By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network (Episode 1,399)
Aired live on March 16, 2020 from Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired… The broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton stood in the ring at the WWE Performance Center and acknowledged the unique setting, then switched the focus to Steve Austin appearing. They also set up footage of AJ Styles’ promo on Undertaker from last week and hyped their contract signing. They were plugging Edge when his music interrupted them.
Edge made his entrance. Edge said it’s been a strange few months for him and his wife (Beth Phoenix), the production crew told them to roll the footage. A video package aired on the Randy Orton and Edge storyline.
Edge stood in the ring and said it’s been a long time coming. He said he knew in his gut from the moment he was introduced to Orton that their paths would intertwine. Edge said they traveled the roads together and found out they dislike the same people. Edge said they even owe the same man in Mick Foley for pushing them to their limits. Edge said the lesson he took that Orton did not was “grit.”
“We’re a lot alike but we have one major difference, you’re an entitled brat,” Edge said. He also praised Orton and said he may be one of the best, but his father handed him everything. Edge said he didn’t have everything handed to him because he said he was raised by a single parent who worked hard to make sure his dreams came true.
Edge said he returned to WWE after nine years and threw Orton out of the Royal Rumble match. Edge said that’s what it’s really about. Edge brought up his wife Beth’s appearance and said she was actually there to announce his retirement, but Orton didn’t let her finish. Edge said he pulled Orton out of several holes and now Orton has pulled him out of one by preventing him from making a horrible decision.
Edge looked intensely into the camera and challenged Orton to a Last Man Standing match. Edge said he writes the story and this story is not a tragedy, it’s a redemptive story and at WrestleMania Orton won’t stand back up…
Powell’s POV: A very well delivered promo with Edge. In this case, Edge looking into the camera and speaking directly to Orton worked out nicely and there’s no telling whether he would have taken that approach if he had a live crowd to play to. Edge did a great job of delivering an intense promo that felt fitting of the story that’s been told by him and Orton thus far.
Footage aired of Becky Lynch driving a “The Man” semi truck to the WWE Performance Center earlier in the day. Lynch laid on the horn before exiting the truck and then walked toward the PC while Phillips hyped that she would appear live… [C]
The broadcast team set up the men’s Royal Rumble match being aired from the January event. They started with the ring announcer running through the rules of the Rumble match…
Powell’s POV: While I understand the idea of airing some pay-per-view footage during the show, it’s strange that they are doing it so early in the episode. For that matter, I’m surprised they’re not playing up these pay-per-view matches airing on television for the first time by advertising them in advance. For those who missed it, WWE aired the entire Elimination Chamber match for the Smackdown Tag Titles on Friday’s Smackdown. Anyway, here’s my full review of the Rumble match. I’ll insert the commercial breaks, let you know if they make any major cuts, and include only new comments rather than my original comments.
The 30-Man Royal Rumble. The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T. No. 1 was Brock Lesnar, who was accompanied by Paul Heyman. No. 2 was Elias, who sang a song called “Sacrificial Lamb” about himself. Lesnar got sick of it and went after Elias at ringside. Once they entered the ring, the bell rang to start the match. Lesnar got the better of Elias. Heyman slid Lesnar the guitar, which Lesnar slammed over the back of Elias. Lesnar threw Elias over the top rope to eliminate him.
No. 3 was Erick Rowan, who brought his pet cage to the ring with him. Lesnar clotheslined Rowan over the top rope and eliminated him just eight seconds after Rowan entered.
No. 4 was Robert Roode. Lesnar charged at Roode in the corner. Roode put his feet up. Lesnar came right back with a clothesline and then hit an F5 on Roode and tossed him over the top rope to eliminate him from the match. [C]
Powell’s POV: The only thing trimmed was Lesnar posing with the title belt in between entrants.
No. 5 was John Morrison. Lesnar kicked Morrison when he entered the ring, then quickly suplexed him over the top rope to eliminate him. Lesnar went back to parading around the ring with his title belt.
