Welcome to Royal Rumble Weekend go-home show week. WWE aren’t telling us much about the show beyond what was announced last week. Andrade and Rey Mysterio have a Ladder match for the US Championship. Lana and Bobby Lashley face Liv Morgan and Rusev in a mixed tag match. Randy Orton takes on Drew McIntyre. And Brock Lesnar will be there. A last-minute addition to the card was Becky Lynch versus Kairi Sane in Sane’s first match back since TLC.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Andrade def. Rey Mysterio
Aleister Black def. Local Competitor
Drew McIntyre def. Randy Orton (DQ)
Becky Lynch def. Kairi Sane
Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy def. The Viking Raiders (TITLE CHANGE)
Erick Rowan def. Matt Hardy
Bobby Lashley & Lana def. Rusev & Liv Morgan
♦ Seth Rollins opened the show with Buddy Murphy and AOP. Rollins wanted the WWE Universe to know that every single person has played a small part in creating the ‘Monday Night Messiah’. He thanked the crowd for the faith they put in him to lead the brand into the future, amid a chorus of boos. But there was someone he wanted to give specific thanks to – Buddy Murphy. He talked about Murphy putting himself on the right side of history by helping them last week, then showed the footage of Murphy saving the day with a low blow to Big Show. After the footage, he officially announced Buddy Murphy as the newest disciple of the ‘Monday Night Messiah’.
We have reached a crucial time. It’s time to pick sides. With Rollins and company, or against them.
Kevin Owens arrived before Rollins had finished talking. Samoa Joe followed him out, but they only came to the stage. Owens and Joe wanted to make it clear that Rollins might have got rid of Big Show, temporarily, but he hadn’t got rid of them and they wanted to fight.
Rollins said ok, but not yet, at a properly sanctioned time and place. Samoa Joe called him an asshat. Rollins offered them a four on two if they were that silly, but it turns out Owens and Samoa Joe weren’t alone, they had The Viking Raiders waiting in the wings.
Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, and The Viking Raiders strode down the ramp and cleared the ring within seconds.
Backstage, after a break, a clearly still cross Seth Rollins said that he and Buddy Murphy were challenging The Viking Raiders for the RAW Tag Team Championships tonight.
♦ Andrade (C) vs Rey Mysterio – US Championship Ladder Match – was the first match of the show. Rey Mysterio kicked a ladder into Andrade’s face within the first thirty seconds of the match and threw him from the turnbuckle to land neck first on one a minute or so later. For the first part of the match, Andrade took all of the big moves and Zelina Vega looked horrified. But he started to gain some ground going into the second ad break and smashed Mysterio’s spine into a ladder suspended between the ropes and a central ladder.
By the time we came back, there were ladders set up between two corners and the middle ladder. Rey Mysterio sent Andrade flying out of the ring and started to climb. Andrade caught up, put Mysterio on his back by dragging him over the top of the ladder, and they both came crashing down into one of the balanced ones. Mysterio delivered a 619 and climbed again. Andrade took the ladder away while Mysterio was holding onto the hanger the title was on and left him dangling over the ring until he could pull him down. Again, Rey Mysterio tossed Andrade from the ring. This time Zelina Vega climbed the ladder and sat on top of it, then slapped Mysterio when he got close. She stayed there until Andrade caught up and DDT’d Mysterio, and himself, through the other ladder. With Mysterio unmoving on the canvas, Andrade claimed the ladder and retrieved his title.
After the match, Zelina Vega pulled back the protective ringside matting to expose the concrete but Andrade was prevented from driving Mysterio’s head into it by a masked figure who revealed himself to be Humberto Carrillo. Carrillo pounded on Andrade until Andrade escaped up the ramp.
♦ The video package put together as a tribute to the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr was, as usual, superb.
♦ Aleister Black vs Local Competitor wasn’t a match, it was a single Black Mass.
♦ Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, mainly Paul Heyman, said the WWE Universe takes what Brock Lesnar does for granted. Heyman gives the spoilers and no one is surprised when Lesnar does the thing because he’s Brock Lesnar. Heyman then explained how the Royal Rumble match will work with Lesnar in at number one. Lesnar is, in Heyman’s mind, obviously going to win. This is happening because the winner gets to pick their title match at WrestleMania and Lesnar has decreed that no one is worthy of stepping in the ring to challenge him, so he’s going to take them out before they get there… or something like that.
Anyway, Ricochet came out and said some of the locker room are scared of stepping in the ring with Lesnar, but with what Ricochet does in the ring the word afraid isn’t really in his vocabulary. Heyman told Ricochet to go back to the locker room before he gets hurt. Ricochet declined. He will fight for the chance to go to WrestleMania and he wants Lesnar to know he’s not afraid to step in the ring with him. To prove it, he did get in the ring, but he seemed a little hesitant, then he challenged Lesnar to a fight ‘right now’.
Lesnar and Heyman started to leave. Ricochet asked Lesnar if he was scared. Brock Lesnar came back and kicked Ricochet in the balls, picked the mic up to say, ‘not scared’, and left Ricochet trying not to bring up his lunch.
♦ Randy Orton was asked what he says to people who say Drew McIntyre is on par with him to win the rumble match. Orton said McIntyre is a hell of a competitor, but he’s not on par.
