By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on March 2, 2020 from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center
[Hour One] The Raw opening video kicked off the show… Pyro shot off on the stage and then the broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton checked in and hyped previously advertised matches and segments. They noted that the Raw Tag Title match would be the first match of the night…
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. Heyman introduced Lesnar and then said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do it.” He said it was their job to come out and hype the fans on WrestleMania. Heyman said it’s the most stacked WrestleMania lineup in decades, but the main event is a sham. Fans booed.
Heyman said the fans could sit there like Pavlovian dogs, but they know, Lesnar knows, and he knows that “they” want to sell you on Drew McIntyre. “And ladies and gentlemen, Drew McIntyre is a hyped up fraud,” Heyman said. He recalled how Lesnar “massacred” 15 wrestlers in the Rumble.
Heyman said Ricochet low-blowed Lesnar with a shot from behind and that’s why McIntyre was able to deliver the Claymore Kick that eliminated Lesnar from the match. Heyman asked how McIntyre eliminating Lesnar from the Rumble tells viewers that McIntyre can pin or submit Lesnar. “He can’t,” Heyman said before adding that McIntyre took advantage of a momentary situation. Heyman said McIntyre is nothing more than a “stupid big bitch that’s going to get squashed.”
Drew McIntyre’s music played and he made his entrance in his ring gear. Heyman left the ring. McIntyre glared at a smirking Lesnar once he entered the ring and went face to face with him. Lesnar smiled and wagged his finger at McIntyre and his title belt. Lesnar teased leaving, then charged McIntyre, who put him down with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre left the ring while Lesnar remained down. McIntyre went to the stage and smiled while Heyman checked on Lesnar.
Heyman acted shocked while Lesnar struggled to get to his feet. Fans chanted “you deserve it” at Lesnar. Lesnar seethed as he grabbed his title belt and rolled under the ropes. Lesnar sat on the ring apron for a bit, then leaned Heyman as he got to his feet. The fans sang the “goodbye song” at Lesnar, who eventually made his way to the stage.
McIntyre ran out again and put Lesnar down with another Claymore Kick. McIntyre picked up the WWE Championship belt and raised it over his head. Fans cheered. McIntyre tossed the belt back at Lesnar. Fans chanted one more time. McIntyre obliged once Lesnar got back on his feet by putting him right back down with a third Claymore Kick. A “holy shit” chant broke out followed by a brief “Drew” chant. Lesnar was still down and clutching his title belt going into the first commercial break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong opening segment. The key was the way they stuck with Lesnar after he took first Claymore Kick. We’ve seen wrestlers hit their finishers on Lesnar during the buildup to a match, but I don’t recall seeing him sell one while the cameras focussed on him for that length of time. The followup on the stage was strong and while I wouldn’t change anything, I was sold on this even before McIntyre returned to deliver two more Claymore Kicks.
The Street Profits made their entrance for the Raw Tag Title match. A number of fans held up the red cups that the Profits are known for, and the Profits walked through the crowd as part of their entrance. The broadcast team said the Profits had to win or they would not get future tag title shots. They played up the question of what their purpose would be if they couldn’t challenge for the tag titles.
The Profits delivered an in-ring promo. Ford played to the Brooklyn crowd and spoke about how long he and Dawkins have been working. He said the fight is over if “the Monday Night Pariah and Murph the Smurf” (ugh) win. They want the smoke. Seth Rollins and Murphy made their entrance along with AOP, who remained on the stage while Rollins and Murphy headed to the ring.
Ring announcer Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match and said it was the Profits’ final opportunity at the Raw Tag Titles. AOP were still on the stage. Rollins and Murphy attacked the Profits, who quickly cleared them from the ring. Ford performed a flip dive onto Rollins and Murphy, who caught him and ran him into the barricade heading into a picture in picture break. [C]
1. Seth Rollins and Murphy vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins for the Raw Tag Titles. The match started during the break with Dawkins fighting solo while Ford was still down at ringside. Rollins and Murphy used their numbers advantage and were on the offensive throughout the break.
Dawkins was dumped to ringside and ended up performing moves on both opponents at ringside. Ford returned to his corner. Dawkins tagged in Ford, who performed a flip dive onto Rollins and Murphy at ringside. In the ring, Ford performed a high cross body block from the top rope onto both opponents. Ford sent Murphy to ringside and then performed a DDT and a standing moonsault on Rollins for a two count.
