The final stop on the Road to WrestleMania has been completed and it’s full steam ahead. Fastlane was a mixed bag of a show (read the full review here). The Shield had their final match ahead of Dean Ambrose’s departure, and tonight they give their farewell address. There’s likely to be fallout from the Women’s tag title match after Nia Jax and Tamina’s post-match actions. And we’ll undoubtedly hear more about the Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey saga. Batista is due to visit Triple H. Oh, and there’s an Intercontinental Championship match, Finn Balor versus Bobby Lashley.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Seth Rollins def. Shelton Benjamin
Bobby Lashley def. Finn Balor – TITLE CHANGE
Aleister Black & Ricochet def. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable
Nia Jax def. Natalya
Kurt Angle def. Apollo Crews
Drew McIntyre def. Dean Ambrose
The Key Bits
» The Shield’s farewell address opened the show. They spent a while drinking in the crowd response before Roman Reigns grabbed a mic. He said over the past few months he’s come to realise that life is short, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. So, if last night was the last time ever, he has no regrets. He has no regrets because he was in the ring doing something he loves with people he loves. Last week, he asked Rollins and Ambrose for a favour and they didn’t let him down. They never have.
But we are on the Road to WrestleMania and, if there are three men who need to handle their business, it’s them. He hasn’t had a one on one single’s match on RAW in over five months, so he’s going to have one tonight. Ambrose has some business to handle too. Reigns doesn’t know what it is, but he doesn’t think Ambrose does either and that’s why they love him. He wished him luck.
But the man who has the real business is Rollins. ‘Slay The Beast’ chants rumbled through the audience and Reigns said that’s exactly what Rollins is going to do. He’s the main event of WrestleMania, he’s going to beat Brock Lesnar and take the Universal Championship. He got a ‘Burn It Down’ chant going by saying that’s what the world will chant while Rollins does it.
Reigns and Ambrose hugged Rollins. They put their fists in one last time while ‘Sierra Hotel Indigo Echo Lima Delta’ signalled the end of the segment, then they left him in the ring.
As soon as they were gone, Rollins got to business. He said, last night The Shield burned it down… and that was as far as he got before Paul Heyman butted in.
Rollins imitated the way Heyman says Brock Lesnar, then asked if that was the Brock Lesnar who dominated Big Show, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, Goldberg. Heyman said yes, so Rollins asked if it was also the Brock Lesnar who had a tough time getting by Daniel Bryan, got pushed to his limit by AJ Styles, and nearly got beaten by Finn Balor.
Heyman said, ‘touché’, and Rollins pointed out Lesnar seems to have a problem with guys his size and style, and while those other guys are incredible, there is only one man who is uniquely suited to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania, and that’s Seth Freakin’ Rollins. Heyman can run his mouth but they’ve got three weeks until he takes that title.
For possibly the first time, Paul Heyman started making excuses. He explained away all the near beatings Rollins mentioned by reminding him they were last-minute opponent changes. Rollins is running his mouth like he knows Brock Lesnar, so Heyman wanted to introduce him to Brock Lesnar. He showed a compilation of Lesnar wrecking people, then told Rollins that Lesnar had been having sadistic, twisted, fantasises about what he’s going to do to him since Royal Rumble. While Heyman was talking, Shelton Benjamin attacked Rollins from behind with a trio of German suplexes.
Seth Rollins vs Shelton Benjamin was the first match of the night. Benjamin was involved in Lesnar’s training, according to Heyman, who joined commentary for it. And last time I checked, Benjamin was a SmackDown Live superstar. Heyman eventually confessed to paying Benjamin for the attack.
Rollins was badly outpowered, much as he will be at WrestleMania. He didn’t let it stop him, much as he won’t at WrestleMania. There was a close call when a potential suicide dive was thwarted by a kick in the face, but even that only got Benjamin a two-count. Rollins is nigh on unstoppable at the moment, he took whatever Shelton Benjamin had to give and kept firing back.
Benjamin got Rollins up on his shoulders, but Seth Rollins struggled out of the hold and hit a couple of superkicks and the Stomp to pick up the win.
During the match, Heyman announced that Brock Lesnar will be on next week’s show.
