Monday again and another RAW closer to WrestleMania. At this stage, the show is almost entirely an extended advert for the big show. They only have this week and next to put everything in place. With that in mind, there is only one pre-announced match – John Cena versus Kane. The rest of the preview just refers to updates on WrestleMania matches, and a what’s next for Matt Hardy.

I’m Amanda and I’m here to make sure you know what’s what with RAW.

The Opening Segment

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman opened the show. Heyman talked about Lesnar’s attack on Roman Reigns and showed a clip while Lesnar shifted from foot to foot like he needed to pee. After the footage, Heyman announced Reigns’ suspension has been lifted, but anyone expecting an interruption would be disappointed because he’s not there.

He ranted a bit about Reigns’ upbringing, saying the Samoan dynasty raised Roman Reigns to fight, wrestle, and win, but they didn’t raise him to be a man or he would be there. Brock Lesnar would have been there if last week’s beating had gone the other way, but Roman Reigns isn’t man enough.

To absolutely no-one’s surprise, Reigns emerged from the crowd. He grabbed a steel chair, but Lesnar got out of the ring and flattened him before he could use it. Lesnar dragged Reigns up but Reigns shoved him into the post then hit him about a bit with the chair. When he got too cocky and went for the superman punch Lesnar caught him and he took a suplex on the outside and a set of steps to the head.

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Lesnar threw him into the ring and hit him with the steps again. Then he straightened out the chair Reigns had bent over his body and returned the favour. Lesnar left the ring, came back to deliver an F5 onto the steps (the landing looked painful as hell), then stood on the steps with the title over his shoulder to finish the segment.

Roman Reigns was still leaving the arena by the time we came back from the break. Commentary spent a few minutes talking up the damage Lesnar had caused, and the implications for the match.

The Other Stuff

– Nia Jax vs Mickie James – Bliss accompanied James to the ring and the awful things they said about Jax were reshown before the match. Jax won with a Samoan drop after dominating the majority of the match. It would have been nice to see her dish out a harsher beating. Bliss attacked Jax after the match, got one blow in, then ran away. Nia Jax screamed after she then started to follow. Bliss ran backstage.

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– Long video package with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon about their upcoming WrestleMania match with Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle. Triple H said they’re in this position because Kurt Angle is an idiot. They painted a picture of Rousey as a vulnerable underdog out of her depth in someone else’s world, their world. They said after it’s over they will pick up Ronda Rousey, repackage her and reposition her to the world. But at WrestleMania, they will humble her as they have humbled every other superstar in WWE. They didn’t say anything about Kurt Angle after WrestleMania.

– Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali vs Drew Gulak and TJP – Cruiserweight sighting on RAW, it’s been a while. Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali have a Cruiserweight Championship match at Wrestlemania, and it should be one of the best matches on the card. Drake Maverick joined commentary and talked up the cruiserweight division beautifully. Great match as well, could have been longer. For the finish, Cedric Alexander hit the Lumbar Check on TJP but Ali had cheekily tagged himself in so Alexander wasn’t the legal man. Ali hit the 054 and pinned TJP.

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– Miz TV with Rollins and Balor, again – The Miz started proceedings by shouting at Dallas and Axel for letting him down and allowing him to be beaten up. Rollin appeared and told Miz he should be thanking The Miztourage because without them he wouldn’t be the Intercontinental Champion. Miz was refuting that when Dallas called him a ‘phony A-lister who can’t fight’. They didn’t have time to sort that out before Balor made his appearance. He wanted to help by clarifying what Dallas said. He eventually got Dallas to say it again, but when he went for it a third time Miz slapped him. He said he was trying to fire them up and The Miztourage were there letting Balor and Rollins play them. Miz was listing the people he would be better than when he became the longest reigning IC champ and included Curtis Axel’s dad, Mr Perfect. He apologised, but Axel turned on him as well and Miz ended up with Dallas and Axel in front of him, and Rollins and Balor behind.

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Sadly, it was all a ruse and The Miztourage attacked Balor and Rollins. Gallows and Anderson showed up and chased Dallas and Axel out of the arena. Miz took a slingblade from Balor but managed to evade the stomp from Rollins and got out of the ring. Balor and Rollins started arguing over the belt. Miz came back and was dealt with by both of them, then Balor took down Rollins as well.

