but they can’t win it and that drew boos. Ambrose asked him to play certain songs, which he named including Yankee Doodle and then Ambrose said he wanted to hear Dirty Deeds. Elias swung the guitar at Ambrose, but Dean ducked it and Dean hit Elias with the Dirty Deeds DDT in the middle of the ring. Ambrose left.
Analysis: The booking of Ambrose in recent weeks has been unique and he’s back to being a face now. The fans like his quirkiness, but it also showed that WWE gave up on his heel run after only about four months. Plus, Ambrose is leaving the company in late April, so they might want to reunite him with Rollins and Reigns one more time before he goes. As for Elias, he hasn’t really had much momentum as a heel. This didn’t help him, but it was mildly entertaining.
The Riott Squad trio made their entrance for a tag team match.
There was a shot of the red carpet in the arena with Ricky Steamboat getting interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. I’m sure all of the interviews will be on WWE’s Youtube channel if you want to check them out.
Natalya made her entrance first with her tag team partner, the Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, up next. They showed images of Becky Lynch beating up Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey with crutches at Elimination Chamber last week.
Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan (w/Liv Morgan)
Natalya started for her team, Rousey tagged in and Riott managed to take down Rousey with a STO slam after Morgan distracted Rousey. Riott sent Rousey into the turnbuckle and Rousey came back with a clothesline followed by a tag to Natalya. Natalya knocked down Logan on the apron, when Natalya ran the ropes, Morgan tripped her up and Natalya and Rousey double teamed Morgan with Rousey hitting Logan with a forearm. Natalya sent Riott back into the ring, but Logan capitalized with a kick that knocked down Natalya to give the heels control.
The heels were in control as Riott grounded Natalya with a headlock followed by a hair whip into the mat. Logan splashed Natalya against the turnbuckle and Logan hit an elbow drop to the back. Logan slapped on a standing cloverleaf submission. Natalya rolled through to get out of it and tagged in Rousey. Rousey with takedowns on Logan by grabbing the arm and Riott in the ring, so Rousey punched both women. Rousey knocked Morgan off the apron. Rousey hit a step up knee on Logan for a two count as Riott made the save, but maybe she was a bit late. Rousey sent Natalya out of the ring and Natalya hit a clothesline on Riott on the floor. Rousey hit Logan with the Piper’s Pit slam. Becky Lynch showed up in the crowd and she knocked down a security guy. She also knocked down Natalya outside the ring when she got in Becky’s face. The referee called for the bell to end the match after about 10 minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: ** It was a decent match with a non-finish to continue the Rousey story with Lynch. They could have had Lynch show up after Rousey won. It doesn't matter that much either way.
Rousey went after Lynch outside the ring. There were other security guys that went down to ringside along with the producers in suits and referees. Some of the security guys (who are just indy wrestlers) went into the ring with Rousey and Rousey beat them up easily. Police officers went down to the ring to grab Lynch and “arrest” her. There were four cops (most likely indy wrestlers as well) grabbing Lynch. When the cops put handcuffs on Lynch, she said to take it easy on her hands so she can hold up the Raw Women’s Title. The crowd booed Lynch being taken away.
Analysis: That was the predictable Lynch arrest angle. It was obvious that was going to happen at some point because it’s right out of the usual booking WWE does for a face wrestler that’s fighting against authority. Right out of the Stone Cold 101 Playbook as I like to say. They still have about six weeks until WrestleMania, so they will need to get Lynch back into things soon and in the Raw Women’s Title match at WrestleMania as a triple threat. Solid segment.
There was a recap of what happened before the break with Becky Lynch getting arrested.
Ronda Rousey said that it’s time to end this and called for Vince McMahon to get out there. Here comes Stephanie McMahon instead.
Rousey told Stephanie to reinstate Becky Lynch for WrestleMania. Stephanie said that she just saw Lynch and saw her getting loaded into a police car because she’s been arrested. Rousey told Stephanie to tell her daddy. Stephanie said that Ronda’s opponent is Charlotte Flair and the fans booed that. Stephanie said that Becky is a victim of her own actions, her own emotions, she’s a loose cannon and Stephanie said that Becky Lynch did this to Becky Lynch. Stephanie said that instead of being on the road to WrestleMania, Becky Lynch is on the road to jail. Rousey said that what’s best for business is Rousey vs. Becky vs. Charlotte and Rousey asked Steph what this would mean to Stephanie's daughters. Stephanie said that the answer is a hard no. Stephanie was going to leave and Ronda told her to make the match. Stephanie told Ronda she has a bad attitude and that nobody is bigger than WWE. Rousey said that she is the Raw Women’s Champion, but now she just defends it against who is chosen. Rousey had a bit of trouble getting through her lines. Rousey said that Vince claims he’s a man that makes all the tough decisions, but it’s time for him to make the right decision. Rousey put the title at Stephanie’s feet and left.
