The headline for tonight’s RAW seems to be that Drew McIntyre is a hunted man after Bobby Lashley offered a title shot to anyone who takes him out before WrestleMania. Riddle gets an opportunity against Sheamus after Sheamus hit him with his own scooter last week. That’s it for advertised matches, but Asuka and Rhea Ripley have their contract signing.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Sheamus def. Riddle
Braun Strowman def. Jaxson Ryker
Bobby Lashley def. Shelton Benjamin
Xavier Woods def. AJ Styles (DQ)
Naomi def. Shayna Baszler
Drew McIntyre def. Ricochet
Drew McIntyre def. Mustafa Ali
♦ Drew McIntyre being interviewed backstage about Lashley’s offer to the locker room. He said he wanted the locker room to think about two things before they jump him. One, is Lashley good for his offer. And two, if they dare come for him, they’ll get a good old fashioned Scottish arse-kicking.
♦ The Hurt Business opened the show proper, with another official announcement from MVP. Bobbly Lashley will walk in and out of WrestleMania the champion. They reiterated that the offer is to take McIntyre’s place in the title match at WrestleMania and asked for volunteers. None arrived, so MVP moved on to dealing with Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander, who last week got themselves banned from ringside at Mania.
Bobby Lashley told them they were becoming an embarrassment and he can’t count on them for anything right now. He worked too long and hard and can’t associate himself with incompetents. MVP agreed and gave them an opportunity to speak up for themselves.
Benjamin and Alexander got angry, said it could have been done in private instead of embarrassing them on television, and reminded Lashley he wouldn’t even be champion without them. Benjamin got in MVP’s face for trying to back him away with his cane. Lashley punched Cedric Alexander and Benjamin pulled him away. Then Lashley and Benjamin went at it suits and all. Alexander thought about trying to help Benjamin because he really needed it, but he thought better of it. Lashley kicked Benjamin out of the ring before kicking them out of The Hurt Business and reminding the locker room the offer is still open.
Backstage, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander demanded one on one matches against Lashley, Benjamin this week and Alexander next. Adam Pearce wouldn’t confirm it straight away, so Alexander gave him a mouthful about who was really in control, and they left.
MVP joined commentary from the first match on, as a temporary replacement for Samoa Joe.
♦ Riddle suggested Sheamus might have attacked him because he was having a bad day, or maybe he had a tummy ache or doesn’t have a soul. He said it doesn’t matter because it pissed him off and he doesn’t like to be pissed off… then he got distracted and went to ask Titus O’Neil about roasting a pig in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania. It feels a little like Riddle is stealing R-Truth’s confused gimmick, but he’s nowhere near as good at it. Sheamus knocked him off his scooter into the side of a packing crate after O’Neil left.
Riddle vs Sheamus was the first match of the night. Riddle’s flip flop flick now has cartoon birds, presumably brought to you by the same person responsible for turning Braun Strowman into Thomas the Tank Engine last week. Decent match. Sheamus did his best to break as much of Riddle as possible and Riddle had a fair go at submitting Sheamus, but Riddle doesn’t stay down and Sheamus doesn’t quit. Eventually, something had to give and it was Riddle’s skull meeting Sheamus’ knee that did it. Riddle attacked him after the match, so I guess he’s still pissed off.
They now have a WrestleMania match.
♦ WWE Superstars are encouraging people to go and get the COVID-19 vaccination. It’s great advice.
♦ Drew McIntyre told AJ Styles and Omos he wasn’t going to turn his back on them because he thought Styles would be tempted by Lashley’s offer. Styles told him they had bigger plans. They’re going to embarrass The New Day at WrestleMania. After they left, McIntyre yelled out, asking who was going to take Lashley up on his offer.
♦ Shane McMahon still has Elias and Jaxson Ryker with him. They joined him for his ‘exposé’ on Braun Strowman. He started by making excuses for his miraculous recovery last week, when he ran for his life from Strowman, despite his knee injury. Getting to Strowman, he had a fifth-grade report card and a weird mocked-up picture. I despise this storyline with every ounce of my being and resent having to review it.
Jaxson Ryker vs Braun Strowman was the match this week. Ryker got thrown around. Braun Strowman still has train noises for his run around the ring. He stared at Shane McMahon as he delivered the running powerslam and pinned Ryker.
Strowman almost got his hands on McMahon post-match, but Elias kneed him in the head and Shane McMahon came back for the beatdown. When Strowman shrugged them off, McMahon broke the land speed record getting up the ramp. When he got as far as the stage, Strowman told him he’d picked the stipulation. Elias and Ryker won’t be able to help him and McMahon won’t have anywhere to run because they’re having a steel cage match.
