Welcome to another Monday Night RAW recap. Not a single pre-announced match in the preview for tonight’s RAW. We’re told to expect more from Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon, Elias and Braun Strowman, and Bayley and Sasha Banks. More detail on Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy’s ‘Ultimate Deletion’ will be a nice distraction. And, with Asuka having chosen Charlotte Flair for WrestleMania, Alexa Bliss is in need of an opponent.
I’m Amanda and I’ll be your guide for this edition of RAW’s road to WrestleMania.
The Opening Segment
Kurt Angle opened the show. He talked about his upcoming WrestleMania match, then announced Brock Lesnar wasn’t there tonight, reading out the list of tired excuses saying it was one of them, or Lesnar just didn’t want to show up.
Roman Reigns joined Angle in the ring looking irate. He said he wished he was surprised but this is everything he said two weeks ago. Lesnar doesn’t respect anyone. He asked Angle, as Lesnar didn’t show up for work today, what kind of repercussions would there be. If anyone else did that they would be fined or fired. But Lesnar is Vince McMahon’s boy so nothing would happen. He’d seen Vince McMahon and he hadn’t even had the respect to tell him, he’d had to hear it live on air. It’s one thing to be disrespected by Lesnar, but he won’t be disrespected by the guy he busts his ass for week in and week out.
Reigns strode backstage to where Vince McMahon was doing his thing, with Shane by his side, and got in his face a bit. Vince McMahon said they’d go to his office and talk then sent us for commercials.
By the time we came back, Renee Young was outside Vince McMahon’s office, reporting that things got loud but seemed to have settled down. She was hoping to talk to Reigns, but he came out of the office and stormed off.
Vince McMahon emerged and said, Brock Lesnar is not his boy, Heyman’s boy, or anyone else’s boy. He’s his own man. No disrespect was intended towards Roman Reigns, but McMahon had to remind them, as The Rock used to say, ‘know your role, and shut your mouth’. Brock Lesnar doesn’t like people but does respect competition. He has certain privileges, which he’s earned, but sometimes he takes advantage. Next week, Brock Lesnar will be there. We have his word on it. Finally, as a result of his actions, Roman Reigns has been temporarily suspended.
The Other Stuff
– Sonya Deville vs Sasha Banks – Bayley was with Sasha Banks as backup, but she didn’t look happy. The match itself was fine, but everyone was waiting to see what would happen with Bayley. In the end she did save the day, she pulled Mandy Rose off the apron when she tried to cause a distraction. That distracted Deville enough for Banks to get her in the Bank Statement and Deville tapped out. Bayley walked away as soon as the bell went and was gone by the time the Absolution beatdown occurred. She didn’t come back to save Banks.
– Kid Rock will be the WWE Hall of Fame Celebrity Wing inductee this year.
– Miz TV, with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor – The Miztourage weren’t there, they’ve got a tag match later. Miz tried to tell Rollins that Balor had taken away his one on one opportunity. He called Balor a good up-and-comer, great in bingo halls. Rollins called him out on his tactics. Miz then conceded Balor had beaten Rollins for the Universal Championship and tried the same trick on Balor, who called him out for it just like Rollins had. Rollins said Miz didn’t need to try to fire them up, they were already fired up. At WrestleMania, he is going to beat Miz, and Balor doesn’t stand a chance. Balor asked what happened the last time they had a championship match. It looked like they were going to fight, but instead, they both looked at Miz and bounced him back and forth until Balor threw him out of the ring. While Balor was posturing, Rollins punched him in the face. Rollins versus Balor again later.
– The Bar vs The Miztourage – The Miztourage attacked during The Bar’s entrance. They brawled for a while, the bell never rang, then The Revival ran down to join in. Anderson and Gallows came down next, closely followed by Titus Worldwide, and Heath Slater and Rhyno. They weren’t fighting each other, just beating up The Bar. Sheamus and Cesaro eventually escaped.
– John Cena said he’s exhausted all his chances and he won’t be contributing to WrestleMania this year. He isn’t quitting or walking away. He will be at WrestleMania, but as a fan. He got fired up, jumped into the crowd, got a ‘this is awesome’ chant going, and failed with a ‘let’s go Roman’ chant. Back in the ring, he got the crowd doing ‘let’s go Cena, Cena sucks’. Then he said the only way he might be able to participate is if he did the thing he wasn’t supposed to, but what’s the worst that can happen.
He issued a challenge to The Undertaker. He’d been told it was impossible, but the only person keeping it from happening is The Undertaker. Addressing him directly Cena told him to get over his own ego, stop running from his failures and stop hiding behind his lame excuses. He’s not too old, he’s not washed up, and he’s not broken down. If he was broken down, he wouldn’t be posting workout videos on his wife’s Instagram. He called him a self-centred conceited egomaniac, but if it takes feeding his ego to make it happen he’d try. Cena asked the crowd if they wanted to see Undertaker kick his ass at WrestleMania – they did, but they could have been louder. The ball is in Undertaker’s court, but in his shoes, he’d want one more match.