Analysis: That was an interesting promo with Rousey saying that she wants Lynch to be reinstated because she is tired of the attacks from Lynch. I thought that Rousey stumbled over her promo a bit at the end, but she managed to get the point across by the end of it. Rousey is tired of it and she wants Lynch back in the WrestleMania match. It’s a good way to keep people tuned in.
There was a video from Steve Austin wishing Ric Flair a happy birthday. Austin called Flair the “greatest of all time” and said Flair was the greatest World Champion in the history of the business.
A replay was shown of the end of the Ronda/Stephanie promo.
Stephanie was shown backstage with the Raw Women’s Title and Hunter walked up to her as they tried to figure out what to do.
Jinder Mahal was in the ring with the Singh Brothers complaining about Ric Flair’s birthday while asking what he ever accomplished. Mahal complained about not being invited to the party. Mahal said that he has challenged any WWE superstar that is invited to Ric Flair’s birthday party to a match right here. Kurt Angle answered the challenge.
Kurt Angle vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Samir and Sunil Singh)
Mahal got a cheap shot in when Angle was distracted. Mahal slapped on a chinlock, let it go and slapped on another chinlock. Angle came back with punches and a German Suplex. When Mahal got back up, Angle hit three German Suplexes in a row like he has done so many times. The Singhs distracted, Angle knocked them off the apron, Mahal tried the Khallas, Angle broke free and Angle slapped on the Ankle Lock on Mahal for the submission win after three minutes.
Winner by submission: Kurt Angle
Analysis: * Easy win by Angle, who has really slowed down at age 50. I assume there’s a retirement angle and match for him at WrestleMania, which will be a nice way for him to go out. Putting on a chinlock for two minutes of a three-minute match is pretty boring to watch. It’s hard to believe Mahal is a former WWE Champion, but he was.
Post match, Angle hit Samir Singh with a German Suplex and he hit a German Suplex on Sunil Singh as well.
Alexa Bliss made her entrance to host her talk show segment “A Moment of Bliss” on the stage. Finn Balor is the guest.
There was a graphic that let us know that Nikki Bella won a WIN Award for Best Actress in a reality show. I’ve never heard of it.
A Moment of the Bliss hosted by Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss was seated in a chair looking gorgeous as she ripped on Ronda Rousey for giving up the Raw Women’s Title and saying that she would never do that. Bliss said that she could take Ronda’s place at WrestleMania. Bliss introduced Finn Balor.
Finn Balor made his entrance with the Intercontinental Title around his waist with Renee saying “the internet is going wild” as Balor sat in the chair.
Bliss noted that at Elimination Chamber, Balor won the Intercontinental Title. Bliss said that the bad thing is that title covers up his abs. Balor asked if she is trying to make him blush. Bliss said if you show me those, I’ll show you my…and here’s Lio Rush. Graves complained about the interruption.
Lio Rush appeared on the stage to tell Finn Balor that Lashley should have the Intercontinental Title. Balor told him that Bobby Lashley can challenge him if he wants. Rush said that Lashley is preparing for Braun Strowman. Rush said that he’ll pry the title off him and Balor wondered if Rush was challenging for the title. Rush said he didn’t want to do that, so then Balor suggested that he faces Rush for the IC Title tonight. Bliss wondered if Rush wasn’t man enough to do the job himself. Rush said that he’s going to prepare for their match. Bliss told him that the match is right now. Rush asked for his music to play as Rush walked down to the ring.
Finn Balor’s music played as he made his walk down to the ring with the familiar poses that the fans love.
Analysis: Every Bliss talk show segment has had an interruption that usually leads to a match, so that’s consistent every time she’s out there. I don’t think Balor vs. Rush is that interesting because Rush is just a manager in the eyes of the fans, but at least they set it up in a creative way.
There were images shown from celebrities and wrestlers wishing Ric Flair a happy birthday. There was a video message from Maria Menounos wishing Flair a happy birthday.
