Welcome to another WWE Raw Deal review. This week’s episode of Raw is a follow up to the Elimination Chamber PPV from Sunday night (read my review here). It was a show with some good matches in the first half, then the second half wasn’t that interesting and I thought the whole show was too long at nearly four hours. Overall, I thought it was a slightly above average PPV. The good news is the next WWE PPV is WrestleMania on April 5th, so it will be interesting to see how WWE builds that up over the next month.
Live from Washington, DC, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1398 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage, insightful columns from our team along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Let’s roll.
The Raw intro video aired to start the show.
There was pyro in the arena in Washington, DC as the show began with the crowd sounding like they were ready to go. Hey look, there’s the giant WrestleMania sign.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomed us to the show talking about Edge appearing on Raw this week. It is Edge’s first time on Raw since Randy Orton attacked him on January 27th, which was the night after the Royal Rumble. They showed the parking lot to let us know that they will show us when Edge arrives.
Let’s Hear from Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch made her entrance with the Raw Women’s Championship and she got a good pop from the crowd. Lynch will defend the Raw Women’s Title against Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania on April 5.
Lynch said the time for joking is over and now she finally knows who her WrestleMania opponent is – the cage fighter Shayna Baszler. Lynch said let’s take a look at last night’s Elimination Chamber.
That led to the video package showing Baszler’s dominance in the main event Elimination Chamber match. Baszler eliminated all five women in the Chamber match while using her Kirifuda Clutch submission hold repeatedly. It also featured trash talk from Baszler.
Analysis: I think it’s lame when a wrestler is in the ring, they are about to do a promo and then they have to throw it to a video package. It’s not a natural thing. Find another time to show the video.
Lynch said that Baszler was a pioneer of women’s MMA and has the longest combined reign of days as NXT Women’s Champion. Lynch called Baszler a scumbag, a black hole of charisma and claimed that she was a bitch, but she is the bitch that runs this division. That led to “Becky” chants. Lynch said that she remembered Baszler as a constipated looking robot that refused to shake her hand after WrestleMania last year and Lynch reminded us that she beat Ronda Rousey last year. Lynch said that Baszler isn’t just looking for a title. Lynch said that normal people like her don’t beat trained killers like Baszler, but she does and she will again. Lynch said that at WrestleMania it’s heart vs. skill, The Man vs. The Queen of Spades. Lynch said that Baszler is underestimating her and Lynch is going to smash her head in for it. Lynch dropped the microphone and left.
Analysis: It was a solid promo from Lynch showing a lot of confidence as usual and getting in some clever lines along the way. Lynch has been hurt a bit from having a lack of quality heel opponents for most of her nearly one year title reign (the Lacey Evans feud was bad), but Baszler’s presence will certainly help. I think they’ll have a good match at WrestleMania too.
Later on Raw is Drew McIntyre in action. Rey Mysterio was shown walking backstage because he’s up next against Angel Garza in the first match of the night.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance. They showed a clip of Garza giving Mysterio the Hammerlock DDT on the exposed cement to give Rey a month off with an injury angle. Vacations are nice. I could use a month off. Anyway, Angel Garza entered with Zelina Vega as his manager.
Rey Mysterio vs. Angel Garza (w/Zelina Vega)
Mysterio with a headscissors that sent Garza into the turnbuckle, then a snapmare and Garza with a kick. Garza sent Mysterio in the ropes, Rey did a headstand and Garza kicked him in the face. Garza kicked Mysterio out of the ring and Garza ripped off his pants to reveal the tights, which is a spot that gets a bigger pop every week.
The action continued with Garza hitting a rising knee to the chest. Garza set up for a 619 of his own, but then Mysterio came back with a jumping kick to the head. Mysterio sent Garza out of the ring, Mysterio kicked him to the floor and Mysterio did his slide under the bottom rope leading to a splash on Garza on the floor. Back in the ring, Mysterio with a seated senton off the top and a kick to the chest for two. Mysterio with a springboard attack off the middle ropes, but Garza hit him with a slingshot reverse suplex. Mysterio with an enziguri kick to the head, the 619 missed because Garza moved and Garza hit a superkick. Garza sent Mysterio to the turnbuckle, Mysterio with headbutts and a punch to the ribs. Mysterio wanted the Destroyer, Garza caught him and Mysterio with a headscissors into the ropes. Mysterio hit the 619 kick followed by the splash off the top rope for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes. It looked like Mysterio slipped a bit off the top rope, but he still managed to hit the splash with more of an elbow drop instead of a splash.
Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match with Mysterio getting the win as payback for what Garza did when he took him out several weeks ago. Mysterio is nearly 20 years older than Garza, so you might say it’s wrong to have the older guy win, but I think for the story it made sense that Rey won. I think both guys are in the US Title picture along with champion Andrade and Humberto Carrillo as well. A Fatal 4-Way between those guys makes sense at WrestleMania.
There was a clip of Kevin Owens arriving at Raw earlier in the day. The AOP boys Akam and Rezar were there with Murphy and Seth Rollins, who was eating popcorn like Owens at Elimination Chamber. Owens threw his luggage at AOP, but then the heels attacked Owens and shoved him into some crate. Murphy hit a running kick to KO’s head. AOP and Murphy threw crates onto Rollins. That led to producers like Lance Storm, Jamie Noble, Pat Buck and Sonjay Dutt checking on Owens. That led to a break.
Analysis: That was some heel payback for Owens costing Rollins and Murphy the tag team titles at Elimination Chamber on Sunday.
Next week on Raw: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is back on Raw for #316Day in Pittsburgh. That should lead to some fun moments and chaos from Austin.
A video aired showing NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley walking into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay where WrestleMania will take place. Ripley walked around the stadium and have a look around the stadium. Ripley spoke about how it was a dream that became a reality. Ripley said all she ever wanted to do was help people, but then she helped herself and she accomplished that. Ripley said when she came into WWE, she was told that she was a mini-Charlotte, so ever since then she has done what she could to be herself. Ripley quoted some famous Ric Flair lines and she’s going to beat the best in Charlotte Flair to be the best.
Analysis: It was a quick way to show off some of Ripley’s personality because a lot of Raw fans may not know much about her. If you watch NXT then you know more about Ripley. You should watch NXT too, but some fans don’t, so that’s why it’s important to air clips like that occasionally.
Let’s Hear from Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair, the 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble winner, made her entrance in short green dress and a black leather jacket. It was noted by the announcers that she last held the NXT Women’s Championship five years ago, so she can do it again at WrestleMania against Ripley.
Flair asked the fans if they saw the video package and said “meet Rhea Ripley,” who Flair claimed was the next big thing or the new shiny toy. Flair sarcastically said that it got her all fired. Flair said that in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, but Ripley wants to be herself. Flair said that Ripley is not her, you will never be Flair and there is only one of Flair. Charlotte said that Ripley can continue to be all shiny, be the next big thing and enjoy this hype because it’s not going to last. Flair said that she is fighting Ripley at WrestleMania to prove that she is better. Flair said that it’s one thing to walk around an empty stadium, but it’s another thing to be there in front of 90,000 people and be humbled. That stadium won’t hold that many people. Maybe 60k legit, but WWE will say 70k legit.
Rhea Ripley made her entrance with the NXT Women’s Title around her waist. Ripley walked down to the ring to stand face to face with Flair. Lawler claimed that Ripley ruined the mood here.
Ripley said she was going to explain something and Flair said we already heard enough from her. Flair said that this is not NXT, this is Monday Night Raw and this is her kingdom as the fans let out “WOO” chants. Flair told Ripley she’s excused, so Ripley punched Flair in the head and Flair bumped onto her butt. Ripley left after that.
Analysis: This was okay, but not that interesting. Flair’s promo about wanting to prove to Ripley that she’s better than her isn’t that interesting to me in terms of me getting excited about the match. I’m sure it’ll be fine as a match, but the storyline going into the match isn’t that special. Now it makes sense why they didn’t have Lynch/Baszler do anything physical since this was coming up later in the show.