No. 6 was Kofi Kingston, who went at Lesnar and got the better of him briefly. Lesnar cut off Kingston with a suplex. Kingston was the first man to survive until the buzzer sounded for the next entrant.
No. 7 was Rey Mysterio. The broadcast team played up the history between Mysterio and Lesnar. Mysterio took a German suplex, then performed the same move on Kingston.
No. 8 was Big E, who teamed up with Kingston and Mysterio on Lesnar. Kingston hit Trouble in Paradise. Big E hit the Big Ending, Mysterio performed a 619. Mysterio ran and leapt off the back of Big E and was caught and tossed out by Lesnar. Big E was clotheslined and eliminated. Lesnar performed an F5 on Kingston from the ring and dropped him to the floor to eliminate him. [C]
Powell’s POV: An ad listed “Straight Up Steve Austin” as returning this summer on USA Network.
No. 9 was Cesaro, who was eliminated in a matter of seconds with a Lesnar clothesline.
Powell’s POV: This was missed opportunity number 273,422 for WWE to turn Cesaro into a meaningful player. Hell, even if he had put up a strong fight they could have turned into something.
No. 10 was Shelton Benjamin. Cole played up the history between the two as University of Minnesota teammates. Once Benjamin arrived at ringside, Heyman hugged him and said he was so happy to see him. Benjamin entered the ring. Lesnar shook his hand and hugged him. Lesnar eventually suplexed Benjamin and then clotheslined him over the top rope.
Powell’s POV: Benjamin sought revenge for being stabbed in the back by his buddy the next night on Raw. Wait, no he didn’t. This was completely forgotten about.
No. 11 was Shinsuke Nakamura. Sami Zayn came out with him, but he headed to the back before Nakamura entered the ring. Nakamura put Lesnar down with a kick. Nakamura went for his Kinshasa finisher, but Lesnar grabbed him and dumped him over the top rope to eliminate him. Cole said no one in history has eliminated ten straight opponents.
No. 12 was MVP, who received a good pop. Lesnar swayed and danced to MVP’s entrance theme. MVP chased Heyman around the ring. Lesnar tried to drag MVP into the ring. MVP clotheslined Lesnar over the top rope. Lesnar came right back and put him down with an F5. Lesnar tossed MVP over the top rope and to the floor to eliminate him.
Powell’s POV: MVP had his brain bashed in weeks later by babyface Edge for daring to want Edge to be the anchor of his stable.
No. 13 was Keith Lee. Fans popped. Lesnar sold it and said, “Ooooh, big boy.” Lesnar appeared to ask Heyman “who is this motherf—er?” Lesnar and Lee went face to face. Lesnar smiled, then threw knees to the chest of Lee, who shot him into the ropes and hit him with a shoulder block that moved Lesnar back. Lee ran the ropes and knocked Lesnar down with another shoulder block. Lesnar sold it with a look of shock. Lee shot Lesnar into the corner. Lesnar fired out of the corner and they hit simultaneous clotheslines and both fell to the mat.
No. 14 was Braun Strowman. “If Brock’s going out, Brock’s going out now,” Graves said. Strowman worked over both men and Lee was knocked under the ropes to ringside. Strowman followed and gave him a shoulder block, then returned to the ring and clotheslined Lesnar. Strowman picked up Lesnar for his finisher, but Lesnar slipped out and gave him a German suplex. Lee returned and took a German. Rinse and repeat with Lesnar hitting both men with another German while Cole gushed that it may be the greatest performance in Royal Rumble history. Lee and Strowman fought against the ropes. Lesnar pushed them both over to eliminate them. Cole noted that Lesnar tied the Rumble record for most eliminations. [C]
Powell’s POV: A brief Austin 3:16 Day moments with past Austin clips was shown.
No. 15 was Ricochet, who dove off the top rope at Lesnar, who caught him and performed a backbreaker and fell over with him. The broadcast team wondered if Lesnar was getting winded. Lesnar hit another German suplex.
