Ronda Rousey kicked things off this week; she wasn’t best impressed with the reception she got from the crowd and promised to make Becky Lynch tap out at WrestleMania. The Riott Squad, Becky, and Charlotte Flair all interrupted to get their voices heard and a whole bunch of quick-fire matches followed in a Beat The Clock challenge: Ronda made Sarah Logan tap out to the Arm Bar, Charlotte couldn’t quite make Ruby tap in time, and Becky pinned Liv Morgan, all in a little over a minute a piece.
Bobby Lashley teamed up with Jinder Mahal (I mean…okay?) in a handicap match against Finn Balor, with the stipulation being that, if Finn won, he would get an Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania (despite the fact that he is owed an automatic rematch, though they did say a while back that that isn’t a thing anymore, randomly…). Lio Rush couldn’t be involved with the match because of how badly he got beaten up by Braun Strowman last week but they could have thrown both the Singh brothers in as well to really stack the deck; considering they, and Lio, constantly interfered and distracted Finn, they may as well. Anyway, Finn was able to overcome the odds, fight off the heels, and pin Mahal to get his rematch; afterwards, Lashley destroyed Mahal and his goons because Lashley does what Lashley wants.
Aleister Black and Ricochet teamed up once more to take on the Revival, again, and you know this is getting serious because they started with a big old brawl. Interestingly, the Revival ended up isolated Aleister, meaning that Ricochet was the one who made the hot tag and cleaned house. Things all fell apart again soon after that and, in the chaos, Aleister hit the Black mass and Ricochet scored the win off the 630 Splash; so I guess all these wins against the champions will earn the NXT guys a title shot at WrestleMania, probably on the kick-off show.
Sasha Banks and Natalya had a bit of a match next, with Bayley and Beth Phoenix in their respective partner’s corners; while they seemed evenly matched, Natalya was able to get the upper hand and wrap Sasha into a bunch of different submission holds. Sasha evened things up by taking the fight to the outside and getting the Banks Statement locked in, but Natalya countered it into the Sharpshooter. Sasha fought out and they looked to be stepping up to the next gear but were interrupted by Nia Jax and Tamina, who ended up getting humbled by Beth.
Continuing Braun’s bullshit streak of being wasted at WrestleMania, Alexa Bliss managed only to get him in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal with the Saturday Night Live geeks because, apparently, Braun has skipped from being 1999 Big Show to being 2008 Big Show. Anyway, Baron Corbin went up against Apollo Crews in a rematch from last week; Apollo took the fight to Corbin but ended up walking into the End of Days for a loss, which means hardly anything as he still beat Corbin last week so Corbin should have won last week and then defeated a different babyface this week while bragging about how he will retire Kurt Angle at WrestleMania but, no, 50/50 booking is good too…I guess.
Seth Rollins cut a passionate promo about how he (and, by extension, the fans) will defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania before Samoa Joe made a surprise appearance on Raw to recreate the main event of TNA Genesis 2006. Joe kicked things off with a vicious headbutt, worked the ground-and-pound, and then dumped Angle to the outside. Back in the ring, he switched to the chops and strikes but Angle finally fought back with the Multiple German Suplexes; Joe fought out of the Angle Slam and the Ankle Lock but Angle scrambled out of a Muscle Buster attempt. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch but Angle slipped out and turned it into a successful pinfall.
Triple H officially announced that the Raw Women’s Championship will main event WrestleMania; he also announced that his match against Batista will have his (as in, Triple H’s) in-ring career on the line which, honestly, now makes me wonder who the winner will be as I can’t see Triple H passing up future match opportunities just yet.
Earlier in the night, Drew McIntyre accepted Roman Reigns’ challenge, so they’ll officially be fighting at WrestleMania, and, after he ran into Dean Ambrose backstage, we ended up with yet another match between the two in the Raw main event this week. This time, it was a last man standing match, so it started with a brawl and quickly turned into McIntyre working Ambrose over with a kendo stick. Ambrose turned things around by ramming McIntyre head-first into a chair and hitting the Dirty Deeds but McIntyre turned the tables on him but, literally, slamming him through a table and then unceremoniously ending him with a Claymore.
