By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network (Episode 1,401)
Aired March 30, 2020 from Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
[Hour One] Raw opened with a recap of the Undertaker and AJ Styles feud that spotlighted the comments and antics of Styles…
Undertaker stood in front of a backdrop with smoke in the air. Taker addressed Styles by his real name and said he has a big mouth for such a small guy. Taker said Styles thought that he could get under his skin by dropping some pipe bombs. Taker said Styles was content being a big fish in a small pond because he didn’t have what it took to hang with the very best the business had to offer.
“The Phenomenal One, my ass,” Taker said. “You waited until they were all gone…except for me.” Taker said Styles is making decisions that he can’t come back from. He said he understands Styles insulting him and that’s just business, but he crossed the line when he mentioned “her” (Michelle McCool).
Taker said Styles is just mad that McCool performed the Styles Clash better than he does and got it over. “Try me, I’ll make you famous,” Taker said. He added that he hopes Styles brings “the other two ass clowns” with him. He said Styles will feel the pain, he will get hurt, he will suffer, and he will rest in peace. Taker’s music played and the camera pulled back to show an AJ Styles tombstone behind him…
Powell’s POV: A well delivered promo, but I must question whether Taker and Styles tearing each other down has done any good for either man. The late hype for this match feels like it is coming from a place of desperation because the booking that led up to it made Taker look strong at the expense of Styles, who came off like an afterthought.
The broadcast team of Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton checked in and hyped the match and WrestleMania. Saxton hyped the pay-per-view option and WWE Network, and Phillips once again touted that WrestleMania is too big for one night. They ran through some of the other WrestleMania matches, then hyped Edge appearing on Raw, and Kevin Owens and The Street Profits vs. Seth Rollins, Andrade, and Angel Garza…
Highlights aired of Becky Lynch arriving in “The Man” semi-truck. Lynch was hyped as appearing after the break… [C]
Becky Lynch made her entrance. Meanwhile, footage aired of Shayna Baszler’s sit-down interview from last week’s Raw, which featured Lynch attacking her from behind. Lynch stood on the stage and recalled beating Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in the main event of WrestleMania 35. “Let’s take a look,” Lynch said. Entrances for the match were shown, starting with Joan Jett singing Rousey’s entrance theme…
Powell’s POV: The following his from my live review of WrestleMania 35. I’ll note the commercial breaks. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary.
From WrestleMania 35 – Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch for both titles. Hamilton delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Rousey was dominant early on and roughed up both women. She flung Lynch into the barricade, then performed a Piper’s Pit on Flair onto the floor. [C]
An ad for NXT TV touted Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damian Priest for the NXT North American Title for Wednesday’s show.
Rousey went for the same move on Lynch, who slipped out and shoved Rousey into the ring post. Flair performed a fallaway slam into the barricade. Flair and Lynch fought inside the ring briefly. Rousey caught Lynch in an armbar over the ropes. Lynch dropkicked Rousey through the legs of Flair, causing Rousey to fall awkwardly to the floor. Flair and Lynch went back to fighting while Rousey was down. Flair went for a moonsault at 5:10, and Lynch caught her in the Disarmer on the way down. Rousey returned to break it up and then worked the arm of Lynch until Flair booted her in the face at 5:35. [C]
Flair lit up Rousey with chops at 6:40. Rousey jawed at her. Flair slapped her. Rousey threw a leaping kick at Flair. Rousey went for an armbar. Flair countered into a Boston crab, then Lynch returned and bulldogged Flair’s face into the match at 7:20. Lynch performed a reverse DDT on Rousey while performing a regular DDT on Flair simultaneously. Lynch covered both women separately for two counts. Lynch worked over Flair with punches heading past the 8:00 mark.
Lynch performed an exploder suplex on Flair from the ropes. Rousey performed a cross body block from the ropes onto both women. Rousey applied a double armbar on both opponents, who picked her up and performed a double powerbomb, then powered her up again and slammed her down a second time. They repeated the move a third time and finally freed themselves. Flair tossed Lynch to ringside and covered Rousey for a near fall.
[C] An ad for Friday’s Smackdown hyped the return of John Cena to respond to Bray Wyatt’s challenge to a Firefly Funhouse match, plus Miz TV with The Usos and New Day as guests.
