Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for this week. This is the follow up to Sunday’s WWE Fastlane pay-per-view (read my review here). The best thing from the Raw brand at Fastlane was the great match between Drew McIntyre and Sheamus with Drew picking up the win in a No Holds Barred Match. Bray Wyatt also returned as The Fiend looking like a burnt corpse since the last time we saw him was when Randy Orton burned him in December. That also meant Alexa Bliss beat Randy Orton in their match. It was…different. Yeah. Anyway, now we are less than three weeks away from WrestleMania 37 on April 10 and April 11. Three episodes of Raw to go before WrestleMania.
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1452 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 a match. Yes, a match. The WWE Champion Bobby Lashley entered first with MVP by his side. That Lashley entrance is really cool. Sheamus entered as the opponent for this non-title match. The announce team was Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe as usual.
Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Sheamus
Sheamus had visible scars on his upper body because of the physical match he had at Fastlane. The first minute of the match featured a lot of pushing, shoving and some strikes as Lashley took over with punches to the head. Lashley charged right into a boot, Sheamus charged, Lashley with a leapfrog and Sheamus hit a running knee to the face. Lashley was able to come back with a suplex. Lashley grounded Sheamus with a chinlock, Lashley with forearms and Sheamus was sent to the apron. Sheamus sent Lashley throat first into the top rope. Lashley managed to knock Sheamus off the apron. Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander showed up at ringside. Cedric distracted the referee, so Benjamin hit a clothesline on Sheamus on the floor. Lashley and MVP reacted as if they didn’t want the other Hurt Business guys at ringside. It’s a tease for some Hurt Business issues as the show went to break.
The match returned with Sheamus getting a kick to the head, but then he charged right into a powerslam from Lashley. Alexander was on the apron and Lashley told him to step down. Sheamus got a rollup on Lashley for two, and then Lashley ran into the ring post as Sheamus out of the way. Sheamus with two forearm smashes, Sheamus sent Lashley onto the apron and Sheamus smashed Lashley with repeated forearms to the chest. Sheamus sent Lashley off the apron to the floor and then Sheamus hit a clothesline off the top onto a standing Lashley on the floor. Back in the ring, Sheamus with a clothesline off the top on Lashley. Sheamus tried a lift, Lashley overpowered him and Sheamus came back with a rising knee strike. There was a spot where Alexander was on the apron causing a distraction, so Sheamus looked at him and then Lashley hit a huge spinebuster. Lashley slapped on the Hurt Lock submission and Sheamus gave up to give Bobby the victory after 14 minutes.
Winner by submission: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good. I think they work together well as we have seen in the past. Their styles mesh as two hard hitters that aren’t afraid to throw some big forearms and other moves out there. Sheamus losing to Lashley isn’t going to hurt him too much although I hope Sheamus does pick up some wins soon because he has lost a lot of matches of late. I also want to shout out Sheamus for putting on another very good match one night after a great match and while he had many visible scars on his body. Sheamus is on one of the best runs of his career in terms of match quality. I’m happy for the guy. Lashley winning makes sense to keep his positive momentum going.
After the match, Benjamin and Alexander were attacking Sheamus. That led to Drew McIntyre going out to ringside and beating up Benjamin and Alexander. McIntyre tossed Alexander over the barricade. When McIntyre approached Benjamin, Shelton backed away.
Analysis: This showed that even though McIntyre has had problems with his buddy Sheamus, they still respect eachother in the end and Drew was helping Sheamus out from a tough spot. Maybe this will lead to them working together again.
McIntyre got into the ring with Lashley, who held up the WWE Title. MVP held Lashley back and McIntyre dared Lashley to have the first shot. MVP told him to wait to WrestleMania because it’s business. After several tense moments, Lashley backed away while MVP left with him. McIntyre stood tall in the ring.
Analysis: I’m looking forward to Lashley vs. McIntyre at WrestleMania. I think Drew will probably win, but it’s not a lock or anything.
Still to come: Randy Orton summons The Fiend. That’s what they’re advertising.
Charlotte Flair Update: This is unrelated to this week’s show but worth sharing anyway because it involves a Raw superstar. Charlotte Flair tweeted that she tested positive for Covid-19. Here’s hoping she isn’t too sick by it and she feels better soon. Her fiance Andrade tweeted four more days and then she'll be cleared, so she could be back on TV next week.
