By: Keila Cash
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Let’s Get Physical: Welcome to the Ass Whooping Soup De Jour Starring Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon
Tonight’s Blog is Brought To You by the Little B: Bitching Is Fundamental.
· After weeks of speculation, Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey will face off against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a Mixed Tag Team Match at WrestleMania. Raw kicked off with Angle calling out Triple H for sucker punching him at the end of last week’s show. McMahon came out to talk Angle down by using the family card in order to play on his sympathies.
· Stephanie claimed that Angle’s decorated career wasn’t paying the bills and needed to keep his job as General Manager in order to pay alimony to his first wife. The crowd booed at her dig as Rousey made her way down to the ring.
· Ronda stood up for Kurt while calling her new bosses a couple of schoolyard bullies. Stephanie denied the allegation by reminding Ronda that her dream of wrestling at Mania is about to come true. She could pick any opponent as long as they were on the active roster and not a current champion.
· Ronda picked Stephanie as the crowd started up a loud “Yes!” chant. Triple H’s music hit as he claimed that the match couldn’t happen because Steph was an executive. Angle noted that she had two contracts that laid her out her duties as Commissioner and WWE Superstar. Therefore, the match was on for WM.
· Hunter had similar language in his contracts which meant that his dance card was open for WM as well. Kurt volunteered to team up with Ronda to take on HHH and Steph as the crowd roared in approval.
· Steph tried to slap Kurt, but Ronda grabbed her arm and was about to break it in half until Hunter intervened.
· Steph and Hunter were about to leave the ring, but HHH changed his mind and went after Angle. Stephanie attacked Ronda from behind, but she ran for the hills when Ronda got up.
· HHH tried to Pedigree Kurt, but Kurt put him in the ankle lock instead. Hunter was flopping in the ring like a fish until Stephanie pulled him out of the ring.
· WWE officials checked on Triple H which allowed Ronda to grab Stephanie by the hair and yank her back in the ring. Ronda laid out Steph with the Samoan Drop as the opening segment came to an end with Angle and Rousey standing tall on the main stage while Triple H and Stephanie were trying to gather their bearings in the ring.
· This was a hot way to start the show. Ronda Rousey was very over with the crowd as they loved everything she said and did. This was her smoothest performance so far as she embraced the role of being a badass with a heart of gold.
· Kurt Angle reclaiming his manhood is the cherry on top as he finally stood to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. It was a long time coming which should lead to some interesting television over the next few weeks because he’s no longer afraid to speak his mind. Most importantly, Stephanie was put on her ass on a show not called WrestleMania for the first time in YEARS! It’s a miracle!
· Asuka defeated Nia Jax when she made Jax tap out to the armbar in a solid match. Jax dominated the action for the most part, but Asuka managed to wear her down by putting her in the armbar before transitioning to the Triangle Choke. Jax tried to break the hold by power slamming Asuka to the mat, but Asuka held on for dear life. Jax tried a second time, but it was to no avail as well.
· She tried to break the hold by slamming Asuka against the turnbuckle, but the Empress of Tomorrow wouldn’t let go which led to the tap out finish moments later.
· Backstage, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James shared a pensive glance as they realized that Asuka was coming for Bliss’ Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Or is she? Hmm…
· Sheamus and Cesaro defeated The Revival when Cesaro pinned Scott Dawson with the Neutralizer in a solid match. The crowd heat was tepid because both teams were heels which watered down the bout from an emotional standpoint. The Revival losing the match means that they will not face The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania next month. That sucks, but I am guessing that WWE has a bigger tag team match in mind for Sheamus and Cesaro.
· John Cena came out to cut a promo he knew wouldn’t be able to say on SmackDown Live because Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles would interrupt him. Therefore, Cena asked Kurt Angle to give him the platform to speak his mind because this would probably be the last time fans would see him on Raw after he breaks Ric Flair’s record by becoming a 17-time World Champion at Fastlane.
· Cena noted that Styles might feel like his WrestleMania hopes and dreams will be dashed when he loses the WWE Title on Sunday. However, The Phenomenal One can still have his Mania moment by invoking his rematch clause and making the WWE Title match a Triple Threat featuring Cena, Styles, and Nakamura.
· In a strange twist, Goldust made his way down to the ring to spout some Hollywood cinema mumbo jumbo that dragged on forever before vowing to ruin Cena’s path to WrestleMania. Before Cena could respond, Goldust sucker punched him which led to a match which took place after the commercial break.
· John Cena defeated Goldust with the AA in a serviceable match. Goldust dominated the action for the most despite the outcome being evitable.
· The premise of the match was stupid and the fans didn’t care until the finish. Goldust usually cuts good promos, but the material he was given was weak and made no sense. There was no gravitas to what he was saying which made the segment and subsequent bout a waste of time which shouldn’t be the case heading into the heart of WrestleMania season.
· Bayley defeated Mandy Rose with the Gator Roll in a decent match, but she didn’t get a chance to celebrate the win when Rose and Sonya Deville attacked her in the ring. Sasha Banks made the save, but it wasn’t enough to patch things up between the two besties. When Bayley turns down a HUG, hell has officially frozen over.
· Alexa Bliss channeling her inner Oprah backfired when she tried to give a pep talk to Nia Jax. I will give Jax credit for being able to cry on command. It’s not an easy thing to do unless your name is The Big Show.
