Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for this week. It’s the last Raw (aka the "go-home show") before Sunday’s Fastlane pay-per-view on Peacock and WWE Network. After Fastlane, WrestleMania 37 is four weeks away on April 10-11. It's getting close!
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1451 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. Let’s roll.
The show began with the announcement that Bobby Lashley will defend the WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 37. Here’s the graphic.
Analysis: There were rumors of McIntyre facing Sheamus in a match at Fastlane to earn the WWE Title match at WrestleMania. I guess that wasn’t true because WWE has went ahead with McIntyre against Lashley. It's fine with me. I think it will be a great match.
Let’s Hear from Bobby Lashley with MVP
The All Mighty WWE Champion Bobby Lashley made his entrance in a suit along with his Hurt Business buddy MVP by his side. That Lashley intro video is awesome. The Raw announce team of Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton were at ringside to welcome us to the show.
MVP let us know that we have entered the All Mighty Era. MVP said that after 16 years, Bobby Lashley had the opportunity to take the WWE Championship and Bobby said “I did.” Lashley said he did exactly what he said he was going to do. Lashley made it clear he wasn’t given anything, he had to fight for the WWE Championship. Lashley said that he destroyed Drew McIntyre at Elimination Chamber and he’ll destroy Drew again in the main event of WrestleMania and reign supreme. Lashley said that right now we are in the All Mighty Era.
The Miz made his entrance in his wrestling gear along with John Morrison in street clothes. Miz said that he should be preparing for his match with Drew McIntyre, but he thought that speech was wonderful. Miz said that they are all in on the All Mighty Era. Miz claimed it was an honor to be in the ring with Lashley. Miz was sad that their budding rivalry was over while they talked about classic rivalries like Bret vs. Shawn, Austin vs. Rock and Miz even did an Austin impression (a poor one) with Morrison giving him a “HELL YEAH” during this Austin Appreciation Week. Miz said that he didn’t want to diminish any of Lashley’s accomplishments while noting that he had to defend his title twice in one night. Miz said he was suffering from cramps while noting that he wasn’t at 100% health. Miz pitched the idea of Lashley facing Miz at 100%.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance with his sword that he pointed at Lashley and then he made his entrance with the pyro along with the fire. McIntyre walked right past Miz and Morrison standing in the aisle. McIntyre stared at Lashley only as he got into the ring.
McIntyre congratulated Lashley while noting that it took Bobby 16 years while Drew took 17 years. Drew said that they had a similar path as the hardest workers in the room. Drew said that they were similar in that they were both guys that would work out at 2am after a long drive. Drew talked about how they were both out of WWE, then they came back and became WWE Champions. McIntyre said that he won the Royal Rumble, then he beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania in under five minutes and he was the WWE Champion. MVP spoke up mentioning Drew and Sheamus while Drew said he’ll face Sheamus again. Drew talked trash to MVP, Lashley said that Drew has to forget about MVP and focus on him. Miz said that you had to focus on him too. McIntyre said that he will give Miz two options – he can cheapshot Drew from behind or he can run away. Drew said that he’s going to go to war with Sheamus at Fastlane, get his hand raised again and then go on to WrestleMania to face Lashley. Drew said that nobody can match their physicality, Drew will knock him around Raymond James Stadium and called Lashley a big, bald bitch.
It looked like Lashley was about to leave after the advice of MVP, but Lashley jumped on McIntyre and decked him with some punches. McIntyre was down in the ring while Lashley left with MVP. Miz and Morrison were in the ring looking happy about what happened to McIntyre. Miz attacked McIntyre with punches. Sheamus jumped Lashley on the stage and took him down with punches. Referees showed up to pull Sheamus off Lashley and MVP tried to calm Lashley down.
Analysis: That was pretty chaotic. It ran about 15 minutes, but unlike some opening promos it didn’t drag on too long. I thought McIntyre’s promo was awesome. The Lashley/MVP speeches weren’t that long due to the interruptions although they were able to get to the point of what they needed to say. Miz was doing his usual routine of trying to get involved even though nobody wanted him out there. Sheamus attacking Lashley sets them up for a match later on Raw as well.
