Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 28, 2019
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
-The show began with a close-up shot of the “WrestleMania sign” as Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the show.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Finally. My wrestling life is now complete. The WrestleMania sign is back.
-After Cole finished, “Burn It Down” blared through the arena and the 2019 men’s Royal Rumble winner walked out to a raucous response from the crowd. Cole and the announce put over his victory incredibly strong and they alluded to Seth’s upcoming choice regarding which champion he wants to face at WrestleMania. Once Seth got to the ring, he grabbed a microphone and paused as the audience chanted “Burn It Down” and cheered. Rollins then spoke and said that the reason he was able to outlast 3o other guys was because of his heart. He then said that “Seth Freaking Rollins” was going to the main event of WrestleMania. As he said this the audience cheered loudly and then chanted “you deserve it”
Heydorn’s Analysis: Love the fire from Rollins in this promo thus far. He seems confident and ready for WrestleMania, but also genuine in his happiness.
When the chanting calmed down, he joked said that he promised himself he wouldn’t point at the sign, but then did anyway as the audience roared in approval. Rollins then said that some kids want to win the Super Bowl or walk on the moon, but all he ever wanted to do was point at the sign and main event WrestleMania. From there, Rollins said that winning the Royal Rumble was not the end of the journey, but the beginning of the journey. Rollins then talked about his upcoming choice and said he could go to SmackDown and face Daniel Bryan, or he could head to suplex city and face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Rollins said that that decision would be a tough one as the audience chanted “take his belt.” Rollins then said that he would take some time to decide his exact path. From there, Triple H’s music blared to a nice pop.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Tremendous work from Seth Rollins. He put the build to WrestleMania on his shoulders and talked about what going to WrestleMania meant to him. In that explanation, he was emotional, but real. He also put over both champions in the process. Very well done all around.
Triple H walked out and greeted some fans before stepping into the ring opposite Rollins. On the mic, Triple H said that he was glad Rollins lived the dream and pointed at the WrestleMania sign. He said that he challenged Seth to bring back Seth Freaking Rollins and that he knows what the WrestleMania dream is. He said that he was proud that Seth stepped up and that the Royal Rumble was designed to test limits. Triple H said that last night the world found out who the “one” is and that is Seth Rollins. Triple H then said that Becky Lynch would make her choice tomorrow on SmackDown Live. He then said that Rollins needs to make his choice by the end of the night and that both Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar would be on Raw for his decision. From there, the audience loudly chanted “slay the beast” as both Rollins and Triple H stared them down. Rollins said that it would be a hard call and then was interuppted by Dean Ambrose.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Triple H can get a lot of flack and most of that flack is deserved. He was giving to Rollins here though. The verbiage around Rollins kicking ass and being the “one” put Rollins over big and elevated Rollins to a new level. It wasn’t self-serving and existed to make Rollins a bigger star. Obviously a smart move, but a surprising one give Triple H’s history too.
When Ambrose got to the ring, he said that the father son Triple H/Seth Rollins relationship made him sick. Ambrose said that Triple H never believed in Rollins in the first place. Ambrose berated Rollins and called him a kiss ass kisser before saying he hopes he beats Lesnar or Bryan at WrestleMania. From there, Ambrose said Rollins has never been able to beat him without help and then challenged him to a match. Without answering Triple H left the ring, but was stopped by Ambrose and asked “what’s the matter, do you have to ask your father in law first?” In response, Triple H demanded a referee come out to the ring as the show went to break. (c)
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. DEAN AMBROSE
Out of the commercial break, the match was already underway. Rollins drove Ambrose into the barricade with a baseball slide and then chopped him around the ringside area before laying into him with strikes. From there, Ambrose countered and flipped Rollins into the audience, but Rollins responded by jumping off of the guardrail and nailing Ambrose with a flying clothesline. Eventually, Rollins attempted a high risk move back into the ring, but Ambrose countered to shift the tide of the match. He crushed Rollins with kicks in the corner as the audience booed, but was then popped in the face with a Rollins punch. After, Rollins attempted the Stomp, but Ambrose rolled out of the ring to counter. Rollins followed, but Ambrose caught him and slammed his shoulder into the metal ring post. Eventually, the action spilled back into the ring and Ambrose nailed Rollins with a front face breaker. The show then went to break. (c)
Out of the break, Ambrose caught Rollins with a right hand on the top rope. He then climbed to the top rope with Rollins, but was knocked off due to a Rollins headbutt. From there, Rollins jumped off and hit Ambrose with a flying cross body. Rollins then made a cover, but Ambrose kicked out at two. Out of the pin, both men exchanged chops in the center of the ring with Rollins getting the upperhand after a Sling Blade. Rollins then connected with a duo of suicide dives. Rollins then attempted the Falcon Arrow, but Ambrose countered. Instead, Rollins connected with a step up enziguri before hitting Ambrose with a third suicide dive. In the end, Rollins countered Dirty Deeds and nailed Ambrose with the Ripcord Knee and Buckle Bomb. From there, Rollins cued up the Stomp and nailed it before making the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rollins via pinfall
-After the match, Ambrose angrily paced around the ring as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: A perfect match for Rollins to have coming off his Royal Rumble win. He looked great with an opponent he has tremendous chemistry with and got a big win over a top rival. It appears as if WWE is all in on Rollins based on the first 35 minutes of this show. No hedging on their part at all.
