So we begin Raw this week with Kurt Angle making his way to the ring (they recap for the 1000000th time the Elimination Chamber and last week’s Raw segments involving Ronda Rousey). Angle calls out TRIPLE H following his cheapshot last week, “face me like a man” he says but it is only answered by Stephanie McMahon. She tells Kurt that Triple H isn’t here yet, and advises Kurt that his past achievements don’t pay his bills for his kids and his 2nd wife, but his job as Raw GM does. She tells him that he did provoke Triple H first so he was only getting even, so let’s put all this behind us now. RONDA ROUSEY then comes to the ring; she says she now knows the people who helped her come to the WWE weren’t the people she thought they were, and that they are ‘bully bosses’. Stephanie refutes this claim, gets some heat from the crowd, Ronda thanks her for giving her the opportunity to compete at Wrestlemania, and after having it confirmed for her she can choose her opponent for Mania, Ronda says to Stephanie “YOU”! TRIPLE H then makes his way to the ring to try and calm things saying “NO NO NO, not happening, Kurt stop being tough and do your job, Steph is an executive…” prompting Angle to call Triple H out on Stephanie saying he wasn’t here yet. Angle eventually reveals Stephanie has a second contract, and so does HHH, going on to say that ‘after Survivor Series I told you if you came for me again I was coming for you (to triple h) so at Wrestlemania it’ll be Stephanie McMahon and Triple H vs Ronda Rousey and ME”!!!
Stephanie goes to slap Angle but is blocked by Ronda, Triple H tries to calm things before attempting to cheapshot Angle again but he fights back before trying to get the Ankle lock submission hold in. Stephanie blindsides Ronda, Triple H goes to Pedigree Kurt but is rolled over and Angle does get the Ankle Lock in. Stephanie helps her Husband escape out of the ring but Ronda then grabs Stephanie by the hair and pulls her back into the ring, and delivers a HUGE Samoan Drop to Stephanie McMahon! Eventually she and Triple H are then helped to the back. WOW! WHAT A BLOCKBUSTER START TO THE SHOW! And everyone involved was awesome! Ronda looked absolutely fine (that Samoan Drop was really good), Kurt and Triple H’s dynamic is fantastic to watch and most amazingly of all STEPHANIE MCMAHON TOOK A BUMP OUTSIDE OF A WRESTLEMANIA!!!!! WOW OH WOW OH WOW! Great stuff!
Asuka vs Nia Jax next. Alexa Bliss (w/ Mickie James) was interviewed backstage as the match got underway, I didn’t like this at all as I think they should never take the attention way from the match and an interview with the champion is going to do just that! The match was pretty well put together I thought, the only downfall was this crowd was absolutely DEAD! They only woke up during the finish, maybe this was after what they saw to begin the show and they were coming down from that I don’t know but yeah… they weren’t great. The match itself was the classic tale of Asuka’s striking ability and submission moves versus Nia’s power. Some particularly impressive parts where when Jax Gorilla Press slammed Asuka which really was a sight to behold. Nia couldn’t follow up though with the leg drop missing after Asuka rolled out the way, The Empress of Tomorrow then locked in the Armbar, and despite 3 separate attempts from Jax to lift Asuka up and slam her down again the submission hold was STILL locked in deep! At long last Jax begrudgingly tapped out. I didn’t mind how this went at all, it protects Nia by making her look tough in defeat and obviously Asuka gets the win to build her up going into Mania. After the match Nia was shown selling her arm injury, and the crowd applauded her as she was close to tears as she walked away from the ring. The seeds of a face turn firmly being planted here…
The Revival in the ring now. Apparently on twitter Dash Wilder has responded to The Bar’s claims last week that they had beaten everyone so that was the set up for this match. So the match is happening now and if The Revival win they will get their Raw Tag Team Championship shot at Wrestlemania. Unsurprisingly this match was very physical and hard hitting, both teams had tremendous chemistry together, the crowd though was sooooooooo dead! Bar were on top for most of the match, but a highlight came from a sequence that saw Scott Dawson Superplex Cesaro before Dash Wilder followed that up with a frog splash on the Swiss-man for a 2 count nearfall. Sheamus would hit a Brogue Kick on a distraction, allowing Cesaro to make the most of it by hitting the Neutraliser to give The Bar the win. So… we are NOT having The Bar vs The Revival at Wrestlemania then? So who now then…… seeing The Bar being classified as OBSOLELTE would be the dream, but they seem to be tied up with injury recovery and Deleting stuff at the moment so perhaps an NXT call up? That’d be nice too.