I know everyone has been wondering where I have been. I tested positive for COVID and have been home resting 🙏
Thank you everyone for your love ❤️
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) March 23, 2021
There was a backstage scene with Bobby Lashley with MVP talking to Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. Lashley wasn’t happy that they were out there. MVP told Shelton and Cedric that they tarnished Lashley by making it look like he couldn’t beat Sheamus on his own. MVP said that they embarrassed them like when they lost the Raw Tag Team Titles. MVP wanted them to think about it while Lashley and MVP left.
Analysis: I don’t want to see the group split up any time soon because I think it’s been good for all four guys. However, I did like what MVP said about how they humiliated Lashley, which is why Lashley and MVP were upset during the match.
There was a video about the Randy Orton vs. Bliss at Fastlane that saw The Fiend make a return in a much darker outfit. Orton is on Raw later.
Asuka made her entrance for a match against Peyton Royce.
They showed some highlights of last week’s Raw where Asuka was very aggressive going after Shayna Baszler. It was because Shayna knocked a tooth out of Asuka’s mouth and gave Asuka a concussion, which isn’t going to be mentioned on the show.
Peyton Royce made her entrance. They showed her fired-up promo from Raw Talk with Royce saying she wanted to face Asuka.
Asuka vs. Peyton Royce
This is not for Asuka’s Raw Women’s Title. Asuka was in control with a shoulder tackle early on, then Royce did a takedown grabbing the leg and Asuka got to the ropes. Royce with an armdrag and then Asuka turned it into an armbar. Royce slapped on a submission hold on the left leg of Asuka, but Asuka used her right leg to kick herself free. Royce came back with a suplex into a pin for two. Asuka sent Royce into the top turnbuckle, then Royce avoided a charge and Asuka sent Royce onto the apron. Asuka with a spinning back fist. Asuka went for the hip attack by the ropes, Royce avoided that and kicked Asuka in the back. Royce did a hair pull that sent Asuka to the floor as the show went to break.
The match returned with Asuka hitting a dropkick, then a knee and the hip attack against the turnbuckle. Asuka blocked a Royce move leading to a German Suplex. Asuka with a running knee on Royce for a two count. Asuka went up top with a missile dropkick attempt, Royce avoided it and Royce caught Asuka on her back and dropped down for a slam into the mat for two. Asuka went for the Asuka Lock, Royce got out of that and got a two count. Asuka with double knees to the face (Codebreaker) for a two count. Nice nearfall there. Asuka set up Royce on the top rope, Royce knocked her down and Royce hit a double stomp off the top onto Asuka’s back for a two count. Royce argued with the ref about it and then Asuka got an armbar leading into the Asuka Lock submission. Royce tapped out to give Asuka the win after about 11 minutes.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a fun match. I liked some of the spots they did with each woman getting some nearfalls and Royce pulling off some moves that I haven’t seen from her. It was a competitive match with Royce getting a lot of offense and showing she could hang with Asuka, but it’s no surprise that Asuka got the win. It’s also encouraging that the first two matches saw champions retain in non-title matches because Asuka and Lashley are booked like strong champions.
Asuka celebrated the win and here comes Rhea Ripley to confront the champion for Rhea's Raw debut.
Ripley got into the ring telling Asuka she is one of the greatest Women’s Champions in history. Ripley said that Charlotte Flair was out there challenging Asuka for the Raw Women’s Title while Asuka was recovering from having her teeth knocked out. Ripley said that now Charlotte Flair is recovering from Covid. Ripley said on her first official night, she is challenging Asuka for the championship match at WrestleMania. Asuka ranted in Japanese, laughed and said that Ripley is not ready for Asuka. That led to Asuka saying she accepts.
Analysis: A match between Asuka and Ripley should be awesome. I wonder if Charlotte Flair will be added to it since she challenged Asuka first. I’m not sure if fans would want that because Asuka vs. Ripley is a fresh match that would be awesome to watch. I just think Charlotte is going to be involved in some way if she’s cleared from Covid-19 at that point. Do I want a triple threat? No. I prefer it as just Asuka vs. Ripley.
