I went into this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw with a very clear picture of what my ideal wrestling show looks like. No, I’m not talking about the recent New Japan Cup shows. I’m talking about Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide’s Rey de Reyes event this past Saturday. It had everything I want out of wrestling: death defying high flying, terrifying botches, exquisitely detailed gear, bootleg superhero costumes, free sandwiches, a no stakes cagematch that didn’t follow any known rules of cagematches, and a literal sword. English language commentator Vampiro even interrupted his own commentary to defend his relationship with Insane Clown Posse — they are “brothers for life” apparently — against the slander in the Twitch stream chat. That’s good wrestling.
Often when people critique WWE, they do it with this attitude that having WWE be more no-nonsense and focused on the in-ring product would be better. I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, I’d like to see some good wrestling, but you know what else I’d like to see? Fire, bleeding, swords, clowns, and free sandwiches.
Monday Night Raw this week had none of those things, unfortunately, but it did have Becky Lynch trying to sell me Head and Shoulders shampoo, which is a step in the right direction. (Also the idea that someone as talented, charming and beautiful as Becky Lynch also suffers from dry scalp makes me feel so valid, you know? #ChronicDandruffSquad)
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman opened the show to a chorus of boos
Instead of the Q&A that had been teased last week, we got some Paul Heyman promos on Seth Rollins and Brock’s history with smaller men — yes, he’s struggled with them, but he still always wins. Drew McIntyre came out to say Scottish things to Brock and Paul, giving Seth Rollins the opportunity to show up and just wail on him with a chair for a little bit. Rollins did some “this could be you” faces at Brock, but Paul Heyman dragged his client away.
The Intercontinental Championship Picture Remains the Same
Fresh from celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden with boxer Michael Conlan, Finn Balor was joined by Braun Strowman against Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush. Two teams consisting of one small athletic man and one enormous freak each is a smart recipe, and Lio Rush and Braun Strowman in particular worked very well together. The match ended with Bobby Lashley walking up the ramp before the bell had rung, abandoning his manager in the ring with Strowman. The relationship between Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush isn’t exactly something I’m dying for the WWE writers to do a deep dive on, but it does make Rush feel much more sympathetic. If Braun Strowman and Finn Balor become a regular tag team, what would you want their tag team name to be?
The Musical Stylings of Elias Will Headline Wrestlemania
In a Moment of Bliss segment, Elias explained to Wrestlemania host Alexa Bliss how important performing his music at Wrestlemania is to him, since he sees last year’s Wrestlemania as the thing that sparked his current string of interruptions. This was, of course, interrupted once again by No Way Jose’s conga line, led by tag team Heavy Machinery. As Alexa and Elias berated the dancers, a burger shirt man wearing a Pentagon Jr mask and elf shoes revealed himself to be No Way Jose himself. He and Elias had a brief match, and it was about what you would expect. Elias won via pinfall.
Remember when Elias was feuding with Braun Strowman and they kept destroying different kinds of instruments? That was great. I miss that. For two guys with such gimmicky gimmicks, there’s an astonishing lack of shenanigans that goes on in the ring with Elias and No Way Jose.
Kurt Angle and Chad Gable Exchanged Ankle Locks and It Ruled
The Kurt Angle Farewell Tour continued with the announcement that although there are a lot of people Angle would want to have a match with at Wrestlemania, the one man he wants to beat is Baron Corbin. Which, woof. Okay. His subsequent match against fellow Olympian Chad Gable, however, really rubbed in what a bummer that Mania announcement is. It’s probably a joke, right? Like something will happen and he’ll face a vet like John Cena or a newcomer like Matt Riddle or something.
— matthew riddle (@SuperKingofBros) March 19, 2019
Angle vs. Gable was awesome, though, and really emphasized just how much the very physically messed up 50 year old man can still do. Between this and the solid showing that Angle put on last week with Apollo Crews, I think we can look forward to the rest of the Farewell Tour being an appropriately entertaining cap on Angle’s career. (Hey, maybe Riddle can get a Raw match? Come on Vince, please?) Chad Gable tapped out to Kurt Angle’s ankle lock.
Divas of Doom and Boss N Hug Made Wrestlemania Official
The Boss N Hug Connection announced that they will be on this week’s episode of Smackdown Live to accept the Iiconics’ challenge for the women’s tag belts, which I’m really looking forward to. Natalya and Beth Phoenix joined them in the ring to officially announce two things: Beth Phoenix’s return to WWE and their challenge to Bayley and Sasha for the tag team championship. As apathetic as I was feeling last week about the prospect of this being the Wrestlemania match, these four women could barely contain their excitement enough to deliver their promos. Natalya and Beth may not wrestle exactly how I want them to, but the announcement that this was happening had them glowing like newlyweds.
Would I rather see Sasha and Bayley wrestle some new talent before Sasha’s spine completely dissolves? Of course I would. But hey, I’m not heartless, I’m just fussy and kind of mean. I’m thrilled for Beth and Natalya. (I would still like to see a newer team added to the Mania match, though.)
A few minutes into Sasha vs. Natalya, Nia Jax entered the arena to tell Beth Phoenix about how much prettier and more talented she is. Tamina jumped out and beat up both other teams I guess? The camera only showed her jumping Beth, but Sasha and Bayley were also on the floor at the end of the segment. As a big fan of Nia Jax’s Instagram, it kills me to say this, but she and Tamina are a real bummer of a team, and I wish they weren’t in this angle.