No. 16 was Drew McIntyre. Once McIntyre was in the ring, Lesnar removed his MMA gloves.
[Hour Two] Ricochet low-blowed Lesnar, then McIntyre blasted him with a Claymore Kick to eliminate him from the match. Cole said Lesnar lasted 26 minutes and 23 seconds before being eliminated. Ricochet hit McIntyre with a couple moves, then McIntyre simply grabbed him and flung him over the top rope to eliminate him. McIntyre went back to glaring at Lesnar.
Powell’s POV: The low blow led to Ricochet getting a mega push that resulted with him not getting in any offense on Lesnar during their WWE Super ShowDown title match.
No. 17 was The Miz. Lesnar was still down at ringside with Heyman standing by. McIntyre put Miz down with a move, then went back to glaring at Lesnar. McIntyre did his countdown and then hit Miz with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre tossed Miz over the top to eliminate him. McIntyre went back to glaring at Lesnar. [C]
Powell’s POV: I remember being fairly certain that Lesnar was sticking around the ringside area because he was going to pull McIntyre out of the ring to eliminate him from the match. Fortunately, that’s not what happened.
No. 18 was AJ Styles. Lesnar and Heyman went over the barricade.
No. 19 was Dolph Ziggler, who came out to his shitty entrance theme. Cole said Ziggler was now tied for second on the list of all-time Rumble appearances.
No. 20 was Karl Anderson, who joined Styles in going after McIntyre. It looked like McIntyre was going to double chokeslam them, but Ziggler superkicked him. Styles went after Ziggler.
No. 21 was Edge, who received the pop of the night. Edge struck a pose halfway to the ring and pyro shot off. Edge removed his ring jacket while Cole said it had been nine long years since Edge retired due to fusion neck surgery. Edge delivered spears while Styles stood in the corner with his arms on the ropes. Edge looked at Styles and the fans popped big again. Styles caught Edge with a Pele Kick. Edge came back with a spear. [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped the Goldberg and Roman Reigns contract signing for WrestleMania. There was also a brief ad for Miz hosting Cannonball.
Powell’s POV: Styles was injured when he took that bump for Edge. Styles made it clear that the injury was his doing, as he got a bit overly ambitious while taking the spear and he ended up dislocating his shoulder. Once the Edge and Orton feud concludes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Edge vs. Styles.
No. 22 was King Corbin. McIntyre nearly had Ziggler eliminated, but Corbin saved him. Edge threw Styles over the top rope to eliminate him from the match.
No. 23 was Matt Riddle. There were “Bro” chants. Riddle entered the ring and kicked off his flip flops, then went to work. Riddle threw a series of kicks at McIntyre, then caught Edge with a ripcord knee. Corbin grabbed Riddle from behind and eliminated him from the match.
Powell’s POV: They love to use Corbin to troll hardcore fans.
No. 24 was Luke Gallows. The broadcast team played up Anderson and Gallows being able to work together. McIntyre eliminated Corbin, but the cameras missed it to the point that Cole had to question if it was him. They aired a replay. Anderson and Gallows hit the Magic Killer on Edge.
No. 25 was Randy Orton. Cole noted that Orton won the Rumble in 2009 and 2017. Orton hit crowd pleasing RKOs, then had a moment with Edge where the Rated RKO duo eliminated Gallows and Anderson from the match. Orton and Edge talked to one another.
Powell’s POV: The Edge and Orton friendship became stronger than ever that night. They forged a bond that wouldn’t be broken until roughly 24 hours later.
No. 26 was Roman Reigns, who received more boos than cheers. Reigns eliminated Ziggler. McIntyre hit a chop on Reigns, who no-sold it and then hit him with an uppercut.
No. 27 was Kevin Owens. Cole reminded viewers that No. 27 has produced more Rumble winners than any other number. He said something earlier about No. 26 not being so lucky. Owens gave McIntyre a Popup Powerbomb, then gave Reigns a Stunner. Orton set up behind Owens, who ended up kicking Orton and giving him a Stunner.