There was a replay of the chaos before the break.
Sheamus was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber in the backstage area. Sheamus said that he’s going to beat Drew McIntyre at Fastlane. Sheamus said that Bobby Lashley is messing in Sheamus’ business and he wants a match with Lashley. Sheamus said that tonight he is going to be the one to beat Bobby Lashley.
Drew McIntyre was getting checked on by the referee. That led to the announcers plugging matches still to come on the show. Drew McIntyre told the referee he was able to start the match.
Drew McIntyre vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison)
Miz attacked McIntyre with punches, but McIntyre came back by driving Miz into the turnbuckle. McIntyre lifted up Miz with a suplex into a slam across the ring. Miz with a kick to the chest, no sell by McIntyre and Miz ran right into a Glasgow Kiss headbutt by McIntyre. Drew worked over Miz with punches to the body followed by a clothesline. Drew pulled back on The Miz’s head against the ropes, then they were on the floor with Drew getting a hard chop. Back in the ring, Morrison grabbed Drew’s foot for no effect and then Morrison threw his sunglasses at Drew, so Drew stepped on the sunglasses. That led to Miz getting shoulder tackles the ribs of McIntyre. Miz ran right at Drew leading to a clothesline from McIntyre. Drew hit the reverse Alabama Slam to send Miz into the mat. McIntyre set up for the Claymore Kick, but Morrison pulled Miz out of the ring. The referee decided that was enough from Morrison, so he ejected Morrison to the back. That led to a break after about four minutes.
The show returned with Miz hitting McIntyre with a DDT for a one count. McIntyre with two belly to belly overhead suplexes on Miz followed by a neckbreaker. McIntyre tossed Miz out of the ring leading to McIntyre ramming Miz back first into the ring apron and the barricade repeatedly. McIntyre sent Miz into the steel steps repeatedly, which really means Miz hitting the steps with his hand. Back in the ring, McIntyre with a Future Shock DDT. McIntyre with a Claymore Kick with no cover as McIntyre sat beside Miz and thought about it some more. McIntyre picked up Miz, pointed at the WrestleMania sign as a message to Bobby Lashley, slapped on the Hurt Lock (Full Nelson) on Miz and Miz gave up to give Drew the win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: *3/4 A dominant win by McIntyre as you would expect it to be. They managed to stretch it out over ten minutes instead of making it a short squash. It’s smart booking to make McIntyre look strong as we head towards Fastlane and most importantly WrestleMania in less than four weeks. McIntyre shouldn’t lose a match before WrestleMania.
The announcers mentioned that WWE 24/7 Champion Bad Bunny won a Grammy Award on Sunday night. Bad Bunny was shown walking with the 24/7 Title with his buddy Damian Priest by his side.
They showed a replay of some of Shane McMahon’s bizarre promo insulting Braun Strowman last week.
Braun Strowman was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
Braun Strowman was in the ring shouting about how he wanted Shane McMahon to come out there. Shane McMahon showed up saying that Braun is out there saying he wants things all the time. Strowman said that he was bullied by people because of how he grew up and he wasn't a spoiled rich kid like Shane was. Shane said he would never do that to anybody. Strowman said that Shane was scared of Strowman last week, so that’s why Shane mumbled and fumbled through his words last week. Shane asked what are you thinking, then mocked Braun for not thinking and Strowman said he’ll make it easy for him. Strowman said he knows Shane wants a match with him, so Braun challenged Shane to a match tonight. Shane repeatedly called Braun stupid while even spouting the “stupid is as stupid does” line from Forrest Gump as well. Shane kept on rambling, Braun wanted an answer and Shane told Braun that tonight he’s on. Braun wanted the match right now, but Shane left to the back.
Analysis: It sets up another match for later in the show after several weeks of bickering between these two guys. At least Braun tried to explain Shane’s nervous promo last week.
There was a backstage scene with Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose, Lana and Naomi were standing beside eachother. R-Truth showed up dressed like Steve Austin for Austin 3:16 day, then the girls told him it was March 15 and Truth offered them some of Stone Cold’s beer. The girls said no, so Truth drank some beer anyway and he left.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, the Women’s Tag Team Champions, entered to watch the next match.
