Now Royal Rumble is over (read Tom Beasley’s full show review here), it’s all business on the Road to WrestleMania. Seth Rollins will be celebrating his Rumble match win and choosing which title to go for. Ronda Rousey will be talking about what’s next for her. The rest of the preview is pretty vague, so anything could happen really.
I’m Amanda, and this is the RAW review.
Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose
Nia Jax & Tamina def. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
Baron Corbin def. Kurt Angle
The Revival def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
The Riott Squad def. Natalya & Dana Brooke
Ronda Rousey def. Bayley
Braun Strowman def. Drew McIntyre
The Best Bits
» Seth Rollins opened the show to talk about his Royal Rumble match win. Last week he said he was going to outlast everyone because of his heart. This week he gets to say he’s going to the main event of WrestleMania. He promised himself that if he won the Royal Rumble he wasn’t going to do it, but he had to point at the sign. Some kids wanted to be astronauts or win the Superbowl when they grew up, but all he ever wanted was to point at that sign. Now he has a choice to make. He could go to SmackDown Live and challenge Daniel Bryan, or he could challenge Brock Lesnar. That decision is going to be difficult and he’ll take some time to think about it.
Triple H came out then. He said he’s glad Rollins got to point at the sign because he knows it’s his dream. He challenged him to bring back the old Seth Rollins because he knows that dream, he had that dream. Rollins stepped up and he’s proud of him (they were very emotional). The Rumble match is designed to test the limits of every superstar, until there is only one. Last night we found out the one is Seth “Freakin’” Rollins. Then he told Rollins that both champions were due to appear, and he had until the end of the night to tell him whose ass he’s going to kick at WrestleMania.
The crowd chanted ‘slay the beast’. Rollins said it will be one of the hardest decisions he’s ever made but if it has to be done… then he was interrupted by Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose said the father and son schtick was cute, but it makes him sick. He told Rollins that when they were driving around Florida together in beat up cars, Triple H didn’t believe in him and wanted to get rid of him. Ambrose always believed in him, always stood by his side. They came up together to take over WWE and it was Triple H who tried to stop them.
Triple H asked if Ambrose really wanted to go down the brotherhood route with the brother he stabbed in the back on the night their other brother announced he was fighting leukaemia again.
Ambrose replied, ‘I’m sorry, but this conversation doesn’t concern you’. Triple H told him everything in the ring concerns him. Ambrose accused Rollins of being a kiss-ass, told him he hopes he goes on and beat Brock Lesnar or Daniel Bryan, but the one man he’s never been able to beat without someone’s help is him. He goaded Triple H to make the match, Triple H started to leave the ring and Ambrose taunted him by asking if he had to ask permission from his father-in-law first. The crowd chanted ‘yes, he does’. That manipulation was too easy, Triple H demanded a referee.
Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins became our first match of the night. It’s weird having these two in a no-stakes unannounced match on RAW. Rollins started strong, battering Ambrose around ringside, but it’s tough to maintain control in a match where the two competitors know each other this well. Ambrose turned things around by shoving Rollins into the post a couple of times, but he couldn’t maintain it either. He got a two count with a Hook and Ladder, but Rollins started to build momentum with a pair of suicide dives. Looking at the WrestleMania sign nearly cost Rollins a defeat by roll-up, but that seemed to be the trigger he needed to finish things. Seth Rollins got the win with a Stomp.
Ambrose was still in the ring throwing a tantrum when Rollins had disappeared backstage. He was sat on a chair in the ring after the ads. He said he had something serious to say. When he signed for WWE… that was as far as he got before Nia Jax and Tamina came out for their match. They got in the ring and Jax went nose to nose trash-talking with Ambrose. When Tamina started to walk behind him he turned to look at her and Jax smacked him in the back of the head and knocked him out of the ring. He got back on the apron but allowed himself to be talked down by officials and walked away with a dismissive gesture.
