Monday Night Raw
Date: April 1, 2019
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington DC
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
It’s the go home show for Wrestlemania and the big story is….Stephanie McMahon, who will be making some kind of major announcement about the upcoming main event. There’s a good chance that it’s going to be the addition of a winner take all stipulation, but you never can tell around here. Other than that, Brock Lesnar and Batista will be around to actually promote their matches. Let’s get to it.
Here’s Stephanie McMahon to open things up. She’s adding herself to the match but cuts off the booing by saying it’s an April Fool’s joke. There really is breaking news though: whoever wins the main event of Wrestlemania leaves with both titles because it’s Winner Take All.
With that out of the way in record time, here are Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman for a chat. Heyman does his introduction (Heyman: “Don’t worry I’ll be doing this again next week too.”) before talking about how appropriate the Winner Takes All stipulation is because it’s the same thing for Lesnar. Brock is going to win and take it all, including Seth Rollins’ best shot. Lesnar took the Undertaker’s Streak and then last year he took the hopes and dreams from Roman Reigns when EVERYONE knew that Reigns was going to win.
This Sunday is for the fans who watch hockey for the fights, the fans who watch NASCAR for the crashes and the fans who watch soccer for the riots. On Sunday, Lesnar will have his foot on Rollins’ chest and then the two of them will go out to dinner to discuss Lesnar’s future. This brings out Rollins, who says Sunday is the biggest match for both of their careers because everyone from the fans to the locker room is sick of Brock.
Yeah Lesnar has made a fortune because he’s such an athletic freak and the most decorated athlete in combat sports history (not really) but Rollins could win. Lesnar goes to leave but Rollins kicks him low. That earns him a release German suplex but Rollins goes low again and hits the Stomp to leave Lesnar laying. I love that the only way to really hurt Lesnar is a low blow and no one really tries to do anything else.
Post break Rollins is in the back and doesn’t seem to care that he would get disqualified for what he did. Rollins: “Eh he had it coming.” Rollins isn’t a champion anyway. Yet.
IIconics/Nia Jax/Tamina vs. Beth Phoenix/Natalya/Boss N Hug Connection
The Brand Split takes another hit. Peyton starts for the villains and Sasha tags herself in so Beth can’t start. Banks trips on the bottom rope but is fine enough for a double elbow to give Bayley two on Royce. It’s off to Kay vs. Natalya with a suplex giving Natalya two. Beth comes in and pulls Kay by the hair to prevent the tag. Everything breaks down and the villains are sent outside as the good ones argue as we take a break.
Back with Bayley in trouble as the IIconics use a bit of a numbers advantage to take over. Nia and Tamina drop to the floor instead of taking the tag and Bayley gets over to the corner. Not to be outdone, Beth shoves Banks away and tags herself in so house can be cleaned. Everything breaks down again and Beth spears Tamina through the barricade. Things settle down to Beth slapping Peyton and getting Glam Slammed for the pin at 11:27.
Rating: C-. Beth looked good but is that really a surprise? She’s only 38 and was a talented performer in her time. That being said, this is going to be another match with way too much going on and no one having the chance to shine. They would have been better off leaving it as a triple threat or sending Nia and Tamina off to look for icebergs in the tropics to make it two on two. The spear through the barricade was cool, but not cool enough to make me care about the legends (Natalya is a legend?) and Samoans in the match.
Here’s hometown boy Batista to address HHH. He gets the spotlight treatment and a WELCOME BACK chant before pointing to the screen without saying a word. It’s a video on HHH vs. Batista, with HHH losing every single time and not knowing how to handle him. Back in the arena, Batista takes off his sunglasses, tells HHH to “kiss his a**”, puts his sunglasses back on, and leaves.
Elias is in front of MetLife Stadium, getting ready for the performance of his lifetime. He can hear the OH WALK WITH ELIAS chants from here but he’d rather have the fans shut their mouths. After Sunday, no one is going to be thinking of Lynch or Charlotte or Elias because it’s all about walking with Elias.
Apollo Crews vs. Jinder Mahal
Most of the people announced for the Andre the Giant Battle Royal is around the ring. Mahal takes him down into a chinlock less than thirty seconds in but Crews fights up with a dropkick into a nipup. The frog splash finishes Mahal at 1:36. This was a “hey we’re on the show too” moment.
Post match everyone wants to pose with the trophy and the fight begins. Titus O’Neil clears the ring but Mahal and the Singh Brothers throw him out. Crews tosses all three of them without much trouble, guaranteeing that he won’t win on Sunday.