Baron Corbin was forced to admit he’d said he hoped Roman Reigns would never come back to RAW, after being shown the footage. He said he’s not going to worry about he’d wanted Reigns gone, but he’s back, so great. But overcoming that disease must have taken its toll, he can’t be one hundred percent. Tonight, his friends won’t be able to save him, and he’ll be exposed. Corbin picked up the ball Reigns dropped and has been carrying RAW ever since, so he’s going to housetrain the Big Dog.
Drew McIntyre attacked Roman Reigns before Baron Corbin was even announced. It was supposed to be Reigns’ single’s return, but McIntyre gave him a couple of Claymore kicks at ringside, the second of which sent Reigns’ head into the ringpost. Medics tried to tend to Reigns at ringside, but he resisted. Seth Rollins came down to check on him but Roman was spaced out and complaining of a headache. He left the arena leaning on Rollins.
Backstage, Ambrose had joined them. He left Rollins to make sure Reigns got seen, then walked straight up to Triple H and demanded a match. Drew McIntyre, no disqualification, no count-out, falls count anywhere. Triple H agreed.
Ambrose stormed to the ring and waited. McIntyre appeared with a mic and asked if Ambrose was going to take his beating like a man of squeal like Roman did. Ambrose was already halfway up the ramp to meet him and Dean Ambrose vs Drew McIntyre started on the stage.
It didn’t stay there. They went off the stage, through the crowd, and up the stairs to the press box where McIntyre tried to throw him off the balcony. They destroyed the concessions area during an ad break, then made their way back to ringside. McIntyre hit Ambrose in the face with the steps, which got him a two-count, then did it again with the same result.
Back amongst the crowd, in the tech area, Ambrose levelled things a bit, and levelled McIntyre, with a low blow, they bounced each other off the furniture and Ambrose sent McIntyre for a ride on a packing case.
Ambrose tried to end it with an inside cradle on the stage and suplexed McIntyre onto the announce desk while McIntyre was clearing it. McIntyre put him down with a low blow and shoved a pencil in his eye before darting him into the backboard, twice. Still, Ambrose wouldn’t stay down.
Dean Ambrose could hardly stand but he still slapped McIntyre’s face for trash-talking. That may have been a mistake because McIntyre shoved Ambrose’s head and arm through a railing and Claymored him so hard the railing came off. That was enough for the win.
While McIntyre was celebrating, Ambrose crawled back onto the stage. He took another Claymore as the final act of the show.
» Finn Balor vs Bobby Lashley – Intercontinental Championship match – Finn Balor’s entrance overlapped Rollins leaving. They crossed on the ramp and had a friendly handshake. Bobby Lashley appeared on the big screen during Balor’s entrance, which seemed like overkill considering he only had an ad break to wait. When he came out, he was alone. Michael Cole mentioned that Rush hasn’t been seen since Strowman ran him through a barricade last week.
Lashley was determined to take his bad mood out on Balor. The early part of the match was largely him asserting his power advantage. Balor started to fight back, but a miscalculation on the apron meant his kick connected with Lashley’s face but the follow-through carried him into the ringpost, and Lashley was back in control after a break.
Lashley dominated but couldn’t keep Balor down. Balor managed to subdue Lashley enough to go for the Coup de Grace, but before he could land it the bell started ringing. It was Lio Rush with the Intercontinental Championship in hand. Balor got out of the ring to chase him and Rush got onto the apron. Finn Balor fended off Lashley’s first move after Rush’s distraction. But he paused to kick Rush in the head and Lashley speared him as he came off the top rope. Lashley got the pin and we have a new Champion.
» Ronda Rousey addressed her actions at Fastlane, kind of. She berated the crowd and her WrestleMania opponents. She got Charlotte disqualified to make sure she can embarrass and humiliate both of them on the Grandest Stage of Them All and expose WWE for the ‘carny con-artists’ they’ve always been. She’s walking through Becky and Charlotte and walking out still champion. WWE have her permission to turn it into a handicap match and she’d still be embarrassed if she broke a sweat. Everyone is a joke, if you like wrestling you’re a joke, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch are jokes.
