Oop, Master Balls at the ready, people, because here comes the lesser-spotted-Universal Champion! Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman open the show so that Heyman can spout his usual rhetoric: Lesnar’s the champ, Roman reigns can’t beat the champ, Lesnar will be the champ forever. Edge Roman makes his way through the crowd to contest these claims and, like last week, ends up getting the absolute piss beaten out of him when Lesnar hits him with a Clothesline, takes his steel chair, and smashes him senseless with it. Then he messes him up with the ringside steps before hitting the F5 to Reigns onto the same steps. Once again, the crowd was fully behind this, begging Lesnar to continue the assault. Literally, Reigns needs to bring his daughter and grandfather out so Lesnar can beat them up; maybe that will get him some heat. Also, I really hope that this doesn’t lead into a “Superstar enters a match with damaged ribs” angle as it always bugs me to see wrestlers with their ribs “taped up”; how is that, realistically, ever going to help if you have cracked or broken ribs, especially as the bandages always instantly fall off!?
Nia Jax looks to take her frustrations out on Mickie James, throwing her weight and her power around to good effect and taking the victory, despite a bit of stumbling about which side to be on once she hit her finisher. Afterwards, Alexa Bliss stupidly tried to attack Nia and gets chased away like a whipped dog.
The WWE’s cruiserweight division continues its push towards earning a tag team championship of their own as Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali put aside their differences to take on TJP and Drew Gulak. Cedric looked to have the match one after the Lumbar Check but Ali cheekily tagged himself in, hit the 054 Splash, and stole the victory. I like that these two are on a collision course for the Cruiserweight Championship based only on mutual respect and a desire for the belt; whether it’s really enough to turn the division around is another question entirely, though.
The Miz, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins get into another entertaining bit of back and forth, trading barbs and comparing dick sizes until Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel try and get the jump on Miz’s challengers. To no avail, as Rollins and Balor manage to fend them off without laying into each other. Afterwards, Asuka kicks the head off a jobber and Matt Hardy declares that, as Bray Wyatt’s essence is “no more”, he plans to enter the Andre the Giant Battle Royale. So….Wyatt to interfere, maybe?
After Bayley and Sasha Banks have words and get into a brawl backstage, with Bayley finally smacking that smug cow in the face, Braun Strowman takes on Sheamus to prove that he is more than capable of winning the Raw Tag Team Championships without a partner. Even with Cesaro running interference and Sheamus’ experience, Strowman’s power wins out and he picks up the win to continue his momentum. I love that but, if he really is going to challenge for the belts, I’d love to see some guys try and get into his good books and audition to be his partner just so that we know that he will actually have one at WrestleMania because, at this point, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the WWE just has him pin both Cesaro and Sheamus with one hand.
After Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out to talk shit about Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle earlier, Kurt and Ronda answer back with their own segment. None of it matters though as the hottest woman to ever step into a wrestling ring, Paige, and Absolution come down to patronisingly offer Ronda membership into their club. Ronda then easily takes down Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose and Angle ends up having to talk her out of breaking Deville’s arm. Ronda still looks a little awkward and sloppy in the ring; hopefully, she shakes the nerves off enough for a semi-decent match.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made short work of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to continue some kind of unknown momentum; seriously, they’re not challenging for the belts so what’s the point in giving them wins and momentum now, when it’s too late? As long as the Club are winning matches, though, I’m happy, I just want it to lead somewhere! Elias pinned Rhyno in less than three minutes afterwards, making a bit of a mockery of the former ECW Champion; I still don’t get what the big deal is with Elias. maybe he also just needs some kind of direction, perhaps towards the Intercontinental Championship?
In his desperation to force the Undertaker into one more match at WrestleMania, John Cena took on Kane in a no disqualification match in the main event this week. Kane, as the Undertaker’s proxy, worked his slow, power-based offense but Cena, frantic to make a point, brought some intense brawling to the Big Red Machine and constantly imitated and mocked the Undertaker throughout. He landed a really, really terrible looking Chokeslam on Kane but Kane kicked out because no shitty fake is going to beat him (except for that one time…but we don’t talk about that). In the end, Cena countered Kane’s Chokeslam attempt into an Attitude Adjustment through a table to take the match. Afterwards, Cena flat out calls the Undertaker a coward and basically dares him to answer his challenge next week.
No talking this week, we’re straight into the action as Randy Orton and Bobby Roode take on Jinder Mahal and Rusev in a tag team match. Nice to see Jinder and Rusev rekindling their short-lived team from the other year; I can’t help but think that Jinder might be well served by being part of a stable of foreign-inclined heels. Like the League of Nations only, you know, not crap. Either way, Rusev’s inclusion meant good things not only for Jinder but also the United States Championship division: Rusev landed that big kick he does to Orton and pinned him so, afterwards, he was officially added to the title match at WrestleMania. A lot of people are upset about how many multi-man matches there are on the card this year (I think there’s only four one-on-one matches) and I get that but you can’t complain about adding Rusev and his undeniable momentum to this stagnant championship. All he has to do now is win the damn championship and we might be getting somewhere.
Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott clash to continue the whole Riott Squad angle which, despite interference from Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, saw the fiery little redhead get the win. Maybe she should jump to Raw before Asuka begins her one-year undefeated streak as champion after WrestleMania so she can maybe work on becoming relevant again?
Daniel Bryan then came out to give a class on how to perform an emotional, well-delivered promo. He vows that he has not been cleared to continue as General Manager, but to compete, and that he will team with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania (despite the reports the other day that Shane is hospitalised, which had me hoping that he would miss the event) against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. The stipulation? If Bryan and Shane win, Owens and Zayn are fired for reals; if the Canuks win, they’re back on the Blue Brand. So…Bryan and Shane win, Owens goes to Raw and Sami goes to 205 Live then?
The New Day and the Bludgeon Brothers went at it but it was more of an angle than a match as, just as things were starting to pick up some speed, the Usos attacked Rowan to cause a disqualification and cause things to degenerate into an all-out brawl. Given that the rumour is that this three-way match will be a TLC match, this was a good way to start the road towards that as it established that these seven guys are descending into anarchy.
Dolph Ziggler fought Tyler Breeze next, assumedly to help drum up some interest in the Andre the Giant Battle Royale. Obviously, Ziggler won, and Superkicked Fandango afterwards for good measure. Ziggler is so depressingly unfocused. Afterwards, Shinsuke Nakamura randomly took on Shelton Benjamin; don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Nakamura in matches (he’s had stupidly few of them considering he won the Royal Rumble and is scheduled to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship) and Shelton too, for that matter (he really should be doing more singles stuff, perhaps bringing some excitement to the United States Championship in matches with Tye Dillinger?) but this was a strange pairing. Anyway, Chad Gable tries to distract the referee when Nakamura builds his momentum, so AJ takes him out of the equation, allowing Nakamura to regain control and take the victory after the Kinshasa.
Afterwards, Nakamura tells AJ that he doesn’t need his help and vows to win the belt because AJ is too emotional. Gable and Shelton then attack AJ (are they heels now? I must have missed that…) and Nakamura, despite teasing planting a knee to AJ’s face, makes the save to keep the champ healthy for what should be an epic clash.