WWE Raw results from March 11 as the show aired from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Shelton Benjamin, the poor man’s Brock Lesnar?
(Seth Rollins vs. Shelton Benjamin)
The show began with The Shield’s farewell address. All three Shield members were out in the ring and Roman Reigns hyped up Seth Rollins for his match against Lesnar at WrestleMania and then left the ring with Dean Ambrose.
Rollins then acknowledged how the Shield burnt it down at Fastlane but got interrupted by Paul Heyman. A bit of verbal back and forth took place between the two. Heyman had Rollins looking at the screen with the ruse of a video package that allowed Shelton Benjamin to attack him.
The two then had a match and it was mostly about Shelton Benjamin using the move set of Brock Lesnar. This included multiple suplexes and clotheslines. Rollins gave a good account of himself. Benjamin tried to F5 Rollins towards the end but Rollins avoided it and hit the stomp for the win.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Our take from it: It was great to see Shelton Benjamin in action after so long. However, have him do basically what was a cheap imitation of Lesnar was bad on two fronts.
Benjamin is much better than that and it drove home the fact that a stand in was needed to hype up a Lesnar fight. When will WWE learn that they need a full time wrestler holding the belt? The nostalgic speech at the start with Roman was great though and it seems like Reigns and Ambrose won’t be meddling in the championship match which is a good thing.
The dream doesn’t last long
(Intercontinental Championship Match: Finn Bálor (c) vs. Bobby Lashley)
Bobby Lashley began by attacking Finn Bálor in the corner. Bálor escaped with the help of a dropkick. A series of reversals and counters followed from both men. Towards the end, Bálor seemed to gain the upper hand as he managed to counter a Sunset Flip into a dropkick followed by a Double Stomp.
Bálor almost had the match won when he went up top but Lio Rush Distracted him by ringing the timekeeper’s bell and Bálor ended up eating a spear while attempting a springboard and was pinned by Lashley.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Bobby Lashley
Our take from it: Clearly, this was done as the original feud lacked enough sting. Roman Reigns’ return might have also played its part in all of this. It is also one of those situations where it is hard to judge if this was the right call or not. Only time will tell.
This feud has gotten so monotonous and the title has changed hands far too often for anything to feel significant. Lio Rush going against either Bálor or Lashley seems to be the more entertaining option now, that is how much this feud is floundering.
Rousey tries hard to be a b**ch
Rousey Rousey tried all the heel tropes including berating the crowd and the women’s division. She outlined her plan of humiliating and embarrassing Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania.
Dana Brooke then came out and fought to preserve the respect of the women’s division and got tossed around and beaten up by Rousey. Rousey achieved the holy trifecta by slapping a referee who tried to stop her from putting Brooke in an Armbar.
Our take from it: The age old dynamic of a heel vs. face in pro wrestling matches is dependent more on the heel playing a convincing villain. That is why, guys like Roddy Piper, Ric Flair and even Triple H are considered greats. Sadly, Rousey does not belong in that group.
Followers of UFC will know that Rousey has a history of failing miserably when she tries to be the bad guy and she seems to have brought that trend over to WWE.
This entire segment came of as fake and unbelievable and this further destroys the credibility of the match that once had the pedigree to headline WrestleMania.
More tag team mayhem
(Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable)
Bobby Roode started with a Spine Buster on Aleister Black. Roode and Chad Gable then took turns to beat up Black. Ricochet managed to get the hot tag. Ricochet momentarily managed to gain control but Roode and Gable again worked in tandem to keep him down.
Black tagged himself in after a near fall and connected with the Black Mass on Roode for the win. The Revival attacked Black and Ricochet after the match.
Winners: Aleister Black and Ricochet
Our take from it: This felt like more of what was on display last night. Somehow, these three tag teams have clicked and they are able to put up interesting matches even when they do not have a lots of time to play with. This should be a no-brainer feud for WrestleMania and something the tag division can rebuild itself around.
