Last week, Kurt Angle defeated Samoa Joe in a call-back to their classic TNA matches by reversing a Coquina Clutch into a roll-up; Roman Reigns accepted Drew McIntyre’s challenge for a match at WrestleMania; and Triple H accepted Batista’s requests that he put his career on the line against him at Mania, meaning that if HHH is unsuccessful yet again in defeating The Animal, he will retire.
Announced segments for Raw were Stephanie McMahon opening the show to discuss the main event, appearances from Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Batista, an eight-woman tag match between all participants in the WWE Women’s Tag Championship match, The Riott Squad vs. new SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte, Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey and 2019 Royal Rumble winner Becky Lynch, as well as The Revival vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet for the Raw Tag Team Championships. Raw took place from the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
Stephanie McMahon Promo
Raw kicked off with one of the major segments announced before the show. Stephanie kept this short, but the announcement was huge. First announcing as an April Fools that she’s now in the match, the real announcement was that the main event of WrestleMania will now be a Winner Takes All match with both Women’s Titles on the line. This makes the main event match a lot bigger and with extra significance, but it really pushes the majority of the women’s division (especially on SmackDown) to the side for this one huge match on the show.
Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar/Seth Rollins Promo
Following Stephanie’s huge announcement, the next segment on the show concerned the Universal Champion and his advocate. Heyman claimed that Lesnar “will seize the moment” at WrestleMania before listing off past accomplishments for the Beast Incarnate at WrestleMania, including him ending The Streak, and that Brock Lesnar will “violate” Seth Rollins. Seth Rollins would come out claiming this to be the biggest match of his career, and that “no-one wants Brock here”. Lesnar would arrogantly brush past Rollins, leading to a brawl which Lesnar seemed to have control of until a low blow by Rollins that gave The Architect the opportunity to hit the Curb stomp and stand tall prior to WrestleMania. Afterwards, he was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. Rollins’ response to the idea that his actions would mean a DQ at WrestleMania and Lesnar keeping the title led to him saying “Lesnar had it coming”, and that “I’m not champion yet”.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection & The Divas Of Doom vs. The Iiconics, Nia Jax & Tamina
This match was a tease of what is to come this Sunday concerning the Women’s Tag Team Championships. For the majority of the match, due to Nia and Tamina staying on the outside, the babyfaces had control over the Iiconics, with Beth Phoenix being a highlight in her first Raw match in over six years. The highlight saw Phoenix hitting a spear on the outside to Tamina breaking the barricade to a huge cheer from the crowd. The finish saw The Glamazon hit Peyton Royce with the Glam Slam to get momentum for herself and Natalya heading into WrestleMania. Post-match, Natalya and Beth Phoenix had a staredown with Bayley and Sasha Banks, eyeing up themselves as potential future Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Batista was then shown arriving to the arena in his hometown in preparation for his promo up next.
Even though this did not feel like a final segment before WrestleMania, I really enjoyed this. Batista strolled down to the ring and put a video package on to play, which focused on the previous occasions in which the two have faced each other, with Batista winning every time, particularly noting WrestleMania 21 and Vengeance 2005. After the video package, Batista grabbed a mic and told Triple H to “kiss my ass” before walking off.
Elias was shown outside MetLife Stadium, saying there will be no interruptions of his musical performance at WrestleMania and that he will be having his WrestleMania moment.
Apollo Crews vs. Jinder Mahal
This was used to promote the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and really there is not much else to say. Other superstars such as EC3, Tyler Breeze, Heavy Machinery, Titus O’Neil and The Ascension stood at ringside. Nothing special here; after a few minutes, Apollo defeated the former WWE Champion with a frog splash.
Post-match, we got the yearly “chuck everyone over the top rope” angle, with Titus absolutely destroying Kalisto with a big boot during this part. The last man standing was Apollo getting both the win and momentum going into ATGMBR.
Kurt Angle & Rey Mysterio were seen talking backstage ahead of what was advertised as a match between the two, and Kurt’s final Raw match at that.
Kurt Angle/Rey Mysterio/Baron Corbin Segment
Kurt Angle would come out to say thank you to the fans on his last Raw before his retirement. This was followed by a really good video package (it’s what WWE specialises in) about the career of Kurt Angle. Corbin then interrupted, claiming that the video was “ancient history”, and that the current Kurt Angle cannot even take his jacket off without struggling. Angle asked to have the Mania match right there, but Corbin backed off, leading to Mysterio coming out. Rey on behalf of Kurt challenged Corbin, and after Corbin attempted a cheap shot, he was attacked by both legends, setting up the main event.
