Raw 26/2/18 Review: Monday Night RONDA

So Raw tonight takes place just 24 hours after the Elimination Chamber PPV, as we are now WELL on the road to Wrestlemania! We begin with a recap of the Men’s Chamber match from the previous evening; Braun’s dominance before Reigns triumph. We will apparently have a Lesnar – Reigns face off later tonight and also RONDA ROUSEY will be appearing too!

Now… I must admit I am a UFC fan, and with that a HUGE Ronda fan. There’s every chance I’ll purchase one of her WWE shirts at some point. I watched her defend her UFC Championship multiple times and I watched her crushing defeats. Her Armbar in the octagon was a work of art and her acting isn’t bad either… oh and I think she’s hot as hell… and now she’s here in WWE I could not be happier! This is one of the biggest stars on the planet so I’ll repeat what I said in my review of Elimination Chamber; DO NOT FUCK THIS UP WWE!

There is a recap of Rousey’s contract signing from Elimination Chamber, she of course put Triple H through a table and then got a slap from Stephanie McMahon for her troubles. Let’s see where that goes later shall we…

First out though is (STILL) the Raw Women’s Champion, after winning the Women’s chamber match; Alexa Bliss, and she is accompanied by Mickie James, who it appears is a heel again now (o….k then…). We get a recap of Asuka beating Nia Jax too as Michael Cole says that ‘apparently’ we are getting Alexa Bliss vs Asuka now at Wrestlemania (I’m doubtful…). Alexa cuts a promo bigging herself up, she credits Mickie, and she says Absolution (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) both have bright futures just not whilst she is the champion, she describes Bayley as a “sad situation” and says Sasha Banks has a “massive ego”. And she tells us all that she will go to Wrestlemania and she is going to break Asuka’s streak… and then right on que comes out the undefeated Empress of Tomorrow herself with a purposeful walk to the ring.

Alexa says “are you kidding me?”, crowd chant “Asuka’s gonna kill you”, Alexa reminds Asuka that she can’t be 100% after her attack from Nia after the match last night, says Nia ‘deserves’ to be in the championship match at Wrestlemania (BE CAREFUL what you wish for Miss Bliss…), she then proceeds to take the mickey out of Asuka’s English skills by speaking to her very slowly which was something the crowd did not like at all (I did think it was a bit much personally as I didn’t think Alexa needed to go there but it was a great way to get heat on her mind, something that is always tricky in modern day WWE when a heel is so good at what they do). After this was over Nia Jax made her way to the ring, Asuka strikes first by attacking Alexa and Mickie but Nia is there to give her group the advantage, Asuka gets her armbar in on Nia but Bliss and James are back in the ring now and attack Asuka. The 3 of them then beat her down before Bayley and Sasha comes out to make the save. They are both immediately flattened by Nia, Asuka hits Jax, Alexa hits Asuka and the heels end the segment standing tall. Decent start to the show with this segment, maybe we will get Asuka vs Bliss at Mania after all? But Nia is being made to look really strong for a purpose surely?

We return from the ad break and indeed we have a 6 woman tag pitting Alexa, Nia and Mickie vs Asuka, Sasha and Bayley. James and Bayley begin in the ring, the 2 have a very good exchange, Nia is tagged in and she dominates. She then tags in Alexa and she is too on top until Bayley rams Bliss’ head into the turnbuckle a few times to regain control of the match. There is then a hard, aggressive tag to Sasha that is made (arching to the mini-turn Sasha did at the chamber when she pushed Bayley off the chamber pod). Good back and forth from Banks and Bliss, The Boss does a few attacks on Bliss in the corner with her knees to get a 2 count. Bliss then rolls out of the ring which leads Sasha to kick Mickie and Bliss down, and as Sasha goes outside the ring she runs into Nia who pummels her. Alexa Bliss capitalises on this by placing Sasha back in the ring, only to be able to get a 2 count. Nia Jax is then in the ring with Banks and isolates her enough so she cannot get a tag, Mickie and then Alexa quickly tag in and Bliss even gets in a cheap-shot on Asuka. Banks in desperation then crawls to her corner to make a tag, but with Asuka down she goes to tag in Bayley but The Hugger jumps away and rejects Sasha’s tag attempt! Bayley’s revenge!!!! YES YES YES! Give me more Bayley with a bit about her PLEASE!

