At this point on The Road to WrestleMania 34, Brock Lesnar was no-showing his advertised dates as a power play to get inside his challenger’s head. At WrestleMania 35, however, he’s facing Seth Rollins. And Seth Rollins, as we saw last week, might just have him clocked. So The Beast showed up as advertised in an appearance that was one part pose-down, one part fire-and-brimstone missive from Paul Heyman and, perhaps, one part strategy. After all, if Rollins possesses the speed advantage that gives The Conqueror fits, Lesnar would do well to keep his would-be slayer where he can see him — even if, as Heyman said, all the fleet-footed Superstars Rollins mentioned as evidence of Lesnar's blind spot (AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Finn Bálor) lost their respective matches.
Not that The Beast is lacking for challengers, even prospective ones: Drew McIntyre took out two-thirds of The Shield last week and seemed to think a victory against Rollins later tonight was so much of a sure thing that he confronted Team Brock and floated himself as a prospective replacement for WrestleMania. In that, he spoke too soon: The Kingslayer ambushed McIntyre from behind, unleashing several chair strikes across the back of the “Career Killer” and bending the steel before making a beeline for The Beast. Only Lesnar wasn’t having it, and he bailed on his challenger before Seth could throw hands. Points awarded to Rollins for provoking The Beast out into the open, but if he wants to draw Brock into a fight, he'll have to try a little harder.
If Finn Bálor is serious about keeping his championship drought a short one, he certainly got off on the right foot. The Irishman selected Braun Strowman as his mystery partner against Lio Rush & Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley, and his selection paid off in a major way. The Monster Among Men has been in a little bit of a mood thanks to Colin Jost and Michael Che, and he was so dominant that The All Mighty straight-up bailed on his hype man in the middle of the match. Lashley’s walk left Rush to the mercy (or lack thereof) of a Running Powerslam and a 1-2-3 that might mean more for Bálor than it first appears: Yes, Strowman got the pinfall, but the “W” goes in the Irishman’s books, too. When it comes time to earning a title match, that could go a long way.
It may have been a glimpse into Strowman’s future as well: As The Monster Among Men revealed in an interview later in the night, his ongoing beef with Che and Jost has left him so riled up that he’s declaring for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal so he can beat up everyone at once. He isn’t above giving the “Weekend Update” duo These Hands as well — much to the concern of WrestleMania host and Strowman’s former Mixed Match Challenge partner, Alexa Bliss. Luckily, The Goddess talked The Monster down and bought herself some time to broker a peace. Not that much, however: Strowman’s generosity isn’t unlimited, and Alexa has one week to make things right. After that, all bets are off.
If there’s been one running thread throughout Elias’ WWE career, it’s that every time he picks up a guitar, he will be interrupted. Last week, the offending party was No Way Jose, and this week, it was again No Way Jose, who crashed The Living Truth’s appearance on “A Moment of Bliss” in an ultimately unsuccessful bid for redemption after last week’s shellacking.
The Dominican Dancing Machine got off to a rollicking start, catching Elias unaware thanks to a bait-and-switch in which Heavy Machinery led the conga line and Jose disguised himself as the infamous cheeseburger. But a strong opening for Jose ended in bitter fashion when Elias rallied with a top-rope elbow drop and Drift Away, turning what began as a statement for his opponent into one of his own: As he announced on “A Moment of Bliss,” The Living Truth has secured the gig of headlining musical act for WrestleMania and is determined to get through the performance uninterrupted. This, then, was his warning.
With Kurt Angle’s Farewell Match at WrestleMania fast approaching, speculation has run rampant as to who The Olympic Hero would face on the way out. Just prior to his final match in Chicago, Angle made a simple and appropriate selection: Baron Corbin. The Lone Wolf supplanted Angle as Raw GM and made his life miserable, so he’s the one Angle wants to hobble before he calls it a day. And if you ask Corbin, that’s just perfect — and he didn’t hesitate to say so at the end of the Olympian’s match on Raw.
