Happy WrestleMania week, and welcome to the RAW go home show. Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor is the only pre-announced match. There are a lot of storylines to wrap up and a whole bunch of matches to put the final hype in for. In other words, it’s a standard go home show. The big questions of the night are, who is Braun Strowman’s partner, and will the Undertaker show up to answer John Cena’s challenge?
I’m Amanda, and I’m your guide through Monday Night RAW.
The Opening Segment
Jonathan Coachman hosted the Q&A with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey. They were supposed to answer questions sent in by the WWE universe, but Triple H had other ideas.
He said it was a shame, the people chanting Ronda Rousey (cue crowd trying to get a chant together and Stephanie McMahon making a snarky comment) really want to like her but will become deafeningly silent after Sunday, because of Kurt Angle. He talked about Angle’s Intensity, Integrity, Intelligence and said he’s never equated the last one with Angle. He just wanted to know why he had to spoil Rousey’s debut.
Rousey said she wants to know why they signed her with ulterior motives.
They signed her because she’s a huge star, best for business, etc. Rousey’s a star but that means nothing in a WWE ring where they make the rules. It’s her dream but their lives.
Stephanie McMahon answered a question about the importance of winning – It’s all about showing the locker room who’s in charge.
Angle was asked how excited he is about teaming with Rousey – Very.
Stephanie McMahon said Rousey needs to think about the fact her first match result will be a loss, to her, and the whole world knows how she handles losses.
Rousey replied by asking McMahon if she was right or left handed because she still wants her to be able to sign her cheques after she rips her arm off. Kurt Angle was amused by that.
The four of them were asked to step in front of the table for pictures. Triple H and Kurt Angle managed to shake hands for the photo, but Rousey and McMahon squared up and Stephanie McMahon started talking trash. It got tense when McMahon tried to step to one side and Rousey followed her. Triple H broke the tension by smacking Kurt Angle in the back of the head with a microphone.
Rousey grabbed Triple H by the throat, and Stephanie McMahon put her through a table.
The Other Stuff
– Sonya Deville vs Bayley – Very good match. Bayley won. Sasha Banks ran down to rescue Bayley from the post-match Absolution beatdown. When she insisted Bayley raise her hand they argued, and Bayley hit her. While they were brawling Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville came back in and took them both out.
– Long hype video for Asuka. She is undefeated for 908 days and 265 matches against 35 women. That’s impressive.
– Congratulations to The Miz and Maryse on the birth of their daughter, Monroe Sky Mizanin.
– Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins – The Miz joined commentary for the match. Most of the match was spent taking to Miz about the new arrival and how it affects his motivation for Sunday. Balor versus Rollins will never be less than superb, but we’ve seen it a lot recently, so it was less of an issue to have the match largely ignored. They even managed to show a hype package for Styles vs Nakamura in split screen. I guess they had to give the live crowd something good to watch, and this was it. It was long as well – 22 minutes. They didn’t hold back for a second of it. After the second ad break, commentary started paying attention and Balor and Rollins stepped up another gear. In the last five minutes, they ran through all their go-to moves. In the end, Seth Rollins won with the Stomp. Brilliant match. The triple threat on Sunday will be amazing.
– The Andre The Giant Battle Royal and Women’s Battle Royal will both be on the kickoff show, as will the Cruiserweight Championship match between Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander.
– Backstage segment with Paul Heyman and Kurt Angle. Angle asked Heyman not to say anything that will make Reigns injure Lesnar. Heyman stopped laughing just long enough to tell Angle he would ‘take it under consideration’.
– Sheamus and Cesaro appeared to tell Braun Strowman they didn’t care who his tag team partner was, because whoever he teams with they won’t have the tag team mentality, so they’ll never win the tag titles. Strowman came out as far as the stage and said he doesn’t play well with others, but management said he had to have a partner, so he’s got one. Sheamus and Cesaro said they wanted to see this partner, Strowman said he’d only come out if he could have a match with one of them. They grudgingly agreed. Strowman went backstage and came back in a white shirt, introduced himself as ‘Brains Strowman’, and entered the ring. The Bar pounced on him, he fought them off and they ran from the ring. We still don’t know who Strowman’s partner will be.
– Goldust vs Matt Hardy – Both of them cut promos for the Andre Battle Royal before the match. It was a short and decent, if uneventful, match. Matt Hardy won, then had a chat to the Battle Royal trophy.
– Bitchfest with Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. They said nothing interesting or enlightening, just ‘fat girl crying’ jokes with the big letters flashing across the screen in case you didn’t get the point.