Lynch returned to the ring and performed a suplex on Flair and covered her for a near fall at 11:30. Rousey and Lynch squared off. Rousey kicked her, then Lynch rolled her into the Disarmer. Rousey reached the ropes to break the hold. Lynch applied an armbar with Rousey’s arm through the ropes. Flair returned and kicked Lynch to break the hold. Flair performed a top rope Spanish Fly for a near fall. Rousey returned and Flair suplexed her. Lynch got up and pulled Flair away from Rousey and went for her finisher, but Flair shoved Lynch face first into a middle turnbuckle. Flair booted the leg of Rousey, which had some nasty bruising. Flair wrapped her leg around the post and applied a figure four at 14:45. Lynch broke it up seconds later.
[C] An ad aired for the 2020 Royal Rumble airing Tuesday on FS1 followed by a live edition of WWE Backstage.
Flair threw Lynch into the barricade at ringside and returned to the ring and went for her finisher, but Rousey rolled her into an inside cradle for a two count. Flair applied a figure four and bridged into a figure eight. Lynch flew into the picture from the top rope and landed on Flair with a legdrop to break the hold. Flair bled from an elbow. Lynch went to ringside and pulled a table out from underneath the ring and then set it up inside the ring. Rousey laid on the mat and held her bruised leg. Flair returned and hit Lynch from behind and placed her on top of the table. Flair went up top and Lynch followed. Rousey ran over and shoved Flair to the floor.
Rousey knocked the table over and jawed at the booing fans that she doesn’t need a table. Rousey and Lynch fought for their finishers, but Flair returned and speared Lynch, then made separate covers on both women for two counts just before 19:00. Flair set up the table in one of the corners and slammed Rousey’s face into it. Flair speared Lynch and covered her for a two count. Flair showed frustration as the match passed 20:00.
Flair charged both opponents and they did a double armdrag onto the table, which did not break. Rousey and Lynch squared off and traded blows. Rousey performed a running kick or leg lariat (or something) on Lynch. Rousey set up for the Piper’s Pit on Lynch, who countered into a crucifix pin for the three count.
Becky Lynch defeated Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in a Triple Threat in 21:30.
[Hour Two] Rousey immediately protested because her shoulders weren’t down. Lynch celebrated with both title belts. Rousey stormed out of the ring, and Flair cried on the floor against the barrier. They replayed the footage. The first shot showed that Rousey’s shoulders were up when the referee made his first count, and the second clip only showed the referee’s second and third count. Cole said the bottom line is that Becky Lynch is the champion. Graves said he would love to have a more conclusive end to WrestleMania. Fireworks shot off. Cole actually said it will be known as WrestleMANia. Lynch celebrated and the show went off the air…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised that WWE actually aired the post match scene given the controversial finish. That finish sucked in the moment, but they can obviously play off it if Rousey returns.
At the WWE Performance Center, Lynch said that was the first time that she watched the match back. She said a lot of people have tried to take the title from her since then. She said Baszler is a killer who wiped out an entire division and wants to destroy her by taking the title from her. Lynch said she’s right in that she doesn’t know who she is if she’s not champion.
Lynch said Baszler will come in fighting with emotion just like everyone else and she’ll hope to do what her pal Rousey couldn’t do. Lynch said Baszler could steal Rousey’s spotlight instead of the other way around for once. “Or you lose and get put back in Ronda’s shadow,” Lynch said. She recalled Baszler talking about being destroyed by a potential loss and questioned whether she was talking about Lynch or herself.
Suddenly, Baszler put Lynch in the Kirifuda Clutch from behind. Baszler eventually released the hold and then flung Lynch into the broadcast table. Baszler picked up the title belt, looked at it, then dropped it onto Lynch. Baszler stood on the stage and surveyed the damage… [C] An ad aired for WrestleMania 35 airing on ESPN on Sunday at 2CT/3ET…
Powell’s POV: Strong mic work from Lynch and a good attack to put heat on the heel heading into WrestleMania.
1. Aleister Black vs. Jason Cade. Black put away Cade quickly with a Black Mass kick…
Aleister Black defeated Jason Cade in 0:48.
Powell”s POV: Cade was an early regular on the current era of MLW events. He teamed with Jimmy Yuta and then turned heel on him. WWE is still hyping the Black vs. Bobby Lashley match even though reports indicate that Lashley was unable to work the WrestleMania taping.