Here’s Kurt Angle to say farewell to Raw. Angle is grateful for everything from the fans and from the bottom of his heart, he wants to say thank you. We get a video tribute to Angle, including his training for the Olympics and comments from legends before we even get into his WWE career. Thankfully we also get a look at his comedic antics, which were such an important part of his career. Then he hurt his neck again and had to leave, but he managed to make it back for the Hall of Fame induction. Excellent tribute, showing how incredible Angle really was when he was healthy.
Back in the arena and Angle is holding back tears as Baron Corbin comes out to interrupt. As the energy is sucked out of the arena, Corbin talks about how the video should have been in black and white because the man in the video isn’t the same as the man in the ring. Angle can’t hang with the stars of today, especially him. Corbin is tired of the fans complaining about him being Angle’s last opponent because nothing is changing.
That’s enough for Kurt, who offers Corbin an exhibition right now. Corbin goes to the apron but backs off saying that’s intensity without intelligence. He’ll just wait until Wrestlemania. This brings out Rey Mysterio (scheduled to face Angle tonight) to say he’ll face Corbin tonight instead. That’s not happening either, so Angle and Mysterio beat Corbin up.
Charlotte says she blindsided Asuka last week and she’ll do it again on Sunday. They had to change the match because she changed the game. Again.
Tag Team Titles: Revival vs. Ricochet/Aleister Black
Ricochet and Black are challenging and Revival gets a jobbers’ entrance. Black takes Dawson into the corner to start but a snapmare gets Dawson out of trouble. A legsweep takes Dawson down and it’s off to Ricochet, who gets taken into the champs’ corner. It doesn’t bother Ricochet, who hurricanranas both of them at once with Wilder falling to the floor.
That leaves Dawson to take some knees to the face, with Wilder being hiptossed onto his partner for two. Dawson gets in a shot to the arm though and Black is sent outside as we take a break. Back with Dawson working on Black’s arm, even bending his fingers back for the bonus pain. Another legsweep gets Black out of trouble again but Wilder dives over to prevent the tag. The tag goes through a few seconds later and it’s Ricochet picking up the pace and cleaning house.
A victory roll gets two on Wilder but Dawson gets in a cheap shot from the floor to knock Ricochet into a Gory Bomb for another near fall. Black starts in with the strikes on the floor but gets taken down with a tornado DDT on the floor. That’s fine with Ricochet, who hits a crazy running flip dive over the corner. Ricochet tries to get back in but Dawson grabs his foot, meaning it’s a countout to retain the titles at 11:49.
Rating: C+. What does it say that WWE has turned me, a Revival fan, into someone who is wanting to see them lose the titles so they don’t have to be treated like garbage most of the time? I’m hoping we see the titles change hands soon, perhaps on next week’s show, but not at Wrestlemania because egads why would they belong on the show when they’ve been so wasted as of late?
Post match Black and Ricochet beat up the champs again. You can’t let them look strong you see.
Ronda Rousey is ready to fight and will destroy the Riott Squad by herself tonight.
We recap Braun Strowman’s issues with the SNL guys.
Tyler Breeze is talking to Alexa Bliss in the back as EC3 stands next to them and doesn’t seem impressed. Bliss takes credit for all of Wrestlemania’s success as EC3 cracks up and talks (I believe for the first time) about how funny Weekend Update was. Strowman comes in and asks what’s so funny. EC3 and Breeze point out two guys watching SNL on a tablet. Strowman doesn’t care what their names are because he’s calling them Michael Che and Colin Jost. Tonight, they’ll get these hands.
Roman Reigns doesn’t like rumors about not being ready for singles competition. He’ll put those rumors to….I have no idea actually as Drew McIntyre jumps him from behind and throws him into some crates.
Riott Squad vs. Ronda Rousey/Charlotte/Becky Lynch
Whoever betrays their partners first is out of Sunday’s main event. Before her entrance, Becky says she doesn’t want to hear from the loudmouth Charlotte or from Rousey with her God complex. Ronda and Charlotte talk about wanting to make history but Becky has to. Charlotte and Ruby start things off but Becky tags herself in and mocks the strut.
She even begs Charlotte to slap her in the face before sending Ruby outside as we take an early break. Back with Becky having to fight out of Logan’s standing Texas Cloverleaf and suplexing Morgan for two. Charlotte tags herself in and argues with Becky but Ronda tags herself in as well to yell at Charlotte as well. The armbar makes Morgan tap at 7:20.
Rating: D+. Angle advancement here as it should be as the Riott Squad loses AGAIN because that’s the only reason they exist. The women’s division needs to figure out how to use jobbers again because they don’t have the roster depth to make something like this work. It’s not like this means anything anyway, but how many times can the Squad lose before it loses all meaning?
Post match the fight is on until security breaks it up. That goes nowhere so here are the cops, with Ronda hitting one of them. That’s enough for an arrest but Becky attacks the cuffed Rousey. Becky is arrested as well so Charlotte goes after Becky and the Wrestlemania main event is all in handcuffs. They all kick at the cops’ legs as I have no idea what this is supposed to accomplish.
