Paul Heyman enticed Brock Lesnar to the ring with a line of Vince McMahon’s cash and basically said, despite Brock having difficulties with smaller guys in the past, he won’t have any problem taking care of Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. Drew McIntyre came down to join them in their bashing of Rollins, which ended up with Rollins smashing a chair over McIntyre’s back, beating him senseless, and chasing Bock away.
Finn Balor ad Braun Strowman rekindled their on-again-off-again tandem act by teaming up against Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush; Lashley and Strowman got into a battle of the big men to kick off the match but, once Balor tagged in, Lashley and Rush worked the quick tags and ground-and-pound tactics to keep Balor isolated, as you might expect. Lashley ended up doing a Baron Corbin and running into the ring post, allowing Balor to make the hot tag to Strowman, who absolutely destroyed Lio. Lashley ended up walking out on the match, leaving Lio to take the Running Powerslam, and the loss.
Elias was the guest on Alexa Bliss’ little talk show this week, where he announced that he’ll be the headlining musical act at WrestleMania (because being in a match is too good for him…). He then ended up in a match against…No Way Jose? Jesus, when was the last time he was on television? Jose took control at the beginning with the Airplane Spin and keeping Elias grounded with strikes, but he ended up missing the High Cross, which allowed Elias to take control and end things pretty quickly with the Drift Away. This probably would have meant more if Jose was actually featured on television and if Elias was a bit more interesting and dynamic in the ring but I don’t see Jose ever getting a fair shake of the stick as long as he is saddled with this Adam Rose rip-off gimmick.
For the last week, at the very least, people have been kicking around names and ideas for Kurt Angle’s final match at WrestleMania; names like John Cena, the Undertaker, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Shelton Benjamin, Rusev, Samoa Joe, Chad Gable, and Kevin Owens have all been fought for but, this week on Raw, Kurt announced the most underwhelming and most predictable opponent for his final ever WWE match…Baron Corbin. This makes a lot of sense from a storyline perspective but, even though I am a fan of Corbin to a degree, even I have to admit that this is pretty disappointing, primarily because of how Corbin has been booked in the last year. He just doesn’t have the credibility to challenge Angle, much less beat him; he’ll simply get “go away”/X-Pac heat if he wins, which is fine if you want him to be unequivocally booed, but not so great for actual heel heat. Considering he still doesn’t have a WrestleMania match yet, I honestly would have just gone with Cena and maybe have Corbin cost Angle the match to rekindle his issues with Cena, where he could maybe get the chance to rebuild himself.
Anyway, Angle ended up facing Chad Gable here instead, which was a nice little wrestling clinic that served to remind people just how underutilised Gable really is. Gable seemed to be targeting Angle’s arm but quickly switched to working over his knee, putting Angle on the defensive; Gable rolled Angle up out of the Ankle Lock. Gable continued to counter the Ankle Lock but crashed and burned on a Moonsault attempt, which finally allowed Angle to lock in the Ankle Lock and get the win.
Sasha Banks and Bayley announced that they planned to appear on SmackDown! Live to answer the Iiconics’ challenge but ended up in a bit of a confrontation with Natalya and Beth Phoenix, who argued their case for wanting a title shot at WrestleMania. This led to a match between Natalya and Sasha, which began as little more than a brawl; things began to intensify just as Nia Jax and Tamina arrived to attack Phoenix and Sasha to potentially set up a four-corner tag team match at WrestleMania.
Ricochet finally got a shot at singles action again this week as he faced off with Jinder Mahal; Ricochet flew in Jinder’s face in the early going but, when the Singh brothers distracted him, Mahal took control and the match came to a screeching halt as he worked the rest holds and chin locks. Ricochet tried to reinject some life into the match with a Springboard Uppercut, the Sasuke Special, and a win following the 630 Splash, nothing could salvage this match once Mahal sucked the life out of the building.
Ronda Rousey made short work of Dana Brooke next and, but “short work”, I mean Dana tapped out in less than thirty seconds. Great…then, happy at the opportunity to get to humble and destroy Kurt Angle at WrestleMania, Baron Corbin went toe-to-toe with Apollo Crews. Corbin managed to weather Apollo’s early, spirited offense and got a two count off the Deep Six but Apollo managed to counter the End of Days into a rollup and…win? So…Apollo loses to Kurt Angle last week, Angle announces that he’ll face Corbin at WrestleMania this week, and then Apollo defeats Corbin. So…why, exactly, would Angle want to face this guy now? That was some really crazy, ass-backwards booking; if you want Apollo to get a win after his loss last week (and I have difficulty believing that the WWE cares about 50/50 booking when it comes to Apollo, who has been largely absent from television for an age until recently), why not just have him make short work of a jobber, or Curt Hawkins, or anything but winning against Kurt’s last ever opponent!?