Randy Orton was shown standing around backstage with a serious look on his face to show us that he’s going to be there later.
This week on NXT: Keith Lee vs. Cameron Grimes for the NXT North American Title and The Broserweights defend the NXT Tag Team Titles against Undisputed Era. The episode takes place at the WWE Performance Center.
This week on WWE Backstage on Tuesday it’s AJ Styles as the guest with Renee Young and Booker T as the hosts.
Bobby Lashley made his entrance without his lovely wife Lana because she’s filming a movie.
Bobby Lashley vs. Zack Ryder (w/Curt Hawkins)
Lashley attacked Ryder with stomps against the ropes followed by a running shoulder tackle. Lashley charged, Ryder with double knees, Lashley avoided a dropkick and Lashley hit a huge spinebuster. Lashley picked up Ryder on the shoulders and hit a spinning Dominator slam for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: 1/2* A squash win for Lashley, who hasn’t had much to do for several weeks.
There were highlights shown from last week’s Raw when Drew McIntyre dominated against Brock Lesnar with the Claymore Kick three times. Drew is up next.
Analysis: That was not a strong first hour. Last week’s first hour was great.
Aleister Black was shown in a darkened room for a promo. As Black was about to speak, there was a knock on his door. It was Seth Rollins and Murphy, who entered the room. Rollins said it was nice to formally meet him while saying that Murphy has told Seth a lot about Black. Seth said that he’s an expert at the numbers game and he said he wants Black on his side. Rollins said perhaps Black should consider joining the movement. Murphy tossed Black a shirt, then Black said perhaps not and gave the shirt back. Rollins said that either you’re with Rollins or you’re against him. Black said that those words sounds like fighting words and in this case, you knocked on the right door because Black accepts. Rollins stared at Black and he walked away.
Analysis: That’s a fresh matchup for later in the show with Black facing Rollins. Seth's wrestling name pre-WWE was Tyler Black, so now he's wrestling against a guy named Black.
Erick Rowan made his entrance with his cage that had a towel covering it. Last week we found it was a mechanical spider in the cage.
Drew McIntyre entered as the opponent and he got a pretty good pop from the crowd now that he is one of the top faces on Raw. McIntyre will challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at WrestleMania on April 5.
Drew McIntyre vs. Erick Rowan
Rowan charged in, McIntyre with a boot to the face and a clothesline that sent Rowan over the top to the floor. McIntyre whipped Rowan into the ring post and then he hit an overhead belly to belly suplex on the floor. McIntyre went over to the cage, he put it on the ground and McIntyre used the steel steps and he hit the top of the cage. Rowan freaked out about it, McIntyre hit him with a headbutt and back in the ring, Rowan charged, Drew missed and Rowan hit the turnbuckle. McIntyre hit the Future Shock DDT, then McIntyre did the 3…2…1 countdown into the Claymore Kick and that was good for the 1…2…3 pinfall win for McIntyre after about two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: * It was a dominating performance from McIntyre to put him over on the road to WrestleMania. The crowd response for everything Drew does is strong, so that’s great to see. Am I supposed to care about anything related to Rowan's cage thing? It was always a comedy thing to me. It's not a big deal.
The cage was still covered although it was smashed. McIntyre went up the ramp and pointed at the WrestleMania sign.
There was another shot of the parking lot to show that cameras are ready when Edge arrives. Randy Orton was once again shown standing by backstage.
A video package aired from last week’s Raw to show Randy Orton explaining himself to Beth Phoenix (Edge’s wife), who slapped Orton and Orton dropped her with an RKO. It was a great performance from both of them. This was a long video package.
The Kabuki Warriors team of Asuka and Kairi Sane made their entrance. They are the Women’s Tag Team Champions. The last televised title match they had was three months ago at TLC in mid-December. This is not a title match.
This Friday on Smackdown: Former Women’s Champion Paige will confront Bayley and Jeff Hardy returns to Smackdown.
Analysis: That may lead to rumors that Paige may be wrestling again. I have no idea if she'll ever be cleared. The expectation is that it will be a multi-woman match at WrestleMania. Good to see Jeff will be back in action too.
