By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on February 18, 2019 from Lafayette, Louisiana at the Cajundome
[Hour One] A memorial graphic noted the death of Pedro Morales… The first shot inside the building was of the WrestleMania sign. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary. Triple H stood in the ring and asked the fans if they could feel it, then noted that they are on the road to WrestleMania.
Triple H spoke about Sasha Banks and Bayley becoming the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, and Finn Balor winning the Intercontinental Championship. Hunter said Kofi Kingston captured “the heart and imagination of the world when he came this close to winning the WWE Championship.”
Hunter said Becky Lynch showed that she wouldn’t let a suspension or an injury prevent her from getting to Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey. He said corporately had had to say that if she did it again she would be arrested and prosecuted. Personally, he said he thought it was pretty damn cool.
Triple H acknowledged that DX are entering the WWE Hall of Fame and ran through the names of his fellow inductees. He said if that’s not enough to sell people on the road to WrestleMania, he’s about to pour gas on the fire. Hunter flubbed a line while talking about how he oversees NXT. He said they were live and there are no screwups, so he restated the line. Hunter said he was about to introduce men who would make their Raw debuts.
Ricochet was introduced by Triple H, but he did not come to the ring. Ricochet highlights aired on the big screen while Michael Cole ran through his accolades. Hunter and Cole delivered a similar introduction for Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa. Hunter said there’s a saying in NXT that the future is now, and fans will see the future tonight.
Triple H said all hell was about to break loose. He pointed out tables that were set up on the stage and said there would be a tables match involving Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman. Strowman made his entrance while the broadcast team recapped the Corbin vs. Strowman match at Elimination Chamber and narrated still shots. Corbin made his entrance while ring announcer Mike Rome delivered introductions.
Corbin walked around the ring and smiled. Corbin pulled a piece of the ring steps off and smirked at Strowman while Cole hyped the match as starting after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s obviously very interesting that they have the four NXT talents appearing on this show. It doesn’t seem like they are necessarily being elevated to the main roster permanently, but there’s obviously a reason behind using these wrestlers on this show. Do they feel that NXT talent will help with the ratings? Are they hoping to drive more viewers to NXT television? Are they introducing NXT talent in advance of the weekly television show airing on a cable network? I wish I had the answer, but I’m certainly intrigued.
1. Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin in a tables match. The match started coming out of the break and they quickly fought to ringside. Strowman, who had tape on his back and ribs to sell his injuries from the night before, suplexed Corbin on the entrance ramp. Strowman took Corbin to the stage and ran him into the video wall. Strowman tore the broadcast team’s table apart. Strowman set up for a powerslam, but Corbin slipped out and shoved Strowman into the broadcast table. [C]
Strowman and Corbin were back inside the ring coming out of the break and a table was leaning in one of the corners. They went back to ringside. Corbin went to the apron and ran off for a move, but Strowman picked up the ring steps and hit Corbin with them. Back in the ring, Strowman ran into Corbin’s boot. A short time later, Strowman scooped up Corbin and powerslammed him through the table in the corner for the win.
Braun Strowman defeated Baron Corbin in a tables match in 13:45.
The broadcast team hyped The Revival vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott for the Raw Women’s Championship, and a video package on Brock Lesnar’s journey to the top of WWE.
As Strowman was heading backstage, Paul Heyman was coming out. Heyman told him he could go now. Strowman grabbed him by the collar. Heyman pleaded with him to let him go. Strowman eventually did and headed backstage. Heyman choked a bit as he went to deliver his introduction, then asked for a minute heading into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Strowman vs. Corbin feud is dragging and hopefully this match is the end, but I doubt it considering that Strowman’s character will still be out for revenge on Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley. Meanwhile, The Revival vs. DIY? This show just got a lot more interesting. I like the idea of the NXT wrestlers facing Raw talent on paper rather than going with an NXT vs. NXT showcase match out of the blue.
Heyman was in the ring coming out of the break. He said he couldn’t say that he was surprised by Strowman’s actions. He said everyone should be jealous and envious of Brock Lesnar, who is the most dominant champion in WWE and MMA. Heyman said he put together a video at his own expense, and labeled Lesnar the main event of WrestleMania.