Next out was what turned out to be one of the most BIZZARE segments on Raw for some time. John Cena made his way out and basically spent a whole promo on RAW talking about…. SMACKDOWN?! He reminded us all about the 6 pack challenge for the WWE Championship at Fastlane on Sunday, and exclaimed that he will do something that most people may not like, that he will WIN the WWE Championship for a 17th time! He then implored AJ Styles into ‘when’ this happens that he should use his rematch clause to make it a triple threat at Mania of Cena vs Styles vs Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania. AND THEN… OF ALL PEOPLE… OUT CAME…. THE UNDER…..
Oh no… sorry, out came GOLDUST! Goldust told Cnea that he had always had his dreams taken from him, but now he wanted to share the ‘silver screen’ with someone like Cena at Wrestlemania. He said that ends today, that he was taking control of Cena’s dreams of competing for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania and that tonight John Cena your dreams will be “SHATTERED” before laying out Cena with a strong forearm. Cena and Goldust then had a pretty poor match (John Cena vs Goldust in 2018 is never going to be a classic mind you). Crowd was dead again but to be fair I don’t blame them this time as this was about as obvious an ending to any match I’ve seen for some time. I’m not even going to justify it by explaining it, you know how this ended. This really did seem pointless, Cena was on Raw for the sake of it with really nothing new to say. He could’ve said all this on Smackdown. I get that he’s JOHN CENA and you want to use him whilst you can but really what the hell was the point of all this. And I am an unforgiving Goldust fan, I love the guy. Severely underrated throughout his career, but in 2018 after what seemed like a bit of a push around Summerslam time last year, when it appeared he was going back to as close to Attitude Era Goldust as we’ve seen since, which would’ve been great. This ‘push’ was literally dropped completely for no apparent reason and now even I really don’t see Goldust as adding anything now. Use him if you have a big idea for him, don’t waste a legend on a throwaway job out to John Cena. Doesn’t do anybody any good.
Kurt Angle backstage with Elias. Elias asked Angle if he could cancel his match against Braun Strowman this evening (from what is being said it’ll be some form of gimmick match with musical instruments scattered around as potential weapons, ok then…, should be fun). Kurt says no, the match will be on. Also later in the show will be the 3rd annual “Mizzies” as well as PAUL HEYMAN responding to Roman Reigns’ EXTRAORDINARY (and genuinely quite brilliant) on Brock Lesnar last week. WOWSERS! Bayley is then shown walking backstage for a match and to give her thoughts on her recent differences with her “best friend” Sasha Banks.
So Bayley is in the ring now, there’s a recap of her non-tag on Sasha last week, before Charley Caruso asks Bayley about that and as Bayley is about to explain herself she is interrupted by Absolution. Paige has the mic and congratulates Bayley for ‘growing a backbone’. She follows up by saying she is still a “stupid little kid” and has now pushed away the only person who cares for her (this was pretty good heel work from Paige). So the match itself will be the Golden Goddess (and she really is) Mandy Rose with Sonya Deville and the aforementioned Paige in her corner against Bayley. The usually green Rose actually looked quite good in this one, lots of good moves as she started the match on top getting a nearfall. Bayley was though back on top going into to the ad break as Mandy rolled to the outside and the sanctuary of her teammates support.