As to that, Angle had picked Chad Gable as his final opponent in the Second City, and it quickly became apparent that he might have bitten off more than he can chew: The former Raw, SmackDown and NXT Tag Team Champion moves like Angle in his prime and is a candidate for the same kind of longevity and dominance the elder Olympian enjoyed. Entering in his old American Alpha garb and a red, white and blue singlet, Gable took Angle to the limit — he escaped the Angle Slam and locked in an Ankle Lock of his own — and might have won had he not gone high-risk and whiffed on a moonsault. The missed maneuver left Gable exposed, and Angle pounced with a grapevine Ankle Lock to earn the submission, but Corbin wasn’t exactly impressed with the performance.
The Lone Wolf reared his head after the tapout had been recorded, promising a sweet victory for himself in three weeks and leaving Angle with the ominous words that all the WWE Universe tends to remember is a Superstar’s final match. Whether that’s a glimpse of a harsh truth to come or just the psych-up material Angle needs for his last ride, however, remains to be seen.
Sasha Banks & Bayley have been making the rounds on Raw and NXT to scout prospective challengers for their WWE Women's Tag Team Titles, but they needn’t have searched so far and wide: Their WrestleMania opponents might be coming to them. After a couple weeks at commentary during which she found herself throwing hands with the new generation of Superstars, Beth Phoenix offered to come out of retirement for a past-vs-present clash of The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection and the “Divas of Doom” at WrestleMania, potentially setting The Glamazon up for the one accolade she missed out on in her Hall of Fame career.
Nia Jax & Tamina aren’t about to let themselves be passed over, however; the twice-spurned “Samoan Slaughterhouse” interfered in The Boss’ bout with Beth’s partner Natalya — itself stemming from a tense war of words between the two teams in the wake of Beth’s challenge — leading to a disqualification victory for The Boss after Tamina appeared from beneath the ring and superkicked everything that moved. If nothing else, the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships are set up to have a very interesting first WrestleMania season, and we haven’t even gotten to The IIconics’ persistent challenges yet. But perhaps the champs’ appearance on tomorrow’s SmackDown LIVE will shed some light on that front.
Since his WWE debut, Ricochet has become such a key player in the Tag Team divisions of Raw, SmackDown LIVE and NXT that the WWE Universe hasn’t gotten much of a look at him in singles action. In short? He’s still pretty great there, too.
Facing Jinder Mahal, The One and Only needed only a second of separation, and he made good on it once he got it, rallying from The Maharaja’s ground-and-pound strategy to unleash a truly remarkable sequence of maneuvers. The display culminated in a Space Flying Tiger Drop onto Mahal and The Singh Brothers on the outside, and a 630 to Mahal’s sternum moments later sealed the bout. You'd be forgiven for rewinding the ending of the match until your DVR ran out of battery, but better to save the space: Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this win over a former WWE Champion is that it's only a matter of time before he goes above and beyond it, both figuratively and, of course, literally.
\Dana Brooke isn’t wrong that WrestleMania season is a time when underdogs become legends, but there was no storybook ending in her improbable Raw Women’s Championship Match. Despite earning the first title match of her career by standing up to Ronda Rousey last week, Brooke was savaged in short order by The Baddest Woman on the Planet, and the security team WWE hired to prevent further aggression from Rousey quickly followed. Rousey and her husband, UFC heavyweight Travis Browne, each laid out a member of the security squad before making their way out of the arena through the concourse.
It was the most unhinged display of physicality yet from the champion (clearly, last week's fine did not do anything to deter her), and when all is said and done, the WWE Universe might look back on this evening as the night they should have seen what was coming Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair’s way. In that respect, and in its own twisted fashion, this match might land Dana Brooke a line in the history books after all.
