Monday Night Raw
Date: March 11, 2019
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
We’re finally (and I do mean FINALLY) clear to head towards Wrestlemania after getting Fastlane out of the way. Fastlane was a fun show but nothing exactly thrilling or necessary to see. Tonight should see the real start of the build towards the show, which can’t come fast enough. Let’s get to it.
Here’s the Shield for their big farewell speech. Roman Reigns talks about how he’s learned you’re not promised tomorrow so if they rode together for the last time, he has no regrets. As for now though, he hasn’t had a one on one match on Raw in five months so we should correct that. Ambrose has business of his own too, and even if no one knows what it is, we love him anyway. That leaves us with Rollins, who has been chasing the dream for a long time now. The fans give us a SLAY THE BEAST chant, which Reigns turns into BURN IT DOWN.
Ambrose and Reigns leave but here’s Paul Heyman to interrupt Rollins. Heyman talks about being the advocate for the man who will destroy Rollins at Wrestlemania so Rollins tries his hand at the introduction. Rollins talks about how Lesnar has destroyed the big power guys but had trouble against people like AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor.
Heyman says Rollins is listing off names but not telling the whole story. Lesnar didn’t have time to prepare for any of those smaller guys. AJ replaced Jinder Mahal, Bryan replaced AJ and Balor replaced Braun Strowman. The most amount of time Lesnar had to prepare was twelve days. We get a video on Lesnar, followed by Heyman saying that Lesnar has had months to prepare for Rollins. There is no preparing for Lesnar….and here’s Shelton Benjamin from behind to German suplex Rollins a few times.
Seth Rollins vs. Shelton Benjamin
Joined in progress with Heyman on commentary and Rollins grabbing a headlock. That goes badly for him as Shelton takes it to the mat before running Rollins over with a shoulder. Seth fights up with some right hands and chops, followed by a dropkick to send Shelton outside. A whip into the barricade is enough to bring Shelton back inside and he gets kicked in the face for a bonus.
The Blockbuster looks to set up the Stomp but Rollins has to escape a German suplex. Benjamin is sent outside again but blocks a suicide dive with a kick to the head as we take a break. Back with Rollins fighting out of a chinlock because that’s what you do when you come back from a break. Heyman admits that he paid Shelton to jump Rollins but not to have a match.
Hang on though as Heyman has to take a phone call and covers his microphone rather than taking the headset off. Rollins reverses a powerbomb with a hurricanrana as Heyman says Lesnar isn’t happy with what Cole has said and will be here next week. Cole: “Oh great.” Rollins hits the Sling Blade but walks into a release German suplex for his efforts. Shelton’s F5 attempt is countered into a pair of superkicks to the ribs and the Stomp gives Rollins the pin at 10:18.
Rating: C. I get what they’re going for with the story and it works well enough, though having Lesnar actually showing up next week being treated as such a big deal is a great summary of everything going wrong with the story. At least Rollins is able to wrestle at the moment, meaning his back must be doing better. It’s nice to see Shelton, but the time has long passed for him.
Intercontinental Title: Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley
Balor is defending after taking the title from Lashley at Elimination Chamber last month and there’s no Lio Rush in Lashley’s corner. Lashley throws him hard into the corner to start and grabs Balor’s face against the ropes. That just earns himself a dropkick but the corner enziguri is blocked with an elbow to the head. Balor escapes a suplex though and dropkicks him to the floor, setting up the running kick to the face from the apron as we take a break.
Back with, of course, a chinlock on Balor, followed by a hard Downward Spiral for two. Now why not come back on that kind of an impactful move? Lashley starts in on the back before going to a chinlock. Balor gets up with a dropkick to the head and a rollup to escape the Dominator. There’s a Sling Blade to set up the Coup de Grace but cue Rush to ring the bell for a distraction. The delay lets Lashley get up and spear Balor out of the air for the pin and the title at 10:55.
Rating: C. Well ok then. I’m certainly a bit surprised at the title change taking place so fast but I’m sure we’ll get the big final title change at Wrestlemania, because trading it back and forth doesn’t matter until we get to WRESTLEMANIA. Lashley losing the title back in New Jersey will be fine, though just let him be champion for months and let Balor win it for the first time there. Now the important question is how many other people can get in on that title match. You know we can’t just have two.
Baron Corbin looks at a clip of himself saying he hoped Reigns didn’t come back to Raw. Yeah he said it, but he’s not going to worry about hurting people’s feelings. Tonight, he’s house training the Big Dog.
