Welcome to WrestleMania week and the first of nine consecutive days of WWE programming. It’s RAW’s WrestleMania go-home show, so expect a busy one. Xavier Woods and AJ Styles have a one on one rematch ahead of their WrestleMania tag title match. Asuka and Rhea Ripley team up to face Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler as a warmup to their WrestleMania title match. Drew McIntyre is still trying to ensure he makes it to WrestleMania without someone trying to take him out. He faces the last person who tried to cash in on Lashley’s offer, Baron Corbin. And his WrestleMania opponent, Bobby Lashley, faces Cedric Alexander after Alexander and Shelton Benjamin were ejected from The Hurt Business last week.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Xavier Woods def. AJ Styles
Braun Strowman def. Elias & Jaxson Ryker
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax def. Asuka & Rhea Ripley
Bobby Lashley def. Cedric Alexander
Riddle def. Mustafa Ali
Drew McIntyre def. King Corbin
♦ Drew McIntyre opened the show. He reminisced about last year’s WrestleMania and looked ahead to this one. He’s the main event of both. He wanted to make sure Lashley knows the match is going to happen and it will be the biggest fight of their lives. They’re going to rip each other to shreds and he can’t wait. They’ve had similar journeys, but the difference is how much McIntyre is prepared to sacrifice. They’ve both put the hour and the miles in, but McIntyre didn’t have the luxury of going home on his off days. He left his family and friends, stayed away while his mother was sick, kept pushing after being fired, and made it back to the top. Lashley can’t beat him because you can’t beat a man who will sacrifice everything.
Lashley came out with MVP and asked if he was done talking yet. He gets it, but only one of them can be on top. McIntyre’s time is over and it’s the Almighty’s time. All the guys in the back are scared of the Scottish warrior, but Lashley saw fear in McIntyre’s eyes last week. He felt him go out last week in the Hurt Lock and that’s going to happen again at WrestleMania.
McIntyre tried to tempt Lashley into the ring, but MVP put a stop to that and said it won’t happen until Saturday when McIntyre will lose his dignity, his consciousness, and the match. McIntyre kept trying, but MVP had Lashley under control.
Baron Corbin arrived to join the party and said McIntyre won’t make it to WrestleMania because he’s going to finish what he started last week.
♦ Riddle spoke to The New Day before Xavier Woods’ match about Omos dropping Kofi Kingston from over his head last week and about Riddle’s upcoming match with Mustafa Ali later. I think Riddle compared Ali to grass. He’s getting odder by the week. Anyway Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston vs AJ Styles, with Omos, was the first match of the night. It was short. Styles got Woods in a calf crusher fairly early and while he was in it, Kofi Kingston yelled at Omos and threw a mic at him. Styles broke the hold when Kingston got into the ring to avoid Omos and got rolled up by Woods.
♦ Damian Priest and Bad Bunny arrived in a Bad Bunny’s Bugatti.
♦ Before Braun Strowman fights Shane McMahon on Saturday, he entered the cage to say a few words. He said he’s had to deal with bullies like Shane McMahon his whole life, but they don’t know who he is or what he’s capable of. And Shane McMahon doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. Strowman’s going to whoop his ass for every person who’s ever been called stupid and told they’re not good enough. When that door closes, he’s locked in the cage with the ‘Monster among men’ and there’s no running and no one to hide behind. Shane McMahon is going to ‘Get These Hands’ and leave it in a body bag.
McMahon came out and questioned how angry Strowman is. He gave Strowman credit for picking a steel cage match because on paper Strowman has the advantage. Except Shane is a McMahon and he will outwit Strowman and defeat him.
The cage was gone for Braun Strowman vs Elias & Jaxson Ryker. Shane McMahon stayed up on the stage to watch from a safe distance. Unsurprisingly, Strowman was in a lot of trouble in a short time, but he still managed to kick out with both opponents on top of him. McMahon had started getting closer to the ring and had taken his jacket off when Strowman shrugged Elias and Ryker off and fought back. He was right back up on the stage by the time Braun Strowman pinned them both with powerslams.
♦ NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver 2-night event is on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and both nights look unmissable.
♦ The Miz and John Morrison were caught carrying paint cans through the corridors and singing to themselves. Bad Bunny’s $3.6m Bugatti is no longer white. It has been autographed and decorated in red paint.
Bad Bunny found it after the break. Miz and Morrison attacked him from behind while he was still staring in shock. Adam Pearce stopped the attack. Damian Priest ran over and got angry. Bad Bunny’s neck appeared injured, so we’ll wait and see if he’s cleared.
♦ Ripley was interviewed earlier in the day. She said she knows her strategies, but does Asuka, and acknowledged that if they don’t get along against Baszler and Jax they’ll get ripped apart. Asuka will have to wait until Sunday for her revenge for the table in the face. It was announced that Ripley will get her theme played live at WrestleMania, which is great. I want her to have as much of the experience she didn’t get last year as possible.
Asuka & Rhea Ripley vs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler, with Reginald, was a non-title match. I still don’t particularly like the WWE habit of teaming opponents together before a match, but it’s hard to object to Ripley and Asuka sharing a ring. Baszler shoved Reginald away during their entrance, but there’s always friction between Jax and Baszler. Rhea Ripley played games with the tags in the match, refusing a tag until she wanted it then tagging Asuka back in when she wasn’t ready. Asuka got her own back with a forced tag. Reginald distracted Ripley and she got caught with a chop block from Baszler. She was reeling from Jax shoving her spine-first into the edge of the apron going into a break. She was still in trouble when we got back, and it took a long time for her to get to Asuka. Asuka took both Jax and Baszler down when she got in, but as she went to the top Rhea Ripley pushed her to the floor.