An ad break is followed by some more good stuff from both Bayley and Mandy Rose, a running knee from Rose that got a nearfall was particularly impressive (should also be noted, for the first time since an injury ruled her out of Summerslam last year, Bayley wore no supportive tape on her shoulder). Eventually Sonya Deville attempted to distract Bayley which led to a Mandy Rose roll up, but this in turn was countered into another roll up and Bayley got the win. Immediately after this Absolution beatdown the victor (well Sonya and Mandy did the beating as Paige barked out orders), this was until Sasha Banks made the save. Banks went to help Bayley up after Absolution had fled, but Bayley then rejected the Legit Boss’ offer of a hug. She pushed her away and left… the build up to a likely Mania showdown continues *smiles alot*.
Next up was a great segment; Alexa Bliss was backstage with Nia Jax who was still visibly upset and sporting an ice pack after her crushing loss earlier in the evening. Alexa would tell her accomplice Mickie James to leave her to it, before repeated;y belittling her ‘friend’ Nia. But she was able to do it in such a condescending way it was truly great ‘bad guy’ stuff to watch she did it really well. I particularly appreciated the lines ‘it must be so embarrassing’, ‘don’t feel like a failure or like you let your family down’, ‘you’ve been an outcast all your life… I’ve seen the way people look at you even now’. Bear in mind Nia Jax is crying her heart out by this point. Alexa made her exit as the tears from Jax continued. If this wasn’t making it blatantly obvious that Jax vs Bliss is the Mania match with Jax as a face I don’t even know, but for what this was supposed to be it did it tremendously well.
It was then made OFFICIAL (aka they showed a graphic with it on) that Ronda & Angle vs Stephanie & HHH was ON for Mania. Braun Iphone promo next, I refuse to even acknowledge these exist from now on. Next up was the aforementioned match between Elias and Strowman. A ‘Symphony of Destruction’ match; No DQ’s, No count outs, Falls Count Anywhere, and there are an array of musical instruments across the entrance rampway. Elias out first and played the PIANO as he did his normal stuff that was obviously superb, then the drums, then the guitar as he plays his song as he walks to the ring; in typical Elias fashion this was hilarious. He then asks for his usual intro from ring announcer JoJo; but as the spotlight goes on the awaiting stool in the ring it appears that Elias has run away to the back of the arena. He runs further through the backstage area and eventually into the carpark area. As he struggles to start his getaway car he turns around to find Braun has lifted his car from the ground to stop it starting. Elias scampers out the car as Braun RUNS (which is really something to behold) after him! They make their way back out into the arena where on the rampway Braun proceeds to chase him back to the ring. He then drags him tout of the ring and towards the announce table, something which Elias escapes from his potential doom again with a rake of the eyes (just like last week).
Braun then proceeds to unleash a series of attacks to Elias utilising the nearby instruments; he throws him into the set of guitars, he once again smashes him over the back with a giant base, and to finish of with Braun traps Elias underneath a Piano. He then plays it aggressively before lifting it up and smashing it back down on the prone Elias. Braun then did his roar to the crowd before taking mercy on his opponent and getting the pin. This one was fun enough and certainly did its job. Given the nature of it mind and that Elias was carried out on a stretcher it appears this is just a feud for TV, which begs the question what now for Braun Strowman
(and Elias also) going into Wrestlemania???
Next up was Rhyno with Heath Slater vs Bray Wyatt. I don’t like to talk too much about my former favourite WWE superstar these days because it just makes me sad. This
one was a win for Bray in around a minute. Bray then did a promo after where he called out Matt Hardy. He was answered by the WOKEN one on the big screen who told him the only place that could contain their next encounter would be the HARDY COMPOUND!!! There was then some signature footage very reminiscent of the footage used in TNA. The suggestion of a ‘ULTIMATE DELETION’ was surely an indication we will indeed get a pre filmed match-thing at Wrestlemania. This got a big roar from the crowd, and unsurprisingly so for me. As this is what Matt did well in TNA so something similar in WWE would be… well… WONDERFUL YEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!
