Bobby Lashley will be on RAW tonight, to address Drew McIntyre. McIntyre has his own issues to deal with, he’s teaming with Braun Strowman to face MACE and T-BAR. We have six-woman and six-man tags on the card. Blending the only two storylines in the women’s division right now (with Charlotte Flair suspended), Naomi, Lana, and Asuka face Rhea Ripley, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler. And, in another bizarre blending of storylines, Damian Priest teams up with The New Day against The Miz, Elias, and Jaxson Ryker.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Braun Strowman def. MACE & T-BAR (DQ)
MACE & T-BAR def. Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman
Damian Priest & The New Day def. The Miz, Elias, & Jaxson Ryker
Randy Orton & Riddle def. Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin
Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, & Nia Jax def. Asuka, Naomi, & Lana
Charlotte Flair def. Mandy Rose
Braun Strowman def. Drew McIntyre
♦ Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman vs MACE & T-BAR should have opened the show. But Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre had a huge argument backstage before their entrances and Strowman insisted he’d do the match alone. So, what we actually got was Braun Strowman vs T-BAR & MACE. The masks have gone, replaced by a little face paint. It’s a distinct improvement. Decent way to kick of RAW, with three big dudes beating the hell out of each other two on one. MACE and T-BAR got disqualified in the end for refusing to stop stamping on Strowman in the corner.
Drew McIntyre came out to return the favour Strowman did for him last week. McIntyre and Strowman cleared the ring between them, and we got Drew McIntyre & Braun Strowman vs MACE & T-BAR, as advertised, after the break. Strowman ran through MACE at ringside, but he and McIntyre both went for T-BAR at the same time. He ducked and McIntyre took out Strowman instead. T-BAR threw McIntyre over the barricades and he didn’t get back in time to beat the ref’s count. Another win for MACE & T-BAR.
Strowman gave McIntyre a powerslam after the match and yelled at him for hitting him. After the break, McIntyre went to Adam Pearce and demanded a match against Strowman before the end of the show.
♦ The Miz and John Morrison hosted Miz TV, with Elias and Jaxson Ryker. Miz and Morrison are still taking credit for Bad Bunny’s tour selling out. They’re collaborating with Elias and Ryker now and they did an acoustic version of Hey Hey Hop Hop. Damian Priest’s entrance theme took way too long to cut them off. Priest apologised and said he felt he had to experience it in person, the way he experienced Bad Bunny beating Miz at WrestleMania. He said he and The New Day had a surprise for them, it turned out to be a guitar case full of rotten tomatoes which they pelted them with. Got to love the slow-motion footage of a tomato hitting Miz in the face. Worth the whole segment.
The Miz, Elias, & Jaxson Ryker vs Damian Priest & The New Day started after a break which was presumably spent cleaning up tomatoes. Decent match. Long and chaotic in places. Kofi Kingston took a lot of punishment while isolated in the other team’s corner. He took some time out of the match after that, while Priest and Woods took care of business. He was back in time to be the difference-maker, knocking Elias off the turnbuckle so Woods could pin Ryker.
♦ Sonya Deville was shown strolling through the corridors and opening a stairwell to let Charlotte Flair into the building. Deville is normally Adam Pearce’s assistant on SmackDown and Flair is suspended after attacking a referee last week.
After a break, Deville was in the ring to bring Flair out. The referee Flair attacked was also there and had to endure footage of the attack before anyone got to the point. Deville said she thought Adam Pearce rushed the decision to suspend Flair indefinitely and offered Flair the opportunity to say her piece.
Charlotte Flair apologised to the WWE management, to the WWE Universe, and the referee, Eddie Orengo. She said instinct took over and she doesn’t know what happened, but she’s there to right the wrongs. He accepted her apology and said he didn’t see Rhea interfere, if he had Flair would have won the match. Deville lifted Flair’s suspension after noting she’d paid her fine in full. She also said Flair would be competing later and Orengo would be the referee.
Flair said Eddie admitted it was his mistake and she needed an apology from him. He apologised immediately and she called him a good boy. Commentary speculated as she and Deville left as to whether Adam Pearce knew about any of it.
When they got backstage, Pearce was waiting for them. He knew nothing about it and he was angry. Deville apologised and said she’d been trying to find him to tell him. He said he might accept the apology if he believed it, then left. Flair looked very smug indeed.
♦ Braun Strowman wanted a word with Adam Pearce as well. As he wasn’t pinned in the triple-threat number one contender’s match, he wanted to be added to the title match at WrestleMania Backlash if he beats McIntyre tonight. Pearce agreed.
♦ Sheamus issued another open challenge, but without the title on the line. He showed what he did to Humberto Carrillo as a warning, and said the reason he didn’t let the bell ring was because Carrillo doesn’t belong in the ring with him. Humberto Carrillo answered the challenge again. Sheamus asked him if he was mad and was telling him he wasn’t going to fight him again when he cheap shotted him. He picked the mic back up for an, ‘I told you so’, and Carrillo got back up and went for him. He sent Sheamus over the announce desk with a suicide dive, after a series of dropkicks, then left the arena and an extremely angry Sheamus.
♦ Kevin Patrick asked Bobby Lashley and MVP how their preparations will change if Braun Strowman is added to the match. MVP said no one’s been added to anything yet and they deal in reality. He patronised Patrick a bit before they left as well.
They were on their way to air some grievances. Lashley started by saying he did what he said he’d do at WrestleMania. When he won the title he got the respect he demanded and left McIntyre crumpled like a dollar bill. Now McIntyre is like gum stuck to his shoe that he can’t get rid of. And it might be a Triple Threat.