– The Bar told Kurt Angle what happened was completely uncalled for, they wanted competition not to be physically assaulted. They don’t feel safe on RAW. They’ve heard of a superstar shake-up straight after WrestleMania, but they want to be traded straight away. Angle said he won’t trade them and they’d find out who their WrestleMania opponents would be in a tag team battle royal later.
– After a lengthy recap of last week’s Symphony of Destruction match, Elias appeared with a neck brace on. He looked sadly at the camera and told the crowd this was their fault then left the ring without playing his song. The cameras cut to Strowman who talked about dropping a piano on Elias last week. He wants to know why he doesn’t have a WrestleMania match, and he’s going to carve a path of destruction until he gets one.
– Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor – It was great, it’s always great, they have incredible in-ring chemistry. It just feels like we’ve seen them fighting a lot recently. On this occasion, Rollins got the superplex, but as he rolled through for the falcon arrow, Balor hooked his leg and pinned him.
– There was a tribute to Fabulous Moolah leading to the announcement of the first Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. Superstars from all brands are eligible to compete – several NXT stars were shown in the promo package.
– A massive recap of the altercations Ronda Rousey, Kurt Angle, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H led to… absolutely no new information at all.
– Asuka’s in-ring interview to talk about her challenging Charlotte Flair was hijacked by Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. Bliss said she’d explain because Asuka’s English isn’t good. Then Bliss and James did a sarcastic Q&A that boiled down to Asuka only picked Flair because she can’t beat Bliss. Asuka replied she chose Charlotte because to be the women you have to beat the woman and she’s wants to face the best champion in WWE. She’s beaten Bliss once, she can beat her again, now if she wants. Bliss said no, she gets to face someone with unfinished business so she gets…this woman. It was clearly supposed to be Nia Jax, but Jax didn’t appear, so Mickie James cheap-shotted Asuka instead.
– Asuka vs Mickie James – Mickie James return to WWE started with an NXT TakeOver match against Asuka. Mickie James came close a couple of times, as she did at TakeOver, but there’s no way Asuka’s being defeated before WrestleMania. When Mickie James tapped out to the Asuka Lock Alexa Bliss stormed off in disgust.
– Backstage Alexa Bliss confronted Nia Jax who said Kurt Angle told her not to come out because she has a match next. Bliss did more of the toxic friendship stuff then asked Jax to be in her corner next week when she faces Asuka. Jax agreed.
– Nia Jax vs Joan King (jobber) – Squash match. Afterwards, the cameras cut to Alexa Bliss and Mickie James being mean girls. It was brutal and ugly. They called her names and said vile things. Bliss admitted to using her. They were apparently scheduled for an interview with Charly Caruso, who eventually appeared and told them the mic had been on the whole time and everyone had heard everything. Bliss and James legged it before Jax got there and started screaming and tearing the room apart.
– Ultimate Deletion preview – the match is next week. Looks like the whole Hardy clan will be there. Bray Wyatt’s answering promo said it would be awful if something happened to Hardy’s lovely family. He’s coming for him. Kurt Angle was shown shaking his head and wondering what happened to Matt Hardy before asking a ref to officiate it. The ref agreed when Angle said it wasn’t a punishment, he just wants someone to make sure they both came back in one piece.
The Final Segment – Tag Team Battle Royal
Sheamus and Cesaro joined commentary for the match. Titus Worldwide, The Revival, The Miztourage, Gallows and Anderson, and Heath Slater and Rhyno were the official entrants but, before they could start, Braun Strowman entered the ring and intimidated the ref into starting the match.
Strowman eliminated Apollo and Heath Slater, then turned to find the rest of the tag team division ready to pile on him. They did, but The Revival picked off Rhyno and dumped him out. Strowman stayed in.
Everyone cleared the ring, leaving Strowman by himself. Titus O’Neil got back in, saw he was alone, and got out again.
By the time we came back, everyone was on him again. That didn’t work either, but Luke Gallows kicked him through the ropes. The Revival and The Miztourage worked together and kept hitting him with the steps until they knocked him into the timekeeper’s area.
The match went on while commentary argued over whether Strowman was still in the match as he hadn’t been an official participant.
The Revival was eliminated, then Strowman reappeared and eliminated Titus O’Neil, Luke Gallows, The Miztourage, and finally Karl Anderson – while screaming ‘I’m going to WrestleMania’.
Braun Strowman won the tag team battle royal.
Not a bad episode of RAW. We’ve learned that the superstar shake-up will be happening, and we’ve got an Andre Battle Royal equivalent for the women’s division which will be a lot of fun. Next week we have the Ultimate Deletion. That’s going to be an experience.