Mojo Rawley Yelled At Himself In A Mirror In A Dark Room
Former defensive lineman, friend of Gronk, and winner of the 2017 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Mojo Rawley was back in his weird dark room this week talking to his reflection. In case you’ve missed this, Mojo Rawley has been doing this for the last few months. It’s stupid, overwrought, and plays to absolutely none of Rawley’s strengths as a performer, so I love it.
The Collision We’ve All Been Waiting For… Ricochet vs Jinder Mahal
Is anyone else worried about Ricochet? Between NXT tapings, Fastlane, Raw and Smackdown, he wrestled five matches last week in four different cities. The Chicago crowd sounded thrilled to see him, and I don’t blame them! In spite of his busy schedule, he hasn’t been taking it easy in the ring, and this match with Jinder Mahal — that didn’t even make it into the 90 minute Hulu cut of the episode — was no exception. Fortunately for Ricochet’s knees, it was relatively short, ending with him hitting a 630 splash and pinning Jinder Mahal to get the win.
“Listen to Dana Brooke screaming in agony”
Maybe it’s because she wanted to look extra orange for her first title match or maybe it’s because multiple people on Twitter have accused WWE of replacing her with a look-alike, but Dana Brooke was much more recognizably Dana Brooke looking this week. After delivering a shaky but heartfelt promo in her perfectly flat and frankly inimitable Ohio accent, Brooke tapped out to Ronda Rousey’s armbar in seconds.
Rousey, who was assigned a security detail after being “fined” earlier in the episode, refused to remove the hold, then was escorted out by her husband. I guess she got her $60?
To quote color commentator Renee Young, “poor Dana.”
Apollo Crews Pinned Baron Corbin
You know who’s good at wrestling? Apollo Crews. After interrupting a conversation between Baron Corbin and the Revival and letting Corbin know that no one likes him, Apollo Crews got another Raw match. Commentary may have spent the whole thing talking about Baron Corbin and Kurt Angle, but this was another nice reminder that Apollo Crews has pretty impressive in-ring ability.
Batista Does Not Like Triple H
I guess it’s uncool to be glad that Batista is getting a Wrestlemania match since he’s a part timer with a bad workrate or whatever. But try telling this segment of Dave Batista answering questions in his “home office” in Tampa that he’s not good at wrestling. If sitting in a leather chair shouting “INTERVIEW OVER. GET OUT OF MY OFFICE” isn’t good wrestling, what is? There’s a reason he’s a successful movie star, and that reason is that it’s fun to watch him say and do things. Pro wrestling that makes you say “this isn’t even good, but it’s so good” is some of my absolute favorite pro wrestling.
Alexa Bliss Has One Week to Figure Out A Peace Deal Between Braun Strowman and the Blandest Men in America
This backstage segment of Alexa Bliss confronting Braun Strowman and asking if she can figure out how to squash his beef with Colin Jost and Michael Che served mostly to set up what will probably be a very fun, very destructive Moment of Bliss next week. Still, Braun Strowman thinking Bliss’ offer to “broker a peace” meant she was offering to break something for him was a very funny joke that is worth mentioning in this recap since I’m still laughing about it.
Hey Drew, Are You Sure About This My Guy?
The main event match last night was Drew McIntyre vs Seth Rollins, which makes sense since Drew beat up Seth’s boys last week and also because McIntyre looks kind of like you opened Seth Rollins in Photoshop and just did a quick Image Size > 125% > Apply Filter > “Scottish” > Save As… > drew_mcintyre.jpg
Instead of going right into entrances and the match, we got another Drew McIntyre promo first, and this one was… challenging. Listen, I get that this is professional wrestling. I get that professional wrestling is carny nonsense. But addressing a promo to Roman Reigns by using the real life name that he revealed when he announced he was taking time off to get treatment for his Leukemia, and then saying “you may have beaten Leukemia, but on the grandest stage of them all, you will never beat me” is a lot. That’s a lot, writers of Monday Night Raw.
I’m conflicted on it. On the one hand, I appreciate how gross it is, because wrestling should always be somewhat gross. On the other hand, it’s gross, and lends credit to the people who were doubting the validity of Roman’s illness in the first place. On the other other hand, if we can’t be gross and tasteless in pro wrestling, where can we be gross and tasteless? What did you think? I’m torn.
McIntyre and Rollins faced off to end the episode, and it was everything you’d expect from a Drew McIntyre Seth Rollins Raw main event — athletic, impressive, moist, and a little bit difficult to discern which white guy with long dark hair and a beard was which. Lesnar and Heyman came out and distracted Seth Rollins, allowing Drew McIntyre to get the pin.
- Big Dave in his home office
- Gable vs Angle
- Everything about Braun Strowman is fun right now
- Beth Phoenix's bejeweled tank top that I begged my mom to buy me in 2001
- Dana Brooke's speaking voice
- Becky Lynch's flake free scalp
- Worrying about Ricochet's schedule
- IDK about that promo Andrew
- Nia and Tamina
- An awful lot of filler
- No free sandwiches or clowns or swords