Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review on TJRWrestling for March 18, 2019. There are less than three weeks to go until WrestleMania 35. We know most of the big matches on the card, but some of it is still unknown. Impatient people are freaking out because everything hasn’t been announced yet. Me? I can wait a few weeks to find out the whole card. It doesn’t matter. I’m just hoping I get in a nap in on April 7th, so I can power through five hours of writing on the main show and two more hours if I watch the Kickoff Show.

Here’s what WWE has advertised for Raw this week: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre, Ronda Rousey vs. Dana Brooke for the Raw Women’s Championship and Finn Balor and a partner battle Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush. Also, Kurt Angle will announce his opponent for WrestleMania and the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is back after nearly two months away.

Live from Chicago, Illinois, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1346 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you want to support us at TJRWrestling, here’s a Donate Link for our Paypal to contribute in some way to help us grow the site. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner above.

Raw began with the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar making his entrance. This is Lesnar’s first time on Raw since January 28th, which was the night after the Royal Rumble. Lesnar had the great Paul Heyman with him and they entered the ring.

Let’s Hear from Brock Lesnar with the Words Coming from Paul Heyman

The fans were hot as they booed Lesnar, so Lesnar held up the Universal Championship in the air. Fans chanted “Burn it Down” in support of Seth Rollins, which led to an agitated Heyman to deliver his usual intro letting us know who they are.

Heyman said that Seth Rollins is the one who necessitated an appearance from Brock Lesnar. Heyman said that Rollins is a revisionist, an arsonist, and a master of weaving a tale of Heyman-level proportions in propaganda. Heyman said that Rollins claimed that Lesnar had a problem with athletes similar to Seth’s size and moveset. Heyman called Rollins a fool for thinking that. Heyman noted that Lesnar defeated AJ Styles (Survivor Series 2017), Heyman noted that Lesnar defeated Daniel Bryan (Survivor Series 2018) and Heyman noted that Lesnar defeated Finn Balor (Royal Rumble 2019). Heyman said that Drew McIntyre is a career killer, not like Lesnar, but he’s still a career killer. Heyman ranted about McIntyre beating up Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns last week and then he wondered why Rollins would want to face McIntyre.

Drew McIntyre showed up for the interruption. He said it’s nice to get some respect from around here. The fans were booing him, so he told them to show him respect, which led to more boos. McIntyre talked about brutalizing Reigns and Ambrose last week while adding that after he brutalizes Seth Rollins this week, he claimed Seth wasn’t going to make it to WrestleMania.

Rollins showed up from behind McIntyre and hit him with a steel chair to the back two times. The fans loved that, chanted “one more time” and Rollins destroyed McIntyre with the steel chair to the back about a dozen times. Lesnar looked on with an intense look in his eyes. Rollins went into the ring and Lesnar left. They had a staredown leading to Lesnar walking to the back with Heyman while Rollins stood tall in the ring.

Analysis: It was about ten minutes in total with Heyman doing the usual promo, McIntyre getting a chance to brag about last week and Rollins getting some revenge on Drew for his attacks on Reigns and Ambrose last week. Rollins was booked well here by having him destroy McIntyre the way he did. Yes, it was cheap because he attacked from behind, but that’s what McIntyre did to Reigns last week. It’s payback for what happened there. Story continuity is a good thing. I’m fine with Lesnar and Rollins not getting physically involved. Save it for WrestleMania.

A replay aired from last week when Bobby Lashley beat Finn Balor to win back the Intercontinental Title thanks to Lio Rush’s help. Lashley and Rush were shown backstage because they have a match up next.

Finn Balor made his entrance for that tag team match with a partner of his choice. Good pop for Balor. The Raw announcers are Michael Cole, Renee Young and Corey Graves. That match is after a break.

(Commercial)

There were images shown of Finn Balor and Stephanie McMahon in Abu Dhabi last week at the Special Olympics 2019 World Summer Games.

Balor wished Chicago a happy belated St. Patrick’s Day. Balor said that the luck of the Irish was not on his side last week when he lost the Intercontinental Championship to Bobby Lashley. Balor said that this stubborn Irishman doesn’t plan on being a former champion for too long…and here’s the interruption from Lashley and Rush.

Lio Rush said that the little leprechaun (Balor) is upset because Bobby has his pot of gold (the title) around his waist. Rush told Lashley to show his new favorite pose, which led to Lashley holding up the Intercontinental Title. Balor told Lashley to enjoy that pose while adding he hopes to get his hands back on that title real soon. Balor said as for his partner tonight…he said Lio will remember who he picked and he’ll get his hands on the both of them…Braun Strowman.