The champions came back and hit a Buckle Bomb into a kick in the corner combo move on Ford. They tried the same thing a short time later, but Ford slipped out and Murphy accidentally kicked Rollins. Ford put Rollins down with a kick, then went up top. Rollins cut off Ford and pushed him to ringside.
Rollins motioned for AOP to come to ringside and tried to distract the referee. The ref turned and spotted AOP near the challengers and ejected AOP from ringside. AOP stood on the apron and joined the protest. With the referee distracted, Kevin Owens suck into the ring and put Rollins down with a Stunner. Owens left the ring and headed out through the crowd while AOP chased him. Ford hit a top rope frogsplash on Rollins and pinned him.
The Street Profits defeated Seth Rollins and Murphy in 7:40 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
Ford and Dawkins took their title win celebration into the crowd while Rollins and Murphy were shown looking dejected at ringside. The broadcast team hyped the previously advertised matches for later in the show…
Powell’s POV: But poor Rollins and Murphy just got their “Monday Night Messiah” and “Disciple” gear. I like the “now or never” stipulation, but it’s something that would have been more effective with a better build. It’s a nice hook because it tells viewers that there’s a strong chance that a title change will occur, but it really needs to be announced at least a week out. Putting that aside, the match was entertaining and the Profits got a needed boost. I wonder if this was done to free up Rollins for a singles match at WrestleMania, presumably with Owens, while also keeping the tag titles in place for elsewhere on the show.
Rollins was limping backstage and getting some help from Murphy when Charly Caruso approached them for an interview. Rollins said he and Murphy would take on the Street Profits and take back their tag titles at Elimination Chamber. Rollins said Owens could name the time, place, and stipulation and said that Owens will be crucified…
2. Riddick Moss vs. Ricochet for the WWE 24/7 Championship. Moss’s entrance was not televised. Ricochet had his right thigh wrapped. Phillips noted that the normal rules of the 24/7 Championship were suspended during the title match. Ricochet was turned inside out by a shoulder block. Saxton said that Moss is the longest reigning 24/7 Champion with a whopping 22-day reign. Moss performed a fallaway slam that sent Ricochet over the top rope to ringside. Ricochet’s mouth was bleeding going into a break. [C]
Ricochet caught Moss seated on the top rope and performed a huracanrana. Ricochet followed up with a standing shooting star press for a two count. A short time later, Moss tossed Ricochet into the air and swatted him with his first on the way down. Moss followed up with a variation of a neckbreaker and scored the pin…
Riddick Moss pinned Ricochet in 8:30 to retain the WWE 24/7 Championship.
Powell’s POV: Poor Ricochet. This doesn’t even do anything for Moss given that he beat Ricochet just days after Ricochet didn’t get any offense in during a 90-second squash loss to Brock Lesnar.
The OC was shown hanging out in their locker room while the broadcast team hyped AJ Styles vs. Aleister Black as coming up next… [C] An ad for Smackdown questioned what Bray Wyatt would have to say to John Cena on a new Firefly Funhouse…
The Kabuki Warriors were shown backstage while the broadcast team hyped Kairi Sane’s match with Shayna Baszler for later in the show…
The OC made their entrance and then a video package recapped Undertaker beating AJ Styles to win the Tuwaiq Trophy at WWE Super ShowDown.
[Hour Two] Styles stood in the ring and said he wasn’t in a good mood. He said he should holding the beautiful trophy, but Undertaker deprived him of it. The fans chanted for Taker. Styles set up a video of actor Mark Wahlberg advising Styles to walk away (Phillips worked in a plug for Wahlberg’s movie).
Styles bitched about getting advice from Marky Mark, which led to a Marky Mark chant. Styles said he hoped Taker was watching and takes what he was about to do to Aleister Black as a warning. Styles said Taker is a legend who is trying to hold onto something that isn’t his anymore. Black made his entrance. Just before the referee was about to call for the bell, Styles said Black didn’t read the contract. He said that the contract read that if Black wants to get to him, he has to go through Karl Anderson…
3. Aleister Black vs. Karl Anderson (w/AJ Styles, Luke Gallows). Black quickly dumped Anderson to ringside and then dropkicked Gallows through the ropes. Black went to ringside and dropped Anderson with a kick. Black shot a look at Styles going into a break. [C] Black hit a Black Mass kick and scored the pin.