♦ The Miz and John Morrison presented an episode of The Dirt Sheet to premiere their Bad Bunny diss track. Miz said he was trying to teach Bad Bunny a lesson when he hit him with a guitar, but Bad Bunny was trying to injure him when he did it, so that was out of line. He’s going to make him pay at WrestleMania. They played the song. I had to watch it. You get a choice.
They said a lot of things about Damian Priest in that song. I think they’re going to regret that. Miz started practising his award acceptance speech after the video. Priest and Bad Bunny came out to congratulate them and tell them they liked the song. Priest said he’s glad Miz found time to relax and goof off because he won’t be laughing when Bad Bunny handles him at WrestleMania. Bad Bunny added something which made Priest laugh. Miz demanded he translates. At WrestleMania, Bad Bunny is going to make Miz his bitch.
Miz and Morrison got out of the ring and Priest stepped between them. Miz said he wasn’t going to be able to protect him at Mania, and Priest said he doesn’t need his help and stepped aside. As soon as Miz approached, Bad Bunny punched him in the face. He and Priest got into the ring and destroyed the Dirt Sheet set.
♦ Randy Orton has been privileged throughout his career to go toe to toe with some of the great talents of the industry, like Ric Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, but none of them quite compare to The Fiend. Months ago he knew he had to do something to get rid of The Fiend, so he chose to light that match and watch him burn. No man could have survived that, But that’s the thing, The Fiend is not a man, he’s more than that. He’s a sick and twisted abomination from hell. He thought Alexa Bliss was playing mind games, he didn’t realise she could bring him back. Now at least he knows what he’s dealing with, and at WrestleMania, he will stand across the ring from a sick and twisted abomination. Luckily for him, they’re cut from the same cloth so he will dig down deep and sink as far into hell as he needs to, to make sure The Fiend is out of his life once and for all.
♦ Bobby Lashley, with MVP, vs Shelton Benjamin, with Cedric Alexander, was announced as a two on one handicap match, but it wasn’t. MVP went back to commentary and he had a lot to say about Benjamin and Alexander’s failings. He did say nice things about his athletic prowess though. After Lashley had run Benjamin into the post on the outside and got him back in the ring, Alexander grabbed at Lashley’s legs. Lashley got out of the ring and Alexander beat Shane McMahon’s speed up the ramp. Benjamin delivered Paydirt when Lashley got back in the ring, but Lashley kicked out. Shelton Benjamin got another couple of shots in after that, but two spinebusters later he passed out in the Hurt Lock.
♦ While The New Day were challenging AJ Styles and Omos to game night and Styles was having a rant, Xavier Woods was advertising UpUpDownDown and The New Day Podcast on a flipchart.
Game night did indeed happen, in the ring. They played Charades. Woods and Kingston won. They played Pictionary. Woods and Kingston won because Omos wasn’t playing and refused to guess. Eventually, he said ‘Enough’. They don’t have to play games to become tag team champions, they just have to win the match at WrestleMania. That’s where he’ll show them what he’s capable of. Styles said he’d show Woods what he’s capable of tonight, and it was match time.
AJ Styles, with Omos, vs Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston, was fun. Omos got in Woods’ way while he was trying to dive over the top rope onto Styles. While Woods was distracted, Styles tried to sneak up on him, but Woods dropkicked him out of the other side of the ring and dived over the top rope there instead. Xavier Woods won the match via disqualification after Omos caught hold of Woods’ leg while he was trying to kick Styles on the apron and flipped him back into the ring. He followed that by lifting Kingston over his head and tossing him over the barricade to keep him out of the way while he and Styles beat down Woods. The beatdown finished with Omos lifting Woods over his head with both hands and slamming him into the mat then stepping on his chest while Styles counted a pin.
♦ There was a child impersonating Hulk Hogan talking about Hogan being the co-host of WrestleMania. I’m not entirely sure why.
♦ Alexa Bliss appeared from her playground with a special message for Randy Orton. She said that jack in a box used to be called devil in a box and they had spells all over them containing a demonic presence after it had been weakened. Orton weakened The Fiend by burning him alive and trapped in Alexa’s Fiend in a box. But you can’t trap evil forever, all he needed was time and now he’s just salivating at the idea of standing across from Randy Orton at WrestleMania. Orton’s biggest mistake used to be playing with fire he truly didn’t understand, but now it’s thinking he understands what’s next. He doesn’t. But she’ll give him and all the fireflies a teeny tiny little hint. At WrestleMania, the Legend Killer dies. She made her Fiend in a box pop up and The Fiend was suddenly sat beside her.