Analysis: They could have just announced the regular tag team match, but I guess WWE wanted people to speculate on a possible surprise. In the end, it was not much of a surprise.

Braun Strowman and Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush

Strowman hit a shoulder tackle on Lashley, who bailed to the floor and that led to a break less than one minute into the match.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Lashley hitting a flatliner slam on Balor for a two count. Rush tagged in with a sunset flip, Balor hit a basement dropkick and Lashley tagged back in. Lashley whipped Balor into the turnbuckle, Balor with both boots to the face, Lashley prevented a tag, slammed Balor into the turnbuckle and Balor moved, so Lashley went crashing into the ring post. Rush tagged in, missed a top rope attack and Balor hit the elbow drop to the chest. Strowman got the hot tag and gave Rush a Chokeslam where Rush did a flip to sell it. Corner splash by Strowman on Rush followed by two tosses across the ring. Rush had some spit coming out of his mouth, which was gross. Strowman with a punch to the chest. Lashley went back into the ring with a Spear on Strowman to prevent a Powerslam. Balor with a double stomp on Lashley and Rush kicked Balor out of the ring. Rush went up top, he jumped off with a Frog Splash and Strowman did the powerful kickout at two. After no selling the Frog Splash, Strowman chased after Rush on the floor leading to Strowman running over Lashley while Balor was tossed into the ring announcer. Back in the ring, Strowman decked Rush with a clothesline. Strowman picked up Rush and gave him a Chokeslam. Lashley walked away. Strowman picked up Rush and hit a Running Powerslam for the pinfall win after six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman and Finn Balor

Analysis: **1/2 Easy win for the faces. It was predictable like most Strowman tag team matches where he gets the hot tag and gets the win for his team. Rush sold Strowman’s moves well with some big bumps across the ring. As for Balor, he just came across as a regular guy in this match and not much of a star. Lashley was booked like a loser too. This was all about putting over Strowman in a big way.

Later on Raw, Ronda Rousey defends the Raw Women’s Title against Dana Brooke. Yes, really. They mentioned Ronda was “fined an undisclosed amount” for smacking a referee last week on Raw.

Analysis: It wasn’t even a referee. It was an indy worker, but WWE must think we don’t know who their actual referees are.

Ronda Rousey was shown walking into the arena with husband Travis Browne. Referee John Cone went up to Rousey with security behind him. Cone said she was late and she didn’t care. Cone said they had extra security (indy workers) because of her actions last week. Ronda didn’t care and walked away with her husband.

Alexa Bliss entered for her “A Moment of Bliss” talk show and they went to break. That means she must sit in a chair for about three minutes before the talk show with Elias.

This week on Smackdown: Kofi Kingston in a Gauntlet Match against five heels and we’ll hear from The Miz about Shane McMahon’s attack against him.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: I’ve got some retro WWF/E content to plug this week. The WWF in 2000 reviews are a lot of fun for me because they are great shows to write about. The April 17, 2000 edition of Raw was an awesome show that I rated 9 out of 10. It featured an all-time great Raw match/moment when Chris Jericho beat Triple H for the WWF Title and then it was changed due to an Earl Hebner fast count. The rest of the episode was really good too…The April 20, 2000 Smackdown review was posted this week. It wasn’t as good as the Raw episode from that week, but I still enjoyed it. My next 2000 Raw review will go up on Wednesday and then Smackdown on Friday. That’s the plan every week going forward…I have also been writing mid-2000s WWE PPV reviews. The latest review covered Great American Bash 2006, which was a terrible show featuring the first Punjabi Prison match. It was as bad as I remembered it to be. Anyway, please keep checking us out at TJRWrestling.net for all of the news, columns, reviews and retro reviews that we post all the time. Thank you.

A Moment of Bliss Hosted by Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss started her “A Moment of Bliss” talk show reminding us she is the host of WrestleMania, so she asked the announcers to run down some of the big matches at WrestleMania. That’s what they did.

Bliss said that she feels like she is a really good talk show host. Bliss claimed that she is inspiring people like Lily Singh hosting a late night talk show. I have no idea who that is and the crowd didn’t react to it all. Bliss introduced Elias. (I looked up this Lily Singh person after the show. She was at a previous WrestleMania and I had no idea who she was then either. Apparently, she is a Youtube star that now gets a 1:35am talk show on NBC that nobody will watch like when Carson Daly was the host. Good luck.)