Drew McIntyre was shown walking backstage with WWE Official Adam Pearce talking to Drew about saving Sheamus. Drew said that he has had problems with Sheamus, but he’s not going to let two guys beat him up like that. Pearce mentioned Benjamin and Alexander wanted to face McIntyre in a match. Pearce was going to deny the request, but Drew accepted it. Drew said a stipulation is that if he beats them tonight then they are banned from ringside at WrestleMania. Pearce agreed, so that match is on.
The ring was being set up for Miz TV after a break.
A video aired with WWE superstars encouraging fans to get the Covid-19 vaccine when it’s available to you. Well done.
There was a video letting us know WrestleMania is just 19 days away.
It’s official for WrestleMania: Asuka defends the Raw Women’s Championship vs. Rhea Ripley.
Analysis: If it’s a singles match with no changes then I think Ripley is going to win the title.
The Miz made his entrance with John Morrison with Miz in wrestling gear and Morrison in street clothes. Miz mentioned it’s been an interesting couple of weeks full of highs and lows, but he didn’t like being made fun of by Damian Priest and Bad Bunny. They put over Bad Bunny’s credentials as a star with Morrison putting him over as one of the most famous people on the planet right now. Miz wondered who Bad Bunny thinks he is. Miz complained about how Bad Bunny showed zero respect towards Miz. That led to Miz doing a promo bragging about his credentials. Miz continued to complain about how they don’t get the respect that they deserve. They showed a WrestleMania poster on the screen while Bad Bunny and Damien Priest were on it. Miz said that last week was his final straw while telling Bad Bunny that he got the attention of The Miz and a whole lot more. They showed a clip of last week when Miz hit Bad Bunny with a guitar to the back.
Miz said that was a lesson to anybody that thinks they can do what we (wrestlers) do. Miz said that those who love him and Morrison, don’t worry because they had a special edition of The Dirt Sheet next week. Miz and Morrison said that they had a new song that will debut on next week’s Raw. It’s called “Hey Hey Hip Hop” and they showed a preview clip. It was really bad, which is the point of it since they are heel wrestlers meant to annoy us, but it’s also painfully tough to watch.
Miz said that Bad Bunny may be at the top of the musical world, but this is their domain. Miz said that he is challenging Bad Bunny to a match at WrestleMania. Miz said that he will not just end Bad Bunny’s musical career, he will end his career period. Miz said if you want a preview then watch Miz’s match against Jeff Hardy right now.
Analysis: That music video preview was terrible. I know it was done to be bad on purpose and to get heat on the heels, but it looks so awful. Anyway, Miz challenging Bad Bunny isn’t a major surprise although the expectation was that it would be a tag team match: Miz/Morrison vs. Bunny/Priest. There’s still plenty of time to build to it. I don’t mind Bad Bunny being involved because he’s a wrestling fan that is enjoying himself out there, so more power to him. It may lead to his fans checking out WWE, which is good for the company in the long run.
Jeff Hardy entered for his match.
Jeff Hardy did a promo saying we know Morrison was going to try to interfere, so he wanted Miz to tell Morrison to go to the back. Miz told Morrison he’s got this, so Morrison left.
Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz
Hardy sent Miz into the turnbuckles repeatedly followed by a jawbreaker. Miz came back with a boot to the face. Miz with a running splash to the back of Hardy against the ropes followed by a boot to the face. Miz with a running knee to the ribs. Miz slapped on a chinlock, Jeff broke free and hit a back kick to send Miz into the turnbuckle. Hardy with a running forearm, double leg drop, low dropkick and a splash got a two count. Miz sent Jeff into the turnbuckle, Jeff with boots to the face and Jeff hit a splash off the middle ropes for two. Miz avoided a Twist of Fate attempt and sent Hardy into the ring post. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Miz
Analysis: ** Easy win for Miz since he’s currently involved in a storyline while Jeff Hardy has nothing going on. It’s a shame for Jeff because he’s a very good performer that is a big name in WWE history, but the creative team has had nothing for him to do for months now.
After the match, Bad Bunny hit Miz in the back with a guitar shot that knocked Miz down. Bad Bunny left up the ramp and told Miz that he accepted his challenge for WrestleMania. Bad Bunny: "I accept your challenge, bitch. I will see you at WrestleMania."
