You are Seth Rollins. Your brother-in-arms, Roman Reigns, is back in action against improbable odds, he has given his blessing to your WrestleMania match and all he wants is one thing: to forgive Dean Ambrose's transgressions and get The Shield back together. Do you do it?
As it turns out, yes. Moved by Reigns’ hard-earned assertion that tomorrow is not guaranteed, Rollins agreed to let bygones be bygones. He offered to wipe the slate clean for The Lunatic Fringe — and there is plenty to clean —to set up a long-shot reunion of one of the most dominant factions in the history of Raw. Unfortunately, Ambrose didn’t get to offer his own take on the prospective reformation of The Hounds of Justice, as Elias roared from behind the curtain and shattered a guitar over his back before he could reply.
There is a difference between a superteam and an actual team, and after a few weeks of dominance, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley are beginning to look very much like the latter. That ominous development proved to be a problem for the equally-talented-but-less-cohesive collective who opposed them on Raw: Braun Strowman, Kurt Angle & Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor.
True, Angle was muscling the clock backward by sheer force of will. And Strowman was reducing everything in front of him to a cloud of dust. Even Bálor got his team to the cusp of victory after a one-two of a Running Powerslam and a Coup de Grâce to Corbin. But the squad had no answer for Lio Rush, who broke up the Irishman’s pinfall and instigated a mad scramble that ended with Strowman plowing both himself and The Man of the Hour through the barricade. The night, however, ended with a ruthless display of power by McIntyre, Corbin and Lashley, who disposed of a reeling Angle on the outside and downed Bálor with a Claymore and double chokeslam on the steel steps. In short, it was an impressive collection of parts, dismantled utterly by a dominant whole that is looking more and more ironclad by the week.
Interfering in Natalya’s matches seems to have become the thing to do; luckily, The Queen of Harts at least managed to get all the way through her contest this week before a third-party came a-callin’. One week after being wrecked by Becky Lynch, the former SmackDown Women’s Champion was looking to get in and get out quick against Ruby Riott — and she did, hitting the road moments after pinning Ruby with a roll-up to avoid an ambush by Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan.
Her departure, however, was spoiled by the arrival and exit of Lacey Evans, who graced the WWE Universe with one of her now-signature pageant walks down and back up the ramp. And there was no mistaking the look in the Hart heiress’ eyes as the belle passed her by: Although The Lady of WWE had laid no hands on Natalya, she had the look of someone who had been slapped in the face by Evans all the same.
Last week, Batista re-emerged out of nowhere to ambush Ric Flair on his 70th birthday, ostensibly as a ploy to get Triple H’s attention. This week, he didn’t show up at all, citing a general distaste of Philadelphia for his absence. It was, as The Game himself called it, “Bad Guy 101,” but The Animal might regret the day he called this particular class to session. His choice of Flair as a target hit a little closer to home with Triple H than even he might have realized. The 14-time World Champion fought back tears and fury in equal measure before issuing his official ultimatum: He would be waiting for Batista in every building WWE traveled to, not as Triple H but as himself, and if Batista had the courage to stand up and tell him what he wanted, he would give him everything he desired. In short? Yes, Batista has his attention.
Ever since stomping their way up from NXT, Heavy Machinery have been somewhat difficult to pin down. Are they jovial, protein-shake guzzling jocks or vile dumpster-divers who are stealing the thunder of more deserving Superstars? The remainder of Raw’s Tag Team division seems to have firmly cast their votes in favor of the latter, saving the worst of their insults to the quirky, boulder-like Otis. They certainly lived to regret it. Their schoolyard-bully insults riled up some genuine aggression from the quirky big men, who dismantled each and every one of their aggressors in a Gauntlet Match with relative ease. The B-Team were first to fall; The Ascension followed; and Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins — the one team who held back in insulting Heavy Machinery — were the last to go, with Otis scoring the decisive pinfalls on all three teams. No one will argue that Otis isn’t an odd cat — least of all him. But clearly, insult him at your own risk.
Never say never, ladies and gentlemen. Dean Ambrose seemed resigned to a lonely, nomadic life of fighting any warm body in his way rather than throwing in with The Shield, but The Lunatic Fringe came around after all, thanks in no small part to the team who has claimed to replace them.
Elias had just picked off Ambrose with Drift Away, capitalizing on the lingering effects of his show-opening attack on The Lunatic Fringe (between that and a song that had the city of Philadelphia on the edge of a riot, it was a very good night for The Living Truth). But then Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made their final attempt of the night to rally Ambrose to their cause. The Lunatic Fringe declined and was halfway to the concourse when Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin emerged from atop the ramp. The trio was flush with victory and mockingly claiming that they had been willing to offer The Shield a one-time-only match at WWE Fastlane if the reunion was made official. With Ambrose having made his choice, however, the rising trio opted instead to deliver the final blow to what remained of the once-mighty faction.