Elias made his way onto the stage with his guitar and he sat on the chair on the “set” of the talk show. Bliss welcomed Elias to the show while noting that this is a safe place. Bliss talked about how they have both fell victim to interruptions, but nobody is going to interrupt his special interruption. Elias said that he’s the headline musical act at WrestleMania and it will take place in the great city of New York (actually East Rutherford, New Jersey).

Elias did his usual bit of ripping on the fans by saying that if his performance at WrestleMania was a game-winning field goal, he would make it every single time. The fans in Chicago booed because the Bears had bad field goal luck last season. Elias said that on that night, if anybody dares to interrupt him then they…and here comes No Way Jose.

The music of No Way Jose hit although there was no sign of No Way Jose there. The Heavy Machinery team of Otis and Tucker in the conga line. Bliss said that she invited the conga line at the end of the show. Bliss complained about it saying if she knew it would happen like this then why would they have ten rehearsals. Elias got in the face of Otis and Jose attacked Elias from behind with a forearm to the back. Jose had on a Chicago Cubs shirt to get a cheap pop, so that match is next.

Analysis: That was a lot of time wasted right there. The only thing noteworthy to come out of it is that Elias will be singing at WrestleMania and somebody will interrupt. It could be The Undertaker or maybe even The Rock, but it’s not known if Rock will be there. If it’s Honky Tonk Man, that will make me yawn. Not a fan of him especially way after his prime. Somebody will probably beat up Elias, though.

(Commercial)

Elias vs. No Way Jose

Jose hit a running splash as he took control early. Jose has green dreadlocks matching his green/yellow tights. Jose with two armdrags. Jose hit more armdrags to continue on offense. Jose hit a splash against the turnbuckle. The conga line is trying very hard to get the crowd to interact, but the crowd is dead for this match. Jose went up top for a cross body block, Elias moved and Jose hit the mat hard. Elias with a running lefty clothesline. Renee: “Elias is jacked.” So are most of the people on the show. Jose with two back elbows. Elias came back with a body slam followed by a knee drop. Elias went up top, which he never does, then he almost lost his balance and hit an elbow drop off the top. Elias hit the Drift Away neckbreaker for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Elias

Analysis: * Boring match with no reaction from the crowd. That’s not a surprise since Jose is barely on the show. It was just a way to get Elias an easy win. I’m still waiting for Elias to have something to do that’s interesting.

Kurt Angle made his entrance to a big pop and the familiar “you suck” chants from the crowd.

(Commercial)

Kurt Angle WrestleMania Announcement

Kurt Angle said that the farewell tour continues because he gets to have a match tonight in Chicago, Illinois. Angle said that WrestleMania is where he’ll compete for the last time. The fans chanted “thank you Kurt” for him. Kurt said that he wants to thank the McMahon family for letting him pick his WrestleMania opponent. Angle said there are so many men he wants to face at WrestleMania, but there’s especially one guy he wants to beat at WrestleMania…Baron Corbin. Angle wants to make Corbin tap out WrestleMania because it will make him happy. The fans were unsure about this.

Analysis: That’s lame. That announcement is going to piss off a lot of people because fans wanted an opponent that’s more interesting than Corbin. The fans booed when he said it because they don’t like Corbin. I don’t really like the announcement either, but I can see Corbin getting the win and bragging about it as a heel. I’d rather see Angle vs. John Cena like most people, but that’s not happening unless there’s a swerve here somehow.

Chad Gable made his entrance for a match against Angle. Gable shook Angle’s hand and said it’s an honor to face him.