Later on Raw is Aleister Black vs. Seth Rollins for the first time ever.
Asuka and Sane had microphones in their hands. They spoke in Japanese to get heat, which led to “WHAT” chants. Sane spoke English by saying “Elimination Chamber” and she asked Asuka how she’s feeling. Asuka said she’s okay while showing her injured left wrist. Sane screamed about it. Asuka and Sane continue to rant in Japanese until Natalya’s music hit to interrupt.
Natalya entered for a tag team match with Natalya selling a left shoulder injury with some tape on her arm. Liv Morgan was up to team with Natalya with Morgan grabbing at her neck to sell injuries from the Elimination Chamber match.
Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) vs. Natalya and Liv Morgan
Sane drove Morgan into the ropes, then did a gentle slap to the face and Morgan shoved Sane away. Morgan got a rollup pin attempt, then a kick to the gut and Sane hit an impressive headscissors takedown. Morgan tripped up Sane into the ropes followed by a dropkick to the back for two. Morgan with a splash against the ropes, Natalya tagged in and they hit a double suplex on Sane for a two count. Ruby Riott made her way down to the ring to watch the match and mess with her former buddy Morgan.
The match continued with Asuka in control of Morgan while Riott was at ringside watching. Morgan hit a dropkick off the middle ropes on Asuka. Natalya tagged in with a double team hip toss, but then Asuka came back with a spinning back fist and Sane wrenched on Natalya’s injured left shoulder against the ropes. Sane jumped off the top rope with a double axehandle to the left arm of Natalya. Asuka tagged back in with her own double axe smash on Natalya’s left arm and then Sane did it again. Asuka held Natalya leading to Sane hitting a running dropkick for a two count. Asuka slapped an armbar on Natalya, who fought back with punches and Asuka had a guillotine choke on Natalya. Sarah Logan also went down to ringside to watch the match. Natalya with a body slam on Asuka. Logan and Riott stared at eachother, then they started brawling on the floor and Morgan went up top and hit a cross body block on Logan/Riott on the floor. Natalya wanted a tag, but Morgan was on the floor. Natalya hit a discus clothesline on Sane. Asuka got a blind tag that Natalya didn’t see, Natalya put the Sharpshooter on Sane and Asuka capitalized with a roundhouse kick to the back of the neck for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane)
Analysis: **1/2 This was okay as a match where it’s nice to see champions actually win a non-title match, which is rare on WWE television. Asuka was great as usual while Sane has figured out how to be more of a heel. Natalya did a nice job of showing babyface fire in trying to come back while Morgan proved to be a bad partner because she was more concerned with what was happening on the floor. The WrestleMania rumor is Kabuki Warriors vs. Bliss/Cross vs. Natalya/Phoenix for the Women’s Tag Team Titles, so they can tell the story that Natalya hasn’t been able to find a good partner and that can lead to her asking Beth to come back to go for the titles.
Still to come: Edge is back on Raw.
Let’s Hear from The OC
The OC trio of AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows made their entrance. Styles lost to Aleister Black at Elimination Chamber because The Undertaker hit him with a Chokeslam and Black finished off Styles with a Black Mass kick to win the match.
Styles started by saying not once, but twice The Undertaker has stuck his nose in AJ’s business where it doesn’t belong. Styles said that Undertaker has taken moments from him, he took a trophy from him at Super Showdown and last night he cost him out. Check this out. A video aired recapping what happened at Elimination Chamber.
Analysis: I mentioned earlier that I didn’t like wrestlers doing promos that set up video packages. In Lynch’s case, she’s a babyface doing it, but in this instance it’s a heel Styles wanting people to see his loss? It just doesn’t feel like a natural thing to do on the show.
