By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on March 11, 2019 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at PPG Paints Arena
[Hour One] Raw opened with a shot of the WrestleMania sign as Michael Cole noted that the event is 27 days away. Cole was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Renee Young. The ring announcer was Mike Rome…
The Shield members Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose made their entrance from the concourse to deliver their farewell address. Reigns said he’s come to realize over the last few months that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. He said that if last night was the last time ever then he has no regrets because he was in the ring doing what he loves with people he loves.
Reigns said he asked Rollins and Ambrose for a favor last week. He said they never let him down and he thanked them both. Reigns said they are on the road to WrestleMania and they need to handle their business. Reigns said he hasn’t had a singles match on Raw in five months. He said Ambrose had his own business. “I don’t necessarily know what it is and I don’t think he does either, but that’s why we love you, man, so good luck,” Reigns said.
Roman turned his focus to Rollins and asked how long he’s been chasing the dream. A “slay the beast” chant broke out. Reigns said that’s exactly what Rollins will do. Reigns got the live crowd to chant “burn it down” and then hugged Rollins. Ambrose also hugged Rollins. Reigns stuck his fist out and the other two joined him. The Shield music played and then Reigns and Ambrose left the ring.
Rollins remained in the ring and looked up at the WrestleMania sign. Rollins said The Shield burned it down at Fastlane. Paul Heyman interrupted Rollins, walked onto the stage, and delivered his big introduction as the advocate for Brock Lesnar. Rollins pointed out that Lesnar had a tough time getting by Daniel Bryan, was pushed to his limits by AJ Styles, and was nearly beaten by Finn Balor. “That Brock Lesnar?” Rollins asked.
Rollins said it seems like Lesnar has a problem with people of similar size and stature. He said he is uniquely qualified to beat Lesnar. Rollins said Heyman only has three weeks to run his mouth before he takes the WWE Universal Championship and brings it back to Raw. Heyman stammered and the fans chanted “slay the beast.” Heyman said there will be no slaying of the best.
Heyman said Rollins wasn’t telling the full story. He said Lesnar didn’t have time to prepare for any of the opponents that Rollins mentioned. Heyman pointed out how each match changed and Lesnar had either five, six, or 12 days to prepare for his opponent. Heyman recalled Lesnar punishing Rollins with F5s. Heyman set up a video package on Lesnar that was shown on the big screen.
Heyman asked if Rollins thinks he knows Lesnar. “You don’t know Brock Lesnar,” Heyman said. Suddenly, Shelton Benjamin appeared in the ring and performed three German suplexes on Rollins. Benjamin left the ring while Rollins sold the attack… [C]
Powell’s POV: I don’t think anyone would have predicted that Benjamin was going to attack Rollins tonight. Lesnar and Benjamin tagged together, and they both attended the University of Minnesota, so there is plenty of legitimate history between them. The Shield farewell was brief and uneventful.
1. Seth Rollins vs. Shelton Benjamin. Cole noted that the match was made official during the break. Heyman sat in on commentary for the match. Cole asked where Lesnar was. Heyman said he was in training for WrestleMania. Rollins performed a dropkick and then Benjamin rolled to ringside. Rollins followed and ran Benjamin into the barricade as Heyman spoke about the history between Lesnar and Benjamin.
Back in the ring, Benjamin avoided a Stomp and went for a German suplex, but Rollins landed on his feet and sent Benjamin to ringside. Rollins set up for a suicide dive, but Benjamin jumped onto the apron and kicked Rollins before getting a two count heading into a break. [C]
Heyman said Lesnar will appear on next week’s Raw. Cole said he’s excited that Lesnar is actually coming to work and he assumes the fans in Chicago will be as well. Benjamin performed multiple German suplexes and set up for an F5, but Rollins avoided it and hit the Stomp before pinning him…
Seth Rollins defeated Shelton Benjamin in 10:25.
Powell’s POV: A good match and I like the storytelling with Benjamin incorporating Lesnar’s moveset. It wasn’t a red hot open to Raw, but they shifted the focus quickly from The Shield to the Rollins and Lesnar storyline.