They spoke too soon. The sight of Rollins and Reigns, outnumbered, spurred Ambrose back into action, and The Lunatic Fringe sprinted to his brothers’ side to drive their would-be usurpers from the ring, ultimately joining in the trio’s iconic, three-pronged fist bump as his final sign of solidarity. The band is back together. All is forgiven. And the match is made. One last time it is.
You could say Bayley defeated Nia Jax last week or you could say she got lucky. Either argument would have merit, and whichever one you picked The Boss ’N’ Hug Connection would find no such relief tonight. Facing The Irresistible Force’s tag team partner Tamina in a final preview of Sunday’s WWE Women’s Tag Team Title clash, Sasha Banks found herself on the wrong end of a superkick that brought their bout to an abrupt, brutal end. If it happens again on Sunday, The Boss and Bayley’s historic reign will suffer a similar fate.
While “Saturday Night Live” mainstays and “Weekend Update” hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost were natural fits on paper for Monday Night Raw, they quickly learned that the outlandish personalities roaming 30 Rock and the WWE Universe do not quite line up in the way they might have anticipated.
Even Stephanie McMahon admitted there might be a bit of an adjustment period for the late-night hosts, but Jost disagreed, strolling through the backstage area on a wave of veteran confidence. Sure, the sight of a statuesque, conspicuously wet EC3 was a little odd, Titus O’Neil didn’t seem to care who Jost was and No Way Jose nearly stole Che into his conga line. But that was nothing you might not encounter on your average “SNL” … until he met Braun Strowman and made the mistake of asking the question, “Is any of this stuff even real?”
By the time Raw returned from commercial break, The Monster Among Men had Jost hoisted by his throat and pinned against a wall, and it took a host of WWE officials to pry the “Weekend Update” anchorman from his grip. The Gift of Destruction seemed swayed by Che’s excuses for his partner, though he did offer a final word of warning for the “SNL” stars: “I’ll see you at WrestleMania.”
Is it possible to be dominant and embattled? The Revival might just be threading that needle, having both re-established the idea of a traditional tag team holding sway over the Raw division and woefully unprepared for a new, left-field crop of opponents from NXT. The “Top Guys’ ” Raw Tag Team Title reign has been stop-and-start enough that they found themselves defending the championships against Aleister Black & Ricochet just three weeks after winning them. And if not for a fateful interference from Bobby Roode & Chad Gable, Dash & Dawson may well have lost them.
The former champions found their reign saved, in no uncertain terms, by Roode & Gable, who were vocally stewing on the outside — perhaps over the lack of an automatic rematch clause that would give them another crack at the titles. Roode & Gable swarmed The Revival in the middle of the match, notching a disqualification for the champions and giving the attackers a chance to assert themselves against the NXT newcomers. Their attempt to throw hands ended in disastrous fashion, however, as Black & Ricochet sent them ingloriously from the ring before posing ominously in the center of the squared circle. Whether Black & Ricochet would have definitely won the titles is a matter of pure conjecture, but the lasting image of the match left no such doubt: Much like The Revival, Roode & Gable may have picked a fight they aren’t ready for.
The good news for Becky Lynch is that she officially has a path back to WrestleMania. The bad news is that, even if she somehow manages to make it, she might not be facing the Ronda Rousey she thought she’d get.
Yes, a woman can only take so many tweets and so many boos before she snaps, and The Baddest Woman on the Planet seems to have finally broken. Though, the Raw Women’s Champion pointedly waited to let all her aggression out until after Becky had been reinstated, freed of all legal woes and placed into a win-and-you’re-in match against Charlotte Flair at WWE Fastlane. Brimming with frustration over the audience for spurning her and Stephanie McMahon’s willingness to award the Raw Women’s Title over to someone else — she thought Ronda vacated the championship last week — Rousey finally dropped any pretense of being an entertainer.
She laid into both her opponents with reckless abandon, or at least she would have, had Charlotte not made an immediate and well-considered exit, leaving The Man to the proverbial wolves as Rousey savaged her with judo throws, arm bars and body blows. And given that Lynch, is still recovering from her injured knee and had to sign a hold-harmless agreement to get the Fastlane match in the first place, she has little protection from Rousey’s unbound fury.
Stephanie, however, might have further recourse. In a backstage interview moments after Rousey had completed her savaging, Stephanie expressed shock and disgust at the renegade champion. Stephanie hinted she may have some tough decisions to make next week — despite Rousey’s assertion she was too valuable to be punished in any meaningful way — and officially threw her support behind whoever challenges Rousey at WrestleMania. If tonight is any indication, she might not have much to back: One wanted no part of the champion, and the final word on the other may end up being that that she wanted too much, and got it.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush) defeated Finn Bálor, Braun Strowman & Kurt Angle (14:40)
- Natalya defeated Ruby Riott (w/ Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) (2:05)
- Heavy Machinery (Tucker & Otis) defeated The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) and The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) and Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in a Gauntlet match
- Elias defeated Dean Ambrose (8:00)
- Tamina (w/ Nia Jax) defeated Sasha Banks (w/ Bayley) (3:25)
- The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) defeated Ricochet & Aleister Black by disqualification
Other on-screen talent