Randy Orton vs Drew McIntyre was as much about the egos as the wrestling, but it was fun to watch. An official took a Claymore when Randy Orton got out of the way on the outside. And we didn’t get a proper result because The OC invaded the ring and beat up Drew McIntyre. Randy Orton came in with a chair and helped McIntyre clear them from the ring. Once they’d gone Orton still had the chair and McIntyre was ready to go again. Orton put it down and muttered something respectful (I caught, ‘I’ll give you that’). He turned to leave, but RKO’d McIntyre instead.
McIntyre grabbed a mic and told Orton he should have Claymored him. That RKO is not going to happen again. McIntyre hopes they’re in the rumble together because he’s going to kick Orton’s head off his shoulders before he goes on to win the match and finally headline WrestleMania.
♦ Charlotte Flair was asked how confident she is going into the Royal Rumble match. She said she’s always confident. She’s prepared to face anyone and anything. Becky Lynch put her head into shot and Flair laughed and said yes. Lynch eliminated her last year but this year she’s ready to face twenty-nine other women. But are they ready to face The Queen?
♦ Becky Lynch vs Kairi Sane was preceded by Becky Lynch having a little rant aimed at Asuka. Apparently, the green mist allowed Lynch to see a little clearer. She thinks maybe Asuka is doubting herself and that’s the cause of the sneak attacks and Asuka avoiding facing her directly. Asuka did beat her at the rumble last year, but Lynch won in the end because she made history at WrestleMania while Asuka made soup on YouTube. At the Royal Rumble Lynch is coming to collect one last debt and she’ll teach Asuka what she knows now, Asuka can’t beat her anymore.
The match itself was essentially a handicap match. Asuka distracted Lynch on the outside so Sane could get a chop block in, then Sane distracted the ref while Asuka hit Lynch with a kendo stick going into the break. Asuka sat on top of a ring post to watch most of the rest of the match, which distracted Becky Lynch fairly regularly. Eventually, Lynch had had enough and punched Asuka to the floor before finishing Kairi Sane with a Dis-Arm-Her. Asuka was back in the ring with a shining wizard, an Asuka Lock, and a final kick in the face before Lynch could even think of celebrating. Asuka and Kairi Sane left the champ laid out in the ring in their final altercation before Royal Rumble.
Backstage Asuka was asked if this was the sort of champion she wanted to be. Most of her reply was in Japanese, but she said, ‘At the Royal Rumble, Becky Lynch is not ready for Asuka’.
♦ The tribute package for Rocky Johnson, who died a few days ago, was lovely.
♦ The Viking Raiders (C) vs Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy – RAW Tag Team Championship match – was people heavy at the start. AOP accompanied Rollins & Murphy, and The Viking Raiders brought Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens. Joe and Owens caught AOP up on the apron just before a break, dragged them down, and they all brawled off into the crowd. By the time we got back, all four had been banned from ringside. Rollins and Murphy pulled Ivar off the apron and smashed him into the barricade so they could work on Erik unimpeded, but they couldn’t put him away. Ivar eventually got back in and took on both Rollins and Murphy before tagging in Erik and subjecting Rollins and Murphy to the terrifying sight of tandem Viking suicide dives coming at them. Seth Rollins pushed Ivar from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Erick let that distract him, got kicked onto the ropes by Murphy, Stomped over the bottom rope by Rollins while the ref’s back was turned, and pinned. We have new Tag Team Champions.
Backstage after the match, Rollins was jubilant and declared this is a new beginning and they will cement their dominance at the Royal Rumble when he wins the rumble match for the second year in a row.
♦ The Monday After the Weekend Update with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins was weird and silly and very funny. They had R-Truth as Royal Rumble correspondent. I preferred their more natural segments, but they’re always entertaining.
♦ Matt Hardy vs Erick Rowan consisted of Matt Hardy getting beaten up and Rowan trying to show him what was in the cage. Rowan reached into the cage and the thing bit him again. This time he slammed the cage on the steps a couple of times before Hardy jumped on his back. That advantage lasted mere seconds before Rowan shook him off and destroyed him.
♦ Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe were asked what’s next for them. They said they’d take care of the problem of Rollins & Murphy being tag champs at some point. As far as Rollins being in the rumble match, they’re both also going to be in it. They’re going to try to stop Rollins winning, but their alliance is off during the match.
♦ Mojo Rawley is going to be a different kind of 24/7 champion. No more running. He demonstrated that by taking out The Singh Brothers, who tried to take him on during his interview.
♦ Bobby Lashley & Lana vs Rusev & Liv Morgan main evented the show. I honestly can’t believe I had to write that sentence. Pretty cool for Lana and Liv Morgan to be in a RAW main event, but this entire storyline needs to go away. Lana said a lot of words before the match, none of them worth reporting. Lana and Liv Morgan started things off. Lana was still more interested in talking but Morgan knocked that out of her. Lana cheap-shotted Rusev and Morgan had to prevent Rusev being pinned after Lashley plated him. Liv Morgan kicked Lashley in the head after she’d thrown Lana from the ring, which was easily the best bit of the entire farce. From outside the ring, Lana grabbed Rusev’s leg which allowed Lashley to spear him and get the win.
A few thoughts on tonight’s show. The ‘Monday Night Messiah’ label is horrible and the new t-shirt that goes with it is grim. The ladder match was brutal but great and the highlight of the night. One women’s division match on a three-hour show is not and never will be an adequate representation of the division, and no, the mixed tag doesn’t count. That was a very odd way the end a PPV go-home show, but Royal Rumble will be fantastic because it always is.