The broadcast team hyped Reigns vs. Baron Corbin, and Batista and Triple H meeting face to face…
Finn Balor made his entrance and crossed paths with Rollins. The shook hands and Rollins headed to the back. Bobby Lashley appeared on the big screen glaring ahead. Their IC Title match was hyped for after the break… [C]
Cole noted that WWE has topped one billion subscribers on their social media accounts…
2. Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley for the Intercontinental Championship. Lasley’s entrance was televised and he was once again without Lio Rush. Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole said Lashley has been a different man since losing the title when Rush was pinned by Balor. Going into a break, Balor caught Lashley with a kick from the apron. [C]
Balor had Lashley down and went up top for his finisher. Lio Rush showed up at ringside and rang the ring bell. Rush grabbed the Intercontinental Title belt and headed to the ring apron. Balor kicked Rush to knock him off the apron. Balor went for a springboard move, but Lashley speared him and pinned him…
Bobby Lashley defeated Finn Balor in 10:55 to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Powell’s POV: A decent match and yet a flat crowd for most of it. This feud just hasn’t clicked in a big way and the game of hot potato they are playing with the IC Title isn’t helping them or the title.
Graves hyped A Moment of Bliss segment with Alexa Bliss announcing the WrestleMania host…
Charly Caruso interviewed Baron Corbin backstage replayed the comments he made regarding Reigns a week after he announced he was taking a medical leave. Corbin said he wasn’t going to worry about hurting feelings. Corbin said he wanted Reigns gone from the ring. Corbin said that overcoming the disease had to take its toll and there’s no way Reigns is 100 percent. Corbin said he would house train the Big Dog…
Ronda Rousey was shown walking through the backstage area. Cole said she was address her actions at WWE Fastlane coming out of the break… [C]
Ronda Rousey made her entrance without slapping hands or smiling. She looked straight ahead and stormed to the ring. A video recapped Rousey causing Charlotte Flair to be disqualified in her match against Becky Lynch at Fastlane. Rousey told the fans they could take their applause and shove it.
[Hour Two] Rousey vented about the fans chanting “you deserve it” after she was beaten with a stick. She said the fans would cower in fear if they were in her presence without a barrier. She said Lynch and Flair wouldn’t have the luxury of the barrier. She said she interfered in the match so that she could embarrass and expose them both as the carney con artists they’ve always been.
Rousey said WWE has her permission to make it a handicap match because she will destroy them both. She called both women jokes and said anyone who believes the whole charade is a joke. Rousey slammed the mic down.
Dana Brooke walked out and spoke from the stage. “Enough, Ronda, I think we have heard enough of your venom tonight.” Brooke said she has nothing left to lose and wouldn’t let Rousey disrespect WWE, the WWE Universe, or the women’s locker room. She said she’s not a big time fighter, but she loves WWE and the business. Brooke said she worked her tail off to earn the respect of the locker room and to prove that she belongs.
Brooke entered the ring and said she fights for a chance and she doesn’t get the time of day let alone a match. Brooke said she might not be on TV and she’s not a household name like Rousey, but she just wants a chance. Brooke noted that it was a night after a pay-per-view and Rousey normally issues an open challenge. “My name is Dana Brooke and I accept,” Brooke said.
Rousey attacked Brooke and sent her to ringside. Rousey followed and took her down with a couple of armdrags. Rousey took her back to the ring and performed the Piper’s Pit. She teased an armbar and then released it while saying the fans don’t deserve it. Rousey slapped one of the referees who came out to calm her down. Rousey grabbed her belt and jacket and headed to the back…
Powell’s POV: A decent segment. Brooke’s promo was a little wordy, but she did a solid job even though it was a lost cause in terms of getting the fans to rally behind her. Rousey was intense on the mic and in rag-dolling Brooke, who deserves hazard pay. I just wish Rousey’s turn was closer to a time when the fans actually turned on her, as her delayed reaction to everything is a bit awkward.