Out of the break, Ambrose was still in the ring, sitting down on a chair. He had a microphone and was about to speak, but was then interuppted by Nia Jax and Tamina. They walked down to the ring and as they did, the announce team recapped Jax’s historic night at the Royal Rumble. Once Jax and Tamina got to the ring, Jax got into the face of Ambrose and confronted him as Tamina looked on. As Ambrose got a bit distracted by Tamina, Jax hit him from behind and knocked him out of the ring. Obviously, Ambrose was angered and tried to get back in the ring, but was stopped by officials. As this happened, the audience chanted “let them fight,” but Ambrose walked away.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I like that WWE is trying to present its female stars in the same way they do the male stars. They need to do that with their top stars though. Jax is getting this showcase because of how her size relates to the male stars she’s facing, She doesn’t have the same star power as Dean Ambrose or Randy Orton, but she’s overshadowing them with these encounters. If a top female star was doing this, count me in. Jax is stretching it and its bringing the effectiveness of this idea down a notch.
From there, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James walked out as the opponents of Jax and Tamina. As they did, a recorded promo aired in which James and Bliss talked about how badly they wanted the women’s tag team titles.
(2) ALEXA BLISS & MICKIE JAMES vs. NIA JAX & TAMINA – Women’s Tag Team Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Once Bliss and James got to the ring, the bell rang and the match began. To start the action was back and forth until Jax knocked Bliss and James out of the ring. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
Out of the commercial break, Jax and Tamina were still very much in control of the match. Jax crushed Bliss with a running hip attack and then pinned Bliss in the corner with her hip before slamming her into the mat. From there, Jax locked in a chin-lock on Bliss before tagging Tamina into the match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Hard to tell who exactly is the babyface and who is the heel in this match thus far.
Finally, Bliss made the tag to James. James owned the match from there and hit Tamina with a flying meteora before attempting a pin. Tamina kicked out at two and then tagged Jax back into the match. James used her quickness to avoid Jax, but eventually was caught. In the end, Jax hit a Samoan Drop on both Bliss and James before covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Jax and Tamina via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Short, but effective. The match did a good job of positioning Jax and Tamina as the dominant, monster tag team in the Elimination Chamber.
-After the match, Kurt Angle was interviewed backstage. He said that being Raw GM was the best job of his career. He said he’d still have it if it wasn’t for Corbin and that he wanted revenge. From there, Angle commented on his match with Drew McIntyre and said it took a while for him to get over it. Angle then said his focus was on Corbin though. When the interview ended, Baron Corbin walked to the ring as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Kurt Angle’s music hit. The audience chanted “you suck” at Angle and popped loudly for his appearance. Once he got to the ring, Baron Corbin got on the microphone and called Kurt one of the greatest of all time.
Corbin said that he knows Angle believes he has one good run left in him. From there, Corbin said he would humiliate Angle and that the fans faith wouldn’t be able to help him. As he said this, Angle clocked Corbin in the face and the match began.
(3) KURT ANGLE vs. BARON CORBIN
After Angle’s quick punch, Corbin took control of the match. He hit Angle with a series of strikes that grounded Angle and then covered for a two count. Angle then turned the tides and connected with a series of German suplexes. Angle then covered and got a two count of his own. As this action happened, the announce team debated the merits of Corbin as General Manager in comparison to Kurt Angle.
Heydorn’s Analysis: No need for the announcers to bring up the bad Raw ratings “under” Corbin’s leadership. As much as WWE wants it to be a storyline, it isn’t. Silly to bring it up and make people question wanting to watch.