The New Day opened the show to talk a bit more about the mistreatment and disrespect Kofi Kingston has been given by the WWE, specifically Vince McMahon. Daniel Bryan ran them all down for being stale and sell-outs (…he’s not wrong there…). Vince showed up and called them out on their empty threats to quit the company and gave Kofi one last shot to get his title shot as he booked Big E and Xavier Woods into a tag team gauntlet to fight for their buddy.
Randomly, out of absolutely nowhere, Charlotte Flair was not only simply put into a match against Asuka for the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship…she fucking won it! And not even in a shady way or with any kind of controversy; they had a competitive match and then Charlotte won with the Figure Eight so, right now, she will be holding the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship in her triple threat match for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.
I really don’t get this booking at all; first of all, it should have always been Charlotte facing Asuka for the belt at WrestleMania. Her randomly inserting herself into the Raw Women’s Championship really devalues the SmackDown! Live variant. Now, though, Asuka is directionless leading into WrestleMania and looks like a complete joke; unless the plan in the next few weeks is changed to have both Women’s Championships merged into one WWE Women’s Championship, this was just a really mindless move…worse than Finn Balor randomly losing the Intercontinental Championship in the weeks leading into WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle made a welcome return to the Blue Brand to rekindle his issues with AJ Styles; they started off with a nice little handshake and a hug and were just starting to build towards something potentially special when Randy Orton ran in and hit AJ with an RKO for the disqualification; so…I guess we’ll see the real match next week?
The Miz challenged Shane McMahon to a last man standing match at WrestleMania, which Shane obviously accepted; this is a clear and unashamed way of having him jump or fall off something stupid, no doubt. The Miz then made short work of Shane’s rent-a-goons and even blasted Shelton Benjamin and SAnitY along the way because, apparently, babyface Miz is as much of an ass-kicker as Roman Reigns…?
The New Day’s gauntlet kicked off with the Club, who were defeated in less than a minute. Apparently, rather than trying to negotiate with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and appease them with a push and a title run as they did with the Revival, the WWE would rather bury them to take away their appeal and credibility. I didn’t really believe that and then I saw this and it’s hard to argue against that rumour, or that the WWE are a bunch of childish morons who sometimes have no idea what the hell they are doing.
Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura were up next and actually got to put up a fight, because as well as know a randomly thrown together tag team is always more effective than a career tag team…Anyway, Rusev and Nakamura worked over Xavier and kept him isolated but, once Big E made the hot tag and cleaned house, the writing was on the wall; Big E countered the Kinshasa and the Midnight Hour soon put the heels away.
Sheamus and Cesaro took back the momentum, targeting Big E so he could take his fair share of the abuse as well. Xavier managed to make the tag, though, kicked out off one of Cesaro’s patented Swiss Upercuts, and got the fluke roll-up on Sheamus to win the match. The Bar threw a fight afterwards and smashed Big E through an announce table; the Usos then decided that they are all about respect and honour now and forfeited their spot, giving the gauntlet to the New Day and the title shot to Kofi…
Or did they!? Because it turned out that the true final bosses were Daniel Bryan and Rowan, who wasted no time taking advantage of the beating/s Xavier and Big E had taken, with Bryan targeting Big E’s knee until Xavier was able to break up the assault. Rowan saved Bryan from being pinned and teased using the other announce table but Big E turned it over and buried him with it, allowing the New Day to get the win…by count out. Vince then officially announced that Kofi would be going to WrestleMania and…wow, this wasn’t really that great a way to do that. It really would send a much better message about Kofi’s heart and determination if he had survived the gauntlet the other week and earned his spot that way; this way, he’s only in the match because of his buddies but I still think we’ll see Kevin Owens and maybe Ali (oh, yeah, he isn’t “Mustafa” any more because…fucked if I know!) added to the match so that Bryan can win without pinning Kofi and Kofi can get a true one-on-one shot at Extreme Rules….or Big E or Xavier will turn on Kofi and cost him the match because he wouldn’t be in it because of them. Either way…bizarre world this week!