Guardians of the Independent Scene

Well we are firmly on the road to Wrestlemania and we can fully expect some storylines to really take shape in the coming weeks. We are also coming off a pretty good pay-per-view in Fastlane, so it seems like WWE may be hitting their stride at the right time. With all that in mind, let us see what Raw had for us this week.


The Shield In-Ring

I will always have chills when I hear the opening lines to the theme for the Shield and this was their final promo as one united force. This was a bit shorter than I expected but was still effective nonetheless. I don’t know if it is me, but Roman Reigns has felt a lot smoother on the mic now and his words don’t feel forced like they used to. Roman thanked his brother for getting back together one last time and they all embraced each other before Roman and Dean made their way to the back.

Seth then took to the mic and began to speak on his upcoming match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania but Paul Heyman then came out before Seth could get one word out about the match. Seth and Heyman had a very good back and forth here and Seth more than held his own his Heyman. They traded barbs, Heyman played a video recapping Lesnar’s run in WWE and the video part was what brought this down a bit. It looked like we would get a clean end to this, but Shelton Benjamin came out from nowhere and attacked Seth with multiple suplexes. This would lead to a match after the commercial break.


Seth Rollins vs Shelton Benjamin

If it wasn’t for UpUpDownDown, I would not have known that Shelton is still on the roster because they don’t use him at all. The match was alright, and this was all to showcase that Seth could take on someone that has a collegiate wrestling background. I love that Heyman took a phone call from Lesnar during the match and that he confirmed that Lesnar would appear in Chicago next week. Overall this match was okay and did its job in building up Seth for Lesnar.


Finn Balor vs Bobby Lashley

I remember that they said champions wouldn’t get an automatic rematch, but it feels like an automatic rematch for Lashley here. It was weird seeing Lashley’s face randomly on the tron during Finn’s entrance and that really should be a meme. Onto the match and it was pretty fun, and I would say that these two have good chemistry with one another. Lashley has been miles better since he dropped the posing and focused on being a dominant force. Finn has been booked better in recent months and I was hoping he would retain his Intercontinental Championship here but that would not be the case. It looked like Finn was going to pick up the win, but Lio Rush came from the crowd to ring the bell and distract Finn enough for Lashley to hit him with a spear to become a two-time Intercontinental Champion. I have a feeling we aren’t done with these two and we will get a match at Wrestlemania.


Baron Corbin Backstage

Baron Corbin has truly come into his own as a heel and I love how he will dismiss things even if the facts are right in front of him. I love how he clarified that he wanted Roman to beat cancer but not to come back to the ring. I love how cocky he was in saying he didn’t feel like Roman was 100% back in ring shape and that he felt like he was going to win.


Ronda Rousey In-Ring

I love Ronda Rousey as a heel, but some things still haven’t gotten me fully invested. I understand her logic in wanting to beat both Becky and Charlotte, but she did decrease her odds to retain at Wrestlemania. She also talks about pro wrestling being fake, but she walks around with Piper’s jacket and her logo in his style. I think they should tweak those few things and she could fully embrace the role better. I know Ronda has come out and said that she speaks fast because she has a speech impediment, but I do enjoy that she took her time here and didn’t let that happen this time for the most part. She does get a bit too wordy with her promos and I think she needs to keep things simple rather than complicated. I was surprised that Dana Brooke was the one to stand up to Ronda and of course Ronda made short work of her. Dana has been pleading to get a shot to shine and I really think if she doesn’t get it in WWE, she should maybe think about going elsewhere to show what she is capable of.


Aleister Black & Ricochet vs Olympic Glory

I knew this could be a fun match given the participants and it was that. Four tremendous workers and they put in work here for this tag match. Ricochet and Black have been treated like stars since coming up to the main roster and big things could be on the horizon for them. Roode and Gable really should turn heel because they have become a bit stale as a face team and this could add a new wrinkle to them. Ricochet and Black picked up the win here and continue their momentum heading into a possible Wrestlemania match. The Revival would attack them at the top of the ramp and I expected Roode and Gable to attack them after the Revival retreated to the back. That felt like a missed opportunity because the segment just ended on a flat note.


A Moment of Bliss

I had a feeling that Alexa was going to announced that she would be the host of Wrestlemania this year and that feeling ended up being true. I don’t know how much this has to do with her maybe not being 100% for in-ring activity or that they truly have nothing for her to do besides that. It very much feels like what happened with the New Day last year and I am sure she will do a good job in this role. Other than me predicting that should would be the host, there wasn’t much to this other than the fact she wasn’t interrupted for once. Also good on Renee for calling out Corey for being creepy because it was about time somebody did.


