The final stop on the Road to WrestleMania was last night and you can read the full Fastlane review here. We’ve got four advertised matches on tonight’s card. Bobby Lashley goes one on one with Sheamus. Asuka takes on Peyton Royce. Jeff Hardy faces The Miz. And Kofi Kingston begins his road towards a WrestleMania tag team title defence against AJ Styles and Omos, with a match against Styles. After The Fiend’s reappearance at Fastlane, albeit a horrific melty version, Randy Orton is planning to summon him to RAW. And Rhea Ripley finally makes her RAW debut.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Bobby Lashley def. Sheamus
Asuka def. Peyton Royce
The Miz def. Jeff Hardy
Kofi Kingston def. AJ Styles
Drew McIntyre def. The Hurt Business
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax def. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Braun Strowman def. Elias
♦ WWE Champion Bobby Lashley, with The Hurt Business, vs Sheamus, opened the show, which is always a nice change from ten minutes of talking. Sheamus was still looking battered and beaten, and I think that’s fair enough considering he was battered and beaten at Fastlane only 24 hours ago. As you can imagine, he wasn’t in a great mood either, and he did his best to work a lot of that out on Lashley. The Hurt Business clearly had no faith in the way the champ was handling things, because Shelton Benjamin knocked Sheamus down at ringside while Cedric Alexander got up on the apron to distract the ref. He slapped Sheamus later in the match as well. Alexander’s next interference nearly got Lashley pinned with a rollup. He kicked out, but he lost control of the match. Alexander redeemed himself by distracting Sheamus long enough for Lashley to deliver the spinebuster that left Sheamus vulnerable to the Hurt Lock that finished the match.
In between all the interference, it wasn’t a bad match, but The Hurt Business did a lot of the heavy lifting. Benjamin and Alexander beat Sheamus up after the match. Drew McIntyre ran down and saw them off then got into the ring for a face to face with Bobby Lashley. McIntyre tried to goad Lashley into throwing the first punch, he even put his hands behind his back, but MVP managed to keep Lashley under control.
Backstage, Lashley told Benjamin and Alexander that he didn’t want their help or need their help. MVP explained that they made Lashley look like an embarrassment, just like it was an embarrassment when they lost the titles. He told them to think about what they’re going to do to make that right.
♦ Asuka vs Peyton Royce was, of course, a non-title match. Royce wants a chance to prove what she’s capable of and talked about it on RAW Talk a couple of weeks ago. She asked for this match and she got it. I think overall she did what she set out to do. She lost. Asuka tapped her out in the Asuka Lock. But the match was good, she came close to the pin a couple of times, and it got a respectable amount of time. Importantly, Royce looked like she belongs in the mix.
Rhea Ripley made her RAW debut at the end of the match, looking phenomenal. She said Asuka is one of the greatest champions in WWE history and she’s proved her point. A couple of weeks ago Charlotte Flair was out there challenging her for the title while Asuka was recovering from having her teeth knocked out. But now Flair isn’t here, she’s recovering from covid (early in RAW, Charlotte Flair tweeted that the reason for her absence is that she tested COVID positive). So on Ripley’s first official night at RAW, straight up, she’s challenging her to a championship match at WrestleMania.
Asuka told her Rhea’s not ready for Asuka, but she accepted. That’s going to be great. The match was later confirmed and I’m very happy Rhea Ripley is getting something closer to the WrestleMania moment she didn’t get last year.
♦ Adam Pearce is confused about why Drew McIntyre ran out to help Sheamus. McIntyre said ‘families have their problems’ and asked Pearce what he actually wanted. The Hurt Business had asked for a 2-on-1 handicap match and wanted to give McIntyre the opportunity before he told them no. McIntyre said he’d take the match with a stipulation, if he wins, Benjamin and Alexander are banned from ringside at WrestleMania. Pearce agreed.
♦ Miz TV started with The Miz complaining, mostly about Bad Bunny. So much complaining. I’m fairly sure Damian Priest is going to make him pay for referring to his as Bad Bunny’s ‘Little bouncer friend’. There was bragging as well, and to be fair he and John Morrison do have a nice collection of accolades, but it took him a long time to get to the main point. The point was, Bad Bunny is on the WrestleMania poster and they’re not.
He showed the footage of him hitting Bad Bunny with a guitar last week and said let that be a lesson to all the celeb wannabes who think they can do what WWE Superstars do. More ‘big news’, Miz and Morrison are debuting their Bad Bunny diss track ‘Hey Hey Hop Hop’ next week (they played a bit), and Miz wants a match with Bad Bunny at WrestleMania. He suggested Bad Bunny watch his match as a preview.
The Miz vs Jeff Hardy began with Hardy challenging Miz to make Morrison go to the back and prove he could beat him alone. Surprisingly, Morrison went. It was a more serious Miz, equal parts aggression and arrogance, which is when I think Miz is at his best. He could beat Hardy on his own, and he did, with a Skull Crushing Finale.
Bad Bunny smacked Miz across the back with a guitar after the match. I’m fairly confident that’s not the first time a guitar to the back has been used to accept a match. He did accept verbally as well, and he called Miz a bitch. The match was made official a few minutes later.