Jax and Baszler joined the announcers, who plugged that Jax and Baszler will defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles against Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair at Fastlane.
Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose were already in the ring while their opponents Naomi and Lana got a full entrance.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Naomi and Lana
They are both babyface teams. Naomi with a back elbow on Brooke, Rose tagged in and Rose caught Naomi with a fallaway slam. Rose stomped away on Naomi, Brooke tagged in with a handspring elbow and Rose back in with a running knee strike for two. Rose with a splash leading to Brooke doing a handspring into a splash for two. Naomi with a jawbreaker to Brooke, Lana tagged in against Rose and Jax said Lana was a loser like Saxton. That made me laugh. Lana with a running head whips into the mat, then a kick to the head of Rose and a bulldog. Lana with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle followed by a neckbreaker for two with Brooke breaking up the pin. Naomi back in with Rose/Brooke hitting a double flapjack. Lana knocked down Brooke and then Rose hit a suplex. Asuka’s music played as the Raw Women’s Champion went down to ringside, so Shayna Baszler went after Asuka. That led to Asuka hitting a spin kick on Baszler and Asuka punched Baszler until officials Jamie Noble, Pat Buck and Jamie Noble broke it up. Asuka with a rollup on Lana for two. Brooke made a blind tag, Lana hit an X-Factor on Rose and Brooke hit a running neckbreaker on Lana for the pinfall win. I don’t know where Naomi was, but there was no save attempt. It went about five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke
Analysis: *3/4 It was just a short match to give Rose and Brooke a win to position them as future title challengers. I don’t like playing Asuka’s music and doing her full entrance during the match because it took away from the wrestlers in the ring. I did like the finish because it was after Lana hit a move, but Lana didn’t know Brooke tagged in, so that led to Brooke finishing off Lana to win the match.
The New Day were standing in the Gorilla position backstage. Riddle was on his scooter wishing New Day all the best in their title match up next. New Day said that they were going to celebrate with Riddle, who suggested tattoos and then getting all-you-can-eat pancakes. Riddle suggested matching scooters and riding off into the sunset. New Day’s music hit, so they left.
The New Day duo of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their entrance.
This Friday on Smackdown: Edge vs. Jey Uso and Sasha Banks will defend the Smackdown Women’s Title vs. Nia Jax. It is Edge’s first match on Smackdown in over a decade.
Hurt Business members Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander made their entrance as the Raw Tag Team Champions.
Raw Tag Team Championships: The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander) vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston)
Alexander with a shoulder tackle, Woods did multiple leapfrogs, then they each tried suplexes and Woods countered a move into a pin attempt for two. Woods with an armbar on Alexander. Kingston tagged in with a Scorpion like “come here” leading to a forearm. Alexander with a kick and Kofi got a rollup for two, but then Alexander hit an elbow to the face. Benjamin tagged in with a spinebuster after Alexander did monkey flip to Kofi. That was cool. Benjamin with a clothesline on Kingston. Benjamin with two body slams on Kingston. Alexander was legal as he drove his knee into Kingston. Benjamin whipped Woods going into the steel steps. This followed Benjamin hitting Woods with a knee strike. Kofi was isolated in the heel corner for a few minutes while Woods was hurting on the other side of the ring. Alexander had set up Kingston on the turnbuckle, so Kofi jumped off with a double foot stomp to the chest. Woods tagged in with a jumping side kick on Alexander and a forearm to Benjamin. Woods sent Alexander into the ropes, then a dropkick to the back and they countered some moves. Woods with an elbow that knocked Alexander out of the ring. New Day went for dives on the floor, but the Hurt Business guys avoided the attacks as Alexander sent Woods onto the announce table and Benjamin whipped Kingston into the steel steps. That led to a break.
