12th Mar2019

WWE Raw – March 11th 2019: Results & Review

by Nathan Favel

2018-raw-logo

Welcome to this week’s Raw review, right here on Nerdly. I’m Nathan Favel and we have a lot to get to, so shut up and sit down. Wait, how can I be rude to you people? One word at a time, that’s how. Ah…screw it. You’re all right, goofy-grape. What the hell was I talking about? This is why I need to buy a delete button. Oh, Raw. This one was actually quite good, so here we go.

Match #1: Seth Rollins def. Shelton Benjamin

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

In one sense, Seth Rollins’ victory over Shelton Benjamin didn’t tell the WWE Universe anything they didn’t already know: The Royal Rumble Match winner can, theoretically, beat Brock Lesnar. The question is how he’ll pull it off, and in that case, the first-time-ever bout provided some clues as to what we might see come bell time at MetLife in four weeks. For one, as Rollins pointed out in Raw’s opening, Lesnar seems to have a problem against Superstars whose style is predicated on speed rather than power. And that quickness ended up making the difference on Raw when Benjamin — who adopted several of Lesnar’s maneuvers throughout the match — hoisted Rollins up for an F-5 and The Kingslayer writhed free, superkicked Benjamin in the belly and hit the Stomp to win. But this also might have come with a price: As Paul Heyman revealed on commentary, Lesnar will be in the house next week, and Rollins’ victory might have inadvertently fed The Beast some invaluable scouting. For all the momentum The Architect gained, it may yet be carrying him straight into The Conqueror’s clutches.

My Take: 3 out of 5 – This was a fine match that was as easy a viewing as you’ll get in wrestling. These guys matched up so well that it almost makes me sick when I think of how long it took for Vince to book this match between these two. Shelton has been too good for too long not to get a shot at someone more his speed and Seth is a perfect example of who he should be fighting on national television. The idea here was that Shelton had adopted Lesnar’s moves to test Seth before his big Wrestlemania match against Brock Lesnar. It’s funny, in that Shelton already wrestles like that anyway, so it didn’t feel all that different from what he normally does. Seth looked excellent here, but that’s par for the course/I don’t know what that means. This was too good to be over so quickly, but if it had gone longer then it would have been far better.

Match #2: Bobby Lashley def. Finn Bálor to become the new Intercontinental Champion

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

As thrilling as Finn Bálor’s ascension to Intercontinental Champion was, it may have been, in hindsight, on borrowed time. Yes, he won the title off Bobby Lashley in a Triple Threat, but Lio Rush took the pinfall, and Bálor’s only title defense — which was very close — was against The Man of the Hour. All of which seemed to suggest Finn’s grip on his title was perhaps less secure than he seemed to think, and the bill came due on Raw when Lashley finally got his one-on-one rematch, bestowed upon him off the strength of his pinfall victory in last week’s Six-Man tussle. Even what would seem like a competitive edge on paper — Bálor, after all, did not get rolled by The Shield last night — seemed to be paying little dividends, as Lashley’s power turned this bout one-sided in a hurry. The Irishman fought back to set up Lashley up for the Coup de Grâce in what could only be described as a miraculous rally, at which point Rush made his presence known by clanging on the ring bell, distracting the titleholder from his perch atop the turnbuckle. Finn disposed of the interfering hype man with a swift kick to the head, but Lashley made good on his recovery time with a massive Spear that knocked Bálor to the ring mid-springboard and put him down for the victory. So Lashley gets his gold. The once-disgraced Rush gets his groove back. And while there might be an asterisk to this victory, The All Mighty and Rush don’t seem likely to care. One wanted his title back. The other wanted his good standing back. They both walked away happy, and Finn Bálor barely walked out at all.