Charlotte Flair was interviewed by Charly Caruso on whether she’s worried about the announcement by Stephanie blindsiding her. Flair told Charly to “ask Asuka about blindsiding from last week”, and she said that she would be fine tagging with her WrestleMania opponents tonight.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The Revival (C) vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet
I did expect this to be on the WrestleMania card in some form, but it seems to not be the case anymore. The Revival initially targeted Black with a very nice double knee into the ropes tag manoeuvre. This was very much a TV match with a focus on body part psychology, in this case Aleister’s arm, rather than the fast pace which the tag division uses today. However, it did move quicker as it rolled on, with Ricochet assisting a big bicycle knee strike by Black that took out Scott Dawson, followed by a Tornado DDT on Aleister and a plancha by Ricochet. The finish saw a countout that kept the titles on The Revival.
Ronda Rousey was then interviewed backstage, saying it will be “Judgement Day” for Becky and Charlotte at WrestleMania. Also backstage, the WrestleMania host Alexa Bliss spoke with EC3 and Tyler Breeze, and the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update being brought up. This led to Braun Strowman appearing, and when told by Breeze they were informed by two random guys in the corridor, Braun challenged them to a handicap match, calling one of them ‘Michael Che’ and the other ‘Colin Jost’.
Roman Reigns was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes, and when asked if he was 100% healthy, he was attacked by McIntyre, who wanted Reigns to see him in his nightmares.
The Riott Squad vs. Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch
Ever since Elimination Chamber, The Riott Squad and Ronda Rousey have been inseparable, with the Baddest Woman On The Planet coming out on top every occasion. The purpose of this was about whether Ronda, Charlotte and Becky could co-exist less than a week before WrestleMania. Becky Lynch beforehand said that she would become the first combined Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion, and with Ronda feeling unbeatable, Lynch said “I’m already in her head”.
The match itself saw Becky trying to fight The Riott Squad all on her own, due to not wanting to tag in her partners, with Ronda and Charlotte giving trash talk to Becky. As Lynch was just about to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her to win the match for herself, Charlotte and Ronda both tagged each other in, followed by Rousey locking in the Armbar for the very quick tap-out on Morgan. Post-match, the three brawled, leading to a police force coming in and arresting all three. The next couple of minutes involved broken police windows, Charlotte kneeing Ronda as stiff as a Holly Holm blow, and Becky and Ronda being sent in different police cars to the police station.
Heavy Machinery vs. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable
This was a pretty random match to occur, and was very much filler after the segment with all three Mania main eventers being arrested. There is not much to say about this, other than Otis’s caterpillar which is very over, and upon which WWE should capitalise. Heavy Machinery won and seem poised for a Raw Tag Team Title opportunity in the weeks following WrestleMania.
Braun Strowman vs. ‘Colin Jost’ & ‘Michael Che’
This is the perfect definition of WWE comedy. Strowman in preparation destroyed two guys who he personally named after the SNL Weekend Update hosts. Braun destroyed the two competitors with his bulldozing shoulder tackle, before a double powerslam for the win.
Bobby Lashley Interview/Finn Balor Announcement
We returned to Charly Caruso, who interviewed Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush about Lashley’s title defence against Finn Balor scheduled for WrestleMania. Rush said last week’s win for Balor was a fluke due to Jinder Mahal (hah!) and that their only concern was not currently in D.C. Balor then appeared on the screen to tell Lashley that “my Demon will be your nightmare”, meaning The Demon will face The All-Mighty on Sunday.
Baron Corbin vs. Rey Mysterio
In the past, WrestleMania go-home shows would have marquee matches and/or segments to get maximum hype going into the show, usually using the main event of WrestleMania as the premise. This year was not that. This wasn’t a bad match by any means, with Rey being thrown around the ring like a ragdoll at times, but sometimes catching Corbin out with a headscissors over the top rope for example. Corbin after a while took complete control, lifting Rey onto the apron with one hand before chucking him into the ring post. The finish saw Rey gain momentum following a tornado DDT/619 combo, but after failing the frog splash, he fell prey to the Deep Six to give Corbin a huge win. Post-match, Angle attacked Corbin from behind, putting him in the Ankle Lock, making Corbin tap out.
Overall, in terms of matches, Raw was quite a poor go-home show, with the main event being the only worthwhile match while Beth Phoenix was also a highlight. That being said, the segments involving Brock Lesnar and Batista, along with Stephanie’s major announcement, made this an okay Raw, but a pretty poor go-home episode for WrestleMania.