AJ Styles was shown walking backstage with Omos. While they were walking, Riddle drove by on his scooter. Riddle called Styles “skipper” with AJ saying that was months ago at Survivor Series. Styles has a match up next.
This Friday from Smackdown: A controversial victory by Roman Reigns at Fastlane leads to Reigns vs. Edge at WrestleMania. The plan is apparently Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania so we’ll see how they set that up on Smackdown.
It’s official for WrestleMania: Bad Bunny (w/Damian Priest) vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison).
Analysis: I thought it would be a tag team match, but it's a singles match for now.
AJ Styles entered with Omos with Styles doing a promo saying that they will challenge New Day for the Raw Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania. Styles said that it will be the debut of Omos. Styles said he was so excited about what Omos is going to do to Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston. Styles said Omos is going to put them through the ring like they will be buried there. Styles said that New Day are the longest Tag Team Champions in history and they have earned the accolades, but at WrestleMania, the team of Styles/Omos will win. Styles claimed that they can’t lose.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods entered as the Raw Tag Team Champions. Kofi wondered if AJ really said they would beat the New Day for the titles at WrestleMania? Woods said that they said that and become an unstoppable tag team. Kingston said that you first have to become a team with Kingston saying they don’t see a team. Kofi spoke in an accent saying Styles was making up for his lack of size to command a giant to do all of his bidding for him. Styles told Kofi to watch his mouth. Woods said that Omos teaming with Styles is going to bring Omos down. Kofi said that Styles doesn’t even know Omos. Styles said that Omos’ favorite color was red, but Omos said mauve. Styles claimed that Omos favorite ice cream was vanilla bean, but Omos said it was peanut butter caramel. Kingston asked who Omos’ favorite WWE superstar of all-time is and AJ said himself while Omos said it was Andre the Giant. Woods wondered how Omos can even trust this man. Styles was sick of this and then chanted “AJ Rocks” to mock New Day.
Analysis: It was effective as a promo to show how New Day may have the advantage because they are a cohesive unit while Styles just uses Omos because of how big Omos is. Nice accent usage by Kofi too. With that said, some of it felt like it was killing time too. Also, Andre the Giant wasn't alive when Omos was born, but I guess you can say Omos has seen video of Andre, so that's why he's a fan. Sure.
There was a graphic shown about Eric Bischoff joining the 2021 WWE Hall of Fame. We found that out last week.
AJ Styles (w/Omos) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods)
Kingston was in control with a side headlock, then he broke free and hit a shoulder tackle. Styles grabbed a headlock of his own, Styles with a shoulder tackle and Kofi hit an impressive leapfrog leading to a jumping elbow smash. Styles took over with an elbow to knock down Kofi followed by Styles sending Kofi out of the ring. Styles went for an attack, but Kingston was back in the ring with Kofi hitting a forearm to the face. Kingston with a monkey flip across the ring. Kofi with a dropkick off the middle rope leading to a two count. Kofi with another dropkick that sent Styles out of the ring where Omos was standing. Styles pulled Kofi out of the ring, Kofi with a punch and Styles with a punch to the throat. Styles whipped Kofi into the steel steps and then Omos stepped in front of Woods to keep Xavier from checking on Kofi. That led to a break.
The match returned with Styles in control with a back elbow to the head followed by a chinlock. Kofi came back with a forearm, two chops and a dropkick. Kofi with a leaping clothesline followed by the Boom Drop leg drop. Styles countered the Trouble in Paradise kick with a jumping kick to the head with AJ’s shin hitting the back of Kofi’s head. Styles charged, but Kofi countered with a jumping kick to the face. Styles wanted a superplex off the ropes, Kofi powered out of that and suplexed Styles face first into the mat. Kofi hit a splash to the back of Styles for a two count. Kofi went for the SOS slam, but Styles countered into the Calf Crusher submission with Kofi getting to the bottom rope to break it. Styles went for a move, but Kofi countered with a sunset flip for two. Styles came back with a dropkick to the knee. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Woods played the trombone to distract, so Omos went after Woods on the floor. Styles jumped off the ropes, Kofi avoided it and Kofi hit the SOS for the pinfall win with Styles kicking out right after the three count. It went 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall Kofi Kingston
Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good match between former WWE Champions. I thought they had some cool counters especially Styles hitting that kick to the back of the head when Kofi was going for the Trouble in Paradise kick. The finish was a bit of a surprise because I have reviewed so many Kofi matches over the last decade plus and I can’t remember the last time he won with that move. Styles did kick out right after the pin to make it look close. Woods played a factor with the trombone, so it wasn’t a totally clean win. I’m leaning toward Styles/Omos winning the titles at WrestleMania.
