I go into any episode of Monday Night Raw hoping to just be consistently entertained for three hours. I’m not picky about how the show gets me there. Obviously I want good wrestling matches and compelling storylines, but you know what else I want? Dave Batista spitting all over a microphone in a well-tailored, glittery blazer. This week’s episode delivered on all these fronts (after a little bit of a hesitant start).
The Shield Opened the Show
Roman, Dean and Seth — once known as the hybrid SWAT team cosplay group and boy band called The Shield — came to the ring to huge cheers. They were surrounded by signs supporting Roman Reigns, in particular, who previously announced he was diagnosed with leukemia last year. (One fan also had a sign saying he needs help getting a new kidney. 2019 is depressing.)
Reigns cut an okay promo that was saved by the very genuine feeling that all three were very happy to be back together.
Seth Rollins and Paul Heyman Said “BRRRROCK LESNARRRR” to Each Other
I’m not that excited for the Big Brock Lesnar/Seth Rollins Universal Championship Wrestlemania Event yet, but this was fun. It has me hopeful that they can get me excited in the next few weeks. Lesnar is set to appear on next week’s Raw for some kind of Q&A. Also, Shelton Benjamin (who is apparently Lesnar’s sparring partner) showed up and had a little match with Rollins. Benjamin moves well, looks jacked, and has both magnetism and a good face. Why don’t we see more of him?
Finn Balor Lost the Intercontinental Championship to Bobby Lashley — Due to Interference by Lio Rush and/or a Lack of Dick Zoom
I miss the dick zoom. I miss the black trunks. I miss when Finn Balor wasn’t feuding with Bobby Lashley, who is boring even though he is insane to look at. Maybe if I look at him long enough I will become buff via osmosis. Bobby Lashley’s high flying mouthpiece/manager Lio Rush is at least back to make him more interesting. My fingers are crossed that the Wrestlemania plans for the Intercontinental Championship are going to be something that isn’t just more of this.
Ronda Rousey Yelled and Was Mean to Dana Brooke, Demanded $60
Ronda Rousey’s character motivations continue to perplex me. She explained that she interfered on Sunday to make sure Becky Lynch would be in the Wrestlemania match with her and Charlotte Flair. That way she can prove to the world that the WWE is fake. The implication, I guess, is that all of WWE is fake except for the in-ring actions of Ronda Rousey. It’s trying to be meta without understanding what meta actually means.
Dana Brooke emerged from whatever basement WWE’s been keeping her in to deliver a nice little promo about how hard she works and how much she loves WWE… and then accepted an open challenge that Ronda didn’t issue. None of it made very much sense. Ronda beat up on Dana but then refused to put her in an armbar unless someone gave her $60.
Yes. She actually said: “Pay 60 bucks, then I’ll show you an armbar.” I hope one day we can all look back on this and laugh. I don’t understand what she’s so angry about or why she needs $60. She’s got Fast & Furious and Mortal Kombat money. Actually, I’m already looking back on it and laughing. Comment below with what you think Ronda Rousey needs the $60 for.
Aleister Black, Ricochet, Bobby Roode, and Chad Gable Did Cool Wrestling Stuff
You know another thing I like? Having a fun time watching wrestling. This was essentially a continuation of these two teams’ Fastlane match against the Revival, to which I say “yes please.” I particularly enjoyed Ricochet and Chad Gable’s interactions. Great chemistry all around and I am excited to see more from these four! Black & Ricochet won and it was very clear from commentary that they are being prioritized as a pretty big deal. There’s really no storyline here except that these two teams love wrestling and want to have some championship belts, but when the in-ring work is this good, that’s plenty of story. My only minor nitpick here is that the Revival didn’t make an appearance. Not even a shot of the champs watching from a weird angle backstage!
Braun Strowman Destroyed a Sports Car
NOW WE’RE TALKING!!! Braun Strowman’s grudge against America’s third or fourth most loathed ventriloquist dummy is ramping up. Colin Jost sent Strowman a little red car with a passive aggressive note apologizing for picking a fight with him the week before. Then Strowman pulled said car apart while shouting!! That’s what Braun Strowman is all about. I want more of this every week until Wrestlemania, when Braun will pull apart Lorne Michaels’ private plane while Jost weeps.
Elias and No Way Jose Tussled
The only really remarkable thing about this was this exchange before the tussling, when Elias did his usual “insult the city” schtick in his hometown of Pittsburgh:
Elias: I come back into town and I’m quickly reminded of just how miserable everyone is here.
Pittsburgh crowd: *cheers loudly*
Women’s Tag Team Shenanigans
The Women’s Tag Championship match on Sunday ending with a shot of Natalya and Beth Phoenix hugging was no fluke. The Divas of Doom are back. Natalya’s match against Nia Jax last night ended abruptly when Beth interfered. Then Bayley and Sasha Banks jumped Nia and Tamina backstage and everyone brawled. I guess they’re setting up a three team angle…? The prospect of Nia Jax & Tamina, the Divas of Doom and Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection in a threeway match at Wrestlemania isn’t something that I’m super excited about. But adding one or two more teams (I would do one from Smackdown, one from NXT) and making it a ladder match would help really solidify the value and prestige of this new championship. I mean, picture recent signee Io Shirai moonsaulting onto Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix in front of a live crowd of 80,000. I have chills just thinking about it.
Two 50 Year Old Stacks of Meat Yelled at Each Other and Announced a No Holds Barred Match for Wrestlemania
I know Dave Batista and Triple H just standing there yelling at each other is far from fresh, but I loved it. These guys can talk! Maybe the ‘Mania match will just be them spitting and shouting at each other even more. I cannot emphasize enough just how wetly Big Dave delivered his lines or how much I love his coordinating nose ring and sunglasses. (Also, take note John Cena!! This is how to fit a suit on a body made out of one million perfect muscles.)
Kurt Angle Announced His Retirement and Wrestled His Last Match in His Hometown of Pittsburgh
Kurt Angle still looks pretty good for a 50-year-old with a decades long history of severe spine issues! He picked up the victory over Apollo Crews, who was able to get a few impressive looking spots in, but this match was more of a feel-good moment than a real bout.
Nothing Says “I’m Sorry for Beating Up Our Friend the Night You Announced You Were Taking Time Off to Treat Your Cancer” Like Getting Your Ass Kicked by an Enormous Wet Scottish Guy… Right?
Before Baron Corbin could come out for his main event match against Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre attacked, giving Roman a (hopefully fictitious) concussion. I was never the biggest Shield fan, but stuff like Seth Rollins gently coaxing Roman backstage to get checked out, and Dean Ambrose demanding an immediate match against the man who messed up his friend, have me completely on-board.
Ambrose and McIntyre brawled all over the arena and I had a blast. The segment and match played to everyone’s strengths, making it a perfect close to the show. The whole thing got me both totally invested in whatever is next for the Shield AND impatient to see more of Drew McIntyre being a big, wet, horribly mean boy.