♦ Riddle zoomed past AJ Styles and Omos while they were on their way to the ring for AJ Styles vs Kofi Kingston. Styles was confident he was going to make The New Day look really bad, and I think it’s easy to be confident when you’re looking at your bodyguard at nipple height. Styles wanted to talk about the WrestleMania match being Omos’ debut. How great it will be for him to become tag champion in his first match, and how phenomenal it will for Omos to get the chance to tag with him. He acknowledged they have to ‘put The New Day over’, but they’re going to beat them.
Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston disagreed. Kingston pointed out that to become a great team you first have to become a team, which Styles and Omos are not. He also suggested Styles was a small man overcompensating for his size by hiding behind a giant and commanding him to do his evil bidding. Woods said Styles would only bring him down in a tag team. Styles failed the quiz on how well he knows Omos, and in the process found out Omos’ favourite superstar is Andre the Giant and not him.
When the match eventually started, it was good. Omos and Xavier Woods got in each other’s faces on the outside heading into a break, but it didn’t come to anything. Woods put Styles off his Phenomenal Forearms setup by playing trombone. He went for it while Omos was stalking Woods, but Kingston was ready and delivered SOS for the win.
♦ Eric Bischoff is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
♦ Sheamus put Drew McIntyre’s assistance down to respect but said he didn’t ask for or appreciate it. Then his interview got crashed by Riddle on his scooter, asking questions the way a toddler does. Sheamus hit him in the stomach with his own scooter.
♦ Drew McIntyre vs The Hurt Business was a really fun watch. Brutal, but fun. McIntyre got the win after Claymoring Benjamin and then Alexander. There was some intense staring at the WrestleMania sign after the match from McIntyre. He now only has to contend with Lashley and MVP.
Backstage, MVP yelled at Benjamin and Alexander, then so did Bobby Lashley. Lashley also walked into the locker room (or the guys who normally chase the 24/7 champion) and promised anyone who takes out Drew McIntyre before WrestleMania a title shot.
♦ Naomi and Lana joined commentary for Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax, with Reginald, vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke. Reginald somersaulted down the ramp and Shayna Baszler threw her arms up in frustration. She’s done with Jax’… whatever he is. He kept making Jax look at him from the apron, which made her miss at least one tag because she wasn’t paying attention and Baszler nearly got pinned. He ended up in the ring after getting in Mandy Rose’s face and did another trick for Jax. I’m still not sure whose interests he’s serving. Jax got the win with a Samoan drop on Dana Brooke, but it was chaos. Jax chose to celebrate with Reginald instead of Baszler and Baszler was not impressed.
♦ Alexa Bliss stepped up the creepy factor again at Fastlane and she kept that look for her message from Alexa’s Playground. She said she knows Randy Orton wanted her out of his life, but she’s still there, and so is He. You can’t always get what you want, but tonight, Orton should be careful what he wishes for.
♦ WWE Superstars are encouraging people to go and get vaccinated as soon as they’re able. So go do that.
♦ Hulk Hogan and Titus O’Neil are hosting WrestleMania this year. Congratulations to Titus O’Neil. I’m sure he’ll be great.
♦ Elias failed to beat Braun Strowman on Shane McMahon’s behalf last night, so he asked for another go. His request was granted, and Elias vs Braun Strowman happened, but not until after Elias and Shane McMahon sang a song together in the ring called ‘Braun is Stupid’. The commentary was voicing the same question all of us had when they asked how smart that was seconds before having a match with him. They played train noise when Strowman did his running around the ring thing. That’s super-tacky.
Shane McMahon hit Strowman across the back with his crutch after Strowman pinned Elias again. The crutch deformed around Strowman, but Braun Strowman didn’t even flinch. McMahon’s heavily strapped leg appeared fine as he sprinted up the ramp. Strowman challenged McMahon to the inevitable WrestleMania match. McMahon accepted and said Strowman could have any match he wanted and he’d still win because Braun is stupid.
♦ Drew McIntyre versus Bobby Lashley, Sasha Banks versus Bianca Belair, and The Miz versus Bad Bunny will be on WrestleMania night one. Roman Reigns versus Edge and Asuka versus Rhea Ripley will be on night two.
♦ Randy Orton said it seems like it was just yesterday he stood there and watched The Fiend burn alive. But apparently, he didn’t finish the job because last night at Fastlane once again he could smell it. That smell of burnt flesh that gets stuck in your nostrils… He doesn’t know quite what he saw but it was an abomination. Tonight he’s going to finish the job and there will be no more mind games, no more Alexa Bliss, and no more Fiend. The bullshit comes to an end.
Bliss came to the stage with her jack in the box and said she told him to be careful what he wished for. She played the box until a Fiend puppet popped out then the lights went out. Fire shot out of the ring posts Kane style, and Melty Fiend was in the ring. The siren noise kept playing and the lights were red, but The Fiend stood still while Orton got a can of fuel out of his bag and doused him with it. Commentary complained of the stench of gasoline, but instead of lighting the match, Orton delivered an RKO.
Bliss was on the apron by then and Orton faced her with The Fiend getting up behind him. When he turned back to The Fiend he was caught with the mandible claw and put down with Sister Abigail. That pleased Alexa Bliss and she skipped around before pointing at the WrestleMania sign. The Fiend joined her in pointing at the sign as they stood over Orton’s prone body.
Not a bad episode of RAW, but not an outstanding one either. It definitely feels like WrestleMania season though.