There’s a ton on tap tonight in Chi-Town as WWE roll into town for this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw. With a packed menu offered up by the Official Preview, let’s dive into looking at what fans can expect from this evening’s show.
Arguably the biggest talking point in wrestling is Ronda Rousey. The Rowdy One has fans, and wrestling media, divided. Some are outraged at her disrespect for the business, believing her ‘shoots’ to be just that. Others love the realism the angle is taking on, stealing from various aspects of real life to make the ‘work’ believable. Whichever side of the discussion you fall on, you can’t argue the attention she’s garnered. And the triple-threat Raw women’s title match was already the most anticipated for Mania! Dana Brooke will once again offer herself up for human sacrifice to Rousey tonight. If we’re to expect to see anything different from last week’s mauling, it would be interference from Charlotte Flair and/or Becky Lynch. Expect to see Rousey dishing out some stiff-looking shots, and expect to hear some “kayfabe-breaking” comments too. This trio is red-hot, and they’re not going to let the thermostat drop now.
The Beast is Back
WWE is pushing Universal Champion Brock Lesnar’s appearance hard. We haven’t seen Lesnar live on the show since the end of January, when he decimated WrestleMania challenger Seth Rollins with six F5s. With just three shows before Mania, this match needs a serious injection of buzz. Paul Heyman did his usual excellent oratory work last week, but crowds grow weary of this formula. It can’t be Heyman and Rollins going back and forth on the mic every week. Having said that, I don’t think people are interested in watching Lesnar toss Rollins around like a rag doll again. It will hopefully be interesting to see what they do tonight. Fingers crossed it isn’t just another F5 practice spot.
Rollins will take on Drew McIntyre tonight, seeking revenge for McIntyre beating up the other two Shield members last Monday. This match could set up Lesnar’s appearance, but don’t expect that. Do expect this match to feature run-ins from Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose and perhaps Reigns. McIntyre and Corbin seem destined for a tag-team spot together at Mania, it’s just a matter of picking opponents.
Kurt Angle will appear to announce his opponent for his WrestleMania retirement match. There are various rumours floating around the ‘Net, but the most likely choice would appear to be John Cena. The Olympic Gold medalist was the first opponent for Cena in a WWE ring, so there’s some ‘Circle of Life’ story telling opportunity there. I’ve seen speculation on The Rock, but I think there’s a better chance of Angle calling out Hulk Hogan or Sting – and I don’t think either of those are too likely. Best possible pick, however unlikely? Stone Cold Steve Austin. Worst possible pick? Baron Corbin.
Finn Balor, Man of Mystery
Last Monday, Finn Balor dropped the hot-potato that is the Intercontinental Championship back to Bobby Lashley. This prompted many fans to wonder why they’d put the belt on him in the first place. This evening sees a match for Lashley and buddy Lio Rush against Balor and a surprise partner. Since Braun Strowman isn’t listed anywhere on the Official Preview, I expect the partner will be the Monster Among Men. This could segue into Lashley being challenged by Strowman later. There’s no heat behind Lashley and Balor’s feud, and it’s a match they’ve done too often to include at Mania. There are rumours the IC title match at Mania will be a multi-man one, so we could see those seeds planted. If Lashley has cause to beat up Rush, and it turns out Balor and his partner don’t get along, maybe these four clash at WrestleMania?
Old Men Yell At Clouds
We’ve recently witnessed one of the best segments in Raw memory, and one of the worst, both revolving around the same pairing. I am, of course, referring to Triple H and Batista. The Ric Flair Birthday angle was well-executed and set the scene for an explosive confrontation. The Give Me What I Want angle was absolutely awful. One man yell, “Give me what I want!” at another, who shouts back, “No, I’m not gonna give you what you want,” for five minutes. Then, after five minutes, ask what it is the yelling man wants, and agree to give it to him. Some really pointless television. On top of that, Triple H came across as a man not phased by the task at hand. He should be petrified of The Animal, a man he cannot beat, Hell-bent on putting The Game to pasture. Expect some sort of video package tonight to hype up this Mania bout.
Sasha Banks and Bayley look more likely to find their WrestleMania opponents for the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles from SmackDown. As for the other ladies of Raw, expect Nia Jax and Tamina to be paired off with Natalya and a returning Beth Phoenix. There isn’t a lot of time for the girls not mentioned from Raw to claim a spot at Mania. Mickie James and a few others might be essentially on the sidelines until April now.
Expect No Way Jose to spoil another Elias performance tonight (poor, poor Elias, so much hope, so much potential). And expect to see some tag team action so The Revival have a team or two to defend against on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
They’ve done a decent job at jam-packing things again this week, and so close to WrestleMania, we know everyone at WWE is upping their game. We don’t have reason to expect a ton of surprises tonight, but we should expect to see a pretty good show with lots of hype and build for Mania. On a scale of one to five, with five being, “I got a ‘Break Kayfabe’ T-Shirt!” and one being, “Who Gave Me a Santino Marella Action Figure?”, expect tonight’s Raw to rate a three.