Alexander and Woods were in the ring exchanged strikes, Woods with a forearm, Alexander with a clothesline, Woods with another forearm and Alexander with another clothesline. Alexander hit an impressive Michinoku Driver (sitout slam) for a two count. Woods decked Alexander with a shot to the head and Kofi tagged in against Benjamin. Shelton connected with a spin kick to the head for two. Kingston came back with an impressive leap off the top into a hurricanrana. Kingston with a leaping foot stomp to the chest for two. Benjamin launched Kingston up into the air as Kofi hit the mat, but then Kofi came back quickly with the SOS trip into a slam for two. Kingston charged, Benjamin avoided, kick by Kofi and while Kofi was on top, Benjamin jumped off and suplexed Kofi off the top to the mat. That was impressive as Woods broke up the pin attempt. Woods kicked Alexander out of the ring and he hit a DDT on the floor. Benjamin tried a rollup, Kofi got up and Kofi hit the Trouble in Paradise kick on Benjamin. Kofi hit a dive onto Alexander on the floor. Woods up top with an elbow drop to the chest. Woods held Benjamin over his knee and Kofi jumped off the top with the double foot stomp for the Daybreak double team move for the pinfall win after 15 minutes. New champions!
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Raw Tag Team Champions: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
The New Day are now 11-time Tag Team Champions.
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very good tag team match with a lot of action. I liked a lot of the nearfalls for both teams with Benjamin really impressing when he was in there with Kingston while Alexander and Woods were evenly matched during their showdowns in the match. New Day were able to overcome Woods getting knocked off the apron early in the match, then they came back and worked well together to get the win. The Hurt Business guys held the titles for about three months, but it wasn’t a memorable run mainly due to the lack of teams. The title change made sense based on the segment that came after it.
The New Day were celebrating the Raw Tag Team Title win. AJ Styles showed up with the big man Omos. Styles said that he currently has nothing planned for WrestleMania. Styles said he’s done a lot in his WWE career, but his bucket list is getting full. Styles let Omos mention what they wanted and then Omos said that they wanted to be Raw Tag Team Champions. Styles said that Omos has been like a little brother to him. Oms referenced that time he slammed Woods behind the barricade, so Woods knows what he can do. Styles said that they were officially challenging New Day to the Raw Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania.
Kofi Kingston wondered if they were even registered as a tag team and if they even knew how to be a team. Woods told them that they have their match. Styles and Omos were happy. That meant Omos’ in-ring debut would be at WrestleMania.
Analysis: It’s a unique situation with Omos having his first match at WrestleMania (unless he wrestles on TV before that). Omos has been training in WWE for a few years now, so he should be capable enough to do some basics. Styles will likely work most of the match. I can see Styles/Omos winning the titles at WrestleMania too. It’s not like The New Day needs another long reign as champions.
The Miz and John Morrison were shown walking backstage where they walked up to Damian Priest and Bad Bunny, the 24/7 Champion. Priest and Bad Bunny laughed at how Miz was looking. Miz did his usual promo running down his credentials in WWE. Priest said that it will take a minute to accumulate The Miz’s accomplishments, so maybe he can start right now. Priest got in Miz’s face and then Miz left with Morrison. R-Truth walked into the scene with his Steve Austin gear while looking like he might hit Bad Bunny, but Priest saw Truth coming. Truth gave Bunny a Steve Austin toy, then he gave Bunny the Smoking Skull Title and Truth gave Bunny a lunchbox. Truth said he wanted the 24/7 Title back. Bunny talked about it with Priest, thought about it and gave Truth the 24/7 Title back. Priest asked what’s his name and Truth said his name is “Bad Bunny” so Priest and Bunny were happy about that. Bunny left with Priest. Wrestlers chased after Truth, who ran away.
Analysis: The end of Bad Bunny’s 24/7 Title reign is over without even getting pinned for it. So what was the point? It was just to have Bad Bunny make appearances with the title. Also, Miz/Morrison talking trash to Bunny/Priest rekindles that rivalry that will likely lead to a WrestleMania match.
A video aired about WWE Network moving to Peacock. That’s only in the United States. I have readers in non-United States countries asking me about this all the time. Peacock is only in the US. Don't worry about it if you are out of the US like me. I'm in Canada. Nothing changes here.