The fans chanted “Undertaker” after the video aired. Styles said three years ago at WrestleMania, he saw Undertaker get beat by Roman Reigns and after the match, Taker folded the jacket and placed his hat in the ring. After that, Taker left, held his fist up and looked like he was walking off in the sunset. Styles trash talked Undertaker saying that he should have retired after he lost to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. Styles said that it was a powerful moment and Taker ruined it. Styles said that he doesn’t know what causes Undertaker to keep coming back whether it’s ego or whatever, but it’s going to cost Undertaker because Styles wants him at WrestleMania. Styles said that 15 years ago, he would have been hesitant to call out Undertaker, but he doesn’t see this mythical monster anymore, he doesn’t see a Phenom – he sees a broken down old man named Mark Callaway. Styles said that Undertaker should have retired ten years ago when he was in his prime.
Styles said he doesn’t know what keeps him coming back, but he’s got an idea, it’s his wife Michelle McCool. Styles noted that Undertaker and McCool are married if you didn’t know and she plays him like a fiddle. Anything she wants, she gets even though Undertaker gets hurt. Styles said that they have a great family, but she is the most conniving person he has ever met in his entire life. Styles offered to give Undertaker some advice. Styles said that Undertaker’s wife will run him into the ground and AJ is going to help her. Styles said that he’s going to make sure that “you die in that ring at WrestleMania.” Styles said that he is going to take The Undertaker’s soul at WrestleMania and that’s exactly what he wants Taker’s wife wants him to do.
Styles said that he is challenging The Undertaker to a one on one match at WrestleMania. Styles asked Taker what does he have to lose because he’s already lost his dignity, pride, mystique and he’s just a broken down, old man. Styles said that the fans don’t give a damn about Undertaker. Styles wanted Undertaker to accept the challenge, he wants a fight at WrestleMania and he claimed he will put the nail in the coffin.
Analysis: I thought this was awesome. It was not a typical WWE promo calling somebody out. Styles made it personal and it worked well. Styles mentioned Undertaker’s real name, which you never hear on WWE TV and you don’t see people mentioning Michelle McCool either, but Styles did it. That’s a creative way to get some heat by pissing off The Undertaker. Setting up a match with a promo that feels personal like this is better than a generic challenge that doesn’t mean much. Now that Styles has brought up Undertaker’s family, it will make fans want to see Taker kick his ass as revenge. It’s simple and it works.
Still to come is Black vs. Rollins.
A video aired for WrestleMania promoting John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt as The Fiend.
A graphic let us know that WWE has topped 40 billion total views on WWE’s Youtube channel. They do a great job of putting content on their channel.
Randy Orton was in a darkened hallway when Charly Caruso showed up for an interview. Charly asked Orton to share his thoughts, he said nothing and looked off in the distance, so Caruso left.
24/7 Championship: Riddick Moss vs. Cedric Alexander
Moss with a running shoulder tackle. Alexander jumped off the ropes, Moss caught him and gave him a fallaway slam out of the ring. Moss slapped on a weak looking chinlock, Alexander got back into it with kicks, then a boot to the face and Alexander jumped off the ropes with a flatliner for two. Alexander went up top, Moss tripped him up and Moss hit a running shoulder tackle. Moss with a neckbreaker for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Riddick Moss
Analysis: 1/2* They worked for two minutes with Moss slapping on a chinlock for part of it. Alexander is a talented guy that is not booked well, which is something we can say about a lot of wrestlers on Raw and Smackdown.
Moss celebrated with the title. The announcers put over Moss saying that other wrestlers aren’t challenging him out of the ring, nor are they chasing him.
Analysis: That’s one way of looking at it. To me, it feels like WWE has given up on this title since they don’t even do vignettes about it anymore.
There was another plug for Edge on the show.
Let’s Hear from MVP…as Edge Finally Arrives
It was the top of hour three as MVP was in the ring in a suit saying he can think of being in a lot of other cities that are better than this. MVP said Washington, DC is so insignificant that you can’t become a state, you’re just a dot that nobody cares about. MVP said he’s transitioning from in-ring competitor to absolute Brainiac. MVP said in order to build his stable, he needs a solid foundation and he’s going to build his stable around Edge. MVP said that they are good friends, he learned a lot from him, but he has a problem sometimes with focus. MVP said that he knows he can lead Edge back to the prominence that he once held and he can make Edge a champion again. MVP says he knows that all of you can’t wait to see Edge…and there’s Edge arriving in a truck. Edge took off his hat and walked into the arena with a serious look on his face.