Banks is finally able to tag in Asuka, who then goes on an absolute tear! She attacks Mickie in the ring and Nia on the outside before eventually locking in the Armbar on Mickie and James taps out to give the faces the win. A great few different stories being told in this one, many different avenues they can all go. And nice to see more than one or two females on Raw have an individual story they can follow through now. This match served a few purposes as well; Asuka got the win to look strong (and Mickie can take a loss at this stage), Bayley and Sasha’s story continues to unfold, and Nia looked good as did Bliss also. Good stuff all round to begin the show.

There is then a recap of John Cena’s appearance on Raw talk last night, when he seemed very despondent indeed (see my Elimination Chamber review blog). He will be out next then… and this could be HUGE!!!

So… John Cena comes out, he takes a long look at the Wrestlemania sign, and then says “last night I failed… I was then immediately put in front of a microphone and I felt demoralised, I know where I am at… I spent 5 minutes feeling sorry for myself afterwards… no one else in WWE will be willing to say they failed… when you say you fail you fail alone… you have 2 choices when you fail and I’m stepping up… I’m fired up because I have figured it out and I’m standing in this ring and I’m going to do something I should’ve done a long time ago…….. And that is put out a Wrestlemania challenge………….“ …..

“TO THE UNDERTAKER!!!!!!!!!!!” AND THE CROWD LOSES THEIR FUCKING SHIT (and I nearly fell off my chair ngl)!!!!

Cena continues saying: ‘that is Wrestlemania… and that match is not happening (crowd boo).. I don’t make the matches, and I’ve been told that match is impossible. Now you all know what disappointment feels like.” (Sad times). Cena finishes up saying “My Wrestlemania road will go through Smackdown, and as a free agent I will go to Smackdown Live tomorrow and do whatever it takes to earn a spot at Wrestlemania. See you tomorrow night”. And then he leaves. WOW! One hell of a promo from Cena that, even by his lofty standards. I guess Cena is going to Smackdown for a bit then… Maybe Undertaker won’t happen now…. MAYBE….

Bray Wyatt is out to the ring next up. He will appear to be having a match with Heath Slater next. But Bray then destroys both Slater and his tag team partner Rhyno before the match can even begin. Bray then cuts a promo saying Matt Hardy was the reason he had to do harm to these “innocent men”, the great war is far from over and that they’ll meet again and next time he will make sure Matt’s “WOKEN eyes” stay shut forever, finishing of with “I’m coming for you, RUN”! This story I really want to love ,but am really struggling to, just continues to go on… (Bray Wyatt was WWE CHAMPION going into last year’s Wrestlemania… just putting that out there…).

Next up was something that I really didn’t understand… I’ll explain…

So Miz comes out with The Miztourage, he talks up himself and the role of Intercontinental Champion and that he is one of the all-time great IC Title holders with a really impassioned promo. He says Kurt Angle has told him his opponent tonight MIGHT influence who he will face at Wrestlemania… and so to challenge him tonight out comes… SETH ROLLINS! Seth and Miz have a really, really fun match. Seth Rollins is just on absolute fire at the moment, the finish of this one saw Rollins hit a frog splash were he flew approximately three quarters of the length of the ring to hit The Miz and claim the win. Great stuff, really good, and then as Seth is celebrating out comes Finn Balor… Rollins looks on angrily before walking off in disgust as Balor steals Rollins’ limelight. After the ad break it appears Miz will now face Balor 1 on 1. Eventually after the Miztourage and Gallows and Anderson are sent packing the match is made properly. An OK match eventually ends with Finn getting the win. Seth declares his intentions in an interview with Renee after Finn’s match that he wants the IC Title at Wrestlemania. What annoyed me about all this was if you’re trying to make Miz your despised, cocky, arrogant heel then why oh why would you have the babyface GM pick on him by making him compete twice in a row and belittle him beforehand? That’s going to make people side with The Miz not boo him! And for Finn to come down as your babyface to take on an already tired Miz doesn’t make him anymore of a face either? I just didn’t get the thought process behind all this. Nonetheless if we get a triple threat at Mania and the Demon wins, then happy days.