My Take: 3 out of 5 – This match was a lot like the opener, in that it was good enough for its time limit, but it deserved to go a lot longer, especially for a title match. Balor and Lashley worked well together here, but this match felt like a copy of the other bouts they’ve been booked to have. Balor’s move-set was part of the problem here, in that it was as good as ever, but the WWE house style makes the use of it feel like I’m watching a video game, rather than a professional wrestling match. It feels like Balor has forgotten how to chain wrestle, which is strange to say about one of the best chain wrestlers around, but the top rope foot stomp approach to fighting has its limitations. Lashley looked pissed the whole time, so that part of the match worked. I enjoyed this, but I would have liked to have seen these guys get let off the leash so they could show every-body what they can really do.

Match #3: Aleister Black & Ricochet def. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

A series of victories for Aleister Black & Ricochet have thrust the new NXT signees into the thick of the Raw Tag Team Title hunt, much to the consternation of former champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable. The deposed titleholders had to pitch a fit to keep themselves in the title picture, and their strategy failed to pan out at Fastlane when Gable suffered the decisive pinfall. It was more of the same on Raw, as the glorious duo was outmatched by the newcomers and defeated when Black dropped Roode with a vicious Black Mass to the jaw. All of which isn’t to say it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out. The victors were laid out by the Raw Tag Team Champions, The Revival, in a bit of turnabout from Fastlane and a pointed reminder for the would-be usurpers: They don’t mind if a team jumps the line, as long as they don’t forget who sits at the front of it.

My Take: 2.5 out of 5 – Not bad for a match that lasted as long as a cat licking its ass. I liked the back and forth here and the pace was good, but it gets frustrating to see such talented athletes get dressed up for what, essentially, feels like they’ve been stood up by the booker when they needed him/her/it the most. How can you establish what teams are really the best when each teams trades victories in short matches of little consequence?

Match #4: Nia Jax def. Natalya via Disqualification

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

What was looking like an ascension of sorts for Nia Jax & Tamina has turned into a bit of a two-day reality check, both at the hands of the reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions and a veteran duo on the apparent cusp of a reunion. The Irresistible Force’s planned match with Natalya ended in a quick disqualification when Beth Phoenix, who took a beating from Jax at Fastlane and accompanied Natalya to ringside, stormed the match and threw hands with the former Raw Women’s Champion, sending her and Tamina into retreat. But if they thought the high ground was preferable to mixing it up with the “Divas of Doom,” the formidable pair found trouble waiting for them behind the curtain in the form of The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, who ambushed their rivals the second they stepped into the locker room area with such ferocity they had to be separated by a score of WWE officials.

My Take: 2 out of 5 – This match never stood a chance to succeed. This was like watching a leaf getting blown into a chipper-shredder two seconds after it fell off the tree. I like both of these fighters, but when you’re being told through booking that a big grudge match is going to end many minutes before it can even start to get good, then why should I ever get invested in a bout like this? Over-all, they tried but got screwed out of a more substantial match by way of lazy booking.

Match #5: Kurt Angle def. Apollo Crews

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

Angle kicked off his farewell tour on a positive note with a win over Apollo Crews — his last match, he noted, in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Youth and speed were certainly on Crews’ side, but the intangibles that made Angle a natural in the ring have not faded one bit. The Olympic Hero dodged what would have been a match-ending frog splash from Crews, sprang up, and torqued in the Ankle Lock for a final hometown victory. Crews was, understandably, more than happy to raise Angle’s hand in victory: It’s not every day you share the ring with this particular legend, and the days in which you can say you have are officially numbered.

My Take: 3 out of 5 – This was good, thanks to Angle having a great performance for a guy who should be dead by now. Crews worked hard here and made the most of his brief time with one of the great professional wrestlers. Angle was a suplex machine and managed to move as quickly as ever, despite the wear and tear on his body still being evident. Overall, for his final Pittsburgh match, this was a solid way to go for Kurt Angle and a fine moment for Apollo Crews.

Match #6: Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin

My Take: 0 out of 5 – This was another case of false advertisement, but at least it led to angle for a better match. Drew McIntyre attacked Roman before Baron could even come out, so it was a five minute brawl between Roman and Drew.