· Braun Strowman defeated Elias when he dropped a piano on top of The Drifter for the win. This was hopefully the first and last Symphony of Destruction match because it was pretty uneventful until Strowman smashed the upright bass over Elias’ back which was a nice callback to what happened a few weeks ago when Strowman channeled his inner Yo-Yo Ma.
· Outside of that, this was your usual run-of-the-mill garbage match with a lot of smoke and mirrors to protect both men. It wasn’t bad, but it left a lot to be desired in terms of execution.
· Bray Wyatt defeated Rhyno with Sister Abigail in quick and decisive fashion.
· The Hardy Compound! The Ultimate Deletion! It’s the only way to redeem the shit fest that is the Matt Hardy-Bray Wyatt feud. Will there be cameos from Seňor Benjamin, Queen Rebecca, King Maxel, Brother Nero, and Vanguard 1? Most importantly, will Jeremey Borash have a hand in the production because he was an integral part of House Hardy over the past couple of years? If WWE keeps their involvement to a minimum, this could be great.
· The 3rd annual Mizzie Awards took place as The Miz handed out trophies to Seth Rollins and Finn Bàlor for patting themselves on the back while Kurt Angle won the award for Worst Decision Maker. The segment was dragging until Rollins and Bàlor interrupted the proceedings. Miz shaded both men for the inadequacies when it comes to winning big matches as of late. Balor received the brunt of Miz’s tirade as the Intercontinental Champion called him out for not being over and using the Too Sweet hand gesture that doesn’t belong to him.
· Miz challenged Rollins and Bàlor to face him and The Miztourage in a 2-on-3 Handicap Match which took place after the commercial break.
· Seth Rollins and Finn Bàlor defeated The Miz and The Miztourage when Rollins nailed Miz with the Curbstomp for the win. Rollins and Bàlor had a friendly game of one-upmanship as they traded aggressive tags down the stretch which set up the aforementioned finish.
· Kurt Angle appeared on the main stage and announced that Miz will defend the IC Title against Rollins and Bàlor in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania. Miz is the annoying pest stuck in the middle of a much more compelling rivalry between Rollins and Bàlor heading into Mania. He’s the dreaded third wheel in his own championship match. What a shame…
· Paul Heyman closed the show by cutting an excellent promo about why Brock Lesnar isn’t like everyone else. Heyman mentioned that Roman Reigns became the second man to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania last year. No one complained that was the only time Undertaker wrestled in 2017. No one called Taker a sellout or a bitch for having such an easy work schedule. If anyone said otherwise, it would be a bunch of bullshit.
· Heyman wanted Reigns to understand that The Universal Title was Lesnar’s bitch. She would stay on his shoulder until someone put The Beast down for good. He couldn’t be a shell of himself when it happened. Lesnar had to go down swinging on his own two feet in order for anyone to claim what was his.
· Reigns needed to know that the title is something that goes beyond family. It will consume his very essence because he needs the belt in order to survive. The man and the championship are connected as if they are one. It symbolizes greatness. It means that you are the best in the world. You are untouchable. Unstoppable. Simply put, winning the richest prize in professional wrestling makes you better than everyone else.
· If Reigns is willing to sell his soul in order to get the job done, Heyman was more than willing to bring Lesnar to Detroit next week so The Big Dog could shoot on The Beast.
· Reigns made his way down to the ring and called Lesnar a bitch for making Heyman do his dirty work. That wouldn’t be the case next week because Reigns wanted Lesnar dressed for a fight as Raw went off the air with Reigns standing tall in the ring.
· This was a great way to end the show. Paul Heyman was on fire as he tried to milk the Lesnar-Reigns feud for all its worth. Heyman was at his best as he spoke the truth while sneaking in some colorful language for good measure. Reigns held his own, but he’s not in Heyman’s league when it comes to throwing shade while spitting facts at the same time. Hopefully, Reigns gets to cut loose when he goes face-to-face with Lesnar next week. For real this time…
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was a two-segment show that got the job done in terms of WrestleMania hype while the middle portion of the broadcast was undercooked with so-so matches and a bizarre John Cena-Goldust segment that boggled my mind to no end.
· Every show is not going to be a home run, but the second and third hour was a chore to get through until the main event segment. Several secondary feuds are starting to take shape which should bolster the quality of the program over the next few weeks.
· Nia Jax turning babyface thanks to a condescending Alexa Bliss will do Jax a world of good because the fans want to cheer for her. She’s a badass who can get over by using her brute force in order to assert her dominance over the women’s division. As long as Asuka is no longer on the receiving end of the ass whopping, it’s all good.
· Sasha Banks and Bayley’s friendship is still stuck in purgatory as they continue to give each other the cold shoulder. Who’s turning on who? We shall find out soon enough.
· Meanwhile, the world premiere of The Ultimate Deletion is upon us. It should be a cinematic masterpiece of epic proportions if Matt Hardy has creative autonomy over his baby. If not, this could be an absolute disaster which might cause The Woken Universe to fall apart at the seams.
· With these storylines bubbling beneath the surface, the next few weeks of televisions have the potential to be very good if everything goes according to plan. Here’s hoping next week’s show in Detroit is the first of four slam dunks on the Road to WrestleMania. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!