We look at Becky Lynch getting destroyed by Charlotte until Ronda Rousey got Lynch disqualified to send her to Wrestlemania, six days after attacking Lynch to make sure she couldn’t go to Wrestlemania.
Here’s a ticked off Ronda to yell at the fans for telling her that she deserved to get beaten up with a crutch. These same people who chant at her cower behind a barricade. At Wrestlemania, she’s coming to desecrate the fans’ place of worship. She rants about how she wanted Becky at Wrestlemania so it can be one vs. all. WWE can even make it a handicap match if they want to because it’s on.
Rousey drops the mic and here’s Dana Brooke (please, make it quick) to talk about how she’s not going to let Ronda embarrass the locker room and disrespect the Women’s Revolution. Ronda always issues an open challenge after a pay per view so Dana Brooke is accepting. Rousey knocks her outside with a kick to the ribs and hits a throw on the floor. Back in and Piper’s Pit sets up the armbar….which she says she’ll do for $60 from the fans. Instead she hits a referee to complete a destruction faster than her promo.
We look back at Batista attacking Ric Flair before his birthday party and HHH’s response last week.
Aleister Black/Ricochet vs. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable
How have we not actually seen this match yet? Roode cranks on Black’s arm to start and takes him into the corner for a tag to Gable. We hit the reverse chinlock from Gable before it’s back to Roode for a waistlock. Black gets away for the tag and it’s off to Ricochet as the pace picks up. Gable blind tags himself in and it’s a German suplex/Blockbuster combination for two on Ricochet. The Glorious DDT is countered into a rollup for two more and it’s back to Black for a kick to Roode’s head. That’s not enough so it’s Black Mass to finish Roode at 4:28.
Rating: C. This was rather action packed while it lasted and you can never see Black Mass enough. They’re doing a good job of having Ricochet and Black stay strong and it wouldn’t shock me to see them win the titles at Wrestlemania. I mean, they’ll be one of probably four teams challenging but at least it’s something to look forward to.
Post match the Revival jumps Ricochet and Black from behind.
Some wrestlers, including Roman Reigns, visited some children with cancer today. Nothing wrong with that. The visit, not the cancer.
Here’s Alexa Bliss for a Moment of Bliss. She has a big scoop this week with the reveal of the official Host of Wrestlemania. This year’s host is bigger than any reality show star, more electrifying than the Rock and more positive than the New Day. The host is….Alexa herself! Fans: “You deserve it!” Bliss: “I know.”
We recap the SNL guys being announced as special correspondents for Wrestlemania.
Braun Strowman liked attacking one of the correspondents last week. Someone comes up to tell Strowman that his car is here but Strowman seems confused. Back from a break and the car is a rather nice sports car with a big bow on it. There’s a note saying that it’s from the SNL correspondents as an apology for last week. Strowman seems pleased….and then destroys it because he can’t fit in it and the window isn’t clean. He tells the attendant to give them this car door and that they’ll get these hands.
This is all Braun Strowman, one of the most over guys in the company for the last year, can get for Wrestlemania? The same Wrestlemania where he teamed with a ten year old last year? Yet Nia Jax, Baron Corbin, Tamina, Natalya and Shane McMahon are likely to have matches on the show? I think that sums up everything about WWE in one segment at the moment.
Here’s Elias to talk about how amazing it is that he’s such a success. He was born in Pittsburgh and evidence suggests that if you’re born here, you’re going to be a horrible waste of life. Elias talks about recently traded Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown but here’s No Way Jose, now with green braided hair, to interrupt. That just earns Jose a beating and Drift Away on the ramp.
Harlem Heat Hall of Fame announcement. Yes yes yes.
Lacey Evans cameo.
Natalya vs. Nia Jax
Beth Phoenix and Tamina are at ringside. It’s a fight to start and Tamina grabs Natalya’s leg, drawing Beth in for the DQ at 34 seconds.
Beth clears the ring post match. We cut to the back where Bayley and Sasha Banks are fighting with Nia and Tamina. So Beth and Natalya are your “legendary” team for the four way match, because last night’s match really does mean nothing whatsoever.
Here’s an angry HHH in street clothes to address Batista. This brings out said Batista, with security guarding him. HHH asks if Batista is getting in the ring or standing there as a nose ring model. Batista laughs and says he learned from HHH and Flair over the years so yeah, they’re here for him. He’s getting what he wants one way or another. HHH talks about Batista quitting over the years and promises to run through the guardians of the independent circuit to get to him.