Footage aired of the promo that Seth Rollins cut on Kevin Owens during last week’s Raw… Phillips hyped the six-man tag match for after the break… [C]
Ring entrances for the six-man tag match took place. The babyfaces came out first, then Angel Garza and Zelina Vega came out. Vega announced that Andrade suffered a serious rib injury and was ruled unable to compete. Vega said she has access to the hottest young talent, just as she brought in Garza. Vega introduced Austin Theory, who bumped firsts with Garza as they headed to the ring. Seth Rollins made his entrance…
Powell’s POV: Andrade was reportedly injured during last week’s tag match with Garza against Ricochet and Cedric Alexander. Andrade missed the WrestleMania tapings and will be replaced by Theory in the Raw Tag Title match against The Street Profits.
2. Kevin Owens, Montez Ford, and Angelo Dawkins vs. Seth Rollins, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory (w/Zelina Vega). Owens wore a KO Mania IV t-shirt. Rollins teased starting with Owens, then tagged in Theory, who was roughed up by Owens to start. Ford performed an early flip dive onto Garza and Theory heading into an early break. [C]
A WrestleMania video aired. We are five days away. In the ring, Ford was isolated by the heel trio. Later, Rollins tagged into the match and taunted Owens while working over Dawkins. The heels took turns working over Dawkins. Rollins jawed at Owens again and was rolled up by Dawkins. Rollins came right back with a sling blade clothesline.
Dawkins stuffed a superkick and punched Rollins, then made a hot tag to Owens. Rollins rushed to his corner and tagged in Garza. Owens performed a cannonball on Garza and then went up top for a senton bomb. Owens had the pin, but Theory broke it up. Ford cleared Theory to ringside. Ford went for a flip dive, but Theory moved, causing Ford to crash and turn. In the ring, Owens hit a Stunner on Garza and pinned him.
Kevin Owens, Montez Ford, and Angelo Dawkins defeated Seth Rollins, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory in 13:25.
After the match, Rollins entered the ring and performed his Stomp finisher on Owens. Rollins left the ring, turned and looked at Owens, then headed up the ramp…
Powell’s POV: Good in-ring action. I thought they might have Theory get the win for his team just to give him a boost heading into WrestleMania, but obviously they view the build to Owens vs. Rollins as a bigger priority.
Saxton hyped Brock Lesnar’s appearance for later in the show. Phillips set up a sneak peek at The Big Show Show that will premiere on Netflix next Monday… [C]
The broadcast team recapped the finish of the six-man tag match. Owens was still seated in the ring and had a mic in hand. Owens remained seated and said he’s been thinking a lot about what Rollins said last week. Owens recalled Rollins saying the WWE Performance Center was built because of him and built on his back.
Owens said he’s actually heard otherwise and that the building was built in spite of Rollins. He said he heard that Rollins was a nightmare to deal with because he thought he knew everything and that he thought he was better than everyone else. Owens said Rollins had proven everyone right who said that he was an arrogant dipshit. Owens said he’s well aware of his own past, but the different between him and Rollins is that he’s not delusional.
Owens recalled Rollins claiming that he’s a god when it comes to WrestleMania whereas Owens has been a disappointment. Owens said those words stayed with him. Owens spoke about his own accomplishments and noted that he was WWE Universal Champion before Rollins. Owens said he didn’t accomplish it all on his own because he had somebody watching his back one way or another. Owens said the same was true for Rollins, who had backup or found an underhanded way to get what he wants.
Owens said Rollins needs to be honest with himself because the only thing he said last week that actually made sense was when he was told that his past no longer mattered when he arrived in WWE. Owens said that will never be more true when they meet at WrestleMania on Saturday. Owens said their pasts won’t matter. Owens got to his feet and said they will finally meet one-on-one. Owens said he will prove that Rollins isn’t a messiah or a god and he will take his first WrestleMania moment from him. “Because this Saturday, I will be the one to burn it down,” Owens closed…
Saxton hyped Edge appearing next… [C]
Powell’s POV: Excellent mic work and a strong rebuttal to the top notch Rollins promo from last week. There are plenty of negatives to these fan-free shows, but we have been treated to some very good promos, particularly on Raw lately.
Footage of the WWE PC was shown while Phillips and Saxton spoke. They set up a video package that recapped the Edge vs. Randy Orton feud.
[Hour Three] Edge sat in a dark area backstage and signed. “Randy, you said that Adam Copeland is a junkie for Edge,” Edge started. “You’re probably right.” Edge said it’s not an ego thing. He loves the feeling that happens in an arena when the music hits and the connection with the audience. “Let’s face it, man, we’re all junkies for that,” he said.
