The February 25, 2019 Edition of RAW is a Professional wrestling television show of the WWE's RAW brand, which took place on February 25, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The show celebrated Ric Flair's 70th Birthday; featured a special appearance by Roman Reigns who gave an update on his leukemia; a rare appearance by Sting and the return of Batista.
The curtain still hasn't quite settled back into its proper position from the night Roman Reigns announced he was relinquishing the Universal Championship and taking a leave of absence to battle leukemia, but The Big Dog's return to Raw gave the WWE Universe occasion to breathe a welcome sigh of relief.
The former champion, appearing for the first time since his fateful announcement, revealed that his treatment had been a “home run” and that he was in remission, which meant, as he said, “The Big Dog is back.” But he used the meat of his appearance to thank the WWE Universe for their outpouring of support in his time of uncertainty, hesitation and even fear. “God’s voicemail was full,” Reigns said of the well-wishes he had received from the WWE Universe and beyond; he even went so far as to change his signature battle cry to encompass everyone who had given him strength and grace: “This is our yard.”
Pointedly, Reigns also said that his diagnosis and battle had led to a new purpose: To use his platform as a Superstar to raise awareness and support for those who find themselves in a similar fight to his own. As The Big Dog made his exit, he was joined atop the ramp by Seth Rollins, who embraced his friend in an impromptu celebration of a battle well fought, a purpose renewed and a sentiment that nobody in the WWE Universe could possibly find cause to argue with: It's good to have him back.
The hits just keep on coming for The Revival, who clawed their way to the top of the Tag Team division only to find several new boulders hovering precariously over their heads. Last week, Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano checked the new champions, and Dash & Dawson fared no better this week against the other half of the new NXT contingent, Ricochet & Aleister Black.
To their credit, The Revival employed a sound strategy, jumping their opponents before the bell in an attempt to get ahead of their near-uncontrollable foes. It gave them a bit of separation, but not enough: The champions’ strategy of divide and conquer couldn't contain Ricochet, who took out Dash Wilder at ringside and left Scott Dawson easy pickings for a Black Mass from The Dutch Destroyer that put the match away. The defeat did not escape the eyes of former champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable, who scouted the contest from a monitor backstage. And while it might be excessive to read too much into a pair of defeats, it doesn't mean The Revival shouldn't take the situation seriously: The division is watching, and the vultures are starting to circle.
For all the flack she's taken recently for the crime of not being Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey has certainly gone to bat for her embattled, would-be challenger at WrestleMania. From her infamous “Ice and Advil” pep talk to encouraging Becky to make nice with the McMahons and save their planned match at The Show of Shows, The Baddest Woman on the Planet seems to, at the very least, recognize Lynch's game, or at least the significance of a main-event clash between the two. (She has likewise made her thoughts known on Mr. McMahon's handpicked replacement Charlotte Flair; they are, shall we say, somewhat less charitable).
None of that stopped Becky from crashing a tag team match pitting Rousey and Natalya against The Riott Squad, however, and The Man immediately announced her rival by cracking Natalya in the face and whacking her with her crutch. Security kept Becky and Rousey from tearing into one another, but Becky was taken from the arena and arrested, leaving Rousey alone in the ring to conduct some business.
Calling Mr. McMahon down to the ring, Ronda was instead met by Stephanie McMahon, who barely got a word out before Rousey pleaded that the McMahons drop the charges against Lynch, reinstate her from suspension and place The Man back into the Raw Women's Title Match at WrestleMania. Stephanie was moved, if not swayed, by Rousey's arguments that Lynch's reinstatement would be “best for business” or an example for her daughters; the champion's subsequent "demand" that Becky be brought back into the fold was not quite as warmly received.
Though Stephanie attempted to hold her authority over Rousey's head, The Baddest Woman on the Planet didn't back down. Stating that she had no desire to defend her title against “chosen” challengers, Rousey declared that it was time for Mr. McMahon to stop making the tough decisions and instead make the right one. And with that, she laid down the title at Stephanie's feet and walked out of the ring.
On any other night, Jinder Mahal's ill-advised open challenge to any of Ric Flair's birthday guests — The Maharaja's attempt to prove himself worthy of his own invite — might have led to a major power play by the former WWE Champion. Unfortunately for him, Kurt Angle answered. And for all the recent flashes Mahal has shown of his old, ruthless self, this turned into a rout once The Olympic Hero claimed control. An Ankle Lock spelled defeat for Mahal, and suplexes to The Singh Brothers added insult to injury. The good news for Mahal and The Singhs is that they're as likely as anyone to go find their own party in the wake of a rough night; unfortunately, the only thing they'll have to celebrate is that, in the grand scheme of things, it could have been worse.
It's a fair point, honestly: Thanks to Handicap Match rules, Finn Bálor technically beat Lio Rush to win Bobby Lashley's Intercontinental Title, so shouldn't Lio get the rematch? Much to The Man of the Hour's horror, that's exactly what happened when he interrupted Alexa Bliss’ ogling interview of the Irishman on “A Moment of Bliss” to strong-arm his way into getting Lashley a rematch and found himself getting the nod instead.