As they did, Angle hit Corbin with an Angle Slam and covered, but Corbin kicked out. Out of the pin attempt, Angle locked in his Ankle Lock submission on Corbin, but Corbin powered out and nailed Angle with Deep Six. Corbin then made the pin for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Corbin via pinfall
-After the match, Corbin hit the End Of Days on Angle and told the audience that that was on them. He then walked off as Angle laid in the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Boy, Kurt Angle appearances are getting watered down by the second. That’s putting it nicely too. The positive view of this is that WWE is hearing the heat Baron Corbin gets and wants to run with it at some point. Giving him these victories is adding to his credibility in being a star heel.
-Finn Balor was shown walking backstage as the show went to break. (c)
-After the commercial break, the announce team cued up highlights from Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble.
-When the video ended, Finn Balor walked out to a big response from the crowd. Balor sold the punishment from his match in lieu of doing his typical entrance.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A great artistic call by Balor (or someone else). It’s consistent with the story and will enhance whatever he’s about to say on the mic. Great stuff.
In the ring, Balor said that last night he went toe to toe with Brock Lesnar. He said that he didn’t want to make excuses and that Lesnar beat him and then beat him up. From there, Balor said that he’s never felt the speed and power that Brock Lesnar brought to the table. Balor then said that he wouldn’t stand out there with his head hung low, but held high. He said that Brock Lesnar beat him, but he made Brock Lesnar believe. The audience cheered loudly, but the cheers turned to boos as Bobby Lashley made his way out. When Lashley made it to the ring, Lio Rush called Finn Balor a twerp. He then said that even though Balor almost beat Brock Lesnar, he wouldn’t stand a chance against Bobby Lashley. In response, Balor said that he lasted longer with Lesnar than Lashley did in the Royal Rumble. From there, Lashley decimated Balor with a vicious beating. When the beating ended, Lashley held his belt in the air as the audience booed loudly.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked. Puts loads of heat on Lashley, gives Balor some added sympathy, and sets both on a path to face each other for the Intercontinental Championship.
-As Lashley walked off, the announce team recapped the events from a few months ago in which Braun Strowman was injured by Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
-After commercials, the show returned with the Revival in the ring. From there, Zack Ryder’s music hit and Ryder hit the ring with Curt Hawkins.
(4) ZACK RYDER & CURT HAWKINS vs. THE REVIVAL
The action was fast and furious out of the gate with Ryder owning most of the momentum. Quickly, the Revival took over and deployed some classic tag team tactics. The hot tag went to Curt Hawkins who fired up nicely and got some believable offense in on both Dash and Dawson. Out of nowhere, Dash and Dawson hit Hawkins with the Shatter Machine and then covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Revival via pinfall
-After the match, Daniel Bryan was shown walking backstage with Erick Rowan. Bryan was interviewed and said that he would have beaten AJ Styles last night at the Royal Rumble no matter what. Bryan then said if Rollins picks him for WrestleMania, he would end all of Seth’s WrestleMania hopes tonight.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Short, but well timed to keep an audience interested in Rollins picking his opponent later in the night.
-A sponsorship promo aired for UNICEF Kid Power.
-Elias strummed his guitar in the ring as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Elias was introduced. He then strummed the guitar a bit and the audience cheered. From there, Elias did his usual Elias shtick and asked “Who Wants To Walk With Elias.” After, the audience cheered and chanted that phrase. Elias then said that he should get more love from the fans and that the fans were in the presence of greatness. As the audience gave him that love, he said it was too late. In response, the audience chanted “we’re not worthy” as Elias nodded along with them. He then said that he would no longer write songs for them, but for him only. He then tried to play a song, but was interuppted by Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett walked out and said that Elias shouldn’t worry about having a problem with the people because he has a problem with him. From there, Road Dogg walked out and confronted Elias as well. Road Dogg told Elias to play with himself on his own time as the audience cheered. Road Dogg and Jarrett then sang for the audience as they walked down to the ring. Elias then interupped the song and bashed Road Dogg with a guitar. He then turned his attention to Jarrett. In the end, Jarrett was about to hit Elias with a guitar, but Elias countered with a low blow. Elias then nailed Jarrett instead.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well that was … surreal? The Road Dogg appearance was a surprise as was the Elias heel turn. You couldn’t tell due to the positive reaction he got, but the words reset his gimmick to the heel side of the aisle.
-Nattie was confronted by Dana Brooke backstage. She said she was just as good as Ember Moon. Nattie said it was important for for them to try hard in their qualifier match. In response, Brooke said she was better than Moon and better than Nattie too. Both women walked off ahead of their match as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Mojo Rawley cut a backstage promo and said that it was all “your” fault. He called himself the greatest combination of size, speed, and intelligence but nobody knows about it because of “you.” It was then revealed that Rawley was talking to himself in a mirror.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked well. Unique in nature and well executed by Rawley. He’s always had a special charisma about him and maybe the 234th attempt to push him will work with this new, dark gimmick.