The announcers mentioned that the WrestleMania ticket on-sale date being moved and they will announce a new date within the next week. They were supposed to be on sale this Tuesday, but that’s not happening now.
Bad Bunny made his entrance without the 24/7 Title. Bad Bunny got some pyro for his entrance. Damian Priest entered for a match with his opponent already in the ring.
Damian Priest (w/Bad Bunny) vs. Jaxson Ryker (w/Elias)
Ryker went after Priest with punches. Priest came back with the Broken Arrow slam. Priest with the Hit The Lights neckbreaker on Ryker for the pinfall in about 30 seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Damian Priest
Analysis: 1/4* An easy win for Priest. It felt rushed a bit, but I think it’s just a case of wanting Priest to look impressive. Plus, there was some stuff after the match as well.
Post match, Elias went into the ring and tried to attack Priest with his guitar. Bad Bunny grabbed the guitar to save Priest. Bad Bunny tried to body slam Elias, but Bad Bunny slipped out of it and threw a decent-looking punch. Priest got back into it with the Hit The Lights neckbreaker. Priest complimented Bad Bunny on the punch.
Analysis: Bad Bunny’s punch looked good enough for a guy that’s not a wrestler. I’m sure he has practiced. It was solid with Elias doing a nice job of selling it.
John Morrison went out to ringside to talk to Priest/Bunny to say they did a good job as a team. While Priest and Bunny looked at Morrison in the aisle, Miz hit Bunny in the back with a guitar. The live shot missed it, so they had to replay it. Miz ran away like a cowardly heel while Bunny was down in the ring. Priest told Morrison that they started something they had to finish. That led to a break.
Analysis: This furthered the story of Priest/Bunny feuding with Miz/Morrison, so that should lead to the WrestleMania tag team match.
The WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and MVP were interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. MVP said that the All Mighty Era has begun. MVP said that Sheamus won’t be 100% at Fastlane. MVP said that the exact same thing that happens to Sheamus tonight will happen to Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania. Lashley said nothing as the duo left.
Shane McMahon was in the ring for a match. Braun Strowman made his entrance looking pissed off as he made his way down to the ring. When Braun entered, Shane left to get the microphone.
Shane McMahon said he’s not out there every day. Shane said he needed to do a warmup as he ran the stairs a bit and did some push-ups on the floor. Shane did some jumping jacks as well. Shane had a hopscotch on the floor with Shane saying it would help Braun learn to count. Braun chased after Shane, then Braun was able to get his hands on him and Braun whipped Shane into the barricade. Strowman kicked Shane into the barricade. Braun ran around the ring as he likes to do, Shane grabbed the camera from ringside and hit Braun in the head with it. Shane punched Strowman in the ribs and hit Braun in the head with the camera again. Shane cleared off the announce table and hit Braun in the head with the camera for the third time. Shane went up top, he jumped off and hit an elbow drop on Braun through the table. Shane grabbed a bucket of green slime from under the ring and poured it all over Strowman. Shane had a second bucket of green slime, so he poured that onto Strowman as well. Shane left happily while Strowman was furious at ringside. Strowman yelled: “I’m gonna rip you in half.” Good luck with that.
Analysis: It was advertised as a match and it ended up being an angle to further this rivalry even more. It should set up Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman at WrestleMania with Shane putting over the big guy. I think the segment was effective in terms of making fans wanting to see Strowman get his revenge. I just don’t know if the world was clamoring for 51-year-old Shane McMahon in a WrestleMania match. With that said, that elbow drop was impressive. Anyway, Strowman should destroy Shane when they have the WrestleMania match. (We found out later in the night it will be Fastlane, so I'm not sure if it will continue to WrestleMania, but I assume so.)
A video aired letting us know Rhea Ripley was headed to Raw soon.
There was a replay from last week with Randy Orton dealing with the dreaded black liquid in his mouth while Alexa Bliss laughed at him.
Alexa Bliss was on her playground swing-set in the backstage area. Bliss said if Randy Orton wanted her out of his life already, he will have to take her out of it this Sunday at Fastlane – that’s his chance. She asked Randy if he’ll take his chance. Then she laughed maniacally.