No. 28 was Aleister Black, who did not get his usual candle and rising platform entrance. McIntyre hit his Fade to Black finisher on McIntyre.
No. 29 was Samoa Joe. Joe and Owens bumped into one another. Owens smiled, then both men exchanged punches. Joe performed an inverted atomic drop and then hit Owens with a big boot.
No. 30 was Seth Rollins, who was accompanied by Buddy Murphy and AOP. Owens and Joe stopped fighting. Owens held the ropes open for Rollins. [C]
Owens and Joe went to ringside and fought with Rollins and his crew. Rollins put AOP and Murphy to work by having them work over Edge and Orton while he went to the ring and performed a Stomp on McIntyre. Rollins also performed a Stomp on Reigns.
Black kicked Rollins in the back. Rollins fought back, but Black dropped him with a high kick. Black went for a springboard move, but Murphy tripped him up. Rollins threw Black over the top to eliminate him.
Owens caught Rollins with a Stunner and threw him over the top rope, but AOP caught him and then slid him back into the ring. Owens fought with AOP from the ring until he was eliminated by Rollins. Joe put Rollins in the Coquina Clutch. Murphy got involved. Rollins eliminated Joe. Owens and Joe fought AOP and Murphy to the back.
Rollins was left alone with Edge, McIntyre, Reigns, and Orton. Rollins tried to play to Reigns about forming an alliance. Rollins stuck his fist out. Reigns tagged Rollins with a Superman Punch. Edge shot Rollins at Orton, who gave him a powerslam. When Rollins got up, McIntyre put him back down with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre eliminated Rollins. The final four were McIntyre, Orton, Reigns, and Edge (unless someone else was hiding). [C]
Edge and Orton teamed up or a double RKO on McIntyre. Orton snuck up behind Edge, who spotted him. They agreed to go after Reigns, but Edge then tossed Orton over the top rope to eliminate him.
Reigns and Edge squared off. Reigns put him down with a Superman Punch. Reigns set up in the corner and was booed. Edge leapt over him when he went for a spear. Edge nearly eliminated Reigns, but he held on. Reigns pulled Edge over the top rope to the apron. Reigns eliminated Edge.
The match came down to Reigns and McIntyre. Reigns went for a spear, but McIntyre caught him with a Claymore Kick and then eliminated Reigns to win the Rumble.
Drew McIntyre won the men’s Royal Rumble match in 60:50.
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised Vince McMahon didn’t use CGI to change the finish to Roman Reigns winning the Rumble. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the show does in the ratings and whether replaying the full men’s Rumble match helps or hurts the cause.
Back live, Saxton spoke about McIntyre winning the Rumble match and choosing to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Phillips addressed the news that WrestleMania will be held at the WWE Performance Center rather than at the originally scheduled location of Raymond James Stadium. Lawler said it was stunning news, but the grandest show of all must go on and it will go on. Phillips emphasized that McIntyre will still challenge Lesnar, then set up footage from two weeks ago of McIntyre taking out Lesnar with three Claymore Kicks on Raw…
Lawler stood in the ring for the contract signing and started by introducing Undertaker. The gong sounded and Taker made his entrance in much quicker style and minus the hat and trench coat. Once Taker entered the ring, Lawler invited him to sit down. Taker flipped the contract signing table over. Lawler left the ring and Taker continued to throw a fit going into a break. [C]
[Hour Three] A brief Austin 3:16 Day video aired… Phillips recapped the Taker angle while footage aired of the WWE Performance Center. Phillips noted that no contract was signed and said what happened was another example of just how personal it’s become between Taker and Styles… A video package recapped their recent history, including Styles taking verbal jabs at Taker’s wife…
Taker was pacing around the ring. Phillips said Taker was furious in part because there was no contract waiting for him to sign. AJ Styles’ entrance music played briefly and then stopped. The music restarted while Taker continued to pace, then it stopped again.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson appeared on the big screen at the top of the entrance ramp. Styles noted that he had their WrestleMania contract. Styles said Taker is on the Mount Rushmore of WWE Superstars and carried the company on his back. “But it’s 2020 and you keep interjecting yourself from a world that would rather see you removed from it,” Styles said.