Kurt Angle vs. Chad Gable

They did some mat wrestling to start because they were both amateur wrestlers. Gable used his speed to trip up Angle and grab on a tight headlock. The announcers put over Gable idolizing Angle, which was true. Angle hit a running shoulder tackle, Gable came back with an elbow smash and Angle hit an overhead belly to belly suplex that led to Gable rolling out of the ring. Gable took control with an armbar on Angle, but Angle came back with a whip into the turnbuckle. Angle grabbed a front headlock. Gable managed to send Angle out of the ring. Angle was slow getting back into the ring, so Gable dropkicked the left knee. Gable worked over the left knee of Angle leading to a two count. Angle kicked Gable down followed by a clothesline that sent Gable over the top to the floor.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Angle hitting two clotheslines at around the ten-minute mark. Angle with a back body drop. Gable jumped off the middle ropes with a sunset flip. Angle rolled through looking for an Ankle Lock and Gable got out of that leading to a two count. Angle with a German Suplex. Gable slapped on an Ankle Lock, the fans were booing him doing that and Angle managed to send Gable into the corner. At least that was the attempt. Angle went for an Angle Slam, but Gable countered into a DDT for two. Gable with a moonsault off the top, Angle moved and Angle slapped on the Ankle Lock. Angle took Gable to the mat, he grapevined the leg of Gable and Gable tapped out to the Ankle Lock after about 12 minutes.

Winner by submission: Kurt Angle

Analysis: **1/2 The match was okay.  I say this with all the respect in the world for Angle, who is one of my three favorite wrestlers ever: I’m glad he’s retiring. He is 50 years old and he looks like he has trouble moving in the ring, so I don’t want to see him wrestling longer. WrestleMania is a good time to end it. The work in the match was tough to watch at times because of how slowly Angle is moving, but they got through it. If my rating is generous in your opinion, that’s okay. I’m a Kurt Angle guy, so I am going to try to enjoy his final few matches.

Post match, Angle and Gable hugged while holding up eachother’s hand to salute the crowd.

Baron Corbin showed up with a microphone saying he enjoyed taking Kurt’s job as the GM of Raw. Corbin said that he’ll enjoy beating Angle in his last match and said that people will remember the last match with Corbin beating Angle. The fans booed Corbin.

Analysis: I think Corbin will win at WrestleMania. I know Angle is the face, but the typical booking is for a wrestler to lose their retirement match. If Angle wins, that’s fine too. Angle will probably get a nice standing ovation after the match either way.

The announcers threw it to a video package of Drew McIntyre’s actions on Raw last week beating up Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. The fans were chanting “thank you Kurt” as Angle left the ring.

Still to come: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre.

Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance as the Women’s Tag Team Champions.

(Commercial)

Baron Corbin was shown backstage talking to The Revival. Apollo Crews showed up to challenge Corbin to a match. Corbin did his usual rambling routine, Crews cut him off and Corbin said he’ll have the match. Crews said he makes things difficult, which is why he has no friends. Corbin said The Revival are his friends, but The Revival said they are not and they left. Crews laughed at Corbin and left.

Sasha Banks and Bayley were interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso, who mentioned The IIconics claim that Banks and Bayley are ducking them. Bayley said that they’ll defend the titles against anyone. Bayley noted that they will be on Smackdown Live tomorrow night and it’s going to be iconic. Banks said as far as WrestleMania goes…here comes Natalya.

Natalya was joined on the stage by her tag team partner, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, who is a mother of two daughters she had with fellow Hall of Famer Edge. Beth has worked as a part-time announcer in WWE for the last few years.

Phoenix and Natalya entered the ring saying that they would have loved to have had the opportunity to be Women’s Tag Team Champions when she was competing full time. Phoenix said she was content to watch the women’s evolution take place before her eyes while she was on commentary. Phoenix complained about Nia and Tamina while adding that they “awoke the dragon.” The crowd barely responded to that. Beth said that maybe her and Natalya’s dream can become a reality. Beth said that since Banks/Bayley are saying they will take on all comers anytime and anywhere, she is ready to stand beside the very best in WWE in Natalya and challenge Banks and Bayley for the Women’s Tag team Titles at WrestleMania (she pointed at the sign). The fans reacted with some “yes” chants. Some fans did at least.

Bayley said that would be a huge honor, but she wondered if they wanted more time to prepare. Bayley talked about how Beth has been retired for six years and competition around here has evolved. Natalya said that with all due respect, this is Beth Phoenix, the Glamazon and she’s a WWE Hall of Famer. Natalya noted that it was in this arena in Chicago won the Women’s Championship. Natalya asked if they think Beth is afraid to fight somebody like them. Banks said they live and breathe for this business, so they know who Beth is and Banks said Natalya is riding Beth’s coattails to have a match at WrestleMania. Natalya slapped Banks.

Banks went after Natalya and Phoenix pulled Banks off. Phoenix shoved Bayley down, a referee went into the ring and that led to a break.

