Welcome to the Raw Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth report here.
We open to a graphic telling us, to nobody’s surprise, that Bobby Lashley will defend the WWE title against Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania so Drew can get his title win in front of a live crowd.
Promo Time kicks off with Lashley and MVP. I really love the new Lashley entrance. MVP proclaims we have entered the All Might Era. They talk about Lashley’s 16-year journey to capturing the title before Miz shows up to add nothing of value before Drew McIntyre shows up. Drew congratulates Lashley as they have had similar paths to capturing the WWE Title, neglecting their title match over the summer. Miz demands attention so Lashley can jump Drew before letting the Miz have Drew before the match that’s next after the break. Sheamus jumped Lashley on the stage so we can care about their match later, too.
Miz and Drew is our opening contest tonight. The match went a bit longer than it should have and Miz never really had a chance from the opening bell. Drew finally ended the abuse by making Miz tap to Lashley’s finisher, yet again, the Hurt Lock.
Braun Strowman is out next to help Shane McMahon save face from last week’s abomination of a promo. Braun challenged Shane to a match later and Shane accepted.
R-Truth was backstage wanting to celebrate Austin 3:16 day with the participants of the upcoming women’s tag match, only to be informed that March 16th was on Tuesday before he left. The WWE Women’s Tag Team champs, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax, come out ahead of the tag match to the commentary desk.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke are up against Naomi and Lana. Too much was already going on on commentary before Asuka showed up to take out Baszler for knocking out one of her teeth in the tag match a couple of weeks ago. Now that we can finally focus on the tag match in the ring, it was ending with Mandy and Dana winning. The match looked decent but they, unfortunately, weren’t the main focus here. All four deserved better than what they got. I’m assuming this sets Mandy and Dana up as contenders for the tag titles soon.
The Raw Tag Team Titles are up for grabs next with The New Day taking on Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. Can we get a couple of additional tag teams in the division, please? The match was really good with a lot of back and forth action from both teams. The match could have gone either way several times. In the end, The New Day picks up the win for their 11th title reign. While they were celebrating, AJ Styles comes out with Omos to challenge The New Day for the Raw Tag Team titles at WrestleMania. New Day accepts and the match is set for WrestleMania.
The Miz and John Morrison are backstage poking fun at Damien Priest and 24/7 Champion Bad Bunny before leaving. R-Truth shows up to shower Bad Bunny in Austin gifts trying to get the 24/7 title back. Since Bad Bunny’s TV appearance usefulness is done, he handed Truth the 24/7 back and the chase is back on.
Priest comes out to destroy Jaxson Ryker in a match and Elias after the match before Morrison comes out with the distraction so Miz could club Bad Bunny with Elias’s guitar to set up their tag match for WrestleMania.
Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon were up next and never got started, thus proving that the feud nobody wanted to see was going to happen. Shane put Braun through the announce table and poured green slime over Braun. It’s announced that these two will square off at Fastlane but it’ll likely continue until WrestleMania. Sigh
Alexa Bliss challenged Randy Orton to a match at Fastlane and Orton would later accept. Expect The Fiend to finally return there.
Asuka and Shayna Baszler are up next and if you were expecting a really great competitive match out of the two that we deserve, you’ll be disappointed. After Asuka murdered Jax on the outside, Baszler hit Asuka with her new finisher, the Kirifuda Clutch into the bridging pin for the loss. That’s like the fourth or fifth match she’s lost that way. Anyway, after the match, Asuka decided to go all medieval on Baszler wanting to take a trophy tooth or two home. The ref prevented Asuka from totally slamming Baszler mouth first into the exposed turnbuckle. The after-match festivities lasted longer than the actual match. Let’s hope Asuka keeps this new aggressive character going forward. It could work for her with Rhea Ripley on her way to Raw.
The US Title match was up next between Riddle and Mustafa Ali. Riddle and Ali put forth a solid match for the time given but Ali continues Retribution’s losing streak and falls to Riddle after Retribution interference backfired yet again. I remember when Retribution had promise. At least they all have masks on, except for Ali, and we can pretend that this gimmick didn’t stain them when they all debut maskless. At least Mercedes Martinez got lucky and was sent back to NXT before this all went south.
Drew offers up another promo before the start of our main event, Sheamus taking on WWE Champion Bobby Lashley. With Drew sitting at ringside, we get a really competitive hard hitting match to further Drew’s two upcoming matches, Sheamus at Fastlane and Lashley at Mania. The match itself maybe went a tad too long, but served the purpose of Drew scouting his next two opponents. As expected, Lashley picked up the hard fought win. I’m still not quite sure why the decision was made to turn Sheamus heel, other than to give Drew somebody different to beat. After the match, Lashley put Sheamus in the Hurt Lock before eating a Claymore from Drew. Drew told Sheamus to get ready for Fastlane to end the show.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
The New Day/Hurt Business tag title match was terrific. I figured New Day would win the titles back here and then having AJ challenge for the WrestleMania match allows Smackdown to have the multi-team match we saw a preview of on Friday with the eight-man tag match. I’m not sure who will win at Mania yet.
I liked the newfound aggression out of Asuka. I hope they can integrate it into her character.
Could we please just focus on the women’s tag team match that was going on IN the ring? The whole Nia/Shayna/Asuka thing could have been handled in a backstage segment that during a different match taking place in the ring.
That’s all I’ve got. Until next time.