Styles said you don’t see Michael Jordan interjecting himself into the NBA Finals or Brett Favre and Peyton Manning doing that with the Super Bowl, yet Undertaker is interjecting himself into WrestleMania. Styles once again blamed Taker’s wife Michelle McCool. “Undertaker, Mark, you are a shell of your former self,” Styles said. “That flame you once had is totally gone, Mark. Let it go.”
Styles said someone might want him to have sympathy for the old guy, but it’s not there. Styles said Taker got involved in OC business twice and cost him two victories. Styles said he will gladly pay Taker’s assisted living costs once WrestleMania is over. He said he’ll be doing everyone a favor when he finally has Taker rest in peace. Styles signed the contract, then asked Gallows and Anderson to deliver it to Taker. They both declined. Styles ordered Anderson to take it and Gallows to go with him.
Once Gallows and Anderson arrived at ringside, the gong sounded and the lights went out. The gong sounded again and the lights went on. Taker stood behind Gallows and Anderson, who figured it out and tried to talk Taker down. Taker beat up both men. Styles was shown watching on a backstage monitor while the beatdown continued. Taker took the contract and signed it, then shoved it into the mouth of Anderson. Taker walked up the ramp and went face to giant face with Styles, who was being shown on the big screen…
Phillips hyped Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade as coming up after the break, then noted that it was 3:16 Day. Additional Austin clips were shown… [C]
Powell’s POV: Styles followed up last week’s shock value promo with another good outing. Taker isn’t in Dead Man mode, but he’s not in American Badass mode either. I guess they just want this to feel more real this time around. There won’t be a crowd in attendance for WrestleMania, so no elaborate Taker entrance needed.
A Smackdown ad focused on the Goldberg and Roman Reigns contract signing, and Rob Gronkowski’s appearance…
1. U.S. Champion Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Rey Mysterio in a non-title match. Asuka sat in on commentary and did her usual yelling bit to start. Mysterio set up for a springboard move, but Vega grabbed his leg. Mysterio fought off Andrade and then went for a move off the ropes, but Andrade caught him with a dropkick that led to a two count and then a commercial break. [C]
Asuka yelled in support of Andrade (I think). Andrade caught Mysterio with a back elbow for a two count. Mysterio came back with a huracanrana and a 619, then went up top and performed a splash that led to a three count.
Rey Mysterio beat Andrade in 6:50 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: I’m usually not as entertained by Asuka’s antics as most people seem to be, but she was fun on commentary.
Phillips noted that Becky Lynch would be appearing, then set up a video that recapped Shayna Baszler winning the women’s Elimination Chamber match to earn a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. They also included footage of Baszler’s post match promo and the neck biting angle… The footage of Lynch arriving in “The Man” semi-truck was shown again… [C] Another 3:16 Day video aired…
Becky Lynch made her entrance and delivered an in-ring promo while Shayna Baszler was shown watching a backstage monitor. Lynch said Baszler’s entire world is a lie as long as she is the champion. Lynch said she’s the one who was hunted and got tired of being hunted. She said she’s the prey that killed its predator. She said every word, action, tweet, and interview is designed to make Baszler think exactly what Lynch wants her to think.
“I want you to do something you never do, Shayna,” Lynch said. “I want you to think. I want you to think of how it’s going to feel when I beat you.” She said she watched Baszler demolish an entire women’s division in the Elimination Chamber and it woke her up to a bit of reality, but she’s going to prove at WrestleMania that Baszler’s whole life is a lie and it will hit her like a truck. Baszler was shown seething while watching the monitor. Lynch headed to the ramp and held up her title belt…
Powell’s POV: I like that Lynch is back to delivering good, straight forward pro wrestling promos again.