Edge walked down to the ring with an intense look as his music played. There was no posing during the song.
Edge grabbed the microphone from MVP, he said he needed him to grow a set and get his ass out there right now. MVP told Edge that his mental focus is off, he’s focusing on the wrong things and he was embarrassing himself. MVP asked how is Edge’s wife, so Edge hit a Spear on MVP. That led to Orton going in the ring to attack Orton. Edge and Orton exchanged punches, Edge shoved Orton away and Edge gave him an RKO. That drew a HUGE pop from the crowd. That looked great too.
Edge grabbed a chair from ringside, then he got a second chair and Orton ran away. MVP got back up, so Edge grabbed him in a head arm chokehold that wore down MVP. Edge gave MVP an RKO onto a steel chair although MVP blocked it with his hands and MVP’s head didn’t come close to the chair. Orton was staring from the top of the stage. Edge grabbed the second chair, he said “this is you, Randy” and he gave MVP the Conchairto with the second chair to the chair on the mat with the idea that it was a chair to the head. Anyway, Edge did another Conchairto to MVP. Edge and Orton had a staredown from a distance. Orton backed away to the back as Edge’s music played.
As Orton went to the back, Edge left the ring and ran after him. They went to break.
Analysis: This was very good and it was everything it should have been with Edge getting revenge for what Orton did to him seven weeks along with what Orton did to Edge’s wife Beth last week. There wasn’t the Conchairto revenge on Orton, but that’s something they can save for WrestleMania. The fans were into it too, which is no surprise. Edge did an excellent job of showing intensity in his face and by not giving away too much, they will keep fans interested on the road to WrestleMania. As I have said in the past, there’s really no chair to head contact because it’s about hitting one chair with the other chair. If they shot it from the side angle, we would see there’s no damage at all. One of the problems with these segments from when Orton attacked Edge and Matt Hardy twice along with this segment, there was nobody out there trying to help somebody getting attacked by a chair. Fights will get broken up in the ring or backstage quickly, but not in these segments. I understand it’s WWE wanting the story to play out. The problem is when there’s no consistency about fights getting broken up, it makes it stand out when nobody tries to help a guy getting hit in the head with a chair. A way to do it is you have referees go down to try to calm Edge down, then he threatens to hit them with the chair, so they back away and Edge still does the attack. It’s not a major gripe. I’m just saying be more consistent.
Next Monday on Raw in Pittsburgh: The Undertaker will be there for a contract signing with AJ Styles to make their WrestleMania match official.
A video aired about Triple H winning a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Arnold Sports Festival. A video aired about Triple H working with his NXT crew and Triple H talked about how his life is everything he has dreamed of.
A video package aired featuring Paul Heyman talking about WWE Champion Brock Lesnar that showed highlights of Lesnar in action. Heyman said that for 18 years, Lesnar is the most dominant force in the history of WWE. Heyman listed victims that Lesnar has conquered: Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Ric Flair, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (that was not a match), John Cena and even The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Heyman said that no one has ever been so dominant for so long. Drew McIntyre replied to Heyman saying that everything that Paul said is 100% true because there has never been anybody in WWE that has dominated like Lesnar, but then Lesnar ran into Drew. They showed a clip of Royal Rumble when Drew eliminated Lesnar with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre also talked about last week on Raw when he hit Lesnar with the Claymore Kick three times. McIntyre said he’ll Claymore Kick on Brock Lesnar flush in the face, knock him on his ass and pin Lesnar to become the reigning, defending and undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World at WrestleMania.
Analysis: It was a well-produced video as you would expect with Heyman doing a great job of putting over Lesnar and McIntyre showing a lot of confidence as Brock’s challenger at WrestleMania.
The graphic was shown with Lesnar facing McIntyre now with a Snickers logo on the graphic since Snickers is sponsoring WrestleMania again.
Edge was shown walking backstage, Charly Caruso showed up to talk, he asked where Randy Orton was and Charly told him that Randy left the arena. Edge breathed heavily, but did not say anything and that ended the segment.