A video package recapped Batista attacking Ric Flair on the night of his 70th birthday and asking Triple H if he had his attention, along with Triple H’s rebuttal promo… Aleister Black and Ricochet made their entrances… A Smackdown preview hyped Kofi Kingston confronting Vince McMahon, and Shane McMahon explaining why he attacked The Miz at Fastlane… [C]
3. Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. The entrance of Roode and Gable was not televised. Cole told the story that Gable and Roode are among the teams upset that the NXT newcomers are getting opportunities. Black made a blind tag and caught Roode with a kick. Ricochet took out Gable, then Black caught Roode with his Fade to Black finisher and pinned him.
Ricochet and Aleister Black beat Bobby Roode and Chad Gable in 4:30.
After the match, Cole started hyping that Kurt Angle would address his future in his hometown. Suddenly, The Revival hit Ricochet and Black from behind on the stage and left them lying… [C]
Powell’s POV: A solid television tag match with the right team going over. I like the post match attack by The Revival. Here’s hoping they can follow that up with a rare television win.
Cole narrated still shot photos of WWE wrestlers visiting a children’s hospital in Pittsburgh. He also told the story of a young female patient who sent Reigns a video after he revealed his leukemia battle…
Alexa Bliss hosted the “A Moment of Bliss” segment on her usual set on the stage. She recalled past WrestleMania hosts. Kim Kardashian was booed. The Rock and New Day were cheered. Bliss set up a video that revealed she would be the host of WrestleMania. She acted shocked and then said it’s such an honor…for the WWE Universe. “You are welcome,” she said. Bliss responded to a fan yelling “you deserve it” by saying she knows…
The broadcast team gushed over the Bliss news and then set up a recap of Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che and Colin Jost from last week while noting that they are special correspondents for WrestleMania…
Braun Strowman was interviewed by Caruso, who asked if he really had the right to pick up Jost by the neck despite the question he asked. Strowman said Jost better stay away from him. He said he doesn’t care whether it was right or not, he liked it. A man arrived and informed Strowman that his car were there. “What car?” Strowman responded… [C]
Powell’s POV: Will Strowman even have a match at WrestleMania or is he just going to be messing around with the SNL duo? We’re halfway through the Raw after Fastlane and this feels like a very ordinary episode thus far.
In the parking lot, Strowman and the random guy stood next to a car with a ribbon on it. The car was from Jost, according to a note that the random dude read. Strowman took offense to Jost trying to win him over with a gift. He ripped the door off and threw it while complaining that Jost got him something that he couldn’t even fit in. Strowman trashed the car and then gave a piece to the random dude, telling him to give it to Jost and Che and to let them know that they would get these hands…
Powell’s POV: I wish Nord the Barbarian would have shown up and powerslammed Strowman through the windshield like he did to random guys during Viking Chevrolet commercials back in the AWA days. Those ads never got old. I can’t say the same thing about Strowman destroying cars.
Elias sat on a stool in the ring with a guitar. Elias taunted the the locals by saying he gave former Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown the advice to get the hell out of Pittsburgh. No Way Jose and his goof troop made their entrance. Jose had green and yellow hair. Elias kicked Jose through the ropes and then worked him over at ringside. Elias performed Drift Away and left Jose lying…
The broadcast team set up a video package on Harlem Heat, who were named earlier today as the latest entrants in the WWE Hall of Fame…
Lacey Evans walked out and approached the broadcast team. She held up her fan in the face of Young. Nia Jax and Tamina made their entrance and stopped to look at Evans. Jax conveyed that she was unimpressed and then she and Tamina headed to the ring… [C]
Cole narrated footage of Jax and Tamina attacking Natalya and Beth Phoenix. Natalya made her entrance and said she’d been thinking about who could watch her back. She said she didn’t know Ronda Rousey as well as she thought she did. Natalya said she doesn’t trust Jax or Tamina, then introduced Beth Phoenix as her best friend…
4. Natalya (w/Beth Phoenix) vs. Nia Jax (w/Tamina). Jax roughed up Natalya briefly. Tamina held Natalya’s leg in the corner and then Jax ran into her. Phoenix attacked Jax for the DQ. Phoenix cleared Jax from the ring, ducked a superkick from Tamina, and cleared her from the ring.
Nia Jax defeated Natalya by an apparent DQ in 0:30.