The Miz and the Miztourage presented the ‘Mizzies’ next. He gave out awards such as ‘Best at patting yourself on the back’ and ‘Worst decision by a Raw GM’ to put
down Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Kurt Angle. He was eventually interrupted by Seth and Finn before a 3 on 2 handicap was made.Balor and Rollins vs Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Balor and Seth won. Angle came out and made a triple threat for the IC Title at Mania. I like all these guys but this whole bit of the show kind of sucked. Nothing to it at all. We all knew where it was heading and the content was dire. Shame really.
Final part of the show was Paul Heyman heading to the ring WITH the Universal Championship belt. He did his usual introduction before saying he was here to deliver a message on behalf of his client (Brock Lesnar); he layed down the Universal Championship belt and made a reference to that in the future the UFC Championship may also be layed down by the Beast. He said Roman Reigns had a lot to say last week and he was responding (and boy was he ever). He reminded everyone that Roman had the biggest win of his career last year when he defeated The Undertaker in the main event of Wrestlemania last year. He asked if anyone had mentioned that Undertaker only wrestled 1 time last year? “No, because if they did that statement would be BULLSHIT”! ‘THE UNDERTAKER IS THE UNDERTAKER 365 DAYS A YEAR, BROCK LESNAR IS BROCK LESNAR 365 DAYS A YEAR”! He went on to say “AFA Wrestlemania you can SEEKA new title to challenge for as this (raising the Universal Championship belt) one belongs to Brock Lesnar”. If you don’t get the relevance of AFA and SEEKA just google who Roman Reigns Dad and Uncle are.
Heyman would continue: ‘You know last week when you called Brock Lesnar a bitch, this (the Universal Title) is Brock Lesnar’s bitch. and Roman Reigns you can’t have her,
… You want to be Universal Champion because your family’s bloodline is in this business… when you’re Universal Champion THIS is your bloodline, … You want to be
Universal Champion? On the Saturday before Wrestlemania if you get a phone call saying something has happened to your father, really really bad and you need to come home, you can’t. Why? Because this title needs you more… Next week my client will be here… but don’t shoot on the mic with Paul Heyman, and don’t shoot in the ring with Brock Lesnar’. I’ve condensed what was said a fair bit there but it was all really good stuff from Heyman as per, really passionate in defence of his client.
As Heyman goes to leave Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring. The challenger questions why Lesnar has sent Heyman, before saying that Brock “really is a bitch”, and that all he and the fans ask is that he shows up and the fans have their champion come to work, we want him to want to be here; “I’ll put it real simple for you, you said Brock is in Detroit next week for Raw, tell Brock he can say whatever he wants to my face, but tell him not to dress for a promo but to dress for a fight”! Paul Heyman then leaves the ring as Roman has laid his challenge…. WOWSERS that was intense. It is going to be a real spectical next week when Lesnar and Reigns actually go face to face. Literally ANYTHING could happen! Cannot wait!
And that was Raw. Decent show, all parts of the show built towards a Wrestlemania story and some of the stories really got a good progression tonight.
Key Points to Take Home:
– Kurt Angle can move again, and Ronda can go in the ring too! HHH and Stephanie seem well into this feud as well (Mrs HHH took a BUMP fgs)! The Mania match will be fine.
– Bayley is on her way back
– Nia is on her way to being the top female babyface in the company
– Braun NEEDS something at Mania. He deserves something HUGE
– I’m legitimately worried Lesnar may kill Roman next week
Wrestlemania is 4 weeks from Sunday and this was a great build up to the show of shows. Everyone on this show had a purpose or a story going into Mania (with Goldust and Slater & Rhyno used as cannon fodder to further other stories) but this Raw was a really good example of lots of different stories being told in one show without
it all feeling a bit convoluted and glued together. I’m really excited to see how all the stories on Raw are told as we head on to Mania. The real A show in WWE is excelling creatively at the minute, I just hope the momentum continues over the next few weeks and we get some great finales to these fascinating tales. Please do it