Analysis: That probably means some kind of confrontation between Orton and Bliss with The Fiend finally returning to the scene to go after Orton. That should lead to Orton vs. Fiend at WrestleMania as well.
Asuka made her entrance as the Raw Women’s Champion. They showed the replay from three weeks ago when Shayna Baszler kicked Asuka in the face and knocked a tooth out of Asuka’s mouth. It also gave Asuka a concussion, but that was not mentioned. That match is next.
Analysis: There was some concern that Asuka might be out for several more weeks and that she could even be out until WrestleMania. I’m glad those reports were wrong and that Asuka is back in action.
The video was shown of Shane Helms announcing that Molly Holly was the first inductee in the 2021 WWE Hall of Fame. Molly was thrilled about the news. They showed some tweets congratulating Molly on the news. The WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony (for 2020 and 2021) is three weeks away on Tuesday, April 6.
Shayna Baszler made her entrance with fellow Women’s Tag Team Champion Nia Jax. They showed a pre-tape promo from Baszler saying she enjoyed kicking Asuka’s tooth out.
Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax)
Asuka aggressively went after Baszler. Jax went into the ring, so Asuka hit her with the double knees and kicked Jax out of the ring. The match began at that point.
Baszler hit a rising knee to the face of Asuka against the ropes. Asuka screamed to show that he had a lot of fight left in her. Asuka went for an armbar on Baszler. Asuka kicked Jax on the floor and Asuka hit a dropkick that sent Jax into the ring post. Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch, Asuka countered it and was on her knees pinning Baszler. The referee counted the pinfall win for Asuka after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Asuka
Analysis: *1/4 That was a lot quicker than I expected it to be with Asuka finding a way to win because Baszler refused to let go of the hold. It made Baszler look dumb since she lost the match easily.
Post match, Baszler let go of the submission hold. Baszler tried to kick Asuka in the face, but Asuka blocked it. Asuka hit a German Suplex. Asuka with a hard kick to the chest of Baszler. Asuka kicked Baszler face first into the turnbuckle. Asuka took off the turnbuckle pad and then Asuka took out Shayna’s mouthguard. Asuka drove Baszler’s mouth against the steel turnbuckle. Asuka was about to kick Asuka into the exposed steel, but the referee Rod Zapata got in the way to prevent that. Baszler left to the floor, so Asuka celebrated to end this.
Analysis: Good intensity shown by Asuka here. She wanted revenge on Shayna for losing a tooth, so she went after the teeth of Baszler, but the referee prevented it from going too far. Asuka needs a rival and a match for WrestleMania at this point. I think a multi-woman match is most likely for her with Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley as possibilities. Maybe Jax and Baszler will be part of it too if they aren’t still the champions.
Mustafa Ali was shown giving his Retribution allies a speech about how he was tired of their failures. While that was going on, Riddle drove by on his scooter. That match is next.
The announcers ran down some of the matches for WWE Fastlane on Sunday.
* WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
* Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon
* Women’s Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
* Intercontinental Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
* Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
Analysis: I thought Strowman vs. Shane would be saved for WrestleMania, but it’s being advertised for Fastlane now. I wonder how they book that and how it will lead to WrestleMania.
Riddle made his entrance as the United States Champion. Mustafa Ali entered with his Retribution buddies. Ali beat Riddle non-title recently, so that’s why he gets this title shot.
United States Championship: Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali (w/T-Bar, Slapjack, Mace & Reckoning)
Riddle was aggressive early with an overhead suplex followed by a kick that sent Ali out of the ring. Riddle followed Ali to the floor, Ali sent him into the announce table and back in the ring, Ali hit a hard kick to the chest. They battled on the apron with Ali hitting a chop to the throat followed by Ali hitting a neckbreaker off the apron to the floor. The show went to break after two minutes.