They’re all taken to police cars with Ronda and Becky in the same one so another fight breaks out with the window being kicked out. Charlotte gets in one more knee to Ronda’s head before the car is taken away. This was intense, but seeing the three of them in handcuffs and fighting each other felt like a rejected scene from a bad B movie rather than an effective wrestling angle. Just go with the classic locker room holding them back instead of going so far over the top with it.
Heavy Machinery vs. Chad Gable/Bobby Roode
Machinery starts fast with the double knees to Gable’s head so it’s off to Roode…and here’s Lacey Evans to interrupt. With Evans out of the way, the Caterpillar gets two on Roode as Gable makes a save. The Compactor finishes Gable at 3:02, though with so much time being spent on Lacey’s entrance, I’m not bothering to rate it. It’s not like there was anything to it anyway.
Video on Kofi Kingston becoming #1 contender.
Braun Strowman vs. ???/???
Strowman throws them to the floor and hits the running shoulders. He does it a second time, followed by a powerslam each and then a double powerslam for the pin at 3:01.
Rating: F. Yes three minutes on a build towards a battle royal designed to get everyone on the show where it’s going to be about the SNL guys and Strowman is likely to lose. And all this before a Baron Corbin main event because WWE decides what we care about and is going to hammer it into us no matter what, because this is their idea of pushing Strowman the year after he teamed with a kid to win a match. Wrestlemania can be such a trying season and it’s stuff like this that makes it a chore at times.
Here are Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush to say they’re not worried about the Demon showing up at Wrestlemania because it’s just Balor in face paint. Balor pops up on screen (with smoke surrounding his face) to say he’s always had demons and at Wrestlemania, his demon will become Lashley’s nightmare. The Demon appears from behind the smoke and snarls.
As lame as it was to hear it referred to as “Finn Balor’s alter ego the Demon”, I can get behind the idea of advertising something like that in advance. What I can’t get behind though is the logic here. Balor can beat Rush and Lashley, or Lashley and Mahal, at the same time but he uses the Demon here? And not at the Royal Rumble against Brock for the title?
Rey Mysterio vs. Baron Corbin
It’s the go home show for Wrestlemania and it’s Baron Corbin in the main event. Renee Young again gets it wrong by saying that it’s been over five years since Rey wrestled on Raw. Corbin gets knocked outside to start and we hit the pause button so Corbin call yell at fans. A suicide dive is blocked with a right hand though and we take a break. Back with Rey still in trouble and Corbin slowly stomping away. Rey seems to have hurt his knee so Corbin takes him outside and sends him into the barricade.
Back inside and Rey kicks him with the good leg, only to get thrown into the air and dropped face first down. Corbin sends him face first into the post as the slow, boring match continues. Rey fights back again and headscissors Corbin into the 619 but misses the frog splash. Deep Six finishes Mysterio (the #1 contender to the US Title, after the US Champion was pinned by Angle last week) at 13:35.
Rating: D. I don’t remember the last time I was so sick of a wrestler as I am of Baron Corbin. He wins here (because the US Title is so unimportant to this company that it might as well be the WCW Title) and then he’ll lose on Sunday but be right back on Raw the next night getting beaten up again by someone else. Heaven forbid we give ANYONE else a chance in a spot like this so he can’t kill off a show. At this point, Angle vs. Corbin should be for the US Title, but I’m sure it’s something we just need to stop thinking about because wins and losses don’t matter, except for when wins and losses matter.
Post match Angle comes out and makes Corbin tap to the ankle lock on the stage.
One more look at the triple arrest ends the show.
Overall Rating: C-. The first two hours or so of this show were a heck of a go home show for Wrestlemania, with the stories being treated as important, some nice angle advancement and even a few surprises. Then it went flying off the rails in a blaze of negative glory as soon as we got to whatever is left of Braun Strowman and then Baron Corbin, who WWE thinks is the greatest heel in recent history. There are good ideas here and it made me like Wrestlemania a bit more, but when WWE gets obsessed with an idea, it can drag down a show like nothing else. That happened here, and it makes me scared for Sunday.
Beth Phoenix/Natalya/Boss N Hug Connection b. IIconics/Nia Jax/Tamina
Apollo Crews b. Jinder Mahal – Frog splash
Revival b. Ricochet/Aleister Black via countout
Ronda Rousey/Charlotte/Becky Lynch b. Riott Squad – Armbar to Morgan
Heavy Machinery b. Chad Gable/Bobby Roode – Compactor to Gable
Braun Strowman b. ???/??? – Double powerslam
Baron Corbin b. Rey Mysterio – Deep Six
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