Analysis: It was a decent promo exchange. I don’t want to say good because there were parts of it where the women were pausing while hoping for a reaction from the crowd and the crowd was quiet. I like Beth just fine, but it’s not like people were clamoring for her in matches. I also think it went on too long. That’s a problem with Raw compared to Smackdown with Raw promos going on for too long while Smackdown promos get to the point quicker because it’s one hour shorter. Anyway, once they did the physicality to end the promo, the crowd was more into it.

(Commercial)

It’s another “match was made during the break” match.

Natalya (w/Beth Phoenix) vs. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley)

Natalya was in control with an abdominal stretch on Banks. Nice counter by Banks to sit on top for a two count. Banks whipped Natalya back first into the turnbuckle followed by a double knee attack, Natalya moved and Natalya hit a clothesline on Banks. Nia Jax showed up with a microphone while the match was going on. Jax said that she has done more in three years than Phoenix did in her entire career. Jax said that Phoenix is jealous of her. Jax noted that she’s the prettier, stronger version of the Glamazon. Tamina showed up at ringside, shoved Phoenix into the ring post and hit superkicks on Bayley and Banks for the DQ finish after about three minutes. Jax said see ya at WrestleMania.

Winner by disqualification: Sasha Banks

Analysis: 1/2* The match meant nothing. It was all about building a multi-team match at WrestleMania with Banks/Bayley vs. Natalya/Phoenix vs. Jax/Tamina and I think the IIconics will be added to the match as well to make it a 4-Way. It’s not that exciting, but it’s a match.

Mojo Rawley was back in a darkened room after a few weeks of not doing anything. Rawley said that he despises the word potential as he looked in a mirror. He wondered how good was potential if you didn’t use it. Rawley wondered why “you” can’t figure this out. He yelled “figure it out” to end it.

Analysis: The Mojo mirror gimmick is back. I don’t think that’s a good thing. It went nowhere, they dropped it and now it’s back. Good luck figuring it out.

Ricochet made his entrance to a good pop from the crowd.

(Commercial)

It’s Jinder Mahal as Ricochet’s opponent with Jinder already in the ring.

Ricochet vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Samir and Sunil Singh)

Ricochet hit a leaping kick on Mahal with Cole noting that Black was not there because he was back home conducting business. Actually, Black was on his honeymoon with wife Zelina Vega (if you follow them on social media then you know), but they aren’t going to say that. The Singhs grabbed Ricochet’s foot and Mahal took control with knee drops to the head. Whenever the announcers remind us that Mahal was WWE Champion it makes me remember how bored I was reviewing his matches. Anyway, Mahal had Ricochet grounded with a chinlock. When Ricochet got back up, Mahal whipped him into the turnbuckle. Mahal slapped on another chinlock. Ricochet with a dropkick that sent Mahal into the turnbuckle. Ricochet with a flying headscissors followed by a springboard clothesline by Ricochet. Standing shooting star press from Ricochet got a two count. Ricochet did a cartwheel over the top to take out the heels, which is called a Space Flying Tiger Drop. Ricochet went up top and hit a 630 Splash on Mahal for the pinfall after seven minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ricochet

Analysis: ** Easy win by Ricochet as he survived the chinlock-fest offense from Mahal. The crowd was really into Ricochet’s comeback, which shows they really like the guy and he’s somebody that WWE needs to push soon. Don’t wait to do it. I know Ricochet is teaming with Aleister Black these days, but I hope Ricochet gets a serious push up the ladder post WrestleMania.

The announcers noted that Sue Aitchison is WWE’s winner of the Warrior Award at the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Sue has worked for WWE for 33 years. The announcers talked about how great Sue is. Cole said he’s known Sue for 22 years and said congratulations for her.

Analysis: Congrats to Sue. I don’t know much about her, but after seeing so many WWE people praise this woman for her hard work, I’m happy for her. When the Ultimate Warrior was inducted in the 2014 WWE HOF, he said that WWE should acknowledge people behind the scenes and this year, they are doing that with Sue. That’s cool.

Ronda Rousey, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her power walk down to the ring. The fans booed her. She defends that title at WrestleMania against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Rousey vs. Dana Brooke is next.

There was a Head & Shoulders shampoo commercial featuring Becky Lynch.

(Commercial)

Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage by Dasha Fuentes. Rollins said it’s simple because if you hurt his brothers then you better prepared to get hurt. Rollins said that tonight is for Dean, tonight is for Roman and it’s for Brock Lesnar too. Rollins said that he hopes Lesnar is watching, he said he’ll beat Drew and he’ll burn Suplex City to the ground at WrestleMania.