– John Cena came out to say he was wrong, because they’re out of time and there’s still no answer. The silence means no, there’s no Undertaker. Cena is going to WrestleMania as a fan. He said that Michael Cole suggested he joins one of the other matches, but that’s not going to happen because he’s lost his last five PPV matches and he’d be taking a spot from a hard-working full-time superstar who earned it. He wanted Undertaker because it was a last chance dream match that wouldn’t affect anyone. There’s a lot going on in his life, and he thought this WrestleMania was time for a change (retirement hint?). He’s proud to be going as a fan. He mentioned several things he’s looking forward to, including Daniel Bryan and all the women’s matches. But he wanted to apologise for Undertaker. He had one last try, getting the crowd making a ton of noise to summon The Undertaker, but it didn’t work. Cena said he’s disappointed in him ignoring the fans. Taker left his hat in the ring, and his balls at home. The crowd chanted for Cena and he left the ring, shaking his head as he walked up the ramp.
– Backstage segment with Roman Reigns and Kurt Angle. Angle said there was already one WrestleMania match that wasn’t happening, please don’t make it another. He’d spoken to Paul Heyman and he’d agreed not to say anything inflammatory, so could Reigns not make trouble. Reigns said he’d hear Heyman out, but if he didn’t like what he had to say he was going down there.
– Elias vs Heath Slater – Elias provided the musical interlude wearing what appeared to be a tablecloth. Or rather, he tried but Heath Slater appeared for their short match. Elias won.
– Curt Hawkins asked Braun Strowman if he could be his partner for the tag title match, because it could be his big break. Strowman threw him through a wall and told him that was his big break.
– Taped interview with Renee Young and Nia Jax. Jax said Bliss and James’ comment took her back to growing up and feeling insecure, but she’s learned you have to be true to who you are. Young said a lot of the women in the locker room respect and admire Jax for her accomplishments. Jax said thank you but she’s disappointed in herself for trusting Bliss, and the comments took a toll on her confidence. Bliss now represents all the people who told her she couldn’t, or shouldn’t, do this. Turning to the camera she addressed Bliss directly and said she’s nothing but a pathetic little girl, and at WrestleMania she’s going to squash her like a bug.
– Alexa Bliss and Mickie James vs Dana Brooke and Asuka – Dana Brooke competing on RAW is a rare thing. She started well enough, then took a bunch of punishment from Bliss and James while Asuka got increasingly agitated about the possibility of Brooke ending the streak for her. Of course, that didn’t happen. Brooke eventually made it to Asuka for her to come in and clean up. Mickie James tapped to the Asuka Lock. Bliss and James beat up Asuka and Dana Brooke until Nia Jax ran down. They stood their ground until she got to the ring, then split up. Jax got Bliss by the hair, James jumped on her back to make her let go, Jax destroyed James while Bliss escaped.
The Closing Segment
Kurt Angle intercepted Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to remind them what they agreed earlier. When they got the ring the tag division stood on the ramp to intercept Roman Reigns if he decided to come and have a go at Lesnar.
Paul Heyman talks a lot. It’s very good and generally cleverly done, but there’s a lot of it. Amongst a lot of other stuff, he talked about people thinking it’s Roman Reigns’ destiny to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania. You have to respect Reigns, but Brock Lesnar is going to F5 him and pin him anyway. That’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler.
Heyman also said that if Roman Reigns wins on Sunday, by some act of god, this would be the last time he and Lesnar would stand in the ring together because Brock Lesnar is going off to UFC. And as it’s possibly his last chance, he wants to let everyone know the hype around Lesnar is real. Roman Reigns is just Brock Lesnar’s bitch.
Reigns tried to come out as Heyman and Lesnar were leaving, but the wall of superstars was in his way. Reigns asked why full-time talent was protecting that part-time ba***rd, and the wall parted. He walked to the ring and stood there while Lesnar told him to think about it, and the crowd chanted let’s go Roman (louder than the boos). Reigns got in the ring, and he and Lesnar walked around each other, Lesnar left the ring then grabbed a chair and got back in.
Reigns delivered four superman punches to put Lesnar down. He got a fifth when he got back up holding the chair. Roman Reigns held the Universal Championship belt high over the fallen champion and stared at the sign.
Just to prove you should never take your eyes off Brock Lesnar, Reigns took an F5 and was still laid out on the canvas when Lesnar walked away.
We entered tonight’s show with two big questions and left with them unanswered. Maybe The Undertaker will show up on SmackDown, we’ll see. The identity of Braun Strowman’s partner will probably leak during the week, but we probably won’t find out officially until the night. I’m still hoping for Samoa Joe, personally. This year’s WrestleMania will almost certainly be the longest ever, but it may also be one of the best. Enjoy it, and I’ll see you next week to recap the RAW after WrestleMania.