The video package was narrated by Heyman, who said this WrestleMania is different than past WrestleManias “because your hero has no hope.” Heyman said that’s not a knock on the challenger, it’s a credit to The Beast. Heyman spoke about Lesnar growing up on a farm and how it helped him develop killer instincts, which helped him become a collegiate champion. He noted that WWE pursued Lesnar, and that Lesnar beat The Rock to win the championship.
Heyman said Lesnar left WWE because he had conquered everyone. The UFC logo flashed, and still shots aired from Lesnar becoming the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Heyman said Lesnar slaughtered everyone they put in front of him in UFC, and he returned to WWE for the challenge he needed and a streak for the taking.
Back in the ring, Heyman boasted that Lesnar ended Taker’s streak. A few fans booed. Heyman said fans still boo that, but just like Rollins there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. Heyman asked the crowd how many of them believe Rollins will emerge from WrestleMania as champion. There was a light response. Heyman said there’s not enough fire in Rollins’ soul to burn down Suplex City.
Finn Balor’s entrance theme interrupted Heyman and the new Intercontinental Champion headed to the ring. Heyman stood on the apron while Balor did his entrance routine going into a break. [C]
Powell’s POV: Man, that crowd was quiet. Heyman is great on the mic, but he’s said everything there is to say about Lesnar five times over at this point. Is Balor confronting Heyman or is this there new thing where they send people out at the end of segments going into commercial breaks?
Still shots aired of Balor winning the IC Championship. Balor had a mic in hand coming out of the break and noted that it had been a while since he held a championship. Balor spoke about Razor Ramon, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels holding the title and how it’s been a dream of his since he was a kid to wear the belt.
Balor was interrupted by Lio Rush, who walked out in ring gear and a t-shirt without Bobby Lashley. Rush told Balor that he doesn’t deserve to be the IC Champion. Lashley attacked Balor from behind. Rush headed to the ring and joined in on the attack. Rush performed a frogsplash on Balor.
Ricochet made his entrance and worked over Lashley and Rush, then helped Balor to his feet. Graves said he feels Ricochet is the most exciting athlete on any brand of WWE programming… [C]
2. Finn Balor and Ricochet vs. Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush. Young told viewers who are unfamiliar with Ricochet not to take their eyes off the screen. Rush performed a huracanrana on Ricochet, who landed on his feet. Ricochet got the better of Rush and then Lashley tagged into the match. Lashley worked over the arm of Ricochet and said something to Rush. Ricochet came back with a summersault into a dropkick that sent Lashley to ringside.
[Hour Two] A short time later, Lashley tagged out and barked at Rush to get Balor. Rush dodged Balor and tagged in Lashley, who then worked over Balor and got a two count off a suplex. Rush checked back in and Balor got the better of him. Balor teased going for his finisher. Lashley ran toward him and Balor caught him with a kick. Rush clipped the knee of Balor, who fell to ringside. Lashley ran Balor into the barricade. Back inside the ring, Lashley covered Balor for a two count. [C]
Ricochet took a hot tag and the flat crowd showed a little bit of life as he worked over Rush. Ricochet performed a dive onto Rush at ringside. Lashley approached Ricochet, who begged off and had Lashley chase him, then performed a flip off the barricade over Lashley. Balor performed a running dropkick on Lashley at ringside. Ricochet performed a 630 splash on Rush and pinned him…
Ricochet and Finn Balor defeated Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush in 18:05.
Powell’s POV: A needlessly long match. Balor just beat Lashley and Rush in a handicap match, yet it took him and Ricochet longer to beat them in a regular tag match. And that would have been fine if the match was hotter, but it was very slow while Balor was selling for the heels and just dragged on. On the plus side, Ricochet was spotlighted well and made a good showing when he was in the ring. I just wonder if it would have been better to showcase him in a singles match.
Triple H was shown talking with Natalya backstage. Drew McIntyre interrupted them and said Hunter was rolling out the red carpet for the NXT wrestlers. He recalled telling Hunter that he would do whatever it has to prove himself. McIntyre said Rollins has Lesnar, and he wants to face Rollins. McIntyre said he wants to headline WrestleMania.