♦ Drew McIntyre stormed into the locker room and asked who’s going to step up. He’s disappointed in them. He demanded, ‘Somebody steps up and drops my arse’, but there were no takers. He spoke to Strowman, who said he’d be coming from him after he’d ripped Shane McMahon to pieces if McIntyre wins the title. He tossed Humberto Carrillo around, tried to force Riddle to step up, threw Angel Garza over a sofa, headbutted Drew Gulak, then asked Ricochet. Ricochet said Lashley’s word means nothing to him, but if it’s a fight McIntyre’s looking for, look no further.
♦ Shayna Baszler, with Nia Jax and Reginald, vs Naomi, with Lana, was messy. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke joined commentary for the match, so it didn’t get a huge amount of attention and it was a short match, despite it being the first mention of the women’s division (two and a quarter hours into a three-hour show). Reginald got up on the apron to distract Naomi. Lana tried to take him down but missed and nearly got put through the announce desk by Jax. Instead, she slipped off Jax’ shoulders and pushed her into Rose. Dana Brooke took offence and went for Lana, who ended up on the edge of the ring. Shayna Baszler kicked Lana off the apron and got pinned with a lovely bridged rollup from Naomi.
♦ Riddle approached Asuka in the corridor. They had a nice chat until he asked her whether scooters would be big in Japan, then he kind of forgot what he was saying and scootered off to let Asuka get to her contract signing with Rhea Ripley. Ripley told Adam Pearce he meant to say ‘current’ champion when talking about Asuka. Asuka said Ripley was overconfident. Ripley agreed. She was confident enough to challenge her on her first night and now she’s confident enough to tell her to her face that she’ll beat her at WrestleMania and take her championship. They both signed then Asuka said Ripley’s confidence is borrowed not earned, not yet. Ripley didn’t let her finish, she tipped the table over with such force she hit Asuka in the head with it and knocked her out.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler came out to the stage. Jax said she didn’t know which was worse, Ripley having the audacity to challenge Asuka, or Asuka accepting. Baszler said they’re both pretty bad, but Ripley is new and Asuka should be ashamed of herself. The title match should belong to one of them because they’ve dominated the entire division across the whole company for nearly a year. She’s already kicked Asuka’s teeth out and she can’t wait to give Ripley a dose of that. Ripley asked what was stopping her. Jax offered her and Asuka a tag match next week. Asuka was still on the floor holding her mouth, but Ripley accepted for both of them. Asuka didn’t look entirely sure.
♦ On his way out for Drew McIntyre vs Ricochet, MVP told Ricochet it was nice to see him thinking like a businessman. Ricochet said it wasn’t about them. He thinks MVP and Lashley are full of it, but he doesn’t know when he’ll get another title opportunity, so he’s going to beat Drew McIntyre. We all knew Ricochet could fly, but McIntyre gave him some extra height and distance a few times in this brief match. Ricochet bounced back (sorry, couldn’t help it) and was actually doing quite well when McIntyre’s Claymore took him instantly out.
Mustafa Ali attacked McIntyre after the match and McIntyre offered him a match all of his own. So, Drew McIntyre vs Mustafa Ali started after the break. Bobby Lashley was watching from backstage and didn’t seem happy about what he was seeing. He walked away from the tv, even though Ali was in charge at the time, working over McIntyre’s knee after a chop block. It was a good strategy for Ali in that it kept McIntyre down for a long time. But it didn’t win him the match. Even on one leg, McIntyre was more than capable of throwing Ali around the ring, and of headbutting him as he came off the turnbuckle. The bad leg didn’t prevent the Claymore that finished it either.
Drew McIntyre demanded Lashley come out next, be a man, and finish him himself. He did, and we went for a break. He was getting in the ring when we came back. McIntyre told him he couldn’t prevent their WrestleMania match no matter who he sent after him. Lashley said he never needed anyone’s help he nearly ended McIntyre’s career at Elimination Chamber and he should have. He promises the Elimination Chamber beatdown will pale in comparison to what he does to him at WrestleMania. McIntyre’s time is up and it’s the Almighty Era.
McIntyre acknowledged he beat his ass at Elimination Chamber. He knows how dangerous Lashley is and if it wasn’t for McIntyre then Lashley would be the man in the company. But by sending everyone else after him, Lashley proved he’s afraid of Drew McIntyre.
That started the brawl. McIntyre got Lashley out of the ring with a headbutt and was immediately attacked by SmackDown’s Baron Corbin. He caught McIntyre’s Claymore attempt with a Deep Six and Lashley got back in the ring to put The Hurt Lock on three times.
Tonight’s episode of RAW was so stupid. Not all of it in a bad way, but not much of it in a good way either. There needs to be a balance between wrestling and ridiculousness in these shows and it felt off tonight. It really did feel like children’s television for a lot of the show. It redeemed itself slightly in the last half hour.