Not much on the preview tonight. Brock Lesnar, Drew McIntyre, and Randy Orton are all due to appear. That’s it. We’ll see what we get. As is the current normal, we’re back in the Performance Center.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Andrade & Angel Garza def Ricochet & Cedric Alexander
Street Profits def. Shane Thorne & Brendan Vink
Aleister Black def. Leon Ruff
Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton were tonight’s commentary team.
♦ Paul Heyman opened the show in his inimitably eloquent fashion and talked about the duration and domination of Brock Lesnar’s career. Drew McIntyre’s answering promo was played. The Heyman and Lesnar appeared in the ring.
Heyman said we are living in uncertain times, but Brock Lesnar is a point of certainty in the chaos. Drew McIntyre can do anything he wants to prepare, but he cannot beat Brock Lesnar. Not at this unique WrestleMania. He talked and talked and talked, as he does, but it all boiled down to the same thing. McIntyre can’t beat Lesnar. Lesnar is going to take his revenge for the Royal Rumble and for McIntyre knocking him on his ass. And Lesnar will still be champion when it’s all over.
♦ We got a replay of Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins vs John Cena from Royal Rumble 2015. Great match, and one I haven’t seen in a while. I’m quite enjoying the PPV replays.
♦ AJ Styles did a promo from the stage with Gallows and Anderson, to hype his WrestleMania match against The Undertaker. They’re really pushing the ‘WrestleMania is just too big for one night’ narrative. Styles made lots of creative insults (gothic Dog the Bounty Hunter for example) and showed a social media post Taker made of him and his wife in a pool with a tiger, talking about conservation. He said he doesn’t want the Mark Calaway who’s posting selfies on Twitter, he wants The Undertake of old but he’s nowhere to be found. But he’s going to bring back the Deadman. He wants a Boneyard Match. Styles is also still insulting Michelle McCool, which is unlikely to end well for him.
Angel Garza and Andrade have a tag title match at WrestleMania. Zelina Vega said they’re the most talented and charismatic team and Andrade is about to be the most decorated champion in all of WWE. And after WrestleMania, the Street Profits can jump into the crowd and drink from plastic cups and dance around all they want, but they won’t be champions anymore. Angel Garza found a bit of time to flirt with Charly Caruso as well.
♦ Andrade & Angel Garza vs Ricochet & Cedric Alexander was the first of two tag matches on the show. The ref reminded Garza he had to hold the tag rope to make the tag legal, so he took it off and tied it to the turnbuckle nearest Andrade. Garza managed to cheat by attacking Ricochet after Andrade threw him to the outside. It started to get out of hand, then Street Profits came out to join commentary and we went for a break.
While guests on commentary are usually an unwelcome distraction, they’re helpful for these empty arena shows for the added noise. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made a lot of noise. They talked about how much the Performance Center means to them and gave their thoughts on their opponents, but they also hyped the match a lot which was great.
It was a brilliant match, finished with an Andrade elbow to Cedric Alexander. Street Profits stood and applauded their WrestleMania opponents then casually strolled to the ring and got into a brawl.
♦ Street Profits vs Shane Thorne & Brendan Vink was pretty decent too. Haven’t seen Shane Thorne for a long time and I have no idea who Brendan Vink is, but it was fun to watch even if the Street Profits win was a foregone conclusion.
♦ Riddick Moss is no longer 24/7 Champion. He lost the title while jogging. Moss pulled a ref out of a fancy car and while he was grilling him about who he was there with, R-Truth climbed out of the boot and pinned him.
♦ Charly Caruso had a sit-down interview with Shayna Baszler and tried to find out what kind of champion she was going to be. Baszler wanted to know why Caruso looked nervous. Then she started asking about the level of brutality Becky Lynch could expect. Baszler got aggressive and told Caruso to ask the question she really wanted to, why she wanted the title if all she wants to do is destroy. The answer was that she wants the title because she loves to destroy and taking the title will destroy Becky Lynch. She’s shown everyone exactly who she is from the very beginning.
That was the last question because halfway through the next one Becky Lynch hit Baszler from behind with a chair. Lynch delivered a second chairshot, smiled, and left.
♦ Aleister Black vs Leon Ruff was a little pointless. Black sat in the middle of the ring until Ruff went for him, then a Black Mass finished the job. Hardly worth the bother.
♦ Kevin Owens came to the ring and invited Seth Rollins to the ring. For once, Rollins was alone. Rollins wanted to take issue with Owens saying the Performance Center gives him a home-field advantage. As far as he’s concerned, the building was built off his blood, sweat and tears. There was no Performance Center when he got to WWE, just a dilapidated warehouse, and he was told on his first day that nothing he did before mattered. He suffered for people like Owens and rebuilt the system from the ground up. He’s been trying to do the same for RAW but Owens keeps standing in his way and he doesn’t know if it’s selfishness or ego, but he refuses to fall in line. None of it exists without Seth Rollins, no NXT and no Performance Center. Every single person who steps in there owes him. There’s no Gargano, Ciampa, Undisputed ERA, TakeOver or women’s evolution without Seth Rollins. Most importantly without Seth Rollins, there is no Kevin Owens.
Owens tried to interrupt but Rollins shouted him down to be allowed to finish. He wanted to know why Owens picked WrestleMania to challenge him when he’s had so many great WrestleMania moments and Owens has had none. Last year, Owens wasn’t even on the show. Owens can’t beat him on his worst day and WrestleMania is never his worst day because under pressure he becomes a god. Owens doesn’t stand a chance.
Then Rollins left and Owens never got to respond.
♦ As a way to hype Charlotte Flair versus Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania, they showed Charlotte Flair vs Asuka from WrestleMania 34. After it, Charly Caruso asked Flair what it was like to relive the WrestleMania moment. She said it was inspiring for her, and she’s sure it made Rhea Ripley want to be like her. She listed her accolades, and there are quite a few of them. She suggested Ripley watch a few of her legacy matches as a history lesson, because she might learn a thing or two.
♦ Randy Orton got the final segment. He said that what he did came from a place of love but it has been taken as an act of brutality. He directed an apology to Edge, saying he lied to Beth when he said Edge was a junkie for the crowd. Edge is a junkie to his own ego. Adam Copeland is a junkie for Edge. There was something Edge said last week that rang true, and that’s the fact Orton never had to pay his dues to get an opportunity. He was handed the opportunity because of who he is, but that didn’t guarantee him a Hall of Fame career. He worked for that. Mick Foley didn’t hand him anything as Edge suggested, he took it. He has got grit, but maybe that means different things to them because grit to him doesn’t mean sitting at home for nine years wondering what if. It means longevity. In an industry that seldom has any. It’s being the one constant in the locker room. No one there has accomplished half the things he has. No one has more grit than him, including Edge.
Would Edge have said no if he’d been asked to join Evolution? Everything he’s done is because he loves Edge and his family, but now he’s been challenged to a Last Man Standing match. Edge may be writing the story, but Orton is going to write the next chapter at WrestleMania and end it. He accepts.
The show was well padded with recaps and with adverts for NXT, SmackDown, and WrestleMania, but it was a very watchable show. They rearranged the space to make it less obviously empty, and that helped a lot. Now the initial weirdness of not having a crowd has worn off, I quite like the simplicity of the shows. Stay safe everyone.