Dean Ambrose showed up and said he wasn’t doing anything, and asked what about him. Ambrose slapped McIntyre. Triple H asked if McIntyre wanted Rollins or if he wanted him to change it to Ambrose. “Change the damn match,” McIntyre said… [C]
Lucha House Party headed to the ring as Cole set up footage that aired on the big screen on Vince McMahon replacing Becky Lynch with Charlotte Flair in the WrestleMania main event and suspending Lynch for 60 days. Footage also aired of Charlotte aggravating Lynch’s knee injury at Saturday’s live event. A video recapped Lynch attacking Rousey and Flair with crutches at the Elimination Chamber…
3. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado (w/Kalisto) vs Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins. The entrances of Ryder and Hawkins were not televised. Cole repeated the lame line from last week regarding how LHP loves to have fun. Graves asked if anyone on Earth doesn’t like to have fun. Cole and Young laughed. Cole questioned whether Lashley likes to have fun. Dorado performed a huracanrana on Hawkins into a pin and got the win for his team…
Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado defeated Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins in 3:10.
Heavy Machinery came out for an interview with Charly Caruso on the stage. Cole said Heavy Machinery also love to have fun. He also said they are big and dangerous. Caruso said they are an impressive team and questioned what fans can expect. Tucker said they are blue collar solid. He said they’re not afraid to work hard and finish things up with a nice plate of red meat. Tucker said they are ready to face anyone. Tucker said he has Otis’s back outside the ring, and Otis has his inside the ring. “I got your back, big brother,” Otis said.
Lacey Evans’ music played and she took another walk down the ramp and then stood by Heavy Machinery on the stage. Heavy Machinery’s music played and they strutted down the ramp to the ring, then strutted back up and joined Evans, who smiled. Graves said he’s not sure what we just saw… [C]
Powell’s POV: My lord this is a weird show. I’ve seen some social media grumbling about how quiet this live crowd is. Can you really blame them? If nothing else, here’s hoping that Graves mocking the idiotic line about wrestlers loving to have fun means it will be permanently retired.
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano spoke backstage about being on Raw to represent NXT. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable showed up. Roode congratulated them on debuting on Raw. He said he didn’t understand why they had a match with The Revival. Gable said he loves seeing fresh talent in the tag division and said they are great. Gable said he wouldn’t point out that he beat them in NXT. He said you start at the bottom and work your way up and questioned why they weren’t facing The Revival.
Gargano said they have been running the hottest brand for over two years and there’s no one better. Gargano said they were there to take over. The Revival showed up and boasted that there were new Raw Tag Champions coming through. They noted their history with DIY. After Ciampa said they weren’t looking for their respect. He said they were there to make an impression at their expense. Ciampa wished them good luck, they said they don’t need luck. Gargano looked at Ciampa’s NXT Title belt…
4. Raw Tag Team Champions “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano in a non-title match. Cole noted that Gargano will defend the NXT North American Championship against Velveteen Dream on Wednesday’s NXT television show. Roode and Gable were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Gargano performed a suicide dive onto Dawson. Ciampa and Gargano threw kicks at Wilder, then Ciampa ran him into the ring steps heading into a break. [C]
The Revival went for Shatter Machine on Ciampa, but he ended up countering into a rollup for a near fall. Gargano picked up a couple of two counts on Wilder shortly thereafter. A short time later, Wilder put Gargano on his shoulders and Dawson came off the top rope with a bulldog. The Revival had the pin, but Ciampa broke it up. Gargano speared Dawson through the rope and tagged in Ciampa. DIY performed their simultaneous superkick and knee, then Ciampa pinned Dawson.
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano defeated The Revival in a non-title match in 11:25.