Braun Strowman Backstage

Last year Braun Strowman was one of the hottest acts in the company and now he is being relegated to working with this Saturday Night Live angle. I honestly am not interested at all in this and this just all feels like a reason for Strowman to appear on the SNL before Wrestlemania because of where it is taking place. It was also a waste of a perfectly good Camaro but at least he didn’t flip it.


Elias In-Ring

It is always tricky for a heel to get heat in their hometown and Elias did that masterfully here. He spoke about how the only way to make it is to leave Pittsburgh and how he told that to former Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown. He began to sing his song and was interrupted by No Way Jose. It looked like the conga line would just stroll on by, but Elias has had enough with the interruptions and attacked Jose.


Lacey Evans Catwalk

This whole thing has just grown on me with each passing week and I just love how Lacey owns it more and more with each passing week. I love that should put her fan up to Renee’s face because she didn’t want to look at her. Nia Jax and Tamina then came out and we had a bit of a stare down between them as Nia made her way down for her match.


Nia Jax vs Natalya

Oh, how refreshing it is to see Natalya face somebody that isn’t a member of the Riott Squad. This match was taking place because of what happened at Fastlane and Natalya would be accompanied by Beth Phoenix. Beth looks to be in really good shape and she looks like she is ready for one more match. This was supposed to be a match, but Beth would come in and attack Nia for reasons and the match was thrown out. Sasha and Bayley then got in on the action by attacking Tamina and Nia at Gorilla and the two teams had to be separated. Feels like we may be getting a multi-team match at Wrestlemania for the titles.


Triple H and Batista Face to Face

This has to be one of the worst face to face encounters I have ever seen. Most of this sounded like a parent arguing with their child because the child isn’t getting what they want. This was all done to make their match at Wrestlemania official and it will be a no holds barred match. Also, it looks like it may be a retirement match of sorts as well. I don’t know because this was just not very good at all. The only reason this doesn’t get a zero is because Triple H had a funny line that became the title for this week’s Statement.


Kurt Angle In-Ring

Kurt Angle came out in his hometown to announce what his plans are for his wrestling future. He came out and said he will have his final match at Wrestlemania and it is hard to figure out who it may be. I think John Cena would make a nice opponent to have things come full circle but who knows at this point. Angle then had a match with Apollo Crews to my surprise and I have to feel that Angle asked to face Crews. Angle would go over in his match and shared a nice moment with Apollo after. I am happy that Kurt is finally going to retire even though it is a few years late.


Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin

This was supposed to be Reigns vs Corbin, but Drew McIntyre had something else to say about that. McIntyre came from out of nowhere to attack Reigns and he gave him a one-sided beating. McIntyre would hit Roman with two Claymores on the outside and Roman had to be helped to the back. Seth came out to check on Roman and to make sure he made his way to the back. McIntyre is looking like someone that is the top heel on Raw and I don’t see anybody who can compare with him. Maybe Ronda Rousey but I still would have to give the nod to Drew.


Roman, Seth and Dean Backstage

I love the concern Dean and Seth had for Roman as they helped him to the trainer’s room. I then loved how Dean went right up to Triple H with intensity to demand a match with McIntyre in a No DQ, Falls Count Anywhere match. Triple H let out a smile and granted him the match that would serve as the main event for the night.


Dean Ambrose vs Drew McIntyre

If there is one thing we know about Ambrose, it is that he will put his body out there for a No DQ match and he did so again here. There were parts of this match where you could hear and sense from Renee that she was taken aback by the attacks on Dean and that added to this match. Drew has a viciousness in him and this was a perfect way for it to come out. This match went all over the place and it was darn good as well. Dean showing reckless abandon because he was filled with emotion over seeing Roman get beatdown was well played by Dean here. It looked like Dean may get the upper hand at the announce table, but McIntyre stabbed Dean’s face with a pencil. Renee sold her shock and fear for his husband here very well and I had thought for a second that she would get involved somehow to call off McIntyre from hurting Dean more. McIntyre would pick up the win by hitting a Claymore on Dean with his head stuck in a railing on the stage in a brutal looking spot. McIntyre would then hit Dean with another Claymore after the match when Dean wouldn’t stay down as Raw came to a close.


Final Statement

This Raw was a bit all over the place but was a good show overall. When it hit, it definitely did but when it missed, boy did it miss. The highlights were definitely Ronda Rousey and the Shield/Drew McIntyre segments. I also have to say that Renee was a star at the end and she added that extra oomph to Drew beatdown of Dean. The tag match and Intercontinental title match were other highlights as well.  The low points had to be the Strowman segment and the Batista/Triple H face to face. That face to face did nothing for me and I hope they can find some way to get my interest in that match. So good show overall that helped establish McIntyre and Rousey as the top heels on Raw. Make sure to come by next week for another Sovereign Statement.