The WWE Universe is not thrilled with Baron Corbin facing Kurt Angle as the Olympian's final WWE opponent at WrestleMania. Baron Corbin doesn’t care. And tonight, at least, it cost him: Corbin’s opponent for Raw was Apollo Crews, an Angle admirer who challenged The Lone Wolf to defend his idol’s honor, but the former Constable instead reserved his focus for the audience, who showered him with boos. As a result, Crews caught him with a small package for the victory and shared an embrace with Angle atop the ramp. Corbin can talk all he wants about a “river of tears” for a disappointed audience, but if there’s any lesson for him as WrestleMania approaches, it’s that he would do well to remember who exactly he’s sharing the ring with.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Batista had lost all measure of self-control in the run-up to his No Holds Barred Match with Triple H at WrestleMania, but The Animal’s satellite interview with Michael Cole told a very different story. The Batista who answered Cole’s questions did so carefully and thoughtfully; if nothing else, he has given his long history with The King of Kings a lot of consideration, and the roots of his grudge go as far back as his in-ring career.
Speaking in a level, calm voice, Batista disputed the notion that he owed his career to Triple H, who he believes never saw him as anything more than his personal muscle. He also pinned his infamous 2010 exit — he doesn’t like to say he “quit” — on the fact that The Game chose to hold him down as his boss rather than support his ambitions as a friend. As far as Batista's concerned, the fact that he managed to get this WrestleMania match is proof positive that Triple H never quite gave him the respect he deserved — after all, he left the company and attained enough of a reputation to bend the master manipulator to his will.
On that front, the only time Batista’s aggression got the better of him was when Cole attempted to defend The Game’s integrity. Removing his shades, The Animal insisted that Triple H has the entire WWE office fooled and is as dangerous and controlling as he’s ever been. He ended the interview with a twofold prediction: That Mr. McMahon would fire Triple H and end The Game’s professional career, and Batista would take care of the in-ring portion at WrestleMania. Bold words, to be sure, but if nothing else, the interview made clear that Big Dave has given a lot of thought to who he’s facing. Triple H might not be able to say the same.
Drew McIntyre is all about speaking destructive goals and making them into reality, so he shared an ominous opening bit of business before facing Seth Rollins: Seeking to complete his dismantling of The Shield and establish his dominance over WWE, The Scottish Psychopath challenged Roman Reigns to a “fight” at WrestleMania, addressing him by his given name of “Joe” and begging The Big Dog to refuse for the sake of his wife and children. As for his seeming insistence on looking past Seth Rollins, he made good on that as well by defeating The Kingslayer, though it’s fair to say he had a little bit of help.
It’s also fair to say he needed it. Left fuming by McIntyre’s disrespect to Reigns, The Kingslayer rode an emotional wave of adrenaline out of a deep hole against the Scotsman. But Brock Lesnar’s music hit just seconds before he was set to deliver the Stomp, and McIntyre capitalized on the distraction, bulldozing Rollins with a Claymore to earn an impressive, if ill-gotten victory. Now, McIntyre has indeed dispatched two of the three Hounds of Justice in the ring, and he has a very real chance of making the trifecta should Reigns accept.
Rollins, however, might just be left with more uncertainty than he thought as he prepares to face Lesnar — perhaps even on a fundamental level. As much as he says he’s better than all the same speedy Superstars who took The Beast to the limit, the last word on Raw is that Rollins fell into the same trap they did. To a man, they had Brock Lesnar right where they wanted him. And to a man, they lost.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Finn Bálor & Braun Strowman defeated Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush (7:30)
- Elias defeated No Way Jose
- Kurt Angle defeated Chad Gable by submission (12:20)
- Sasha Banks (w/ Bayley) defeated Natalya (w/ Beth Phoenix) by disqualification (2:58)
- Ricochet defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ Samir & Sunil Singh) (6:50)
- Ronda Rousey (c) defeated Dana Brooke by submission to retain the WWE Raw Women's Championship (0:19)
- Apollo Crews defeated Baron Corbin (4:25)
- Drew McIntyre defeated Seth Rollins (14:10)
Other on-screen talent