Powell’s POV: A good match, but not Takeover good. The Revival win the tag titles last week and go right back to losing this week. Strange. I enjoyed the match, but it played to a quiet crowd that got into it the longer it went on. You can’t really blame the live crowd for not being fired up about seeing the NXT talent if they’re not watching NXT. Of if they are watching, you can’t blame them for not cheering mega heel Ciampa in a match against two other heels in The Revival, nor can you also can’t blame NXT diehards who aren’t happy with WWE blowing off the lengthy Ciampa and Gargano storyline by having them team up out of the blue on Raw. This continues to be a strange show on many levels.
Caruso approached Balor and Ricochet backstage. Balor welcomed Ricochet to Raw and then walked away to let him have his moment. Ricochet said that once you live your dream, it will feel better than anything you ever could have imagined. He said that if you think you’ve seen the last of him on Raw this is only the beginning…
Ronda Rousey was shown shadow boxing, then Riott Squad was shown in another part of the building while Cole hyped the rematch for the Raw Women’s Championship… [C]
The latest Kevin Owens video aired. It was filmed at a movie theater. He said there were a few more weeks before his return. He said he’d been rehabbing and training, and said he’d been watching Raw and Smackdown every week and picturing what his return will be like. He said he’s never been more focused or hungrier. Owens’ son brought him popcorn. Owens questioned where his change was when he gave him a $20 for pop and popcorn. Owens told viewers to trust him when he said he’s ready to fight again…
WWE Women’s Tag Champions Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance.
[Hour Three] Cole said he saw Banks and Bayley after the show and it looked like they were in shock over the emotion of winning the new title belts. A “you deserve it” chant broke out and faded quickly. Banks spoke of making history in NXT and now on the main roster and how they’ve always done it together. Bayley said they went from hating each other to loving each other. Banks said it’s because they have the same dream and she can’t imagine doing it with anyone other than Bayley.
Bayley said they are taking over the world and plan on being champions for a long time. They said they would defend the tag titles against anyone past, present, and future. She mentioned defending the titles against teams from Raw, Smackdown, and even NXT.
Nia Jax and Tamina came out. Jax asked them to stop the love fest. The heels walked to the ring as Jax said Banks only cares about herself, and everyone knows that she always loses any title she wins in her first defense. Jax and Tamina went to enter the ring, but they were kicked to ringside. Jax made another try and Banks went for the Banks Statement, but Tamina pulled Jax away and then the heels headed up the ramp…
Cole set up a DX video package… Young hyped McIntyre vs. Ambrose for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I actually found myself nodding when Jax asked them to stop. Banks and Bayley come off as being overly emotional. It’s great that the women’s division finally has tag titles, but I don’t think the average fan is as caught up in the moment as their characters are.
A WrestleMania video aired. We are 48 days away…
5. Drew McIntyre vs. Dean Ambrose. Ambrose entered to his music minus the sirens. McIntyre knocked Ambrose down with an early headbutt and then threw punches at him. McIntyre slapped Ambrose a couple times as payback, then Ambrose fired up and went on the offensive briefly. McIntyre caught Ambrose with a Claymore Kick, then followed up with a second and scored the pin…
Drew McIntyre pinned Dean Ambrose in 2:00.
Powell’s POV: It’s a good thing that Ambrose got his win back over EC3 last week so they could follow up by having McIntyre beat Ambrose in two minutes this week. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Not a lot does tonight.
The second part of Heyman’s video package on Lesnar aired. It focused on Lesnar’s return to WWE following his UFC run. Heyman turned the focus to Lesnar vs. Rollins. He spoke about how Rollins will keep getting up when Lesnar hurts him. He said Rollins is willing to lose it all to win it once. He said that makes Rollins the most dangerous opponent for Lesnar. Heyman said Lesnar will have to think back to when he was a child on the farm. He said he would have to not just knock Rollins down, he will have to put him down. Heyman said that wasn’t a prediction or even a spoiler, it was the end of the story for a man named Seth Rollins…
Charly Caruso interviewed Seth Rollins and asked if he had any regrets about choosing to face Lesnar at WrestleMania. Rollins said you can call Heyman a lot of things and he has, but a liar is not one of them. What?!? Rollins said everything Heyman said about Lesnar was the truth. Rollins said he’s walking into WrestleMania with a death wish and an acceptance of his fate. Rollins said Lesnar needs to accept his own fate and that his reign of terror is done. Rollins promised that whether he leaves on his own two feet or carried out on a stretcher, he will leave WrestleMania as the WWE Universal Champion.