There was a shot of Titus O’Neil being interviewed on the red carpet. Sting showed up and hugged O’Neil, so Sting is there for the birthday.
Intercontinental Championship: Finn Balor vs. Lio Rush
Rush sent Balor out of the ring, he charged and Balor went back in with a forearm to the face. Rush sent Balor out of the ring again. Rush hit a moonsault off the bottom rope onto Balor on the floor. Rush with two suicide dives on Balor on the floor. Rush went up top and jumped off with a Frog Splash attempt, but Balor got his knees up to block it. Balor sent Rush into the turnbuckle and followed up with a chop to the chest. Balor with a Slingblade. Rush came back with a dropkick to the knee, which Balor was selling early in the match. Rush wrenched on the left knee of Balor. Balor came back with an enziguri kick to the head. Balor hit an elbow drop to the chest of Rush and Rush got a rollup for two. Rush with a spin kick to the head of Balor for a two count. There was not much of a reaction to the nearfall. Rush to the middle rope, he jumped with a moonsault and Balor came back with a clothesline. Balor went up top and Rush tripped him up to crotch Balor on the top rope. Rush with a hurricanrana off the top, then a rollup for two and Rush kicked the injured leg of Balor. Rush went for a move off the ropes, but Balor caught him and hit the suplex into a slam. Balor favored his left leg and jumped off the top with the Coup de Grace double foot stomp for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: **3/4 The match was good with Balor doing a good job of selling the left injury. The fans did not buy into any of Rush’s nearfalls because they knew was out there to lose the match. Rush got more offense than I would have thought, but I don’t think the fans see him as a star. He's just a manager right now, so it's tough to believe in him winning a match like this. The winner was obvious as soon as the match began.
Still to come: Ric Flair’s birthday celebration. Also, Bobby Lashley will face Braun Strowman.
Tucker from Heavy Machinery was shown walking backstage when he walked up to The Ascension. That led to some trash talk with Konnor saying that they are fresh meat. Viktor and Konnor made fun of Otis and Tucker said that Otis didn’t like being made fun of. Otis showed up with Tucker saying that they said Otis looked like a pig, a bowling ball and he was in the dumpster digging for cheeseburgers. Otis knocked them down and said that’s what you get for messing with Heavy Machinery.
Analysis: It’s nice of WWE to remember The Ascension are still on this show. Heavy Machinery seems to be a comedy team at this point, which is fine because it adds depth to the tag team division.
There was a replay of Roman Reigns doing a promo to start the show when he said he was in remission. Reigns said “the Big Dog is back” and the fans gave him a standing ovation. Reigns also got a big hug from his best friend Seth Rollins. They showed images from media outlets sharing the good news about Reigns.
Reigns will be on Good Morning America on ABC on Tuesday morning.
Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush were backstage in the gorilla position. Lashley complained about how Rush was supposed to get him a title shot for him, yet Rush got the title shot for himself. Lashley said he can’t worry about him when he has to worry about Strowman. Lashley asked if he can trust Rush and Rush begrudgingly said that Lashley can trust him. Lashley made his entrance with Rush.
Braun Strowman made his entrance to a good ovation as usual.
Lashley attacked Strowman before the bell rang with punches. Lashley wanted a suplex, but Strowman blocked that and sent Lashley to the mat with a front suplex. Lashley with a boot to the face, corner splash and a punch to the chest by Strowman. Lashley left the ring, so Strowman hit a running shoulder tackle on Lashley and a shoulder tackle on Rush as well. Strowman trash talked Lashley for attacking him in the past. Strowman left.
Analysis: It was just an angle to put Strowman over by beating up Lashley after the cheap attack by Lashley. I don’t know why they did an angle instead of a match. Perhaps they’ll do the match next week, so that’s why it was just an angle here.
Seth Rollins was interviewed by Charly Caruso backstage. Rollins said that tonight is a fantastic night. Rollins said that he’s been thinking about Brock Lesnar every day and he said he promises he’s walking out of WrestleMania as the Universal Champion. Rollins said that tonight that is secondary because his brother Roman is back because he’s in remission and tonight is about celebrating. Rollins said he knows that Reigns has an ice cold beverage waiting for him.
Analysis: Another week with no Rollins match due to his back injury. He's been resting up since the night after the Royal Rumble and it's not believed to be a serious injury, but he has been out of action for one month now. Rollins should be fine for WrestleMania.