MVP said he’s offended by that and wants to know why WWE would treat the champion so poorly. They should have been consulted about the match before it was made. Not doing so was disrespectful. He went through all the reasons a Triple Threat isn’t fair. Lashley said he could beat Strowman or McIntyre one on one, but he’s going to have to come out and observe their match tonight to protect his business interests. After chasing the title for sixteen years, nobody is going to stop him from leaving Backlash as WWE Champion.
♦ Rhea Ripley had a backstage interview to comment on Flair’s apology. She said Flair’s apologies never mean anything but it was fun watching her get fined. She’s glad Flair’s back and maybe one day their paths will cross, but tonight she’s focused on the six-woman tag. Flair can play rugby with the referees, she’ll continue being RAW Women’s Champion.
♦ Randy Orton interrupted Riddle’s frankly indecipherable interview. He was there to tell Riddle he’d earned his respect and he liked Riddle’s idea for R-K-Bro. He invited him to be his tag partner for tonight and they’d see how it went, but he looked like he was regretting it already when he left.
♦ Nia Jax isn’t impressed with Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose, or Dana Brooke. Shayna Baszler wants her to forget about those distractions and wants to make sure Reginald isn’t going to be a distraction either. After Baszler walked off, Jax had a bunch of flowers delivered, from Angel Garza. Reginald didn’t look happy, especially when Garza turned up and started flirting. Jax seemed thrilled with the flowers, but she still hit Mandy Rose with them when they passed her in the corridor.
♦ MVP approached Braun Strowman. They had some communication difficulties. MVP told Strowman Lashley didn’t appreciate him ‘grovelling’ to try to get in. Strowman wanted Lashley to say it to his face but gave MVP a message to take back that once he’s beaten Drew McIntyre, there’s not a damn thing MVP or Lashley can do to stop him from walking out of WrestleMania Backlash as champion.
♦ Randy Orton & Riddle vs Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin was interesting. Orton looked to be there against his better judgement, and Riddle getting thoroughly beaten up in the early going didn’t do anything to convince him. Benjamin and Alexander destroyed Riddle’s leg and kept him away from Orton. They hurt him enough that Orton was on his own for a while when he got in there, but that was ok with Orton. After a spectacular RKO on Alexander, Randy Orton reluctantly tagged Riddle back in to deliver the floating bro for the win on Benjamin. Riddle tried to hug him and got told off, but surprisingly didn’t get RKO’d… yet.
♦ There was a quick clip of Alexa Bliss on her swing and Lilly laughing and trying to bite.
♦ Asuka, Naomi, & Lana vs Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, & Nia Jax, with Reginald, started with Shayna Baszler and Asuka, and with Rhea Ripley playing mind games about when she was prepared to tag in. It was turning into a really good match until Mandy Rose turned up. Baszler went to meet then and they threw a bucket of water over her. Jax came over and slipped on the water and we went into the break with Reginald trying to help her up.
The match was back on in full flow when we came back. Nia Jax had to be rescued from being pinned by Naomi. Reginald got involved again. Naomi had to be saved By Asuka. Ripley delivered Riptide to Naomi, without realising Lana was legal. Lana almost pinned the RAW Women’s Champion. Jax put Asuka down on the outside after Asuka took down Baszler. Rhea Ripley was generous enough to tag in Jax after giving Lana a Riptide, so Nia Jax finished it with a leg drop.
♦ Backstage, Sonya Deville told Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke that should be ashamed of themselves. She picked Mandy Rose to be Charlotte Flair’s opponent. That’s fine, but I was hoping for Nikki Cross.
Charlotte Flair vs Mandy Rose, with Dana Brooke, started well but got tense quickly. Flair tried to make a pin with her feet on the ropes and Dana Brooke called it out. Mandy Rose took advantage of Flair yelling at Brooke and punched her in the face. Eddie Orengo was clearly wary of Flair, and she looked a couple of times like she was going to snap. She nearly got pinned while shouting at him. Flair got the win with Natural Selection, but wouldn’t let Orengo raise her hand. She did let him part the ropes for her though.
♦ Alexa Bliss’ segment was too weird to explain… so here it is. Bliss is definitely on her way back to the ring.
♦ Before Drew McIntyre vs Braun Strowman, McIntyre made it very clear he wasn’t happy about the stipulation of adding Strowman to the title match if he wins. He said he wasn’t going to let that happen. Strowman was equally motivated to make it happen, so we got ourselves a heavy-hitting match. Bobby Lashley and MVP arrived as we went into the final break. They were seated at ringside when we came back and MVP started yelling encouragement (sort of) at McIntyre. Strowman caught McIntyre mid-Claymore and powerbombed him, but McIntyre kicked out. Drew McIntyre also kicked out of a superplex, with a messy looking landing, but Strowman had him rocked.
Bobby Lashley got up on the apron and distracted the ref when it looked like Strowman was ready to finish it. While Lashley had the ref’s attention, MVP pulled McIntyre off Strowman’s shoulders and got clocked by Strowman when McIntyre ducked. McIntyre delivered the Futureshock DDT but had to deal with the sudden appearance of T-BAR and MACE. He saw them off just in time to take a running powerslam and get pinned.
That was a very average episode of RAW, but the matches were decent enough. Poor Adnan Virk was getting trashed on social media during the show. Give the guy a break, he’s been there for five minutes and has to cope with Corey Graves and Byron Saxton’s incessant bickering as well as everything else going on. Michael Cole botched the historic main event call at WrestleMania, and he’s been doing this for who many years? I think we can give Virk a couple of months to settle in.