Daniel Bryan was asked, backstage, if he thinks he has what it takes to beat Seth Rollins, considering he needed Rowan’s involvement to beat AJ Styles. Bryan was offended by the question and said he would have beaten Styles anyway. If Seth Rollins chooses him, he won’t wait until WrestleMania, he’ll end Rollins hopes tonight.
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar were out first for the final segment. Heyman said this should be the easiest choice Seth Rollins has ever had to make. He should choose Daniel Bryan, for his own sake. He and Bryan can put on a sports entertainment clinic, but no one needs to get into a fight with The Beast. He kept going in the same vein until Rollins appeared and got nose to nose with Lesnar. Lesnar grinned and looked away for a second, and Rollins smacked him in the face. Rollins took the fight to Lesnar, then took five F5’s, with the fifth one smashing him onto the belt. As Lesnar was leaving the ring, Rollins asked him if that was all he’d got. It wasn’t. Rollins took a sixth F5 as RAW went off air.
» Elias told the crowd they let him down, they need to be better, they should be on their feet for him as soon as he’s announced. The crowd chanted ‘we’re not worthy’ and he agreed with them. Jeff Jarrett came out and told Elias they had a problem after their interaction last night. Road Dogg turned up and told Elias that if he doesn’t want to perform for the WWE universe he can play with himself on his own time, ‘and if you’re not down with that, we’ve got two words for ya’… He tried to quell the ‘Holy Shit’ chant from the crowd, failed, and he and Jarrett sang ‘With My Baby Tonight’. They wandered down to the ring and Elias hit Road Dogg with the guitar and started beating on Jarrett in the ring. Jarrett fired up and put Elias down, but Elias punched him in the crotch when he went to hit him with the guitar and Jarrett took the guitar shot instead.
» Ronda Rousey had a tough time (that’s not why this is in the best bits). The crowd chanted for Becky, and booed her every time she started to speak, and she really struggled. She was trying to talk about her journey from one Royal Rumble to the next, and about Becky Lynch having a choice to make, but she was clearly having trouble. Bayley came out to accept the open challenge Rousey hadn’t managed to ask for (at a guess, I’d say she came out earlier than planned, it was that awkward).
Bayley vs Ronda Rousey was pretty good. Rousey was clearly still hurting after last night and Bayley took advantage of that to control the majority of the match. Bayley almost got a submission with a kneebar, but they both rolled out of the ring. A Bayley to Belly on the outside sent us into the ads and Bayley was still in control when we returned. She tried to put Rousey away with a Bank Statement, but Rousey got to the ropes.
Rousey has said that the mark of a champion is to be able to do it on your worst day, and she did. Her fightback was brief and brutal, she brought Bayley down from the top turnbuckle straight into the armbar, and Bayley tapped. Rousey helped Bayley to her feet after the match and they shook hands.
Then Becky Lynch turned up. She hobbled to the ring and said she’d told Rousey she’d find a way back to her. For the past year she’s been hearing about the baddest woman on the planet but the last time she came to RAW she dropped her in the middle of the ring. Rousey never came looking for her to prove she was the baddest, so Lynch has come looking to prove she’s not. Last night she won the Royal Rumble match and she doesn’t need time to think, she chooses Rousey. At WrestleMania, she’s going to break her mystique, take her title, and kick her ass in front of the whole world.
Rousey asked how Lynch’s leg is because she doesn’t just want to beat her, she wants to beat the best version of Becky Lynch that has ever existed. Everyone knows she could rebreak Lynch’s face faster than she could say Nia Jax. In fact, Rousey has the ability to kill her with her bare hands without breaking a sweat and the only thing stopping her is her decision not to. They’re the same age, so while Lynch was training Rousey was main-eventing in a sport that didn’t want women at all. Any ring she steps into is hers, she owns the ground under her feet and she’s going to own Lynch at WrestleMania.
Becky Lynch smiled as Ronda Rousey screamed and snarled at her then stormed out.