Dean Ambrose entered the picture and was wincing from his match. Rollins asked if he could help him with something. Ambrose asked where Rollins was. Rollins asked if he’s completely lost his mind. Ambrose stared at Rollins, then shrugged and said, “Eh,” before walking away…
Cole said viewers would walk with Elias next… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good video, but Heyman sounded repetitive as he spoke about what makes (fill in the blank) the most dangerous opponent for Lesnar. Fortunately, Rollins responded with a good promo. The Ambrose part felt like unnecessary humor even though it did get some laughs. I guess we’ll see if this oddness between him and Rollins is going somewhere.
Elias sat on his stool in the ring and complained about the way he’s been treated. He took a jab at the hometown, then griped about being interrupted. He said he’s a musical genius. Elias said he’s sure the crowd is happy about the new NXT wrestlers, but he makes magic with his fingers every night. He said he was going to sing a song for himself with the hope of slipping into a deep consciousness and forgets the fans even exist.
Aleister Black’s music interrupted Elias. Black made his NXT style entrance and walked to the ring. Graves said Black fights for people who felt like they never fit in. Cole called him a “dark destroyer”. Ugh. Black said that if silence is what Elias seeks then he would help him fade to black…
6. Aleister Black vs. Elias. A referee was in the ring and called for the bell to start the match. Black sent Elias to ringside, then did his flip off the ropes before sitting down and crossing his legs going into a break. [C] Black leapt off the ropes and into a big knee from Elias, who got a two count while Graves said Elias was playing spoiler. Black came back with a Black Mass kick and scored the pin…
Aleister Black defeated Elias in 8:00.
Powell’s POV: A solid debut for Black. I prefer the singles match showcase compared to what we got from Ricochet earlier. Unfortunately, the live crowd continues be extremely flat. It’s not like they’ve been hot for the main roster regulars. Again, WWE is giving them a strange show. Cole isn’t doing the NXT talent any favors by sounding like he’s reading a bunch of factoids about them.
Cole hyped Ric Flair’s birthday celebration for next week’s Raw in Atlanta…
The Riott Squad was already in the ring and then Ronda Rousey made her entrance for the title match…
7. Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott (w/Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan) for the Raw Women’s Championship. Rousey took Riott down twice and then threw punches at her in the corner. Riott rolled to ringside briefly. Riott returned to the ring and threw Rousey down while sweeping her leg. Graves said Riott came into the match with a different game plan. Riott performed a monkey flip. Rousey for an armbar, but Riott scrambled to ringside. [C]
Footage aired of Morgan and Logan going after Rousey during the break. Riott speared Rousey for a two count. Rousey came back with a few armdrags, but then Rousey caught her charing in the corner and ran her face into the turnbuckle. Riott performed a senton from the middle rope for a near fall. Riott caught Rousey with her Riott Kick finisher for another near fall.
Rousey performed a gut-wrench suplex. Rousey went up top and then Morgan and Logan distracted her long enough for Riott to pull her down into another Riott Kick, leading to a good near fall. Riott went for a top rope leg drop. Rousey moved and grabbed her arm, but Morgan and Logan pulled Riott to ringside. Rousey went up top and dove awkwardly onto the trio below. Rousey and Riott returned to the ring. Riott went for a move behind Rousey’s back, but Rousey flung her violently into the corner and then applied the armbar for the submission win.
Ronda Rousey defeated Ruby Riott in 11:45 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
After the match, Morgan and Logan went after Rousey, who took them both down and then stood tall to close the show…
Powell’s POV: So WWE doesn’t believe in automatic rematches when champions lose their titles, but they do believe in giving a challenger a rematch the night after she lost in less than two minutes. That said, it was nice to see Riott receive better treatment tonight than she did at Elimination Chamber. Overall, Raw was one strange show and it played to one dead crowd. I will have more say about it in my weekly members’ exclusive audio review later tonight. For membership information, visit PWMembership.net.
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