A limo was shown pulling up to the arena. The door opened and it was the legendary Ric Flair along with his wife Wendy. The fans cheered.
Analysis: It’s silly to think that Flair would arrive that late to his own birthday party on Raw, but that’s how WWE always does it with people arriving late.
A video aired about Black History Month.
There were replays of the Becky Lynch story when she showed up to attack Ronda Rousey. That led to Rousey telling Stephanie McMahon to reinstate Lynch and said that Vince McMahon had to make the right decision. Rousey put her title down on the mat as she left the arena.
The announcers were shown on camera talking about it with Stephanie and Triple H having no comment on what happened. Cole said to check out social media for an update on the Lynch situation.
Dean Ambrose was in the ring and his opponent is Drew McIntyre in this No DQ match.
No Disqualification Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre
They started outside the ring with Ambrose attacking with punches. They went into the ring to officially start the match. Ambrose took a belt off and had a second belt underneath, but McIntyre kicked Dean to knock the belt out of his hands. McIntyre had the leather belt and hit Ambrose in the back multiple times. McIntyre hit Ambrose in the chest as well. McIntyre came back with a spinebuster into a pin attempt for two. McIntyre hit Ambrose in the back with the belt again. Ambrose with a clothesline that sent McIntyre over the top to the floor. McIntyre caught Ambrose on the floor and drove him spine first into the barricade. McIntyre hit a belly to belly suplex on the floor leading to a break.
The match continued with Ambrose jumping off the ring post onto McIntyre on the floor. Ambrose sent McIntyre into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Ambrose got a rollup for two and a neckbreaker got a two count. Ambrose worked over McIntyre with the belt to the back. McIntyre came back with the Glasgow Kiss headbutt that knocked Ambrose out of the ring. McIntyre grabbed the steel steps, Ambrose with a drop toe hold and McIntyre bumped into the steps or at least that was the idea of it. Ambrose whipped McIntyre’s head into the steps repeatedly. Elias showed up with a guitar and hit Ambrose in the back with it. That drew boos. Elias rolled Ambrose into the ring. McIntyre went back in and hit the Claymore Kick on Ambrose for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: **1/4 Cheap win for McIntyre getting some help from Elias. The match was just okay. It was tame for a No DQ match with not a lot of weapons being used.
Post match, Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley made their entrance. Elias joined them in the ring. Corbin with a Chokeslam backbreaker on Ambrose and Lashley hit a Spear on Ambrose.
Seth Rollins showed up with a steel chair. Roman Reigns joined Rollins. Reigns and Rollins took down Elias and Lashley in the aisle with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch. Back in the ring, Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Lashley. Rollins hit The Stomp and Reigns hit a Spear to a big ovation. Rollins and Reigns left while not helping up Ambrose.
When Rollins and Reigns got back to the top of the ramp, they looked back at Ambrose in the ring. That led to a break.
Analysis: The Shield reunion is coming again. I didn’t know if Reigns was going to be cleared to be physical already, but he did enough here to show he’s doing well. He didn’t bump, though. It was just his Superman Punch and Spear combo with the crowd reacting to him in a big way.
They plugged the Fighting with my Family movie about Paige’s life with a graphic showing Paige and The Rock. They mentioned the positive reviews and that it was fourth in theaters this weekend. They showed all the supportive tweets from WWE superstars.
Analysis: I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ll check it out during the week, possibly on Thursday, and write a review when I see it.
Bayley and Sasha Banks made their entrance with the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Nia Jax was up as the opponent with Tamina. These teams are meeting for the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Fastlane.
Nia Jax (w/Tamina) vs. Bayley (w/Sasha Banks)
Jax tossed Bayley out of the ring and they went to break less than one minute into the match.
They did a spot where Bayley avoided a splash, Jax avoided an elbow and Bayley avoided an elbow as well. Bayley sent Jax face into the mat with a bulldog. Jax with a running body attack where she ran over Bayley. Jax tossed Bayley across the ring. Jax slapped on a weak looking chinlock. Bayley came back with a jawbreaker, Bayley sent Jax face first into the middle turnbuckle. Jax used her power to hang up Bayley in the tree of woe upside down against the turnbuckle. Jax with a running splash on Bayley against the turnbuckle. Banks got close to Bayley, so Jax grabbed Banks by the hair and Bayley hit a running knee on Jax. Banks sent Tamina into the steel steps. Bayley went up top and hit an elbow drop on Jax for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bayley
Analysis: ** It was a rare clean loss for Jax. The finish was booked well. Bayley’s really good while Jax was as boring as usual. I don’t expect a Women’s Tag Team Title change, so most likely we’ll see Jax and Tamina get the advantage next week.