Batista arrived (via satellite…) to further explain his motivations behind wanting to face Triple H at WrestleMania; basically, he reckons Triple H used him, underestimated him, and is a control freak who he (as in, Batista) aims to end once and for all at WrestleMania. Great stuff. Braun Strowman then announced his plan to compete in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, which is honestly a pretty sad and disappointing WrestleMania match for him, especially after last year’s bullshit; imagine if Angle chose Strowman as his opponent instead? How much sense would that make!? However, it got worse as Alexa Bliss promised to help smooth over the issues Strowman has had with the idiots from Saturday Night Live over the past few weeks, so we’ll probably end up with some stupid throwaway match where Strowman throws them around instead.
Drew McIntyre came out to brag about putting Roman Reigns back on the shelf last week and you know it was intense and “real” because he used Roman’s real name! Seth Rollins took exception to Drew’s words and ran down for a bit of a brawl that turned into an actual match, with McIntyre taking control after Rollins also missed a Moonsault attempt. McIntyre also managed to catch Rollins in mid-air off a Suicide Dive attempt and toss him into the barricade but Rollins took back control after he Superkicked a chair into Drew’s face; Rollins followed up with the Sling Blade and another Superkick and they ended up fighting on the top rope, which allowed Rollins to hit his Superlex/Falcon Arrow combination. Just as it looked like Rollins had the match won, Brock Lesnar came out to distract him, which allowed McIntyre to his the Claymore and…win? Again, like, I don’t think this outcome makes a whole lot of sense; you have Rollins, who is in the middle of a push to a big WrestleMania match against Lesnar for the Universal Championship, lose? That just seems nonsensical; why not just have Lesnar come out and destroy Rollins with an F5 and cost him the match that way? Oh, no, wait, that would mean Lesnar would actually have to do something on an episode of Raw and Brock don’t do that without some coin.
The Miz opened the show to talk about Shane McMahon; surprisingly enough, Miz managed to pull off a very intense babyface promo here but admitting the nefarious deeds of his past and justifying his face turn by claiming to have done everything he did with Shane simply to make his father proud. He then vowed to prove that he deserves his spot in the company by giving Shane a beating at WrestleMania. Honestly, I’m still not really sold on all this; I really feel that Miz has gotten a bit shafted by Daniel Bryan’s admittedly incredible heel turn as Miz should he won, with Shanes help, at Crown Jewel and, with Shane in his corner, dethroned AJ Styles to be the top heel on SmackDown! Live to setup Miz/Bryan for the belt at WrestleMania; Bryan could still turn after winning that match, after all but, instead, we’re left with babyface Miz which I really don’t imagine people were asking for.
True to their earlier promise on Raw, the Iiconics got to face the WWE Women’s Champions, Sasha Banks and Bayley….in non-title action. Bayley and Sasha had control of the match in the early going before they were distracted by that daft, nonsensical Lacey Evans; a hot tag to Sasha managed to shut down the Iiconics’ momentum but, in the end, Peyton Royce got a shock rollup on Sasha to take the win and get us firmly on the path to a multi-team WrestleMania match.
Kevin Owens got his talk show back this week; he ended up moderating another confrontation between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, who obviously ended up brawling and being pulled apart by security goons.
The rest of the show was entirely devoted to Kofi Kingston’s gauntlet trial; he went up against Sheamus first of all, who used his size and strength to dominate Kofi and keep him grounded and beaten down. Kofi managed to rally, though, and countered the Brogue Kick into an unsuccessful rollup before finishing Sheamus off with the Trouble In Paradise. Cesaro instantly got in the ring to continue the beating; he targeted Kofi’s back but Kofi eventually struggled through, countering the Neutraliser into the SOS for another win.
Rowan was up next, wasting little time in beating Kofi senseless in the corner and then with a chair, causing a disqualification; he then continued to beat Kofi at ringside and smashed him through the announce table before Samoa Joe turned up to pick up the pieces. Kofi was running on empty, unable to build an real momentum before Joe shut him down; luckily, though, Kofi was once again able to get the fluke rollup when Joe set him up for a Muscle Buster.
oe did, however, choke Kofi out after the loss but a bunch of babyfaces came to ringside to help cheer Kofi on as Randy Orton came out for the final match; Orton kept Kofi on the mat, stomping away like a madman for the most part, and was able to roll out of danger after taking a Trouble In Paradise when Kofi was too slow to follow up with a cover. Orton regained control with his VINTAGE~!!! DDT but Kofi was able to counter the RKO into yet another rollup for another win.
However, just as Kofi celebrated his amazing victory with the New Day, Vince McMahon revealed that he actually still had to get through Daniel Bryan, so we got one last match to cap off the night. Bryan immediately went to work on Kofi with strikes but threw a few too many and got planted with an SOS; after kicking out at two, Bryan worked Kofi over with multiple Dropkicks in the corner and managed to kick out of another of Kofi’s flash rollup attempts. After tossing Kofi from the top rope, Bryan landed the Running Knee and that was all she wrote for Kofi and his WrestleMania dreams….or is it!?