The match returned with Ali remaining in control with a whip into the turnbuckle, a nice sternum bump by Riddle and Ali hit a neckbreaker for two. Riddle tried a comeback with a corner attack, but Ali moved and Ali hit a forearm while using the ring apron to cover Riddle’s face. Ali jumped in from the apron leading to a neckbreaker for two. Riddle broke free with a Pele Kick to the head, then a forearm smash and an exploder suplex. Riddle with a broton splash followed by a fisherman’s suplex for two. Ali blocked a knee, then he hit a spin kick and Riddle got a kick. T-Bar distracted the referee while Ali managed to counter a pin attempt and lay on top, so T-Bar prevented the referee from counting the pin. Riddle came back with the Bro Derek slam for the pinfall win after about nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Riddle
Analysis: **3/4 This was a solid match. More time would have been nice, but I think it was more about the story of Ali losing because of his ally T-Bar costing him the match. Riddle continues to sell very well while also hitting a lot of cool moves. I didn't expect a title change here.
Post match, Riddle celebrated with the US Title. Ali was yelling at T-Bar for what he did to cause him to lose.
Randy Orton was interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. Orton said that Alexa Bliss challenged her to a match. I don’t know if it was a match, but it was a challenge. Orton said that Alexa wanted Orton to “kick her” out of his life and Orton claimed that was exactly what he was going to do.
Analysis: No black liquid in the mouth for Orton this week. I guess that’s progress.
Drew McIntyre made his full entrance with the sword again along with the kilt. McIntyre went into the ring for the pyro that is part of his entrance.
This week on Raw Talk on WWE Network the guests are Drew McIntyre, The Miz & John Morrison and Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose.
The announcers mentioned WrestleMania with the new ticket on-sale date coming soon because ticket seating is still being finalized.
A replay was shown of The New Day winning the Raw Tag Team Titles earlier in the night. That was followed by AJ Styles and Omos challenging for the titles at WrestleMania. That match is now official.
Drew McIntyre did a promo talking about how he hasn’t changed his clothes because he’s embraced his Scottish heritage and this is how he always dresses. That’s funny. Drew spoke about how his match with Sheamus at Fastlane will be very physical like all their matches. Drew said that they’ve been fighting for the last 20 years. Drew said he’s excited about seeing Bobby Lashley and Sheamus battle in the ring, he’s going to watch them from ringside and told them to get out there now.
Analysis: A quick promo just to show Drew was ready to go as usual. Drew’s promo earlier in the night was better than this one. This was more of a “Raw is three hours, so let’s kill a few minutes” type of promo.
Bobby Lashley, the WWE Champion, made his entrance with about 25 minutes left in the show. MVP joined Lashley as usual. As Lashley posed in the ring, he stared back at McIntyre, who was standing in the ring.
Sheamus made his entrance looking ready to go. The show went to break there.
Drew McIntyre was watching on a steel chair at ringside in the aisle. I thought he might be on commentary, but that was not the case here.
Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Sheamus
This is not for Lashley’s WWE Title. The match started as a slugfest from the moment the bell rang. Lashley had control, then Sheamus took over and Lashley came back with some hard strikes to keep Sheamus down. Lashley went after Sheamus with forearms, then a whip into the corner and Lashley did a leapfrog followed by a clothesline. Lashley doing a leapfrog like that is so impressive. Sheamus with a chop block to the back of the league followed by knee strikes to the head. Sheamus pulled back on the head of Lashley along with forearms to the back. Lashley with a back elbow and Lashley stared at McIntyre leading to a delayed vertical suplex. Lashley stared at McIntyre during that suplex spot. Lashley with a clothesline that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Lashley brought Sheamus towards the side of the ring where Drew was leading to Sheamus sending Lashley into the ring post. Sheamus hit Lashley with forearms to the back while Lashley was on the apron. Sheamus went for the forearms to the chest, Lashley blocked and Sheamus hit a clothesline on the apron. They were near McIntyre again as Sheamus jumped off the apron, Lashley caught Sheamus and Lashley hit an overhead suplex on Sheamus on the floor.