The Other Bits
» Nia Jax & Tamina vs Alexa Bliss & Mickie James – Elimination Chamber qualifying match – Alexa Bliss took a ton of punishment, to the point commentary started talking about ring-rust. She eventually tagged Mickie James in against Tamina. James dominated Tamina, but couldn’t prevent her tagging in Nia Jax. Jax got James on her shoulders and turned to find Bliss on the top turnbuckle, so she grabbed her and put her up there too. Nia Jax squatted them both before she Samoan dropped them for the win.
» Kurt Angle had a pre-match interview where he said he’d asked for the match against Baron Corbin because Corbin cost him his job. He was asked if he feared the same humiliation as he suffered at the hands of Drew McIntyre. He said the only person who should worry is Corbin. Kurt Angle vs Baron Corbin started with Corbin telling Angle how great he used to be. When Angle had heard enough, he punched him. Corbin quickly took control. Angle fought back into it from time to time. A trio of German suplexes was his best chance, but a knee to the face halted that momentum. He got the ankle lock on but Baron Corbin turned over, powered out, and delivered a Deep Six for the win. That wasn’t enough for Corbin, he went back to Angle after the match was over and gave him the End of Days.
» Finn Balor came to the ring, clearly hurting, in street clothes and not flinging his arms around for his entrance. He said last night he went toe to toe with Brock Lesnar for ten minutes, but he makes no excuses, Lesnar beat him and then Lesnar beat him again. He’s never been in the ring with someone as fast and powerful as Lesnar and today he’s hurt. But he’s not out there hanging his head, he’s there with his head held high because last night Lesnar beat him, then beat him again, because he made Brock Lesnar believe.
Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush appeared then. Rush said it was a disgrace that Balor even got a chance at the title. Balor almost beat Lesnar, but he wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell at beating Lashley. Lashley is bigger, faster, and stronger than Lesnar will ever be and the ass-whooping Balor took last night is nothing compared to what Lashley would do to him.
Balor said he lasted longer with Lesnar than the twelve seconds Lashley lasted in the Rumble. Lashley kicked Balor in the stomach, tossed him into a corner, then slammed him in the centre of the ring, twice. It looked like he was going to leave, but he went back for one more slam.
» The best thing about The Revival vs Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins was the flashback shots of Ryder and Hawkins’ previous tag team incarnations. Not that the match itself was bad, it really wasn’t. Ryder hasn’t been on tv regularly for months, and Hawkins has mostly been running up an epic losing streak on Main Event and live shows, so it’s nice to see them doing something, and the tag division needs boosting. It looked briefly like this might be the end of Hawkins bad luck, but he took a Shatter Machine and got pinned.
» Dana Brooke and Natalya talked backstage about Brooke being Natalya’s second choice partner after Ember Moon got hurt (elbow injury, she needs surgery). Natalya said they need to focus on doing their best to win. Brooke said not only is she better than Moon but she’s better than Natalya as well. Natalya & Dana Brooke vs The Riot Squad (Logan & Morgan) – Elimination Chamber qualifying match – was fine but short. Natalya took the pin via a roll-up after Dana Brooke was shoved into her by Sarah Logan while she had Liv Morgan in the Sharpshooter.
» Mojo Rawley was shown shouting about how he’s underappreciated and a nobody and there is no one to blame but… himself as it turned out, the camera panned to show him talking to a mirror
» Braun Strowman vs Drew McIntyre was the final match of the show. It was a good match which devolved into a beatdown on the outside. Corbin came down to help McIntyre when Strowman was about to hit McIntyre with the steps. Strowman beat Corbin and McIntyre down but caught a Claymore from McIntyre and took a beatdown from both of them.
It was an odd episode of RAW, but we now know two of the three teams from RAW for the Women’s Tag Team Championship match at Elimination Chamber. I’d put money on the other being the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection. They face the bizarre team of Alicia Fox and Nikki Cross next week. We also have our WrestleMania main events. Becky Lynch will face Ronda Rousey, and Seth Rollins will take on Brock Lesnar. WrestleMania is shaping up already.