(5) NATALYA & DANA BROOKE vs. LIV MORGAN & SARAH LOGAN – Women’s Tag Team Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Nattie started the match off for her team, but was then quickly tagged out by Brooke. From there, Brooke and Logan went toe to toe until Brooke crushed Morgan with a clothesline on the outside of the ring. The action continued with Nattie eventually locking in the Sharpshooter on Morgan. From there, Logan tried to distract the referee and Brooke intervened to stop it by knocking Logan off the apron. Logan then pushed Brooke into Nattie which caused her to lose the Sharpshooter. From there, Logan rolled Nattie up for the win. (c)
WINNER: Morgan and Logan via pinfall
-Out of the break, Ronda Rousey hit the ring to a big reaction from the crowd.
When she got to the ring, Rousey addressed the audience who was now giving her a mixed reaction. Rousey paused as the audience chanted “Becky” and then smiled as they continued. From there, Rousey said that if you can’t dream big dreams, why dream. This caused the audience to boo even louder. Ronda then began telling a story about her 2018 as the audience booed louder. Rousey then addressed Sasha Banks and said that Banks gave her the fight of her life at the Royal Rumble. Rousey had to pause again as the audience chanted for Becky. Rousey then thanked Banks and lost her wording because of the audience. Ronda then pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said she knows Becky Lynch is watching. Ronda said she knows that she has a choice to make which made the audience boo even more. As Rousey paused and looked at the crowd, Bayley’s music hit. From there, Bayley walked out and said that even though she isn’t Becky Lynch, she’s out there looking for a fight. Bayley then challenged Rousey for the championship.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Wow. Not a shining moment for Ronda Rousey’s WWE tenure. For one thing, her popularity was instantly dwarfed by Becky Lynch. To make matters worse, Rousey being green left her without options or weapons to diffuse the hostile crowd. The end result was her sinking out there until Bayley made the save with her appearance. With nearly 70 days until WrestleMania, WWE has to coach Ronda in how to use that reaction to her advantage as the build to a match with Becky unfolds.
From there, Bayley walked down to the ring, and the match began after official ring intros.
(6) RONDA ROUSEY vs. BAYLEY – WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Out of the gate, Bayley targeted Ronda’s injured arm with her offensive attacks. Eventually, Ronda locked in her armbar within the ring ropes, but the referee forced a break soon after. From there, Bayley hung up Rousey on the ropes and covered, but Ronda kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Rousey tweaked her knee and Bayley worked over that knee as the show went to commercial break. (c)
Out of the break, Bayley was still firmly in control of the match and was still working over Ronda’s leg. The beating continued until Ronda nailed Bayley with a desperate shoulder tackle. From there, Rousey hit Bayley with a clothesline and followed that with a hip toss takedown. Out of that, Rousey punched Bayley in the corner and then took her to the mat before covering for a two count. For all of Ronda’s offense, the audience booed loudly.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This crowd has officially turned on Ronda Rousey. The minute she starts any offense, they react negatively. Rousey was bound to face this as she went head to head with Lynch. The unfortunate part is that even within the match environment, she isn’t responding in a way that shows she’s ready for it.
Eventually, Bayley got the momentum back and locked in a leg submission on Rousey. Rousey writhed in pain, but then escaped the hold by rolling out of the ring. On the outside, Bayley slammed Rousey into the guardrail with a suplex as the show went to break again.
After commercials, the action continued, and Bayley was still in control. Bayley dropkicked Rousey on the outside of the ring and then rolled Rousey back into the ring for a cover. Rousey kicked out at two and in response Bayley climbed to the top rope for an elbow drop. After connecting with the move, Bayley locked in a crossface submission,b but Ronda reached the ropes to force a break. From there, Bayley lifted Rousey to the top rope for a move, but Bayley knocked her off. In response, Rousey climbed the ropes again and hit Bayley with a judo move off the top rope. With Bayley now on the mat, Ronda locked in her armbar for the submission victory.
WINNER: Rousey via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a bad match, but the story is the crowd reaction to Ronda Rousey. Will be an interesting story to follow as WrestleMania looms.
-After the match, Rousey shook Bayley’s hand and lifted her to her feet. From there, both women shook hands again. Then, Becky Lynch’s music hit. Becky received a massive pop from the audience and then limped to the ring while selling her ankle injury.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Huge, huge pop for Becky Lynch.