Dana Brooke was interviewed by Charly Caruso by the Gorilla Position area. Caruso wondered if Brooke was ready and Brooke said that on the road to WrestleMania, dreams become reality while underdogs make history. Brooke said that she might not be better than Ronda Rousey, but all she has to do is be better for three seconds to become the Raw Women’s Champion. Brooke left to have her match. Cole wondered if Brooke can have the “greatest upset of all time” and Graves said he was dumb for thinking this.

Dana Brooke made her entrance to no reaction. The women stood in the ring for Mike Rome to do the intros since it’s a title match. Rousey held up the title in Brooke’s face to intimidate her.

Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey vs. Dana Brooke

Brooke started the match by holding Rousey’s foot, Brooke slapped Rousey and Rousey hit a knee to the face. Rousey locked in the armbar and Brooke tapped out quickly. The match went about 15 seconds.

Winner by submission: Ronda Rousey

Analysis: Match of the year! Not really. Just an easy way to put over Rousey as expected. No point in rating it.

Rousey held onto the armbar for about ten seconds after the bell. Brooke was screaming in pain. A referee went into the ring and Rousey shoved him down. (It was not really a WWE referee because they get indy wrestlers to take those bumps.) Rousey went over to husband Travis Browne. Security guys went down to the ringside area, so Rousey shoved a security guy down. Browne punched a security guy and knocked him down. Browne carried Rousey over the barricade and they walked to the back while Graves noted that Travis was the only one that could calm down Rousey. The crowd booed Rousey for her actions.

Analysis: It was effective in terms of getting Rousey heel heat. Rousey attacking a referee again should lead to another “fine” for her actions. If you want to be picky, a “fan” like Browne would be arrested for what he did, but that’s not going to be mentioned in this story. It’s classic heel booking to show that Rousey has lost her mind. They need to get Lynch and Flair on the show soon. I know they have Smackdown house shows, but with two more Raw’s after this, those three women need to interact more. As for Travis Browne, he is a MMA fighter that has fought in the UFC, so it’s not a surprise that he would get involved in a Rousey angle. From a performance standpoint, I thought Rousey did pretty well here.

Brooke was shown in the ring grabbing her left arm. There were referees checking on her with the announcers wondering if she had a broken arm to try to put over the Rousey attack in a big way.

(Commercial)

A replay aired of Ronda Rousey’s actions in winning the match and then the post match antics. Brooke is getting medical treatment according to the announcers.

Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin

They did not get intros. They were already in the ring. Cole noted that the WWE Universe is mad about Angle vs. Corbin. Of course they are. The action spilled to the floor with Crews hitting a moonsault onto Corbin off the apron onto the floor. Corbin came back with a punch to the face. Corbin with a running elbow followed by a chinlock. Crews tried to get going, Corbin wanted a Chokeslam backbreaker, Crews got out of it and Corbin hit a Deep Six slam for a two count. Corbin worked over Crews with punches as the fans chanted “We Want Cena” and that pissed off Corbin, who said he’s going to WrestleMania. Crews got an inside cradle on Corbin and got the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Apollo Crews

Analysis: * Another short match on a show full of short matches. The most interesting part of the match was when the fans chanted for John Cena to face Angle at WrestleMania. The crowd was dead for most of it, but the finish did get a reaction with Crews getting the upset win. I think Corbin might lose matches on the road to WrestleMania and then beat Angle.

After the win, Angle appeared on the stage beside Crews to celebrate the win. Corbin argued with the referee.

Batista was shown in his home in Tampa getting ready for an interview.

(Commercial)

A clip aired of Batista and Triple H setting up their WrestleMania match with Triple H saying that it will be a No Holds Barred Match in his deep wrestler voice.

Batista Interview

Batista was interviewed via satellite at his home in Tampa. It’s probably not live and they likely taped it last week when Batista was at Raw, but it’s WWE saying it’s live. Batista said he didn’t like Triple H and since he left, he wanted to have this one last match with him. Cole said that’s a vague answer while asking if this goes back to Evolution. Batista said that it goes way further than that because people say that he owes his career to Triple H. Batista said that Hunter uses people to make him look good like DX and Evolution – same thing. Batista said Hunter used him to protect him, he talked down to him and underestimated him. Cole said that nine years ago, Batista quit and he asked if he blamed Triple H for this. Batista said yeah he blamed Hunter and stop saying that he quit. Batista talked about how he had somebody jealous of him, that was insecure and won’t give him his fair opportunity. Batista said that Hunter didn’t think he was a big enough star. Batista talked about his worldwide fame, movie star status, now he’s in control, he’s in a position of control without Hunter and now he’s getting the match he deserves. Cole said that Triple H has been nothing but fair to him (Cole) in his career. Batista cut him off saying Hunter was the cerebral assassin, he’s got them all fooled and he called Hunter the most insecure, jealous control freak he has ever met.