Sheamus was shown walking backstage with Kevin Patrick asking Sheamus why he accepted the match with Bobby Lashley tonight after the match at Fastlane. Sheamus said he lives for the fight. Sheamus was asked about Drew McIntyre for saving him earlier. Sheamus said it was about respect. Sheamus said he can’t stand the ground that Drew McIntyre walks on. Riddle showed up on his scooter with the US Title around his neck. Riddle was asking stupid questions. Sheamus made him stop to ask if it’s easy to ride the scooter. Sheamus grabbed the scooter and jabbed Riddle in the ribs with it. Sheamus tossed it down. Riddle: “Was it something I said?”
Analysis: There’s the setup for Riddle vs. Sheamus at WrestleMania that I mentioned on Sunday. I figured it would happen since there was nothing else obvious for Sheamus and they have had good matches in the past.
Drew McIntyre entered for his match at the end of the second hour.
The commercial for NXT focused on the rivalries between Finn Balor-Karrion Kross and Adam Cole-Kyle O’Reilly. Check out my NXT review on TJRWrestling on Thursday.
There was a graphic noting that WWE’s Youtube channel has over 50 billion total views. It’s a good channel with a lot of content.
Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander entered for the handicap match.
Drew McIntyre vs. Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander
If Benjamin and Alexander lose then they are banned from ringside for the Lashley vs. McIntyre match at WrestleMania. Benjamin and Alexander had to tag in like a tag match.
McIntyre with an elbow smash followed by a powerful suplex for a two count. McIntyre brought Alexander into the ring with a chop to the chest and a big back body drop. Benjamin with a waistlock, McIntyre got out of that and stomped on Shelton’s hand. Benjamin took over for a bit with punches, then a whip into the corner and McIntyre came back with a clothesline. Alexander pulled Benjamin out of the ring to save his partner. McIntyre left the ring, he punched Benjamin and threw Shelton into the ring post. McIntyre sent Benjamin face-first into the barricade. Back in the ring, McIntyre with a punch to the face, Alexander tagged in, McIntyre with elbows to rock both guys, but then Alexander with a chop block to the knee. Benjamin with a knee that knocked McIntyre out of the ring. Alexander hit a dive onto McIntyre on the floor. Benjamin and Alexander sent McIntyre into the barricade. That led to a break.
The match returned with the heels in control with Alexander working over McIntyre a bit and then Benjamin tagged in with a running knee. Alexander back in with a knee and then Benjamin with a kick with Cedric getting a two count. Benjamin worked over McIntyre with punches to the head leading to a headlock. McIntyre blocked a kick, but Benjamin hit a spinning kick. McIntyre came back with the Glasgow Kiss headbutt (headbutt into the hand) to knock both guys down. It was comeback time with McIntyre hitting two clotheslines, then two belly-to-belly suplexes across the ring. McIntyre hit a Future Shock DDT on Benjamin and a neckbreaker on Alexander. McIntyre with a Claymore Kick on Benjamin. Alexander ran the ropes with McIntyre and McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick with Alexander doing a flip bump to sell it! Wow, that was great. McIntyre with the pinfall win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
The win means that Benjamin and Alexander are banned from ringside for the Lashley vs. McIntyre match at WrestleMania.
Analysis: *** A clean win for McIntyre against two opponents that got plenty of offense, but I don’t think anybody thought that Shelton and Cedric had a chance to win. The way Alexander sold that Claymore Kick was very impressive. It’s smart booking to give McIntyre meaningful wins like that on the road to WrestleMania. McIntyre continues to put on consistently good matches.
McIntyre celebrated the win by staring at the WrestleMania sign a lot.
Still to come is whatever they have planned with Randy Orton and The Fiend.