Match #7: (Main Event) Drew McIntyre def. Dean Ambrose (No Disqualification, No Count-out, Falls Count Anywhere)

The following is courtesy of wwe.com:

For months, Drew McIntyre has been claiming that the singlehandedly broke The Shield. As we saw at Fastlane, that was far from the truth, but if The Scottish Psychopath couldn’t singlehandedly send The Hounds of Justice packing as a collective, he made quite the statement at the expense of two of them on Raw. First, the former NXT Champion ruined Roman Reigns’ planned return to singles action against Baron Corbin by blasting The Big Dog with a pair of Claymores — the second of which sent Reigns careening face-first into the ringpost. And when Dean Ambrose took up his brother’s honor by demanding (and receiving) an anything-goes, Falls Count Anywhere match with McIntyre from Triple H, the Scot handed The Lunatic Fringe a grueling defeat in the very environment on which Ambrose’s pre-WWE reputation was built.

The Scotsman’s stated mission, as he growled in Ambrose’s ear, was to tear The Shield apart one by one, and he certainly did his part here. What began as merely a madcap contest — they fought into the concourse, destroying both the concession stand and the merch table — quickly turned grizzly when the fight took its fateful path to the commentary table, where McIntyre drilled a pencil into his opponent’s temple and lawn-darted The Lunatic Fringe into the LED board. The finishing touch was threading Ambrose’s torso through the guardrail of a staircase, where he was easy pickings for a baseball-slide Claymore that ripped the railing from its foundation and put Ambrose down for a three-count on the arena floor. To his credit, The Lunatic Fringe made it back to the stage even as McIntyre basked in his victory, but it was a poorly thought, if bold, decision: The Scot drilled Ambrose with a final Claymore to send Raw off the air, leaving his opponent in a heap. If there was one takeaway from tonight, it’s that The Shield might not be as certain of their way forward as they thought. Drew McIntyre, on the other hand, certainly is.

My Take: 3.5 out of 5 – This was a good brawl that went all over the place like it was 1998 all over again. These two went for all of the classic brawling spots in a match that felt like a real grudge match, thanks to the recent history between Drew and Dean. This thing was like watching two trains ramming into each other at top speed over and over again until you just have two crumpled heaps of twisted scrap scraping against each other to the last shot down the tracks. They go so involved in this, that Dean was throwing himself around like a rusty, dented pin-ball ricocheting every which way but loose after the pin-ball machine got busted being thrown glass-first in the junkyard junk pile. Dean looked his best in some time and made it into a memorable fight to the finish, with Drew getting the big victory he has been looking for. This was an excellent main event and a great sign that Drew is still on his way to getting a real shot at the strap, since he was booked so strongly.

News Of The Night:

  1. Kurt Angle announced that Wrestlemania will be the home of his retirement match.
  2. Batista will have his retirement match against Triple H in a No Holds Barred Match at Wrestlemania.
  3. Shelton Benjamin attacked Seth Rollins on Raw in what may be a sign of the former creating a new alliance with his old manager, Paul Heyman.
  4. Alexa Bliss will host Wrestlemania.
  5. Beth Phoenix is being teased as Natalya’s tag partner for a possible feud with Nia Jax and Tamina.
  6. Roman Reigns got attacked by Drew McIntyre to further the angle of Roman not being 100% since returning from his leukemia battle.
  7. Harlem Heat has been announced for the WWE Hall of Fame.
  8. Braun Strowman destroyed a car sent as a gift from Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost.
  9. Ronda Rousey is now doing the “wrestling is fake gimmick” to piss off the crowd and it worked.
  10. Dana Brooke may be having a feud with Ronda Rousey on the latter’s way to Wrestlemania.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

There were several fine matches here and lots of big matches built for Wrestlemania, so Vince and the WWE did a good job tonight.

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