Edge recalled sitting eleventh row ringside at WrestleMania in Toronto for Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior. Edge said he knew them and if you’re not a junkie for it then you’re just taking up space. Edge said he and Orton have different definitions for the word grit. He said Orton’s grit is being handpicked for Evolution and getting by on his family name. He spoke of Orton coasting on and off for the last 20 years and begin okay is good enough for him.
Edge said his definition of grit is being the type of man who will reach down into a hole and pull someone up who probably doesn’t deserve it and who refuses to be in Evolution because he doesn’t want to be someone’s lackey. He also spoke about thinking every day for nine years about returning. Edge said he was mistaken about Orton. He explained that Orton isn’t jealous of him, he’s jealous of Edge’s passion.
“The only time you have it is when I’m around,” Edge said. He said everyone is talking about how this is the best Orton has ever been and the last time they spoke about it was nine years ago. Edge said Orton is a junkie for the way that he makes him feel. He said the voices in Orton’s head told him to make a horrible mistake.
Edge said Orton almost made him believe that returning at the Rumble was enough closure for him, but then Orton put his hands on his wife and uttered the names of his daughters. “You pulled me back in,” Edge said. He spoke of being put through a flaming table just to grab the torch. He said Orton dug himself a hole and this time he won’t be pulling him out. “I’m going to push you so far in, you will never get back out,” Edge closed…
Phillips hyped Asuka for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Awesome mic work. Orton and Edge have done a wonderful job of building up their match. I hope they find a way to have an excellent WrestleMania match despite the circumstances because they definitely deserve it.
Phillips announced Asuka and Kairi Sane vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles for WrestleMania…
3. Asuka vs. Kayden Cater. Before the match, Asuka yelled in Japanese, then asked, “Who are you?” and laughed. The bell rang and Carter immediately performed a dropkick. Asuka came back quickly with her hip (ass) attack. Carter rolled up Asuka for a two count, then dropkicked her from the ropes for another two count. Asuka blocked a kick and applied an ankle lock, then delivered a German suplex. Asuka threw a kick to the back of Carter’s head, then applied the Asuka Lock for the win. Afterward, Asuka took a headset from the broadcast table and yelled into it…
Asuka defeated Kayden Carter in 1:15.
The broadcast team hyped Lesnar for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: Asuka looked strong, but I also like the way they gave Carter a few moves of offense. Carter’s character always puts up a good fight in NXT despite losing far more than she wins, so this felt consistent with that despite being a much quicker version of what we see from her on Wednesday nights.
Phillips and Saxton spoke about Undertaker vs. Styles. Saxton said he doesn’t think Styles understands what he got himself into. Phillips set up footage from “earlier today” that showed Charlotte Flair kicking Rhea Ripley from behind as Ripley arrived at the WWE PC. Adam Pearce and referees quickly intervened. Flair said she’ll see Ripley at WrestleMania, then walked away. Ripley got up and said, “Yeah, yeah you will”…
The broadcast team set up footage from Survivor Series 2019 of Brock Lesnar vs. Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match…
Powell’s POV: Here we go again. Here’s my match report from my live review of WWE Survivor Series.
From WWE Survivor Series 2020 – Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match for the WWE Championship. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Heyman took the mic and delivered the introduction for Lesnar. Vic Joseph and Jerry Lawler were on the call. Mysterio wore Joker themed gear (you know, because if someone beat up your son you’d be worried about picking out themed gear when it was time to face that person). The bell rang and Mysterio went to ringside and pulled his lead pipe out from under the ring. Lesnar cut him off before he could use it and hit him with three clotheslines. [C]
Lesnar took Mysterio to ringside and tossed him over the Spanish broadcast table, then performed a German suplex that sent Mysterio onto the top piece of the table that was leaning against the table. Lesnar picked up Mysterio and drove him back first into the ring post. Lesnar stopped and tied his boot laces. Mysterio shoved Lesnar face first into the post.
Mysterio went back to the ring to get the pipe, but Lesnar returned and stood on it before he could get his hand on it. Lesnar performed a German suplex onto the pipe. Lesnar followed up with another German suplex while the broadcast team said it was quickly becoming a massacre even though they were hoping for a miracle. [C]
Dominick Mysterio ran out with a white towel in hand and entered the ring. Dominick begged Lesnar, who smirked, took the towel, and tossed it to ringside. Lesnar grabbed Dominick by the throat. Mysterio low blowed Lesnar, who stumbled toward Dominick, who also gave him a low blow before leaving the ring. Mysterio got the pipe and hit Lesnar with it a few times.