There was a backstage scene with MVP talking to Shelton and Cedric about how they tried to help Lashley with Lashley not asking them to help. MVP said that they couldn’t get the job done even when it was 2 on 1. Bobby Lashley showed up to yell at Cedric/Shelton and said if you can’t take out Drew then he’ll find somebody who can. Lashley and MVP walked around the corner where they saw some random midcard wrestlers (Ricochet, Drew Gulak, Akira Tozawa, Lince Dorado, Humberto Carrillo, Gran Metalik) and told them if they take out McIntyre then they can have a WWE Title shot against him.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke entered for a match. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax with Reginald made their entrance. Naomi and Lana were on commentary.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (w/Reginald) vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
This is not for the Women’s Tag Team Titles held by Baszler and Jax. Rose went after Baszler to start. Brooke tagged in and Baszler hit a backbreaker on Dana. Jax was distracted by Reginald at ringside. Rose saved Brooke with a dropkick to Baszler. Jax was legal, she knocked down Rose and Brooke hit a back elbow on Jax, but then Jax hit a running body attack to knock down Brooke. Rose yelled at Reginald, who went into the ring doing some flips and then he left. Brooke hit Jax in the back of the leg and Rose tagged in with a bulldog. Rose with a running knee on Jax for a two count. Brooke tagged in, Baszler pulled Rose off the apron and hit Rose. Reginald caused a distracted to Brooke, who was on the top rope. Baszler hit a forearm on Rose on the floor. Jax hit a Samoan Drop on Brooke for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Analysis: *1/2 That was chaotic. Jax is fascinated by Reginald, so she liked all of his antics while Baszler was frustrated by it. Reginald caused several distractions, so he was able to help the team win. I like Rose/Brooke as a team, but WWE doesn’t seem to want to give them a push.
Alexa Bliss was backstage on her swing set saying Randy Orton wanted her out of his life, but she’s still here and so is he. Bliss said that you can’t always get what you want. Bliss warned Randy to be careful what you wish for. Bliss ended with The Fiend’s line: “Let me in.”
There was another video about WWE superstars wanting everybody to get a Covid-19 vaccine. They said we can do this together.
The trio of Elias was in the ring with Shane McMahon (with crutches and an ice pack on the left knee) and Jaxson Ryker. At Fastlane, Shane told Elias had to face Braun Strowman for him since Shane claimed he was hurt. Strowman beat Elias easily.
Shane McMahon claimed that if he didn’t have a knee injury, he would have beat Braun Strowman. Shane said he’ll have that match with Braun whenever his knee heals. Shane said Elias didn’t get the job done, Elias said he had no time to prepare and Shane told Elias to never interrupt him. Shane said that Elias had time to prepare for tonight. They sang a song called “Braun is stupid” where they sang off a sheet that was on a stand in the ring. At least it was better than the Miz/Morrison song.
Braun Strowman made his entrance for the match looking angry as usual. Braun said he thinks they are funny. Braun said that nothing is going to stop the ass whooping for Shane. Braun said he had a song called “The Man Who Got These Hands.” No lyrics to that song thankfully.
Analysis: I assume we get Braun vs. Shane at WrestleMania with Braun getting the win there.
They showed a Snickers WrestleMania moment from WrestleMania 18 when The Rock defeated Hulk Hogan. It was a very memorable match with a hot crowd in Toronto in 2002.
Braun Strowman vs. Elias (w/Shane McMahon & Jaxson Ryker)
Strowman with forearms to the chest and Braun sent Elias into the turnbuckle. Strowman whipped Elias hard into the turnbuckle followed by a kick to the ribs and Strowman dumped Elias out of the ring near where Shane was standing. Strowman sent Elias back into the ring with Elias hitting a jumping knee to the face. Elias went back to the corner and Strowman hit an impressive dropkick. Strowman punched Ryker to the floor. Strowman ran over Ryker and Elias with shoulder tackles while they played train noises for the Strowman Express. Back in the ring, Strowman hit the Running Powerslam on Elias for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: * A dominant win by Strowman just like at Fastlane. The train noises were a bit cheesy, but some little kid watching might like it, so I guess it’s okay.