Jax and Tamina returned backstage and were attacked by Sasha Banks and Bayley. Producers pulled them apart quickly…
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see Beth Phoenix back, but this live crowd’s reaction to her was very light.
A couple of SUVs arrived at the building. Batista existed the second SUV and was flanked by a group of men all dressed in black… Zelina Vega was part of the Women’s History Month video… [C] The WrestleMania video aired. We are 27 days away…
[Hour Three] Triple H made his entrance while Cole raved about how he has dominated at WrestleMania (Hunter has a 9-10 record at Mania based on a quick Google search). Batista made his entrance. Batista was accompanied by the men dressed in black who were labeled as his personal security. Graves noted that Batista is a Hollywood megastar. Hunter was in the ring, while the security guards stood on the entrance ramp, and Batista stood on the stage.
Hunter, who wore his leather jacket and had his fists taped, asked if Batista was going to stand there like a runway model or meet him in the ring. He mocked Batista’s security. Batista said he’s not stupid. He said he learned from two of the dirtiest players in the game in Hunter and Ric Flair. Batista said the security guards were there for his protection and asked where Hunter’s sledgehammer was at.
Batista said Hunter has always underestimated him. “Give me what I want,” Batista said. Hunter said he wouldn’t give him a damn thing. Hunter asked how many times Batista has quit and walked away. Hunter said he won’t give him what he wants even though he’s a big movie star. Hunter said that since Batista won’t meet him in the ring, he’d tear through the “guardians of the independent scene or whatever they are” and then he’d beat Batista’s ass.
Batista said he would be long gone before Hunter ever got to the stage. He said they were doing things his way. Batista said he quit because he wanted to get as far away from Hunter as he could. He said Hunter always talked down to him and looked down on him. Batista said Hunter would give him what he wants or he’ll hurt people that Hunter loves.
Triple H said the only thing he would give Batista is the beating he deserves. “Face me like a man,” Triple H said. Batista said he knows Hunter wants it and it’s killing him. He said Hunter won’t give him what he wants because he’s not in control. Batista repeatedly demanded that Hunter give him what he wants. “I want you at WrestleMania,” Batista said. Hunter eventually told Batista that he’s on for WrestleMania.
“Thank you,” Batista said calmly. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted, one last match to end my career on my terms and that one last match to end your career on my terms. I’ll see you at Mania.” Hunter called him back and called him Hollywood. He told him he better dig deep down and find whatever is left of The Animal. Hunter said it might be on Batista’s terms, but the match will be on his. Hunter said there will be no rules or restrictions to what he does. “It will be no holds barred,” Hunter said. Batista took his glasses off, dropped the mic, and left the stage…
Powell’s POV: A solid yet unspectacular segment from Batista and Triple H. Batista was quirky in a good way, and Triple H was intense, but I was hoping for something that felt a little bigger. This was basically Batista demanding that Hunter give him what he wants, Hunter saying no, Batista continuing to ask, and then Hunter giving him what he wanted.
Kurt Angle made his entrance for an in-ring promo and wore a t-shirt over his wrestling gear. Angle said that no matter where he went during his career, and he always considered Pittsburgh his hometown. Angle said that’s why he saved this announcement. Angle announced that he would have his farewell match at WrestleMania.
Angle thanked WWE, the wrestlers, and choked up a little when thanking the fans. A loud “Thank you, Kurt” chant broke out. Angle thanked the fans and said it’s only right to have one last match in his hometown and then it’s on to WrestleMania. Apollo Crews made his entrance. Cole said they would have a match after the break… [C]
5. Kurt Angle vs. Apollo Crews. Cole said Crews is a longtime friend and fan of Angle. Graves chimed in on growing up in Pittsburgh and following the career of Angle. Angle performed three German suplexes on Crews and went for an Angle Slam, but Crews avoided it and hit Angle with a step-up enzuigiri. Crews followed up with a moonsault for two. Angle avoided a frogsplash and then performed an Angle Slam for the win.
Kurt Angle defeated Apollo Crews in 3:00.
