Welcome to the Raw Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s episode from the Performance Center. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth report here.
We open to a recap of the AJ/Undertaker feud leading to their match at WrestleMania. When we go live, The American Badass returns to greet us. Undertaker cuts an amazing promo on AJ, calling him Allen Jones to keep it real. Undertaker references AJ’s time in TNA saying that AJ stayed there because he could hang with the stars of the Ruthless Aggression Era. Undertaker said that AJ was upset because Michelle McCool does the Styles Clash better than him. So, show up at Mania and I’ll make you famous. Undertaker wants Gallows and Anderson there too to face the Unholy Trinity (Kane and Abyss?) and rest in peace. The end of the promo shows AJ’s Tombstone as we fade out. I really hope Undertaker does bring the American Badass/Big Evil character back at WrestleMania. It would fit the story perfectly. It would be great to see who the unholy trinity will be. Hopefully, it is something to counter Gallows and Anderson and not just something he said in the promo. This should be a really good WrestleMania match.
Becky Lynch is shown arriving at the Performance Center in her custom semi truck rig, which looked to be a replay of the last time she showed up in it. Anyway, she comes out and introduces our first match replay of the night, the triple threat winner takes all women’s title main event match from last year’s WrestleMania.
This had been a really long night when this match finally gets started. The crowd was showing tiredness but did their best to make some noise. We get a really hard-hitting affair that one would expect. Ronda had a scary hard bump near the beginning of the match falling straight down on the floor almost on her head, barely clipping the ring apron on her way down. Charlotte and Becky tried to keep Ronda out of the equation as much as possible. They put up a good main event match for the tired crowd. The ending came when Charlotte took a table bump and Becky countered Piper’s Pit into a badly timed crucifix pin on Ronda. The match was good, but I think most will remember the botched pinfall finish. It was a worthy match for the WrestleMania main event slot.
Back live, Becky continues her promo on Shayna Baszler before Shayna attacks from behind. They are trying to make Shayna look to be equal to Ronda but I don’t think that comparison will work. It’ll be interesting to see which way this match goes at WrestleMania. It’s a wild card right now given the uncertainty after WrestleMania.
Aleister Black mauled some Jay Lethal lookalike in a spot more than a match ahead of his match at WrestleMania against the quarantined Bobby Lashley. Couldn’t Lashley have at least cut a promo on Tout about the match? Or, is Tout not a thing anymore? It doesn’t matter and neither does the match.
Our first actual live match is a six-man tag of WrestleMania opponents with The Street Profits and Kevin Owens taking on Angel Garza, Andrade, and Seth Rollins. The only problem is Andrade was injured last week so Austin Theory will now be taking his place. A good way to get a WrestleMania match, I guess. The actual match itself felt pretty much like paint by number until the conclusion. Dawkins spent most of the time as the face in peril until hot tagging Owens in. Owens and Garza went at it until Theory broke up the pin after an Owens Senton Bomb. Theory gets tossed out of the ring and Ford goes for a dive on him, but Theory may have missed the cue/spot and Ford crashes into the ramp. Big time ouchie there with the extra echo from the empty PC. Owens gets the win for his team and Rollins stomps him afterwards before heading to the back.
A commercial break allows Owens to recover to cut a good promo on Rollins about how the Performance Center about because of him. Owens is ready to put Rollins down and I’m hoping that will be the case. Owens needs this win far more than Rollins does.
Promo time with Edge is next and he cuts another fantastic promo on Randy Orton. Edge talks from the heart and as a true workhorse throughout the years. The one thing that surprised me was that Edge didn’t play the John Cena card on Orton. It had been known at the time that Orton was being groomed to be the next top guy for years to come but couldn’t stay out of trouble, which allowed John Cena to take that spot and blast off to the next level. I think that might be why Orton was always criticized as coasting throughout his career. His big rocket was given to Cena and he would never measure up on the second try. Cena mentioned it several years ago during a feud with Orton. The Last Man Standing Match should be excellent with a really good build.
A Kairi Sane-less Asuka is up next to beat up one of the NXT ladies. I personally would not have picked Kayden Carter for the job duty, but it did allow them to promote the last chance match on NXT this week. I think Shotzi Blackheart is in that match and would have been a better jobber pick. After the match, Asuka takes over the commentary table to scream something about Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Can we get Funaki and Asuka to call an entire PPV? Their commentary alone would be worth the price of admission.
Charlotte Flair gives Rhea Ripley a weak kick into a garage door to throw us into match replay number two, Brock Lesnar and Rey Mysterio for the WWE title in a No Holds Barred, No DQ (same thing) match at last year’s Survivor Series. The match was only seven minutes long but they squeezed in two commercial breaks in. The match was pretty good, but it was mostly Brock tossing Rey around like a crash test dummy. Rey looked like he might win with some help from Dominick until Brock retained the title.
Back live, we get a rundown of the 16 matches at WrestleMania, while not acknowledging the Universal Title match change. I guess that’ll happen on Friday?
Main event time and Brock is just standing in the ring while Paul Heyman talks as usual. Heyman told us Brock was special and listed who he beat. Brock knows to watch for the Claymore Kick and Drew will fall like the others before him. It was the same repetitive promo Heyman puts out for Brock’s feuds. It did do a decent job of building up Drew when he puts Brock down for the title.
Let’s look at the Highs and Lows:
Undertaker and Edge had the best promos by far this week. I’m really interested in seeing how those matches go.
The six-man tag was pretty good once it kicked into that next gear. I like how The Street Profits can make anything work in the empty PC.
That was a scary bump at the end of the six-man tag for Ford. I hope he is ok after that.
Why are they still promoting Roman Reigns versus Goldberg when everybody and their brother should know by now that match will not be happening? Saving the breaking news for WWE Backstage that nobody watches?
WrestleMania is shaping up to be an odd one with the empty Performance Center show. I hope that WWE takes another WrestleMania to Tampa and uses the pirate theme for it. I would love to have seen what the pirate ship stage would have looked like.
Please be safe out there in this crazy new world. I just found out last night during Raw that my friend who lives in New York City is safe, but has several friends who have gotten sick. Be safe and stay home.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.