Aleister Black beat Karl Anderson in 5:45.
Styles entered the ring and announced that Black had to go through Gallows too. Gallows attacked Black from behind and worked him over before throwing him into the ring. The ref checked on Black and called for the bell to start the match…
4. Aleister Black vs. Luke Gallows (w/AJ Styles, Karl Anderson). Styles boasted to the fans at ringside that they had the match in the bag. Gallows tossed Black to ringside heading into PIP break. [C] Gallows blew off the referee’s five count while working over Black in the corner and was disqualified. Anderson and Gallows hit the Magic Killer.
Aleister Black beat Luke Gallows by DQ in 5:35.
5. AJ Styles (w/Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson) vs. Aleister Black. Styles dominated the weary Black to start. Black got a couple of kicks in, but Styles came back with a backbreaker and a brainbuster. Styles performed a Phenomenal Forearm, then folded the arms of Black over his chest in Undertaker style while pinning him…
AJ Styles beat Aleister Black in 2:40.
Powell’s POV: The matches with Anderson and Gallows were momentum killing due to being just plain boring. Anderson and Gallows lose the vast majority of their singles matches and don’t come off as threats to anyone of value. For that matter, the formula was easy to see coming and it deprived fans of the type of match they expected to see from Styles and Black. Fans won’t blame The OC, they will blame the company for not delivering.
Caruso interviewed Ruby Riott on the backstage interview set about facing Liv Morgan with Sarah Logan as guest referee. Riott said people make and break promises constantly. She said the only person she’s responsible for is herself. She said she will prove her ability to strike whenever she pleases on Sunday and noted that there are no friends inside the Elimination Chamber…
Liv Morgan made her entrance heading into a break… [C] Phillips hyped Jeff Hardy for WWE Backstage… Becky Lynch was shown talking to a random guy backstage… Ruby Riott’s entrance was televised…
6. Ruby Riott vs. Liv Morgan. Sarah Logan wore a referee shirt without sleeves. Morgan performed an early missile dropkick and slammed Riott’s face into the mat, which led to a two count. Riott applied an arm submission and jawed at Morgan. A short time later, Logan had to scold Riott for not listening to her. Riott performed a Flatliner on Morgan and covered her. Morgan kicked out and Riott hit Logan, who wasn’t pleased. Riott followed up with another move and made the cover, but Logan was late getting there. Riott shoved her. Morgan rolled up Riott, then Logan made a fast count.
Liv Morgan beat Ruby Riott in 4:35.
After the match, Riott got in the face of Logan, who shoved her to the mat. Morgan ran over and kicked Riott, then Logan kicked Morgan…
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see creative come up with a women’s feud that doesn’t involve a champion and her challenger of the month. It’s just a shame that Riott Squad wasn’t booked stronger when they were a unit because this feud should mean more than it does.
Randy Orton was shown standing backstage in a dark area while Phillips hyped Beth Phoenix’s appearance… [C] An ad aired for NXT and focused on Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong and Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai in cage matches for Wednesday’s show….
A graphic noted that Goldberg’s Universal Championship victory photo was the most liked photo on WWE’s Instagram page of all-time… The broadcast team set up a video package that recapped the Edge and Randy Orton drama…
No Way Jose and his goof troop were doing their conga line dance when they spotted Erick Rowan. Jose politely asked Rowan if they could see what was in the cage. Rowan said he was just waiting for someone to be respectful and ask him nice. Rowan pulled a giant spider out of the cage, which caused Jose and his goofs to run away…
Powell’s POV: A mechanical spider? There was no reason to think this story would have a good payoff and it sure as hell did not. They could have at least had the spider bite each member of the dancing goof troop to kill them off so that Jose could finally have a chance to get over with Adam Rose’s gimmick leftovers.
The broadcast team recapped the Drew McIntyre and Brock Lesnar angle from the top of the show…
7. Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane (w/Asuka). Phillips noted that Asuka was nursing a left wrist injury and was replaced by Sane in this match. Asuka and Sane did their usual pre-match Japanese/English combo promo along with a lot of laughing before Baszler made her entrance.