Post match, Shane went after Strowman with a crutch to the back. Strowman no-sold that, so Shane ran away to show the knee injury was fine. Tom Phillips had to act like he was shocked that Shane was faking. Poor dumb WWE announcers. Strowman said he’s had enough of this and he’s had enough of Shane calling him stupid. Strowman challenged Shane to a match at WrestleMania with Braun pointing at the sign. Shane: “I accept, Braun.” Shane said any match that Braun wants, Shane is going to win because Braun is stupid. Braun stared at Shane, who went to the back.
Analysis: It was expected that this would lead to a match.
Randy Orton was shown walking backstage for the non-wrestling segment in the main event.
They went over some of the matches on Night One of WrestleMania on Saturday, April 10.
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Bad Bunny (w/Damian Priest) vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison)
These matches will take place on Night Two of WrestleMania on Sunday, April 11.
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge (No Daniel Bryan yet, but it’s expected to be a triple threat.)
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Rhea Ripley
Those are all the announcements they made for now.
Let’s Hear from Randy Orton
Randy Orton walked down to the ring with something in his hands with a cover on it. Orton said that tonight he finishes this with The Fiend and Alexa Bliss. Orton said after tonight the “bullshit comes to an end.”
Alexa Bliss showed up with some toy box thing that she wound up and it was like a toy Fiend figure inside of it. Bliss told Randy to be careful what he wished for.
The lights went out in the building, then the fireworks went off in the ring and The Fiend was standing behind Randy Orton. The Fiend looked like he did at Fastlane with a scarred up and ripped up outfit. Orton had a canister of gasoline that he poured all over The Fiend, who just stood there without moving. Orton grabbed a match, The Fiend walked towards him and Orton hit The Fiend with an RKO on the gasoline in the ring. That’s when Alexa Bliss jumped onto the apron and Orton turned around to see her. The Fiend was back up on his feet, Orton turned and The Fiend gave Orton the Mandible Claw to the mouth. The Fiend hit the Sister Abigail neckbreaker on Orton. Bliss celebrated by dancing around the ring. Bliss pointed at the WrestleMania sign as some fire shot up by the sign. The Fiend and Bliss celebrated as the theme music played.
A graphic was ready for it because they showed a WrestleMania image for Randy Orton vs. The Fiend. That led to The Fiend and Bliss posing in the ring some more. That was it for Raw this week.
Analysis: It was silly with the red light on the ring, but at least they did some wrestling moves. Orton hit the RKO, then Alexa Bliss was able to distract him from doing more and The Fiend put Orton did. It’s such a weird dynamic because The Fiend is the babyface in the story since he’s coming for revenge against the guy that burned him in the ring three months ago, yet if you look at The Fiend, he’s hideous. I can’t see some little kid watching this and cheering for The Fiend, but that’s the way the story is being told.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Drew McIntyre
3. (tie) Sheamus
3. (tie) AJ Styles/Kofi Kingston
7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7
2021 Average: 6.15
I thought it was a pretty good Raw with several matches that I enjoyed. They also were focused on building up some WrestleMania matches. You can tell the booking was more focused because they know where they are going with a lot of the WrestleMania matches at this point and it seemed everything had a purpose. There are some weeks where Raw is frustrating with so much filler and goofy stuff, but it was a much better show this week.
I got bored a bit by the third hour because I thought the first hour was the strongest. There were very good matches, plus the show didn't start with a promo, so that felt different. There wasn't a main event match, but at least the Orton/Fiend segment set up their WrestleMania match officially. We also learned of other WrestleMania matches like Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley, Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman (groan), Bad Bunny vs. The Miz (louder groan) and they likely set up Riddle vs. Sheamus, which I like. There's more too in terms of other matches, but it's nice to make things official with WrestleMania less than three weeks away.
Raw isn't a great show on a consistent basis, but there are talented performers and a lot of them had good matches this week. That helps a lot too. Nice effort by the Raw team this week.
The next WWE pay-per-view is WrestleMania 37 on April 10 and April 11. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge (vs. Daniel Bryan?)
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Rhea Ripley
Randy Orton vs. The Fiend
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day’s Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (c) vs. AJ Styles & Omos
Bad Bunny (w/Damian Priest) vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison)
Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman
The hosts of WrestleMania are Hulk Hogan & Titus O’Neil.
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