After the match, Angle helped Crews to his feet and they hugged. Angle raised Crews’s hand, then Crews returned the favor before leaving the ring. Angle bowed to the cheering fans…
Powell’s POV: A nice moment for Angle and his hometown fans. I’m genuinely curious to see who Angle faces at WrestleMania. Either way, Angle’s final match is a really nice hook for the show.
A shot aired of Roman Reigns backstage while Cole hyped his first singles match since his return for after the break… [C]
Roman Reigns made his entrance for his match with Baron Corbin. Drew McIntyre blindsided Reigns and ran him through the ropes and into the ring post. McIntyre gave Reigns a Claymore Kick at ringside. McIntyre barked at Reigns to fight for him, then waited until Reigns stood up and gave him another Claymore Kick, which drove Reigns’ head into the ring post. McIntyre grabbed Reigns by the head and said, “I promise you, Roman, this is just the beginning.”
A trainer came out and checked on Reigns while three referees barked at McIntyre, who left the area. Seth Rollins came out and checked on Reigns, who said he was fine, then added that “I have a little headache, that’s it.” Rollins walked Reigns up the ramp and to the back… [C]
Powell’s POV: It doesn’t look like I’ll be getting my wish for a Reigns vs. Ambrose match at WrestleMania. McIntyre and Reigns should be able to have a hell of a match if that’s where this is going. As much as I’d like to see them hold off on Reigns vs. McIntyre until it feels like more of a showdown match, it’s also possible that they won’t end up on the same brand coming out of the shakeup.
Ambrose joined Rollins in walking Reigns through the backstage area. They both encouraged him to see a trainer. Rollins followed Reigns into the trainer’s room. Ambrose stormed away and ran into Triple H. Ambrose told Hunter he wanted to face McIntyre in a match with no disqualifications, no count-outs, and falls count anywhere. Hunter signed off on it and said he would go tell McIntyre…
Dean Ambrose made his entrance. Drew McIntyre walked out with a mic in hand and asked him if he was going to take the beating like a man or squeal like pathetic brother Roman. Ambrose ran up to the stage and they started fighting…
6. Drew McIntyre vs. Dean Ambrose in a falls count anywhere match. Ambrose and McIntyre fought their way up the steps of the lower bowl of the arena. McIntyre picked up Ambrose and threw him into the wall. McIntyre tried to toss Ambrose out of a press area, but Ambrose bit his hand and went back on the offensive going into a break. [C]
Ambrose and McIntyre walked back down to the arena floor while footage aired of them brawling in a concession area during the break. McIntyre worked over Ambrose at ringside and got some two counts before taking him back into the crowd. McIntyre said he would take out The Shield one by one. Ambrose kicked him below the belt and then hit him with several punches.
The brawl continued over to the tech area on the hard camera side. Ambrose placed McIntyre onto a cart and ran it into another cart. They fought their way onto the stage next to the broadcast team. McIntyre cleared the broadcast table, but Ambrose slammed him onto it with a side suplex. McIntyre low blowed Ambrose and then jabbed a pencil near his eye. McIntyre picked up Ambrose and ran him into the video wall/LED board twice before covering him for a two count.
McIntyre pulled Ambrose’s head and arm through a handrail on the side of the stage, then blasted him with a Claymore Kick and pinned him on the floor. Cole said there is no one more dangerous than McIntyre. He said he only wants to hurt people.
Drew McIntyre defeated Dean Ambrose in a falls count anywhere match in 14:25.
After the match, McIntyre stood on the broadcast table and let out a war cry. Ambrose got back to his feet on the stage. McIntyre spotted him and gave him another Claymore Kick to end the show…
Powell’s POV: A good, entertaining brawl with the right finish in that they are building up McIntyre to face Reigns. This felt grittier than a typical WWE brawl. In fact, it brought back some memories of Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan’s only brawls on WCW Nitro in terms of the way they fought up the steps and around the building. This was the highlight of an otherwise solid yet unspectacular edition of Raw on the road to WrestleMania. I will have more to say about the show coming up in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Ian Riccaboni discussing his decision to re-sign with Ring of Honor, getting emotionally invested in matches, the March 15 ROH 17th Anniversary show, the G1 Supercard at MSG, and much more.