[Hour Three] Phillips noted that Baszler and Sane had history in NXT, but he did not elaborate. He instead put over her submission success in MMA fights. Baszler was in control early. Sane slapped her. Baszler got hot. Sane got a little offense in and then taunted Baszler by slapping her own ass.
Baszler came back with a spinebuster and then glared at Asuka. Baszler stomped the left ankle of Sane and then wrenched on it. Baszler continued to look at Asuka. Sane went to ringside and was comforted by Sane before returning to the ring. Baszler twisted the ankle of Sane, then removed her ponytail and stomped the ankle area again while Asuka threw a fit. Sane rolled up a distracted Baszler, who kicked out and then put Sane back down with a kick.
Becky Lynch made her entrance and held up the Raw Women’s Championship while standing on the stage. Baszler tossed Sane to ringside and then glared at Lynch going into a break. [C] Lynch was on commentary with a yellow jacket, wild shades, and Lawler’s crown on her head.
Sane caught Baszler with a spear and then went up top and went for her Insane Elbow, but Baszler put her feet up. Baszler applied her Kirifuda Clutch finisher and got the submission win.
Shayna Baszler defeated Kairi Sane in 12:50.
After the match, Baszler reapplied the submission hold. Lynch stood at the broadcast table and yelled that she didn’t have her wrestling boots on but she would fight Baszler…
Powell’s POV: I can’t believe they dragged this match out as long as they did. I like Sane and I realize she and Baszler had NXT history, but Baszler should have made a bigger splash in her Raw debut match by being truly dominant in a quick and decisive win over Sane or someone else. Baszler was never in jeopardy of losing, but the match felt needlessly long. Lynch looked like she was doing an Elton John cosplay and she was really over the top on commentary.
Sarah Schreiber interviewed Rey Mysterio and Humberto Carrillo at the Gorilla Position set. Mysterio put over Carrillo as a competitor who keeps getting back up no matter how many times he’s put down. Carrillo spoke briefly in Spanish. Mysterio said the whole issue with them and the team of Andrade and Angel Garza would end when and how they want it to end. Mysterio made his entrance. They cut to a POP break and that’s when Carrillo, Andrade and Zelina Vega, and Garcia made their entrances [C]…
8. Angel Garza and Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Rey Mysterio and Humberto Carrillo. Phillips hyped SummerSlam tickets going on sale starting Friday. Carrillo performed a big flip dive onto Andrade on the floor heading into a break. [C]
Carrillo was isolated by the heels. Mysterio took a hot tag and had a nice offensive flurry on Andrade that was capped off with a DDT for a near fall. Carrillo tagged in and tried to dive onto Andrade at ringside, but he crashed and burned into the barricade. [C]
Mysterio went for a 619 on Garza, who blocked it and then slid Rey over to the corner and threw knees at his side. Mysterio came back and hit a sunset bomb and had the pin, but Andrade broke it up. Andrade checked in and performed two of the Three Amigos. Mysterio slipped away from the third and gagged in Carrillo, who performed a nice missile dropkick on Andrade.
Carrillo went up top, but Andrade cut him off. Andrade performed the running double knees on Carrillo in the corner and had the pin, but Mysterio broke it up. Garza ran in and was flipped into the corner by Mysterio, who did the same to Andrade, and then performed a double 619. Mysterio performed a hurcanrana on Garza at ringside. Carrillo performed a moonsault on Andrade in the ring and scored the pin…
Rey Mysterio and Humberto Carrillo defeated Angel Garza and Andrade in 19:40.
Beth Phoenix was shown walking backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good tag match. I’m already sold on Garza and Andrade as a regular tag team. Hell, I was sold on that idea before they even teamed up, but this match solidified it. Man, did this show need this boost.
The broadcast team officially announced The Street Profits vs. Rollins and Murphy for the Raw Tag Titles, and Aleister Black vs. AJ Styles in a No DQ match…
Powell’s POV: No DQ? So Gallows and Anderson can legally interfere? Yeah, great.
Beth Phoenix made her entrance. She stood in the ring and said she was there to give a medical update on Edge. Randy Orton’s entrance music played and he headed to the ring in his gear. Orton stepped onto the apron and sighed, then slowly climbed between the ropes.