Another Austin video aired for 3:16 Day. Austin was shown attacking Vince McMahon in a hospital. Lawler said it was his favorite Stone Cold moment… [C]
WWE PC footage aired, then the broadcast team set up footage of Rhea Ripley punching Charlotte Flair last week…
Kevin Owens was interviewed by Charly Caruso on the backstage interview set. Owens accepted the challenge of Seth Rollins. Owens said he’s been thinking about the time and place and decided there’s no place better than the WWE Performance Center. Owens said Rollins never spent time at the PC, but Owens started his WWE career at the PC.
Owens said he had his tryout at the PC and heard countless times beforehand that he didn’t belong in WWE. Owens said Rollins was one of the people who said it before the tryout, after he was signed, and even a few months ago. Owens said he made so many memories inside the PC walls and met people who were influential regarding his career. Owens said he will make another PC memory when he beats Rollins where he earned his place and it will happen at WrestleMania…
Powell’s POV: Owens did a really nice job of making the PC setting feel like a positive by playing up his history there in a believable manner.
A sponsored ad focused on Austin beating Shawn Michaels. The broadcast team hyped Austin as coming up next… [C] An ad hyped the return of Total Bellas for April 9… Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton were both advertised as appearing on next week’s Raw…
Steve Austin made his entrance and pounded some beer in the ring. Austin declared that the 16th day of March is a national holiday. He asked the nonexistent fans to give him a “hell yeah” if they want to know what 3:16 Day is all about. Austin repeated himself. Saxton stood up and yelled “hell yeah.” Austin gave him the What? treatment, then Saxton repeated himself.
Austin read from cue cards. He said 3:16 Day is about responding with a hand gesture when someone gives you crap. Saxton held up an eight card as a rating. Austin read another card awkwardly, then said it was upside down. Austin said you can open a can of whoop ass on anyone you want. Saxton gave him a six. Austin said the speed limit is only a suggestion. Saxton gave that a ten rating.
Austin noted that he just lost three of his cards. Austin said 3:16 Day is when happy hour is 24 hours long and if you burp then it’s considered poetry. Austin said 3:16 day is when your boss is working for you. Saxton gave him a seven. Austin said 3:16 Day means four-letter words are always acceptable. Saxton gave him a five. Austin asked him to reconsider, but Saxton held his ground. Austin said 3:16 Day is when you can whoop anybody’s ass and get away with it.
Austin said Saxton has been helpful and invited him to celebrate 3:16 Day with him. “Yeah, are you kidding me?” Saxton replied. Saxton headed to the ring and Austin mocked his attire. Austin gave him a can of beer. Austin said Saxton was tough. Saxton said he just wanted to be honest. Austin toasted Saxton, saying he was 100 percent, pure unadulterated jackass. Austin kicked Saxton in the nuts and gave him a Stunner.
Austin had a beer bash. Becky Lynch’s music played and she came out with a cooler of beer. Lynch slid the cooler inside the ring, then stepped on Saxton while joining inside the ring. Austin said Lynch hit him with a Stunner the last time they were in the ring together. Austin asked if she was on his side on 3:16 Day. Lynch said of course. They toasted and then both slammed beers. Saxton got back to his feet. Austin pulled him to the middle of the ring, poured a beer on his head, kicked him, and gave him another Stunner. Austin and Lynch continued their beer bash to close the show…
Powells POV: The 3:16 Day jokes were pretty rough and obviously it didn’t help that Austin didn’t have a live crowd to play off of. All things considered, Austin and Lynch having a beer bash was good fun. This was another strange WWE show without the crowd present. I’m not a big fan of replaying the entire men’s Royal Rumble match and hopefully they don’t continue this trend of replaying long matches on their television shows. I will have more to say in my audio review coming up later tonight for Dot Net Members. Let me now what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade in our post Raw poll available on the main page.