Monday Night Raw – March 23, 2020

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 23, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips

We’re almost to Wrestlemania, assuming the whole city of Orlando isn’t shut down in the first place. We have a lot of the Wrestlemania card already set, including two bonus matches with the Street Profits defending against Andrade and Angel Garza, plus Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley. Yeah I don’t get it either. Let’s get to it.

Paul Heyman joins us to start, talking about how Brock Lesnar has run through everyone he has fought over the years. We see clips of Drew McIntyre’s rise since winning the Royal Rumble, with promises to become the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Champion.

Heyman and Lesnar are in the ring (with the camera now looking at the Titantron for a change), with Heyman talking about how McIntyre can train all he wants. He can get in great shape and spar with mixed martial artists, but he can’t beat Lesnar at Wrestlemania. McIntyre can pray all he wants but God is going to give him a busy signal on this one. Instead, Lesnar will answer his prayers to make it quick, but not painless. At Wrestlemania, McIntyre is another victim, just like everyone else.

We look back at last week’s Undertaker/AJ Styles contract signing.

From Royal Rumble 2015.

WWE World Title: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

Lesnar is defending and this is one fall to a finish. The fans just explode on Cena with the JOHN CENA SUCKS song making its return. I was there when it debuted and that’s a pure thing of brilliance. Lesnar on the other hand is treated…..well about how you would expect Philadelphia to react to him. Rollins bails to start and there’s the first German suplex to Cena. Another one drops Cena again so J&J come in, only to get a German of their own.

Rollins kicks Cena in the head but gets pulled inside to face Brock all alone. It’s time for more German suplexes and the fans loudly applaud. There’s a regular suplex to Rollins and we get an ECW chant. Brock grabs a Kimura on Cena but John lifts him up, allowing Seth to springboard in with a knee to the champ. Cena and Rollins get smart and double team Lesnar, only to have Seth throw John to the floor for one off an AA.

Brock pops up like a daisy and sends both of them outside, only to have Rollins knock him into the steps. As J&J are in a heap next to the barricade, Cena starts his usual finishing sequence on Rollins but Lesnar breaks up the Shuffle with another German suplex. Seth breaks up the rolling Germans though as he needs Cena to help fight against Brock. Makes sense. A knee to the back puts Brock on the floor but the champ is right back in for the save as Seth covers Cena.

Back up and Cena throws Rollins to the floor and actually drops Brock with some clotheslines. Seth pulls Cena outside and tries a springboard, only to get caught in a big F5. That is some terrifying strength. Brock loads up a table for some reason so Cena gives him three straight AA’s for two with Rollins making a last second save. There’s a Curb Stomp from Seth and this time Cena has to dive in and break up the cover. The fans think this is awesome (indeed) as everyone heads outside, where Cena spears Lesnar through the barricade.

Brock keeps getting up so Cena throws him into the steps and blasts him in the face for good measure, knocking the champ onto the announcers’ table. Rollins feels left out so he drives Brock through with a HUGE top rope elbow and Cena is the only one standing. The non-Lesnars head back inside and Seth hits a quick low superkick for two. The AA doesn’t work so Cena Batista Bombs him for a VERY near fall.

Not to be outdone, Rollins reverses a superplex attempt into a running Buckle Bomb for two more. Both guys are spent so Rollins tries a Curb Stomp, only to get caught in the STF. Cue J&J from their comas for the save as a stretcher comes out for Brock. There’s a TripleBomb for two on Cena but he ducks a briefcase shot and AA’s both J’s at the same time. He should not be able to do that twenty minutes into a match this physical. Or any match for that matter.

Another AA gets two on Rollins and the Curb Stomp gets the same on Cena as the fans are freaking out on these kickouts. We’re told Brock has at least a broken rib as Rollins busts out the Phoenix Splash on Cena. Not that it matters as a TICKED OFF Brock gets back in for some German suplexes, only to have Seth hit him in the face with the briefcase. Rollins loads up a Curb Stomp onto the case but you don’t try that on Lesnar, as he counters with a HUGE F5 to retain at 22:42.

Rating: A. Good grief what a battle. This was the night where Rollins became a star and people knew that he was going to be champion soon. Cena put in his normal amazing performance here as well, but good night Brock looked like a monster. This is the beast that WWE wanted to build up for someone to take down and it worked perfectly here. Just outstanding action here with all three looking like they had been through a war. This was the instant match of the year leader and it would take something special to knock it off.

We look at Undertaker vs. AJ Styles again.

Post break, we look at it for a third time. I think we get the concept now.

Here are AJ and the OC for a chat. The show has grown so much that it needs another night, just like Michelle McCool has gotten out of control. Last week, Undertaker came out here in those stretchy pants that you wear when you’re pregnant. It was like this Gothic version of the Tiger King (AJ: “That’s a sweet burn! Trust me on that one!”). AJ talks about Undertaker being on Twitter and shows us his PSA with Michelle McCool about saving tigers, with the two of them in a pool behind a tiger.