– Kane did a promo to tell John Cena you shouldn’t call out demons who want to rest in peace. Cena isn’t going to WrestleMania because tonight he’s going straight to hell.

– Asuka vs Jamie Frost (jobber) – they interviewed Frost before the match, we were told it was her first match. She said Asuka had never seen her and wasn’t ready for her. She made the mistake of slapping Asuka seconds into the squash match and Asuka knocked her out with one kick.

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– Matt Hardy declared ‘The Great War’ is over, and entered himself into the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.

– Locker room segment with Bayley and Sasha Banks. Bayley apparently sent Banks a text informing her she’s entering in the Women’s Battle Royal. Banks accused her of being passive aggressive, Bayley said she thought she liked her passive. It got heated and Bayley said Banks keeps screwing her over because she knows she can’t beat her. Banks said she’s a four-time women’s champion. Bayley asked how long she kept it. Finally, after all the months of build, Sasha Banks attacked Bayley and they fought until officials pulled them apart. Let the feud begin.

– Braun Strowman vs Sheamus – Before the match, Sheamus and Cesaro demanded to know who Strowman’s tag partner was going to be so they could prepare. Braun Strowman said he would tell them if Sheamus could beat him. Like most Braun Strowman matches at the moment, it was going well for Sheamus until Strowman decided to retaliate, then it was all downhill. Cesaro tried some distraction techniques, and Sheamus managed to capitalise on a mistake from Strowman, but there was a sense of inevitability. Braun Strowman won with a powerslam.

– Kurt Angle brought Ronda Rousey to the ring. Rousey talked about Stephanie McMahon being ‘Trust find tough’ and ‘personal trainer tough’. She didn’t get to say much more before Absolution came down to welcome her to the show. Paige said Rousey needs friends to survive and offered Absolution as backup. Rousey declined by saying Angle has her back. Paige kept calling her baby girl as she explained she understands the pressure she’s under and told her she could become the fourth member of Absolution. Rousey said thank you, but no. Paige said she’d made a bad choice and turned potential best friends into enemies. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville entered the ring. Rousey took out Deville first, sent Mandy Rose into her, then put Mandy Rose in an armbar until Kurt Angle soothed her into letting go.

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– Gallows and Anderson vs The Miztourage – Decent enough match. Good but not spectacular. Nice to see Gallows and Anderson having a proper match in their own right. Some good tag team work from both sides. Gallows and Anderson won with the Magic Killer.

– Elias vs Rhyno – Elias sang his disparaging song, then Rhyno came out, with Heath Slater, for the match. Short match, nothing special. Elias is looking vicious and focused. He won with the Drift Away. After the match Elias attacked Heath Slater and gave him a Drift Away too.

– Next week Finn Balor will take on Seth Rollins. And Triple H and Stephanie McMahon will meet in the ring with Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey.

The Closing Segment – John Cena vs Kane – No Disqualification match

You’ve got to wonder how many more times in his career Kane will main event RAW.

It started at a rather sedate pace for a no-DQ match, but it escalated slowly. Cena got thrown into the steps, the barricades came into play, then they made their way up to the tech area by the announce desk. Kane suplexed Cena onto a metal barrier which bent beautifully.

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They made their way back to the ring, where Cena mixed several Undertaker moves and mannerisms into the match., still trying to get a reaction from the Dead Man. He did the sit up, and the throat slash, and a chokeslam. Kane put Cena through a table propped in the corner.

Kane brought another table into the ring, but the laws of wrestling dictate that if you brought it in you’re probably going through it. John Cena AA’d Kane through the table and got the pin.

Cena got frustrated after the match when there were no bells or lightning bolts. He screamed ‘where are you?’ and got the crowd to chant Undertaker. He said silence is not an answer, it’s either yes or no. Finally, he reminded Undertaker that he only has one week to do something. If he does nothing then he’s let Cena down, he’s let Kane down, He’s let the fans and everyone who admired or respected him know that he doesn’t care about them. The show closed with Cena staring into the camera and doing the Undertaker throat slash, then walking despondently away.

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As expected, there were a huge number of recaps in the show tonight. Everything that happened had everything that led to it played out as a recap. Standard pre-WrestleMania RAW really. Everything is on track to make this year’s WrestleMania one of the best on record, and definitely the longest. Go home show next week, make sure you check out the recap, right here as usual.