Seth Rollins entered for his match with Murphy by his side with Rollins carrying out a bucket of popcorn. Aleister Black entered for the match. They also plugged Steve Austin on Raw next week.
Aleister Black vs. Seth Rollins (w/Murphy)
Black with an armdrag, Rollins with a kick to the gut, each guy went for a finisher and neither connected. Black dumped Rollins out of the ring, then Black ran the ropes and did a moonsault back into the ring for his seated in-ring spot.
Rollins was in control with a Slingblade neckbreaker followed by a chinlock that looked better than some other chinlocks on this show. At least try to make it look good, people. Rollins sent Black face first into the turnbuckle. Black sent Rollins to the turnbuckle, Rollins went for the knee off the top, but Black moved and hit two elbows, a sweep kick and a running knee. Black with a moonsault press onto a standing Rollins, Murphy got on the apron, Black punched him and Rollins got a rollup. Black with a roundhouse kick and then a bridging German Suplex for two as Murphy went into the ring to break up the pin for the DQ finish after seven minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Aleister Black
Analysis: ** That was a match result that wasn’t surprising with Murphy standing out there. Rollins controlled most of it, Black made the comeback and Murphy prevented a finish. This was a nice preview of what these guys can do in a longer match perhaps if they feud post-WrestleMania.
After the match, AOP members Akam and Rezar joined the attack on Black along with Rollins and Murphy. They hit a double team powerbomb on Black. The initial save attempt was made by the Viking Raiders, who got into a brawl with AOP, but Rollins and Murphy were back into it. That led to the Street Profits entering to make the save for the babyface side by making it a 4 on 4 situation. The heels left the ring.
Montez Ford of the Street Profits said that they should make this an 8-man tag team match because “we want the smoke” with the crowd chanting along. Rollins accepted the match for his team.
Analysis: There were about 30 minutes left in the show when this match was made. What was the main event going to be if there wasn’t this 8-man tag? We don’t have to answer that because there is no answer. This is just how WWE sets up matches with their tired booking formula.
A video aired promoting Steve Austin on next Monday’s Raw on #316Day since it’s March 16. Oh hell yeah.
The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) and Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) vs. Seth Rollins, Murphy and AOP (Akam and Rezar)
Ford with a dropkick on Murphy, who elbowed Dawkins out of the ring and Ivar faced off with Akam in a battle of big dudes. Ivar with a boot to the face of Akam, Erik tagged in and hit a knee to the face with a hard leg slap. I always point it out with him because he makes the leg slapping look so obvious. Rollins with a spinning forearm on Ivar, Murphy tagged back in and Ivar ran over him with a shoulder tackle. Erik back in with a body slam to Ivar on Murphy. Ford tagged in against Rezar, who no sold his chops, so Ford hit a dropkick. Rezar sent Ford to the apron, Ford with a kick and Ford went up top for a cross body, right into a catch by Rezar that led to a fallaway slam on Ford. Murphy worked over Ford a bit, then Ford broke free to bring in Erik, who hit Murphy with an overhead suplex. Erik with a jumping double knee attack on Rezar to send the big man out of the ring. Erik tried a suicide dive, Rezar caught him and Murphy hit a double knee attack on Erik on the floor.
The match returned with the heel team still in control as Rollins whipped Erik into the barricade two times. Erik came back by sending Rollins into the barricade. When they went back into the ring, Rollins prevented a tag while Murphy and Akam knocked the faces off the apron. There were quick tags on the heel side including Rezar hitting a rising knee on Erik for a two count. Akam slapped on a chinlock on Erik, then Rollins tagged in and put his foot in the throat of Erik. When Erik tried to fight back with punches, Rollins grounded him with a front facelock. Erik managed to break free with one of his knee strikes with another hard slap of the leg. Ford got the tag against Murphy with Ford hitting a cross body block, plus three dropkicks in a row and a DDT on Murphy.