When Becky got to the ring, she did her pose, and then grabbed a microphone. From there, Becky said that the man was back on Raw. Becky then said that she told Ronda that she’d find a way back to her. She then said for about a year she’s been hearing about the baddest woman on the planet. She said that the last time she came on Raw, she dropped Ronda in the middle of the ring. Lynch then said that even since that moment, Ronda has never came looking for her. Lynch said that she did coming looking for Ronda to prove that she wasn’t the baddest woman on the planet. Lynch then said that she doesn’t need time to think like Seth Rollins and that she chooses Ronda for WrestleMania. To finish, Becky Lynch said that at WrestleMania she would break Ronda’s mystique, kick her ass, and take her title.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Now that’s a promo, folks. In no surprise to anyone that has watched Lynch in the last six months, that mic work was smart, crisp, passionate, and confident. Lynch looked like she was ten feet tall in that ring and owned it like any top star would. Fantastic.
In response, Ronda picked up a microphone as the audience booed. She said she wanted the entire world to hear what she had to say. Ronda asked Becky how her leg was and said that she wants the best version of Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. The audience booed loudly as Ronda talked. From there, Ronda ran down just how much better she was than Lynch. She said that any ring she enters is hers, she owns the ground she walks on, and that she’d own Becky Lynch at WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ronda’s portion was choppy, but her final line was incredibly impactful. After hearing the response to those two women in the ring opposite one another, I’m not sure how (or why) WWE would want to involve Charlotte Flair. Period.
-Seth Rollins was shown backstage and was confronted by Braun Strowman. Strowman told Rollins that he earned the Royal Rumble victory last night. He then told Rollins to make the right choice and win at WrestleMania. The show then went to break. (c)
(7) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. DREW MCINTYRE
After their entrances, both men started off with massive strikes to begin the match. Strowman got the upperhand first with a devastating shoulder tackle. That caused McIntyre to roll out of the ring. Strowman followed and went for another shoulder tackle, but McIntyre dropkicked him in his knees and sent him flying into the ring barrier. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
Out of the break, McIntyre decimated Strowman’s leg to knock him off his feet. Eventually, Strowman countered the McIntyre attack and tried to nail McIntyre with the steel steps. As Strowman was about to hit Drew, Corbin attacked Strowman from behind.
WINNER: No contest
-After the match, Corbin was hit in the back by a steel chair shot from Corbin. Corbin went for another shot, but Strowman punched the steel chair to counter. From there, the audience chanted “get these hands” as Strowman hit running shoulder tackles on both Corbin and McIntyre. Eventually, Corbin and McIntyre got the upperhand on Strowman and hit him with a double choke slam on the steel steps. With Strowman down, Corbin and McIntyre mocked Strowman’s roar as the audience booed.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Surprised Strowman got one put over on him again. Especially after losing the Royal Rumble last night. McIntyre looked strong in the beat down and Baron Corbin did as well. Strowman rarely shows weakness so the end game is tough to call at this point.
-When the segment ended, Daniel Bryan was shown talking with Erick Rowan backstage. Paul Heyman was then showed walking into Brock Lesnar’s locker room as the show went to commercial break. (c)
-After the break, the ring announcer welcomed Seth Rollins to the ring, but Brock Lesnar walked out instead. He was accompanied by Paul Heyman and the announce team discussed his win against Finn Balor as he did his entrance. When they got into the ring, Paul Heyman did his standard intro. Heyman then proceeded to say that Seth’s choice really is the easiest of his life. He said that Seth’s only option at WrestleMania is to challenge Daniel Bryan. The audience booed loudly. From there, Heyman put over a Bryan/Rollins match and said that the last thing Seth Rollins wants to do is get into a fight with Brock Lesnar. Heyman proceeded to say that it takes a special kind of being to withstand a Brock Lesnar beating. As Heyman continued, Rollins interuppted and made a b-line for Lesnar in the ring. When Rollins got inside of it, he went face to face with Lesnar and stared him down. As Lesnar laughed, Rollins punched him in the face and proceeded to kick Brock in his injured stomach. After, Rollins went for the Stomp, but Lesnar countered it into an F-5. As the audience booed, Lesnar delivered a second, third, and fourth F-5. The fifth F-5 was delivered on top of the Universal Championship. From there, Rollins tried to use the ropes to get to his feet while he yelled “is that all you got” at Brock. In response, Lesnar hit Rollins with a sixth F-5 as the show faded to black.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Excellent. The segment positioned Lesnar as a monster that Seth simply can’t overcome. Now, we get to see Rollins attempt to do just that. Lesnar has heat. Rollins has plenty of sympathy and the fans on his side. The pieces are set, now the game between both can begin.