The match returned with Lashley in control as he drove his first into the side of Sheamus’s head. Lashley jumped on the back of Sheamus. Lashley sent Sheamus out of the ring leading to Lashley driving Sheamus into the barricade a few times. Back in the ring, Lashley with repeated elbows to the head. Lashley pointed at Drew at ringside again, then Lashley charged, Sheamus moved and Lashley went shoulder first into the ring post. Nice bump by Lashley there. Sheamus with a single arm takedown on the floor. Back in the ring, Sheamus hit a clothesline off the top for a one count. Sheamus grounded Lashley with an armbar, Lashley came back with forearms to the head and Sheamus sent Lashley over the top in front of where McIntyre was seated. Sheamus with a necksnap using the top rope. Sheamus delivered the forearms to the chest by the apron. Sheamus hit the Irish Curse backbreaker for just a one count. Sheamus did the backbreaker again for a two count. Sheamus with a submission attempt like an inverted Sharpshooter, but Lashley powered out of it. Lashley hit a powerslam for two. Lashley came back with a clothesline. Sheamus with a kick to the chest, then he went for a Brogue Kick, but Lashley avoided it. Lashley hit a flatliner into the mat for a two count. Lashley set up Sheamus on the top rope leading to Lashley hitting a superplex off the middle ropes. Lashley charged, Sheamus stopped him with a jumping knee smash and Sheamus hit a White Noise slam for a two count. Sheamus set up in the corner, he charged and Lashley hit a running Spear for the pinfall win after 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good, competitive match. I think sometimes when you have two heels like this it’s tough to get into it, but without fans in the building it allows you to focus on the wrestlers even more and I thought Bobby/Sheamus did a nice job here. It was very physical from the start, they had plenty of nearfalls for each guy and in the end, Lashley won with a Spear to counter a Brogue Kick. It showed that Lashley can beat people in multiple ways because the Spear is not his finisher, but it’s certainly believable as a match ender when Lashley does it. Sheamus continues his hot streak of having good to great matches on Raw nearly every time he’s out there. If there’s a complaint it’s that maybe they shouldn’t book Lashley in a longer match like this. They could book him in a five-minute match where he looks more impressive. I’m not complaining, though. Just more of an observation than anything else.
Post match, Lashley slapped on the Hurt Lock submission on Sheamus. MVP was standing beside Lashley in the ring, Sheamus leaned into MVP, who bounced into Lashley and McIntyre hit a Brogue Kick on Lashley to knock him out of the ring.
Sheamus got back up, he stared at Drew and those two men had a staredown to end the show.
Analysis: It was fine for a show ending angle. McIntyre was able to get his shot in on Lashley to send a message to the WWE Champion. McIntyre having a staredown made sense as well since they have a match at Fastlane on Sunday.
Three Stars of the Show
1. The New Day
2. Bobby Lashley
3. (tie) Sheamus
3. (tie) Drew McIntyre
7 out of 10
Last week: 6
2021 Average: 6.05
Raw was better this week thanks to the booking of the show long angle with Lashley, McIntyre and Sheamus carrying Raw from the opening segment to the main event. I thought the opening promos were strong while Lashley/Sheamus had a pretty good main event. The New Day beating Alexander/Benjamin to become Raw Tag Team Champions was probably the best match. It felt like a more newsworthy Raw than most weeks are, especially since we know it's Lashley vs. McIntyre for the WWE Title at WrestleMania.
They set up several angles for Fastlane and also some stuff for WrestleMania. This just felt like a more organized Raw rather than some weeks where it feels like they are making stuff up on the fly. I think the booking was a lot better this week in terms of match finishes making sense and more believable promos as well. With that said, I don’t think the Braun Strowman/Shane McMahon green slop angle is that interesting, but we know in the end it’s going to lead to Braun kicking Shane’s ass.
Some things weren't great obviously. I'm just saying, for the most part, it was easier to get through this week's Raw. I liked most of it. With that said, I didn't expect Braun vs. Shane and Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss added to the Fastlane lineup, so it's not like everything was great.
The lineup for WWE Fastlane on March 21 looks like this right now:
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
Intercontinental Championship: Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews
Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon
Women's Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss - It is legitimately being advertised as a match on WWE.com.
Our preview will be up on TJRWrestling on Saturday morning and I'll have a live review on TJRWrestling on Sunday night.
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