Styles wanted to take Undertaker’s soul but it looks like Michelle already did that. When they get to Wrestlemania, AJ wants the old Undertaker but he’s nowhere to be found. Old humble Styles is going to give the WWE what they want though because he’s bringing back the Dead Man. Let’s make it a Bone Yard match. After the match is over, AJ can bury Undertaker then and there, and it happens to be the same plot that Michelle already buried Undertaker in.

Zelina Vega, Andrade and Angel Garza make fun of Charly Caruso and promise to win the Raw Tag Team Titles. The three of them leave but Garza comes back to flirt with Charly, who seems to approve.

We look at Edge’s challenge to Randy Orton from last week.

Andrade/Angel Garza vs. Ricochet/Cedric Alexander

Andrade and Garza try to jump Ricochet before Cedric shows up but he fights them off long enough for Cedric to get out here. Andrade kicks Ricochet to start but Ricochet picks up the pace, only to get shoved off the top. Cue the Street Profits and we take a break. Back with the Profits on commentary and Andrade working on Ricochet’s arm. A toss into a kick to the ribs gives Garza two, allowing Garza to TAKE OFF HIS PANTS and kick Ricochet in the back.

Ricochet tries a rollup and gets dropkicked into the corner for his efforts. A hurricanrana out of the corner gives Ricochet a breather though and it’s off to Alexander, with the Profits going NUTS on commentary. The Downward Spiral gets two on Garza and everything breaks down. Ricochet’s running shooting star press gets two and stereo superkicks drop Andrade.

We take another break and come back with Andrade hitting running knees in the corner to Alexander. Garza adds a reverse slingshot suplex for two and a double powerbomb is good for the same. The Lionsault looks more like a headbutt but gives Garza two more anyway. Ricochet comes in for a big running flip dive onto Garza, leaving Andrade to take a heck of a Michinoku Driver for two. Andrade’s spinning elbow knocks Alexander silly for….well eventually a three as the referee stopped counting at two, seemingly waiting for Alexander to get up, before finishing the pin at 20:12. Something was botched BAD there.

Rating: C. Nice tag match here, even though it was being stretched out to fill in time. That ending didn’t help things either but it’s hard to imagine that the match was supposed to end much later than it did. It’s nice to have the #1 contenders get their first win as a team at least on the way to Wrestlemania, but it’s not like there is anything else for them to do at the moment. It’s certainly not like one of them is United States Champion or anything.

Post match trash is talked so the Profits come in and beat the challengers out of the ring.

Street Profits vs. Shane Thorn/Brendan Vink

Dawkins shoulders Thorn down to start but it’s off to Brendan (a pretty big guy) to stomp Ford in the corner. A rather loud chop has Ford in more trouble and Thorn hits a Cannonball in the corner for two. Ford gets over to Dawkins in a hurry though and it’s time for a bunch of corner splashes. The Cash Out finishes Thorn at 4:07.

Rating: C-. This was better than I would have bet on and the Profits gave the NXT guys a good bit. What matters here though is they set up a little something between the teams in the Wrestlemania match, even if that is as tacked on of a match as you can get. If nothing else though, it makes a lot of sense to bring in some NXT names. You have them under contract so use them for something like this. This wasn’t a squash but it did what it was supposed to do, especially since Ford can actually energize an empty room with his pure charisma.

We look at R-Truth winning the 24/7 Title from Riddick Moss in Moss’ neighborhood over the weekend.

Wrestlemania rundown, with Elias vs. King Corbin confirmed.

Here’s Shayna Baszler for a sitdown interview with Charly Caruso. Charly talks about Shayna’s dominance and asks her how she will conduct herself as champion. Shayna doesn’t say anything so Charly asks again, until Baszler says Charly looks nervous. Shayna: “Are you scared I’m going to…..bite?” Charly asks if Becky should expect that kind of brutality at Wrestlemania, but Shayna says Becky should expect to lose.

Shayna gets rather angry and asks why Charly loves to destroy and starts leaning closer to her. She takes over for Charly’s questions, asking herself why she wants to win the title so much. Shayna has showed everyone who she is from the day she debuted and that’s what they’ll get at Wrestlemania. Charly brings up Survivor Series….and Shayna gets whacked from behind with a chair. The lights come up and Becky Lynch hits her with the chair again to leave Shayna laying.

Aleister Black vs. Leon Ruff

Black sits down, gets up, and hits Black Mass for the pin at 1:01. This is interesting in a way as they had the same match on Main Event last week, and I mean the same movements, mannerisms and finish. It was so close that I pulled up the Main Event match and watched them at the same time to see if it was even a different match. How weird.