Orton approached Phoenix and reached out for a hug. When she didn’t reciprocate, Orton offered her a handshake. Phoenix shot him a look of disbelief and called him a son of a bitch for what he did to her husband Edge. Orton went to a corner of the ring and sat on the top rope. Phoenix said she thought she might see him and it’s great because if anyone needs to hear what she had to say it was him.
Phoenix said she was there was a wife because she needs her husband. She said she was there as a mother because her children deserve their father. “Maybe there are possibilities…” Phoenix said before Orton dropped from the ropes and approached her in the ring.
Orton took the mic and said there are no possibilities, it’s a certainty that Edge will never wrestle again. Orton said he owed her an explanation and he was going to give her one. Orton recalled WWE having a live event in 1999 in St. Louis. He recalled his father bringing him because he was 19 and wanted to get into the business.
Orton said that he was just a fan at the time and raved about seeing Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and Davey Boy Smith. He said Edge was the one man who came up to his father and showed his respect. He recalled Edge telling his father that he was one of the best bad guys in the history of the business and one of the reasons he wanted to become a wrestler.
Orton said his father introduced him to Edge and told him that Randy hoped to break into the business. Orton said Edge looked at him with sincerity and said maybe they could work together in the ring if he played his cards right. Orton said he never forgot it and it gave him a confidence boost. Orton recalled he and Edge working against one another and eventually becoming tag champions as Rated RKO.
Orton said they were riding high until he got a little too close to the sun and made some bad life choices. Orton said he should have been buried in it, but Edge pulled him out of the hole and made him realize there’s more to life such as kids and family. Orton spoke of teaching his sons how to be men and teaching his daughters how a man should treat a woman.
Orton said he gets goosebumps when he thinks of Edge returning at the Royal Rumble. Orton said he realized the next night that Edge thought that he was back for good. Orton said he knew better. He said someone like him would put Edge in a wheelchair or worse to make a name for themselves. Orton said it’s thanks to him that Edge will be there for his daughters.
“I did it because I love Edge, I love you, and I love your two little girls,” Orton said. “Here’s the sad truth. Everybody blames me for what I did to Edge. Everybody thinks it was my fault, but you know deep down in your heart, you know with every shred of your being that it’s not my fault, Beth, it’s your fault. You are an enabler.”
Orton said Edge is a junkie for the roar of the crowd and Phoenix did nothing to stop it or to help him. Orton said he had to step in and do what he did to make sure Edge could be a father to their daughters Lyric and Ruby. Phoenix got emotional.
Orton said that he realized that he loves Edge and their daughters more than Phoenix ever could. “Truth hurts, don’t it?” said Orton. Phoenix slapped Orton across the face. Orton threw his microphone down. Phoenix stood her ground as Orton slowly raised his head and looked her in the eye.
“You’re a bitch,” Orton said off-mic. Phoenix kicked Orton, who responded with an RKO. Orton left Phoenix lying in the ring as he stormed up the ramp and headed backstage. They cut to a shot of a shocked fan, then held an odd long distance shot of a pocket of fans before going to the broadcast team.
Saxton said Orton is a son of a bitch for what he did and said it was completely uncalled for. Phillips said it was horrific and he didn’t even know where to begin. Highlights of the kick and the RKO were then replayed.
[Overrun] Natalya, R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, and others checked on Phoenix. Former “Edgeheads” Ryder and Hawkins were wearing Edge t-shirts. They replayed the final moments of the angle again. Phoenix sat up and held the back of her neck while the trainer, wrestlers, and producers tended to her as the show went off the air…
Powell’s POV: Orton was fantastic. He’s doing the best work of his career in this angle leading to the Edge match and this was his best mic work to date. This was outstanding. I have less of an issue with the man on woman violence than I would if Phoenix was a non-wrestler who wasn’t portrayed as a powerhouse. That said, I won’t argue with anyone who feels that it went too far, as it’s clearly a matter of personal taste when it comes to whether this crossed any lines.
Overall, there was enough material for an excellent two-hour Raw. It’s just a shame that the third hour exists and leads to so much filler. Oh, and Elimination Chamber is Sunday. Sure, they announced a couple of matches, but it was clearly not the real focus of this episode despite it being the Raw brand’s final show before Sunday’s pay-per-view. I will have more to say in my weekly audio review for Dot Net Members later tonight. Let me now what you thought of Raw by assigning it a letter grade in our post show poll.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...