Batista said he had two things before he wraps this up. Batista said that he hopes Vince fires Hunter’s ass. Batista said that he’s going to end Hunter’s career and this interview is over. Batista left.

Analysis: The interview was fine. Batista does a good job with heel promos. It is pretty silly that Cole is sucking up to Triple H after Hunter was booked as a heel running the company for most of the decade, but with Hunter as a face now, suddenly he’s a great guy. I like the part where Batista says he’s going to end Hunter’s career. I don’t see Batista winning, but it’s good to have character motivation. This is probably Batista’s retirement match.

The graphic reminded us that it’s Triple H vs. Batista in a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania.

Charly Caruso set up a replay of Braun Strowman destroying the red car that Colin Jost sent him as a gift. Moments after that aired, WWE plugged a WWE Shop item of toy car with a Strowman action figure.

Braun Strowman was interviewed by Charly Caruso. Strowman said he didn’t care what those two SNL idiots say. Strowman said that these guys have got him so angry that he’s going to enter the Andre the Giant Battle Royal to eliminate as many people as possible. Alexa Bliss showed up to say she’s going to broker peace between Strowman and Jost/Che from SNL. She asked him to give her a week and Braun said fine, he’ll give her a week.

Analysis: Strowman gets to be in the battle royal. He should win it. He also should have a bigger role at WrestleMania than being in a battle royal and doing comedy bits, but the creative team has booked him poorly at three straight WrestleManias. In the three years since the brand split, Strowman has been in the battle royal two times now and then last year’s joke Tag Team Title win. Lame.

Drew McIntyre entered for the main event.

(Commercial)

Drew McIntyre was in the ring saying that actions speak louder than words and told them to roll it. A replay aired from last week showing McIntyre’s cheap attack on Roman Reigns. It was noted by Cole that Reigns wasn’t medically cleared to be there on Raw.

McIntyre said that when Reigns returned, everybody rejoined because the “Big Dog” was back. McIntyre said that Reigns wasn’t the same at Fastlane because he let his Shield brothers do the work. McIntyre said that The Shield is no more. McIntyre complained about Seth Rollins attacking him with a chair.

McIntyre said he wanted to speak to Roman Reigns, but not the superstar, he wants to speak to Joe the man. McIntyre said that’s what Joe wanted us to do, speak to Joe the husband and father that is sitting on the couch at home because of Drew. McIntyre said that if Joe wants to be a hero to all these people, then he has a challenge for him. McIntyre said that he challenges Reigns to a fight at WrestleMania. McIntyre said that we know the answer already. McIntyre told Reigns to look at his children, McIntyre told him to say no, choose his family and note that these people (the fans) don’t give a damn about Reigns. McIntyre said that if Reigns fights him at WrestleMania, then what he did last week will be nothing while adding that he will hurt Reigns, he will maim him and he will destroy him. McIntyre said that on the grandest stage of them all, Reigns will never beat him.

Analysis: Good heel promo from McIntyre. I liked the intensity. The challenge to Reigns was expected after last week’s attack and it should be official by next week when Reigns is back. I think they’ll have a pretty good match at WrestleMania that will be the biggest match of McIntyre’s career. As a fan of Drew, I’m happy for him being in a big match at WrestleMania. Will Roman win? Probably. That’s okay, though.

Seth Rollins appeared on the video screen in the Gorilla Position. Rollins said that right there is why did what he did to him earlier tonight and here’s a replay of Rollins attacking McIntyre with a steel chair. Rollins said that was for his brothers and this is for him.

Seth Rollins made his entrance and McIntyre met Rollins in the aisle. That led to a slugfest between the two guys. Referees and producers went out to ringside to break it up. Rollins went into the ring while McIntyre was in the aisle and that match is after a break.

(Commercial)

The match started during the break.

Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre

McIntyre was in control with an armbar. When Rollins tried to get going, McIntyre hit two vertical suplexes for a two count. McIntyre slapped on another armbar. Rollins got back into it with strikes as the two men battled on the floor. Rollins went for a moonsault off the steps, McIntyre moved and Rollins hit the floor hard. That led to a break three minutes into the match.

(Commercial)

McIntyre was still on offense as he talked trash to Rollins saying he took his brothers out. Rollins sent McIntyre out of the ring. Rollins wanted a suicide dive, McIntyre caught him and sent Rollins back first into the barricade. McIntyre grabbed a steel chair at ringside, referee John Cone told him not to use the chair and Rollins hit a superkick to the face. Both wrestlers were down on the floor and they got back into the ring at the count at nine. Rollins clotheslined McIntyre out of the ring. Rollins back in the ring with two straight suicide dives, back in the ring with a Slingblade and Rollins hit a kick to the face for two. The fans bought that as a nearfall even though Rollins never wins with that. The fans chanted “burn it down” for Rollins. McIntyre powered out of a Powerbomb attempt, McIntyre caught Rollins on his shoulders and hit a reverse Alabama Slam that sent Rollins face/shoulder first crashing into the mat. They battled by the turnbuckle, it was obvious McIntyre wasn’t going to connect with whatever he was trying to do and Rollins hit his superplex into a Falcon Arrow combo for a two count. Cole was screaming about it nearly winning the match even though Rollins does it all the time for two counts. The fans chanted “burn it down” again. Rollins kicked McIntyre in the ribs. Brock Lesnar’s music hit as Lesnar appeared on the stage. Rollins was distracted by it like a dummy while all Lesnar did was stand on the ramp and McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick on Rollins for the pinfall win. Lesnar and Heyman smiled about it. The match went 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match as usual from these two. The finish was a bit lame because we have seen that kind of ending so many times before where a wrestler is distracted by the music of another wrestler and then they get beat easily. It’s like Rollins forgot there was a match just because Lesnar showed up. I like the chemistry between Rollins and McIntyre. They have wrestled many times since last summer when Rollins feuded with Ziggler/McIntyre a lot. The win by McIntyre will give him bragging rights since he beat Ambrose last week and beat up Reigns as well. This win was cheap, so it doesn’t hurt Rollins that much, but it gives McIntyre something to mention in the build to his Reigns match at WrestleMania. Rollins losing clean would have been a bad idea. A cheap finish is fine here.

McIntyre posed on top of Rollins while the referee raised Drew’s hand in the air.

Lesnar and Heyman laughed about Rollins losing while Rollins stared at them. That’s where Raw ended for this week.

Analysis: It was not a particularly strong ending, but I am fine with Lesnar and Rollins staying apart. There are two more Raw episodes before WrestleMania. Perhaps they’ll get into a brawl, but if they are kept apart, that’s okay too.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Seth Rollins
  2. Drew McIntyre
  3. Braun Strowman

 

The Scoreboard

4.5 out of 10

Last week: 6

2019 Average: 5.5

Last 5 Weeks: 6, 6, 6.5, 4.5, 4

2019 High: 7.5 (January 14)

2019 Low: 4 (February 11)

 

Final Thoughts

I give this week’s Raw gets a 4.5 out of 10.

It was a below average Raw. Too much talking as usual for Raw and the matches weren’t good enough although I did like the main event. Some of the angles bored me too. The last three weeks of Raw were much better with some solid story development. This week there wasn’t much to get excited about aside from elevating Drew McIntyre again while Seth Rollins had a strong showing.

The announcement from Kurt Angle that he’s facing Baron Corbin at WrestleMania was very disappointing. It’s hard to get excited about that even though I get WWE’s logic of likely wanting to put over Corbin. They could have picked a better opponent.

It’s WrestleMania season, which is supposed to mean there’s excitement in the air, but this week’s Raw was mostly a boring show worth skipping.

The next WWE pay-per-view is WrestleMania 35 on April 7.  Here’s what we know so far:

Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins

No Holds Barred Match: Triple H vs. Batista

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz

Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles

Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Angle’s Retirement Match)

Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal – Braun Strowman is in it.

Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Cedric Alexander or Tony Nese

Alexa Bliss is the host of WrestleMania. Michael Che and Colin Jost from Saturday Night Live are “special guest correspondents” at WrestleMania.

Drew McIntyre challenged Roman Reigns to a match. It’s not official yet, but it will be soon. I assume the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal will be on the show. It hasn’t been mentioned yet.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. See ya next time for the Smackdown review. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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