Here’s Kevin Owens to hear a response from Seth Rollins. Cue Rollins to say this place was nice. Both of them have succeeded because they had to, but Rollins has had to rebuild the system in NXT and now on Raw. Owens keeps getting in the way though and he just refuses to fall in line. Without Rollins, there is no Gargano, Ciampa, Undisputed Era, Takeover or Women’s Revolution. Most importantly though, with no Rollins, there is no Owens.

Rollins cuts Owens off and asks if he can finish as he goes up the ramp. He needs to know why Owens picked Wrestlemania of all places because Rollins has a track record at Wrestlemania. Owens’ Wrestlemania track record is failure after failure after failure, including failure.

Last year he wasn’t even good enough to get onto Wrestlemania. Owens can’t be Rollins on his worst day, but Wrestlemania is never his worst day. Owens should just give up now, because he can’t win. WWE history continues to evolve as apparently we’ve erased Owens winning the US Title at Wrestlemania and never losing a singles match at the show.

From Wrestlemania XXXIV.

Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Asuka

Charlotte is defending and gets the full Ric Flair theme song, complete with a HHH from Wrestlemania XXX inspired entrance, meaning soldiers to help her off a throne and take her robe. Asuka on the other hand gets the CGI masks with rainbow colored lines surrounding them, which look cool on screen but live….not so much. They lock up to start and take turns flipping out of wristlocks for an early standoff.

Charlotte loads up a monkey flip but instead trips the leg for a failed Figure Eight attempt. You can feel the intensity here and it’s working well so far. Some chops to the chest (and one to the face) have Asuka in trouble but she’s right back with a hip attack to knock Charlotte outside. Back in and it’s time to start in on the arm but Charlotte gets in a backbreaker into an STO. Charlotte uses a Backpack Stunner to get out of a sleeper and a knee to the back of the head keeps Asuka in trouble.

It’s enough trouble for Charlotte to go up top for the moonsault….which is countered into a triangle for a sweet escape. Charlotte reverses into a Boston crab until Asuka makes the rope. A sliding kick to the face knocks Charlotte backwards and it’s back to the arm as Asuka continues to follow her game plan. They head to the apron with Asuka suplexing her out to the floor in a good looking crash. Sometimes you need to just go with a big spot like that and it worked very well.

Back in and they stare each other down until Asuka just erupts with strikes to the face. A missile dropkick gets two and Asuka stomps on the back. Charlotte is fine enough for the chops to catch Asuka on top and it’s a super Spanish Fly for two with the fans getting much more into things in a hurry. Natural Selection is countered into something like an Octopus Hold from Asuka’s back for a cool change of pace.

Charlotte tries to flip out and into the Figure Eight but Asuka kicks her in the head for a block. Well that’s certainly to the point. The Asuka Lock is blocked and Charlotte hits a very good spear for two more as the fans are WAY into this. With nothing else working, Charlotte goes to the Figure Eight and bridges up with one arm….and Asuka taps at 13:05 in a shocker.

Rating: A-. I don’t get shocked by results very often but I was actually stunned to see how this went. I would have bet money on Asuka walking out as champion here but Charlotte winning was far from a ridiculous result. Now the problem is what this did to Asuka, as she only started to recover from the loss nearly a year later. Charlotte would lose the title to Carmella two days later, bringing some dark days to the belt. This however was anything but dark, with an outstanding match between two stars.

Post match Asuka gets the mic and says Charlotte was ready for her in the ultimate sign of respect.

Charlotte talks about all of her Wrestlemania success and is ready to do it again at Wrestlemania. Woo.

Here’s Randy Orton to answer Edge’s challenge. A few weeks ago he told Beth Phoenix that her husband is an adrenaline junkie. That’s all Edge is and that’s why he’s still here. About eighteen years ago, Orton debuted on the main roster and won the Intercontinental Title. Then he took the torch from Mick Foley at Backlash 2004. Was any of that handed to him? He has become the most dangerous name in wrestling and now Edge is questioning his grit.

Orton doesn’t think grit is sitting on your couch for nine years. Instead, grit is longevity and becoming the one constant in WWE for all those years. Orton has heard Edge’s challenge for a Last Man Standing match and at Wrestlemania, he is ending Edge’s story. He accepts to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. First and foremost, the change in visuals helped a lot here as not seeing the empty seats for most of the show was a big improvement. Other than that, featuring the two great matches from years past helped a lot too, though it offered further evidence that Raw doesn’t need to be three hours. What we got here was good enough, but my goodness Wrestlemania is going to be approaching twenty matches at this rate (if it isn’t there already). These shows are getting marginally better though and that’s a good sign for how long we might be seeing them.


Andrade/Angel Garza b. Ricochet/Cedric Alexander – Spinning elbow to Alexander

Street Profits b. Shane Thorn/Brendan Vink – Cash Out to Thorn

Aleister Black b. Leon Ruff – Black Mass

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