Rush is, of course, no joke in the ring — consult 205 Live immediately for further elaboration — so this was nowhere near the washing the champion was perhaps expecting. Suffice it to say, The 24-Year Old Piece of Gold had more than a fighting chance and looked like he might pull off the upset, especially after Bálor tweaked his knee blocking the Final Hour. That the champion prevailed was mostly due to a single moment of veteran instinct and timing; Bálor caught Rush off a springboard and spiked him with 1916, then followed up quickly with the Coup de Grâce to secure the victory.
Bálor turned in a gritty effort by fighting through pain to retain his title, and his attempt to sow dissent between Rush and Lashley by implying that The Man of the Hour thought himself the true money player of the partnership seemed to play out exactly as he drew it up: Furious over Lio's failure to get him a title bout and then lose the one he received, The All Mighty harshly chastised his hype man in the backstage area and ended their confrontation with a pointed question: “Can I trust you?”
Defeating Braun Strowman one-on-one is as tall an order as anyone in WWE can conceive. Unfortunately, it's been quite some time since The Monster Among Men has been dealing with anyone one-on-one, so Strowman decided to nip this particular problem in the bud.
Perhaps sensing that some shenanigans were coming down the pike in his planned bout with Bobby Lashley — a fair guess given that Lashley, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin have ganged up on him in recent weeks — The Gift of Destruction opted to forego the match and simply obliterate the former Intercontinental Champion. (Lio Rush, who was still smarting from his unexpected title bout with Finn Bálor just moments earlier, was quickly disposed of as well.) Some might say that Strowman won't be able to win this fight in the long term without friends at his side; Raw was a strong argument in the other direction, where his two hands — These Hands, if you will — will give Braun Strowman all the help he needs.
If Dean Ambrose was a man on a singular mission at the end of 2018, he has become something of the opposite in the early months of this year; by seeking out Drew McIntyre for a No Disqualification Match and poking the proverbial bear by stepping to Elias, The Lunatic Fringe has shown himself to want little more than a fight, any fight, against anyone who is willing to oblige. That he tends to get his wish has been a sharp — if unsurprising — double-edged sword, and tonight was no exception.
On one hand, the McIntyre match was right up Ambrose's depraved alley: The Lunatic Fringe ripped off his leather belt — sneakily, he wore two to the ring — to tan the hide of The Scottish Psychopath. But Elias, who had been hit with Dirty Deeds earlier in the evening, sprinted down the ring with payback on his mind and clobbered Ambrose across the back with his guitar. McIntyre didn't hesitate to take the help, downing The Lunatic Fringe with a Claymore for the three.
Things took a quick turn for Ambrose when Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley arrived for a four-on-one stomping of the former WWE Champion, but The Lunatic Fringe found himself fielding an unlikely assist when Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns came to the ring and cleaned house with a chair and Superman Punches, respectively. The Big Dog sealed the attack with a Spear to McIntyre, but neither acknowledged Ambrose until they had made their way back up the ramp, when they stared down their turncoat brother from afar. An extending of an olive branch? A one-and-done assist for old time's sake? It's anybody's guess, but Dean Ambrose certainly looked like he didn't mind what he'd gotten, whether he asked for it or not.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug honeymoon might not be over, but storm clouds are approaching: Nia Jax & Tamina have thrown themselves full-steam into their hunt for Sasha Banks & Bayley's brand-new WWE Women's Tag Team Championships, and Nia re-emphasized the narrowness of their initial defeat in the Elimination Chamber during a one-on-one bout with Bayley on Raw. Absent pods, grates, or impromptu allies to stack the deck, The Irresistible Force simply overwhelmed The Huggable One until she made the mistake of going after Banks at ringside, giving Bayley the opening she needed to knee Nia in the side of the head and quickly pounce with the top-rope elbow drop. So yes, the champs won this one. But it was close, and the margin for error is very, very small.
A few months ago, during SmackDown's 1,000th episode, Batista made an offhanded comment that the only thing Triple H had yet to accomplish was beating him. It would appear that The Animal did not get the result he desired, so he decided to reiterate it at the expense of the one Superstar The Game respects above all others.
The former WWE Champion made a surprise return in Raw's closing moments, attacking Ric Flair before “The Nature Boy” could strut down the aisle to his 70th birthday celebration, where the entire Raw roster and some select guests of honor — Shawn Michaels, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Kurt Angle and Sting — were gathered to wish Flair many happy returns. Dragging a beaten Flair from his dressing room, Batista stared directly into the camera and asked, “Hey, Hunter, do I have your attention now?” The Game sprinted back to the locker room to Flair's side as Raw went off the air. The Animal had vanished and left Flair in a heap, but he got what he came for: He has Triple H's attention, and everyone else's, too.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Aleister Black & Ricochet defeated The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) (1:57)
- Ronda Rousey & Natalya defeated The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan) (w/ Liv Morgan) by DQ (10:45)
- Kurt Angle defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers (Samir Singh & Sunil Singh)) by submission (3:03)
- Finn Bálor (c) defeated Lio Rush to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (7:40)
- Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman match never got started
- Lashley attacked Strowman before the bell could even ring.
- Drew McIntyre defeated Dean Ambrose in a No Disqualification Match (9:20)
- Bayley (w/ Sasha Banks) defeated Nia Jax (w/ Tamina) (9:00)
Other on-screen talent