The heels were in control again this time with Rollins whipping Ford into the turnbuckle. Rollins stomped on the hands of Ford. There was a rollup from Ford and then Rollins took him down with a clothesline. Rollins with another chinlock, Murphy back in with a suplex and then a chinlock of his own. When Ford broke free, Rollins dropped him with a belly to back suplex. Ford got back with a superkick on Murphy. Ivar got the tag with a running shoulder tackle on Rollins, a side slam on Akam, a jumping senton on Rezar and a cartwheel into a clothesline on Akam. Erik tagged in against Rollins, but Akam knocked Ivar out of the ring. Rollins with a superkick on Erik and a Falcon Arrow slam for two as Ford broke it up. Ford with an enziguri kick on Murphy, Akam with a spinebuster on Ford, Dawkins with a Spear on Akam, Rezar with an elbow on Dawkins and Erik hit a jumping kick on Rezar. Rollins charged at Erik, who hit a side slam. Ford tagged in with a Frog Splash off the top with Murphy breaking it up at the perfect time. Dawkins sent three of the heels on the outside and Ivar & Erik hit a suicide dive to take them out on the floor. Rollins jumped off the top with a flying knee to Dawkins. Ford kicked Rollins in the chest to knock him out of the ring. Ford hit a somersault dive that took out six guys on the floor. When Ford got back in the ring, he was crawling on his knees and Rollins took advantage with The Stomp for the pinfall win after 24 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Seth Rollins, Murphy and AOP (Akam and Rezar)
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good tag team match that got a lot of time at nearly 25 minutes. The last five minutes were outstanding as they really picked up the pacing and came up with a creative way to end it. You don’t see Raw matches going on that long very often, but when you have a three hour show sometimes you can do that. If they went ten minutes less it would have been better. The Rollins group has been booked well in these multi-man tag team matches because they win almost every time and when you do that, it gives you credibility as a group. Rollins getting the win makes sense because he lost two title matches against the Street Profits over the last week, so he needed the win.
Post match, Rollins celebrated in the ring as Kevin Owens showed up at ringside to brawl with Rollins. AOP saved Owens, but Owens hit a Stunner on Akam and sent Rezar out of the ring. Owens with a Stunner on Murphy, who did a moonsault bump to sell it, which is ridiculous, but it looked good. Rollins was next in the ring and he hit The Stomp on Owens to put KO down. Rollins hit The Stomp on Owens again. Rollins told Murphy and AOP to stay out of the ring as Rollins trash talked Owens. Rollins set up Owens on a knee and Rollins hit The Stomp on Owens again. That was the end of Raw.
Analysis: The WrestleMania match is likely going to be Rollins vs. Owens, so that was the focus of the end of the show. Rollins had an impressive showing as the winner of the tag team match and he hit Owens with The Stomp two times to stand tall in the ring.
Three Stars of the Show
- Seth Rollins
- AJ Styles
6.75 out of 10
Last week: 7
2020 Average: 6.58
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 6.5, 6.75, 5.5, 6.75
This week’s Raw gets a 6.75 out of 10.
It was a pretty good episode of Raw with more promos and video packages than usual, but that’s to be expected during WrestleMania season. I thought the promo from AJ Styles was great (he even said Undertaker's real name), Becky Lynch did well too and the Edge/Orton/MVP segment worked well to advance that story. The McIntyre/Lesnar video package was effective too. A complaint is that they need to stop doing promos like this: "I really have a lot of to say, but first let's watch this well-produced video package while I wait two minutes for it to play." It's lame.
They made up with a lack of wrestling in the first two hours by having about 40 minutes of wrestling to end the show. The Mysterio/Garza match was very good while the women’s tag team match was okay. There were also a few squash matches, which has become the norm on Raw.
Next week’s Raw has Steve Austin and The Undertaker on it, so that’s some legendary star power to add to the show.
The next WWE PPV is WrestleMania on Sunday, April 5th. The lineup looks like this with official matches announced so far.
* WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
* Universal Championship: Goldberg (c) vs. Roman Reigns
* John Cena vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt
* Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
* The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
*NXT Women's Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
There are rumored to be 16 matches in total, so there will be plenty more to come over the next month.
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