Dana Brooke came out because being murdered by Rousey on TV is better than everyone being allowed to forget she works there. She took exception to the way Rousey talked about WWE. She loves the business and has worked her tail off to be there and to prove she belongs. Each week, she fights for a chance and doesn’t get it. So, she might not be on TV and she’s not a household name like Rousey but all she wants is a chance. It’s the night after a PPV and Rousey usually issues an open challenge. She’s accepting it.
It was probably the longest speech Brooke has ever had on WWE, and it was about three times longer than the beatdown Rousey gave her. Four officials stepped in to stop Rousey breaking Brooke’s arm. Rousey decided against the armbar and slapped one of them before she left.
» Triple H and Batista had their face to face, sort of. Batista came as far as the stage surrounded by security. After a long silence, Triple H asked about them and Batista said they were there for his protection because he’s not stupid and asked where the sledgehammer was. They’re going to do this his way. Triple H knows why he’s there and he’s going to give him what he wants.
Triple H said he’s not going to give him a damned thing. How many times has Batista quit? Why is he entitled? Since Batista is too big of a coward to walk down and face him like a man, they’ll do it Triple H’s way, he’ll get out of the ring, tear through ‘the guardians of the independent scene’, and beat his ass on the stage.
There was a lot of ‘doing it my way’ and ‘give me what I want’, which all sounded vaguely weird. Eventually, they got to the point. They’re having a match at WrestleMania, that’s what Batista wanted the whole time. One last match to end his career on his terms. And one last match to end Triple H’s career on his terms.
Triple H told him to dig deep and find whatever is left of The Animal because the WrestleMania match will be No Holds Barred.
» Kurt Angle finally got to talk about his career. He told the story of his path from the Olympics through WWE. He’s always considered Pittsburgh his hometown so he wanted to save his announcement for there. At WrestleMania, he will compete in his farewell match.
He thanked the WWE, the locker room, and the fans. The crowd started a ‘Thank You Kurt’ chant. Angle thanked them and said he thought it was only right to have one more match in his hometown, then it’s on to WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle vs Apollo Crews was a wholesome affair, Crews was thrilled to be Angle’s opponent and it showed. It wasn’t a long match, but it did its job. Angle got all his signature stuff in, Crews got to show some of what he’s got. Kurt Angle finished it with an Angle Slam.
The Other Bits
»Aleister Black & Ricochet vs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable was great. All the focus from commentary was on the RAW locker room being unhappy with the number of opportunities Ricochet and Black are getting. Thing is, they keep winning. They’re still an odd team with a very temporary feel, but it’s working for them. They secured another win here via some lovely teamwork and a Black Mass.
The Revival attacked Black and Ricochet on their way out.
» Alexa Bliss hosted a Moment of Bliss segment to announce the host of this year’s WrestleMania. It’s her.
» Colin Jost sent Braun Strowman a car to say sorry for asking if wrestling was real. Strowman had held him against a wall by his neck for an entire ad break. Strowman destroyed the car with his bare hands. He sent part of it back with the messenger, along with the message that Jost and Michael Che will ‘Get These Hands’ in New York.
» No Way Jose interrupted Elias this week. Jose has very Naomi-esque hair now. Elias beat up No Way Jose and a couple of the conga line as well.
» Harlem Heat are the latest inductees into WWE’s Hall of Fame 2019.
» Lacey Evans’ catwalk thing involved a stop at the commentary desk. She met Tamina and Nia Jax on the stage, but they just looked at each other before Jax dismissed her with a wave.
» Nia Jax vs Natalya barely got started. Natalya gave a pre-match speech from the stage, saying she doesn’t trust Jax and Tamina, so her best friend Beth Phoenix accompanied her to the ring. Jax landed no more than a couple of blows on Natalya, one of those while Tamina held her leg before Phoenix invaded the ring and started beating on Nia Jax. Tamina came in and Phoenix dealt with her too. Beth Phoenix is looking less retired by the day.
Jax and Tamina left. Seconds later the cameras cut to them brawling with Bayley and Sasha Banks backstage. They were eventually separated by officials.
A busy episode of RAW, and we can expect more of the same as WrestleMania draws closer. With less than a month to go, there is still quite a lot of the card to be settled. It’s going to be a fun ride.