Dominick returned with a chair and hit Lesnar with it. Rey and Dominick teamed up for a double 619. Dom performed a top rope frogsplash, then Rey performed the same move and they both covered Lesnar, who kicked out at two. Lesnar caught Dominick on the ropes and gave him a German suplex. Mysterio tried to dive at Lesnar, who caught him, F5’d him, and pinned him…
Brock Lesnar defeated Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match in 7:00 to retain the WWE Championship.
Powell’s POV: Dom brought that shit on himself. Anyway, I know these are strange times and WWE officials are doing their best to deliver quality television, but two full length match replays on the WrestleMania go-home edition of Raw is disappointing. I wish they would have gone with one throwback match and come up with more first run material leading into this year’s WrestleMania. They haven’t even bothered to tell viewers which matches will air on Saturday and which matches will air on Sunday.
The broadcast team discussed some of the WrestleMania matches and hyped Rob Gronkowski as the host. They made The Street Profits vs. Austin Theory and Angel Garza for the Raw Tag Titles official for WrestleMania…
Powell’s POV: They didn’t announce any changes beyond Theory replacing Andrade. They still listed Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns and included other wrestlers who reportedly missed the tapings. Here’s hoping they will have an angle on Smackdown to set up Reigns’ replacement.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman stood in the ring. Heyman introduced them both and said he hates to be the one to pull back the curtain on the industry. He said it’s the final segment on Raw heading into WrestleMania and called it the most unique WrestleMania of our lifetimes. He said it’s not just because it’s too big for one night. He said we are all living in most unique time in our lifetimes together.
Heyman said it’s the go-home segment on the go-home Raw to WrestleMania. He recalled the person involved in the segment is more often than not Brock Lesnar. Heyman asked why that was, then explained that it’s because Lesnar is usually the beast to slay, the Conquerer to conquer. Heyman said Drew McIntyre has truly stepped up. Heyman said much respect to him and said that he is that special compared to the guy on the street or the dumbass in the gym who thinks he’s can “do that WWE stuff.”
Heyman said that McIntyre is special compared to what he feels is the most extraordinary roster in the history of the industry. Heyman said The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Randy Couture, Shane Carwin, John Cena, and Undertaker were all special. Heyman said they were all icons who stood above other icons and at the end of the day they ended up “not so goddamn (censored) special, but just Brock’s bitch”
Heyman said McIntyre doesn’t have to market or promote just how special the Claymore Kick is. Heyman ran through the finishers of some of the legends he mentioned and said none of them worked when those legends were in the ring with Lesnar. Heyman said now that Lesnar knows what the Claymore Kick is coming, he has either come up with a strategy to avoid it or he will take one and then we’ll find out whether it will take him down.
Heyman said he had more than a spoiler or a prediction, he had an absolute guarantee. Heyman said that on the go-home show next year, Lesnar would be standing in the ring with the belt over his shoulder. Heyman said he’d recall that McIntyre came up short when he faced Lesnar at WrestleMania in 2020. Heyman said McIntyre will walk in special and then walk out just like everybody else – “nothing more than Brock’s bitch”…
Powell’s POV: Heyman saved his best WrestleMania build promo for last. But was it too strong? Did they do enough to sell viewers on the idea that McIntyre can beat Lesnar or will this promo actually cause some viewers to assume that Lesnar will simply retain? And Lesnar may retain, but they should want viewers to think there’s a strong chance that McIntyre will win the championship so that they order the event.
Overall, the first-run material was good to great with some excellent mic work. There just wasn’t enough first-run material. While I recognize that these are strange times, there’s just not a good excuse to continue to list so many WrestleMania matches that won’t take place. Perhaps there will be more to come on Smackdown, but they easily could have pulled one of the two classic matches and dedicated that time to addressing the situation and putting over the new card. And how could we not hear from Drew McIntyre on the go-home show?
Join me for live coverage of WrestleMania on Saturday and Sunday night beginning with the one-hour Kickoff Shows. Dot Net Members will hear my audio review of Raw later tonight, and they will also hear audio reviews of WrestleMania co-hosted by Jake Barnett. Let me know what you thought of the final Raw before WrestleMania by assigning it a letter grade in our weekly post show poll available on the main page. Stay safe.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Mike McMahon of PWTorch.com discussing his background and podcast work, plus a long chat regarding Impact Wrestling coming out of Slammiversary, including a breakdown of the notable additions to the roster, and more...