Roman Reigns came out to the ring next, he cut a BRILLIANT promo that may have been his best ever. He began by saying that everything he says is the truth and that he made good on his claims of winning the chamber and that he will the same at Mania when he wins the Universal Championship, then he APPEARED to shoot as he said ‘I don’t know why I’m covering for this guy’ and then revealed Lesnar wasn’t here tonight (despite being advertised). And that Brock was “an entitled piece of crap who hides behind his contract” before continuing on how Brock was in Vegas as was the ppv last night but that Lesnar was more interested in taking pictures with Dana White and UFC stuff (see Instagram for that picture btw, I do love when real life stuff is used in pro wrestling, does wonders for the story). He also mentioned how he is sick of how he and everyone else was here busting their asses every single week whilst Lesnar shows up when he wants. He says he does not respect him and that “I don’t fear that bitch!” It was really good stuff from Roman and I won’t say too much on it because I URGE you all to just go and watch it for yourselves on WWE’s YouTube. It was FANTASTIC! Well done Mr Reigns! Often criticised but he absolutely smashed it here. (Low Key I am all in now on Roman Reigns, this promo really made me want Roman to beat Lesnar for the title, so job done there then!).

The Bar vs Titus Worldwide for the Raw tag titles in the most pointless 2/3 falls match ever!!!! Sheamus and Cesaro won 2-0. Less said about this the better. POINTLESS! The bar were interviewed after and basically ran down all the teams they had previously beaten and said they may be punished by Kurt Angle for not having any competition and so missing out on Mania due to a lack of challengers… they wouldn’t be too far from the truth at this stage. Maybe an NXT call up or The WOKEN/BROKEN/OBSELETE Hardys perhaps??? Hopefully something…

Next in the ring was Elias. He did more of his usual BRILLIANCE. Naturally he’s interrupted by Braun Strowman. They have a fairly short match that Braun dominates, until Elias retrieves a fire extinguisher from under the ring and sprays it over Strowman for the DQ. The 2 eventually brawl all the way to the back of the arena until Elias makes his escape. “I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU” declares Braun. Indeed this rivalry is not. For what this was it was good, I want both men to have so much more in the future though…

It’s then announced Asuka will face Nia Jax again next week. Would expect Asuka to win again in the grand scheme but who knows?

ANYWAY we finish the show with RONDA!

Stephanie & HHH make their way to the ring; Stephanie goes over last night, and says that although she understands why Ronda got physical she needs to speak to her and remind her of the hierarchy as ,after signing her contract, Ronda Rousey is now owned by WWE. She then calls out Kurt Angle… but instead… a ferocious looking Ronda Rousey comes storming to the ring. Kurt then quickly comes out to try and calm things; Ronda tells Kurt she meant every word she said about ‘wanting this more than anything’. But that she had never been slapped before in her life (as she stares glaringly at Stephanie). Angle goes on to explain to Ronda that she must act within the system, he says “I need this job”, and that all the things he alleged Triple H & Stephanie said about her last night were lies (we’re obviously meant to believe Kurt is again lying here to protect his job).

Stephanie thanks Kurt for his ‘apology’ and tries to move on. But Rousey demands Stephanie apologise to her for the slap, and that if she doesn’t she won’t hesitate to “rip your arm out of your socket” (something the Anaheim crowd seem well up for). McMahon though gets in Rousey’s face and delivers her ‘apology’. As the two authority figures make their exit HHH stops and delivers a right hand to Kurt Angle that knocks the Raw GM to the ring floor. Raw closes with Hunter and Stephanie standing tall as they make their exit and Ronda tending to Angle in the ring. We are 1000% getting Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs Stephanie McMahon & Triple H at Wrestlemania then…

And that was Raw then. Ok show overall, not the best from an in ring standpoint but two of the flag bearers of the company gave two fantastic promos, and the other segments on the show did their job on the whole.

Key points to take home:

– One of Alexa or Nia needs to turn, eventually…

– One of Sasha or Bayley needs to turn, eventually…

– John Cena is still the man on the mic, but Roman Reigns has potential to surpass him

– Raw’s tag team division needs a serious reboot

– WWE needs to decide what they’re doing with Braun Strowman

Conclusion

Clearly the two most intriguing parts of the show were the promos of Cena and Reigns. Questions will continue as to what the status is of The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar respectively. But if there are questions to be answered still it means people will continue to watch WWE tv to find out the answers. We still don’t know if Cena vs Taker is happening, if Lesnar really does care more about UFC than WWE or what on earth is happening in any of the championship divisions on Raw atm. Add Ronda Rousey to that and you have a potentially VERY good product indeed! As the road to Wrestlemania continues the intrigue rises, hopefully Raw’s creative team can keep us interested all the way to the big one in New Orleans… good luck to them!

Josh.

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