There was a shot of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon leading the other wrestlers backstage as they were getting ready for the Flair birthday celebration in the main event.
Ric Flair’s 70th Birthday Celebration
The ring was full of WWE superstars that stood on the stage to watch the celebration. The ring was full of balloons, they put out a black carpet and there was a cake in the ring. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance to host the party.
Hunter said that when you get on the road to WrestleMania, things get amped up. Hunter said you get nights tonight where Roman Reigns reclaims his yard and Ronda Rousey lays down the Women’s Championship and makes an ultimatum or you have nights like tonight where Becky Lynch goes to jail. Hunter said that all of that pales in comparison to why they are there right now. Hunter said that they are to celebrate the 70th birthday of the greatest sports entertainer of all time, the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Stephanie introduced the first guest.
Shawn Michaels made his entrance with the NXT hat on his bald head and he went into the ring for the party. Cole mentioned the classic Michaels match with Flair at WrestleMania 24 in 2008.
Ricky Steamboat was up next because he was one of Flair’s greatest rivals. Steamboat chopped some of the guys on the stage with Rollins selling it well. Steamboat and Flair were great rivals going back to 1977 and they had three legendary matches in 1989 in the NWA days.
Kurt Angle was the next legend to join the ring. He didn’t have many memorable matches with Flair, but Angle is considered one of the best ever like Flair.
Sting was introduced as the next legend with the Stinger receiving a big ovation from the crowd. He had several great matches with Ric Flair going back to 1988 and they wrestled eachother many times.
Hunter said that Flair really is a kiss stealing, wheeling dealing and you know the rest. He said that rather than talk about him, let’s take look at what’s causing all this.
A video package aired about Ric Flair showing clips of some classic Flair moments and of course they mentioned his 16 World Titles.
Stephanie unveiled a World Championship Title with Ric Flair’s name on it. It was the classic big gold belt that Flair carried many times. When Hunter introduced Flair, there was no sign of the Nature Boy.
The camera cut backstage. Batista was shown backstage dragging a camera guy with him and he entered Flair’s dressing room. Batista dragged Flair out of the dressing room. Batista looked at the camera: “Hey Hunter, do I have your attention now?” Batista, with his blue shades on and a nose ring, yelled loudly.
Hunter ran up the ramp and went backstage to where Flair was down. Referees and producers showed up to check on Flair as well as a trainer. They said they didn’t know where Batista went. Hunter checked on Flair on the ground. That’s how Raw ended right at 11pmET.
Analysis: It was a classic WWE party where they teased something fun that was going to take place, but it ended up being an angle to set up Triple H vs. Batista at WrestleMania most likely. That match was rumored for months going back to the Smackdown 1000 episode in October, then Hunter tore his pectoral muscle in November, but he’s obviously going to be fine now if they are going forward with the match. Batista is the heel for now, but I think both guys will get cheered at WrestleMania.
I’m not surprised that WWE would use this Ric Flair birthday moment to set up a WrestleMania match. I thought it was really booked well and it should get Batista a lot of heat when he appears on WWE TV again.
Here's some post Raw fun with Jinder Mahal and friends getting beat up by Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels.
Three Stars of the Show
- Roman Reigns
- Finn Balor
- Dean Ambrose
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2019 Average: 5.5
Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 4, 4.5, 6, 5.5
2019 High: 7.5 (January 14)
2019 Low: 4 (February 11)
I give this week’s Raw gets a 6.5 out of 10.
Fun show this week. This was not a good Raw for matches, but it was entertaining with some nice angle developmental. There was the good news with Roman Reigns returning at the start of the night and then the heel ending with Batista attacking Ric Flair to set up the match with Triple H at WrestleMania.
I think they did a good job of setting up some future angles throughout the night. The matches could have been better, but it was still a fun Raw to watch and there wasn’t anything that bored me that much. After three straight below average shows, this felt like more of a WrestleMania season type of show.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Fastlane on March 10 in Cleveland. Here’s what we know so far:
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. Shane McMahon and The Miz
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Bayley and Sasha Banks (c) vs. Nia Jax and Tamina
You can contact me using any of the methods below. See ya next time for the Smackdown review. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. Thanks for reading.