Ripley smashed Asuka face-first into the floor then rolled her back into the ring to get pinned by Baszler. Guess that positions Rhea Ripley in the RAW women’s division.
♦ Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin told MVP his greed will cost him, while Alexander had him up against a crate by his lapels. Last week he told them they’re incompetent and an embarrassment but he’s a parasite. Without them holding The Hurt Business up, he’s just a has-been leaching off Lashley. He might not beat Lashley tonight but he’ll leave a scar to remember him by and he can’t wait to watch Drew McIntyre kick his teeth in at WrestleMania. Benjamin straightened Lashley’s suit before he left and told him to stay out of the way.
After they left, MVP said he’s not concerned about Lashley, but he’s upset by the arrogant and ungrateful attitude. It’s because of him they won the tag titles and had all the nice things. Lashley stormed over and demanded to know what happened, then said he’s going to break Alexander in half.
♦ There will be a Tag Team Turmoil match on Night 1 of WrestleMania, featuring RAW and SmackDown teams. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler will defend the titles against the winners on Night 2. They were being asked about their confidence levels when Lana, Naomi, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Natalya, Tamina, Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott, and Billie Kay arrived and started arguing. Carmella is apparently reviewing Kay’s application to be her partner, so they’re not actually part of the match, but the others are. Jax and Baszler said they didn’t have time for all that, and left them to it.
♦ Bobby Lashley, with MVP, vs Cedric Alexander, with Shelton Benjamin, began with Alexander and Benjamin attacking Lashley before the bell. It seems like a sensible plan if legality isn’t your concern, but it didn’t do Cedric Alexander much good. He still got thrown around when the match got underway. It was after an ad break that Alexander had a run of momentum and got the champion rocked but MVP, on commentary, refused to be worried. He was right not to be. A spinebuster put Alexander down and The Hurt Lock put him out. Benjamin went for Lashley after the match, so he was put to sleep as well.
♦ Randy Orton vs The Fiend was built with an excellent video package detailing the whole long and twisted story.
♦ Damian Priest and Bad Bunny took to the ring to address the attack on Bad Bunny and his car. Priest said Miz and Morrison crossed the line because Bad Bunny is an award-winning success and they are yesterday’s news. It’s easy to beat up a man two on one, but he wants to even up the odds at WrestleMania and make it a tag match.
Bad Bunny said he’s just here following his dreams because he loves the business and has a lot of good memories of WWE. Now he doesn’t know how to feel about this experience. He’s very grateful for the opportunities he’s had and enjoyed singing the song for Booker T. He even used to respect and love The Miz but he’s disrespected him from day one for no reason. He knows he dived from the top rope at Royal Rumble, but that’s no reason for all the things Miz has done to him. Miz is a legend, and he respects that, but Miz doesn’t respect him and he crossed the line. He no longer cares why. He’s going to whip his ass at WrestleMania and show him how to respect him.
Miz and Morrison appeared on the big screen and told Bad Bunny he doesn’t belong there and has overstayed his welcome. They’re going to show him at WrestleMania, and they accept the tag match.
♦ Sheamus approached Mustafa Ali in the corridor to talk to him about Riddle. Ali was already very angry about Riddle and blames him for RETRIBUTION’s demise. Sheamus just wanted to tell him they share the dislike for Riddle and is going to be on commentary for the match. It sounded like he was looking for a reciprocal arrangement at WrestleMania, but Riddle zoomed between them on his scooter and interrupted. Mustafa Ali vs Riddle did feature Sheamus on commentary. Riddle stole his hat halfway through the match and got slammed backwards to the floor by Ali because he was dancing around wearing it instead of paying attention. Good match and it took Riddle a while to turn things around, but he was staring into Sheamus’ eyes as he delivered the Bro Derek to Ali for the win.
♦ Drew McIntyre said he understands why Corbin would try to take him out and take his place, but it wasn’t a smart decision and it won’t pay off. Bobby Lashley watched Drew McIntyre vs King Corbin from backstage. He said he’d love to face McIntyre at WrestleMania if McIntyre makes it through the match. McIntyre said he’ll give him an almighty ass-whooping at WrestleMania, but that’s going to be hard to do when he puts him to sleep in The Hurt Lock. MVP joined commentary for the match and taunted McIntyre a couple of times. He thoroughly enjoyed the punishment Corbin dished out during the match, and there was plenty of it. He got quiet when McIntyre took over and didn’t say a word as Corbin was sent crashing into the steps to lead into the break. McIntyre ended up in trouble courtesy of a trip into the post. MVP yelled at Corbin to finish it and complained he spends too long admiring his work.
Great match and a much longer one than I was expecting. They were both struggling to stand by the end, but McIntyre still kicked out of the Deep Six. MVP moved to the apron and told Corbin it’s not about beating McIntyre it’s about taking him out, so take him out. He handed Corbin his cane, but McIntyre ducked it and finished the match with a Claymore.
MVP quietly walked up the ramp before McIntyre got up. Bobby Lashley joined him on the stage and had the traditional stare-down with Drew McIntyre.
I quite like reviewing go-home shows because half the show is adverts for the PPV, especially when that PPV is WrestleMania. It should be a great show, it is WrestleMania after all. Enjoy Hall of Fame tomorrow, NXT TakeOver Stand & Deliver on Wednesday and Thursday, SmackDown on Friday, and WrestleMania on Saturday and Sunday. See you next week for the RAW after WrestleMania.