A slew of mildly entertaining segments
This began with Alexa Bliss announcing that she will be the host of this year’s WrestleMania.
Braun Strowman was shown to have received a car from Colin Jost with a funny reminder of how Strowman once lost a championship match because he destroyed Mr McMahon’s limo. Strowman went berserk and destroyed the car.
Lacey Evans did her walk out and wave thingy. Is she ever going to step in to the ring?
Nia Jax had a match against Natalya but ended in a DQ once Beth Phoenix got involved. The heels then got attacked by the Boss n’ Hug connection. Officials had to separate the two teams backstage.
Our take from it: Bliss hosting the event of the year cements the fact that her injury is graver than WWE is letting known which is sad. She wasn’t the best wrestler but she was a damn good heel and the women’s division sorely needs more of that.
Strowman destroying stuff is always great. If he somehow does a bit on SNL then it would be something worth watching. If, however, this sets up a weird match between Strowman and the Comics at WrestleMania, that would be the worst.
The triple threat angle WWE seems to be heading is better than having the Boss n’ Hug face off Jax and Tamina.
It’s going to be a no-holds barred match
Triple H power walked to the ring. Batista followed with a slew of security guards. Triple H mocked him for it and Batista replied by saying that he ain’t stupid. Triple H at first refused to give Batista what he wanted but then Batista goaded Triple H by telling him how it was Triple H who forced Batista to leave. In the end, Triple H not only accepted the match but made it a no-holds barred match.
Our take from it: There are some matches that do not need to be built up and this is one of them. These two names are just so big that they could have a fight over a bagel and it would still be entertaining.
Batista didn’t get what he wanted when he returned to WWE last time but this seems to be going well. The no-holds barred stipulation adds that extra bit of flair this match needed to be an automatic shoo in for WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle announces his last match
(Kurt Angle vs. Apollo Crews)
Kurt Angle announced that this year’s WrestleMania will be the last time he wrestles. Since Raw took place in his hometown last night, he wanted one last match there as well and it was against Apollo Crews.
Angle started with a Suplex followed by Crews hitting a dropkick and Suplex. Angle kicked out a couple of times before dropping Crews with an Angle Slam for the win.
Winner: Kurt Angle
Our take from it: This was perhaps the saddest moment in wrestling since Reigns made his historic announcement. Angle is well past his prime and it is a testament to his will and fighting spirit that he kept going this long. He is no longer the amazing wrestler he once was but he deserves a final hurrah after everything he has done for the business. The small matter of an opponent remains. Who could it be? John Cena would be ideal as it can make the circle complete since Cena debuted against Angle.
Roman Reigns gets attacked and Ambrose tries to avenge him
(Falls Count Anywhere: Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre)
The match was originally supposed to be between Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin but Drew McIntyre attacked Reigns before the match began with a couple of Claymore Kicks. Reigns had to be helped to the back by Rollins and a few referees.
Dean Ambrose then had Triple H book a Falls Count Anywhere match against Drew McIntyre. This was a classic ‘fight anywhere’ type of match that started on the ramp and spilled into the stands. There was even a shot to the groin area of McIntyre. Ambrose got low-blowed and poked in the eyes.
He was then sent through the LED board followed by a Claymore Kick with his head trapped in the railings for the win for McIntyre.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Our take from it: This was a thoroughly enjoyable match and points towards a two on two match between Reigns and Ambrose on one side and Corbin and McIntyre on the other. McIntyre has truly established himself as one of the top heels in the company and he genuinely looked scary. A great way to end an otherwise forgettable show.
Overall Raw Review: It was a lackluster show just like every other RAW after a major PPV. The direction Ambrose and Reigns are headed in seems promising and the best way to move forward without complicating Rollins’ bid for the Universal Title.
The Lashley-Balor feud is losing momentum quickly and the rest of the show barring Angle’s segment lacked that feistiness usually present before WrestleMania.
Moment of the Night: Strowman destroying a car with his bare hands
Overall Rating: 3.6/5