Batista goes into a rant about how he quit to get away from HHH for holding him down so many times. He wants HHH at Wrestlemania and the match is on. That’s what Batista wanted: one more match to end his career on his terms and one more match to end HHH’s career on his terms. HHH says the match is going to be on his terms because it’s going to be No Holds Barred.
That’s the best idea given the circumstances and certainly fits the story that much better. Batista’s explanation for why he wants to face HHH…..well it’s an explanation. It’s not a particularly good one and it’s something we could piece together ourselves, but I’ll take it over us being left to figure it out or Batista saying his words spoke for themselves. The stipulation should help a lot and it gives me more hope for the match.
Here’s hometown boy Kurt Angle to address his in-ring future. He talks about his career both in amateur wrestling and in the WWE, but he’s wanted to make his announcement tonight. At Wrestlemania, he will be competing in his farewell match. Before he does that though, he wants one more match in Pittsburgh.
Kurt Angle vs. Apollo Crews
Angle armdrags him down to start as Graves talks about growing up watching Angle in Pittsburgh, even seeing him as a local sportscaster. Crews gets one off a dropkick and it’s off to the chinlock. That’s broken up but the Angle Slam doesn’t work. Instead Crews knocks him down and gets two off the standing moonsault. Crews misses the frog splash though and the Angle Slam gives Kurt the pin at 3:01.
Rating: D+. The wrestling wasn’t the point here as this was all about having a nice moment. That’s what they did here with commentary telling some nice Angle stories, plus talking about how Crews got into wrestling because of Angle. They were smart to keep this short too and the wrestling was watchable enough. It’s sad when this is a good night for Angle, but that’s the point we’ve long since reached.
Baron Corbin vs. Roman Reigns
Hang on as Drew McIntyre jumps Reigns from behind before Corbin comes out. Reigns gets beaten down and posted, followed by a Claymore and another posting. Rollins comes out to tell Reigns to get checked for a concussion, which he insists on doing in the back. They leave with Corbin never coming out.
Post break Rollins and Ambrose take Reigns into a trainer’s room. Ambrose goes up to HHH and says he wants McIntyre tonight, anything goes and falls count anywhere. The match is on.
Drew McIntyre vs. Dean Ambrose
Hardcore. Drew wants to start the fight on the stage and Dean is right there, knocking Drew off to the floor for an ax handle. They fight up into the crowd with Drew sending him face first into the railing and swinging Ambrose into a wall. A toss out of the press box is blocked and Dean is back with another ax handle shot.
We take a break and come back with Dean holding himself up on the handrails in the crowd and the referee crawling underneath him. They head back to ringside as we see clips of the fight at the concession stand and merchandise area during the break. Drew hits him in the face with the steps for two and it’s time to head back into the crowd. McIntyre spends too much time talking trash and gets kicked low but finds a chair to get in a breather. Dean gets dropped face first onto a hockey board but he’s right back up to put Drew on an anvil case.
The ensuing ride and crash let Dean drop an elbow for two and it’s time to head to the stage. Drew loads up the announcers’ table but gets dropped onto it for his efforts. Dean hammers away until a low blow cuts him off (and freaks Renee out). A hard ram sends Dean face first into the video screen prompts Cole to ask how low Drew will sink. DEAN BEAT UP HIS FRIEND THE NIGHT REIGNS ANNOUNCED HE HAD LEUKEMIA! I love short memories in wrestling. Dean kicks out so Drew ties him in a barricade for a Claymore and the pin at 14:22.
Rating: B-. This was a good brawl and the ending made McIntyre look like the killer that he needs to be when he fights Reigns next month at Wrestlemania. That’s a positive sign for McIntyre, who has lost a few steps in recent months due to WWE not knowing how to book most of the people they hire.
Post match Dean gets up again and it’s a second Claymore to knock him silly, freaking Renee out one more time. Drew poses to end the show as someone who looks like Edge is seen nearby.
Overall Rating: C+. Now this felt like a show on the Road to Wrestlemania, mainly because they were able to focus entirely on Wrestlemania instead of Fastlane, which is already being forgotten because it’s such a nothing show. The wrestling was acceptable, though far from the point tonight, which is fine. We got a match set up and you can see some more of them from here. There are seven shows left before Wrestlemania and while rushed, a good build towards the show is still a possibility.
Seth Rollins b. Shelton Benjamin – Stomp
Bobby Lashley b. Finn Balor – Spear
Aleister Black/Ricochet b. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable – Black Mass to Roode
Nia Jax b. Natalya via DQ when Beth Phoenix interfered
Kurt Angle b. Apollo Crews – Angle Slam
Drew McIntyre b. Dean Ambrose – Claymore
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