SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 25, 2019
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
-The show began with a recap video that detailed the cancer announcement from Roman Reigns in October of 2018.
-When the video ended, Roman Reigns hit the ring to a massive pop from the Atlanta audience. Reigns walked out, looked great, and clearly was emotional before he walked down the ramp and into the ring. As he did, he slapped the hands of fans who were all excited to see him. From there, a loud “Roman” chant broke out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: An incredible reaction for Reigns and deservedly so. It looked like the reaction overcame him a little bit and he left his guard down to let it. Within that moment, Reigns let the people in. Big time stuff.
As the “Roman” chant continued, Reigns circled the ring and continued to slap the hands of fans before he got to his family and hugged each one of them. Then, with the audience still loudly cheering, Reigns walked into the ring and did his usual pose on the ropes. Again, the audience roared as he executed it. Then, Reigns got into the ring and his music stopped. When it did, the audience chanted “Roman” again as Reigns looked on in appreciation. The audience then chanted “welcome back” before picking up a microphone. With it, he addressed the cheering crowd and said told them “thank you.” In response, the audience chanted “you are welcome.” From there, Reigns said that he missed the crowd and that there wasn’t a job on the planet like one in the WWE. He then said that there wasn’t another fan base like “you guys.” After he said that, the audience chanted “this is your yard.” Reigns then spoke again and said that he used to say it was his yard, but that its “our” yard now. Reigns then said he was a man of faith and that he believes god has favored him and looked out for him. That said, he said he was scared ahead of his October cancer announcement and was unsure whether or not he should share the news with the world. He said he was scared to tell everyone because he didn’t know how everyone would react. He then said that by the time he got home, the outreach was incredible. He said that the amount of thoughts and prayers sent his way was overwhelming before thanking the audience again. Reigns said it wasn’t just WWE fans, but everyone surrounded him with love and support. From there, Reigns said that the strength people gave him made him feel like he could do anything.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Some heartfelt words from Reigns and delivered in a genuine way. Really well done on his part.
Reigns then paused again before saying that the strength people gave him gave him another purpose too. He said that he would use the WWE platform to raise awareness and support those in need like he was. Reigns then asked the audience if they wanted an update and they obviously cheered loudly. Reigns then said when he made his announcement he said he would swing for the fences. Reigns said “we” did better than that and hit a home run. He then revealed that he was in remission and the audience erupted in cheers.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Tremendous news. You can debate whether or not WWE should have used this announcement for a rating, but as Jake Barnett said, there is no debating the fact that this is the best announcement possible. Congrats to Reigns and his family.
As they cheered, Reigns yelled “the big dog is back.” To close, Reigns thanked the fans again and said that he loved them. At that point, Michael Cole chimed in on commentary and welcomed Reigns back. They then promoted the rest of the show including Ric Flair’s birthday celebration.
-After the announcer plugs, Seth Rollins walked out and hugged Reigns as he walked back up the ramp. The two men then stood at the top of the ramp together as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really well done. No angles or setups, just Reigns addressing his situation and his fans. Exactly what is should have been. As for WWE using this as a ratings ploy, he could have delivered this exact speech even if the world new he was in remission going in. A poor choice on WWE’s part. That said, still a home run segment.
-Out of the break, a hype video aired for Ricochet. Then, with Ricochet already in the ring, Dash and Dawson attacked both him and Aleister Black from behind. After a quick battle, Black and Ricochet ran them off as another commercial break hit again. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: No full entrance for Aleister Black?
(1) THE REVIVAL vs. ALEISTER BLACK & RICOCHET
Out of the break, the Revival had Black and Ricochet under control again with Wilder holding Ricochet in a sleeper hold. Ricochet then quickly made the tag to Black who hit the ring with fire and cleared the ring. Black then battled both members of the Revival until Dawson nailed Black with a DDT to regain momentum. Dawson then made the cover, but Black kicked out. From there, Ricochet hit Dash with a moonsault off of the apron before Black hit Dawson with Black Mass for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNERS: Black and Ricochet via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well, the audience seemed very much into that. The television audience saw just about zero of it though due to commercials. I understand that WWE was strapped for time and wanted to give Roman all the time he needed. That said, they can’t define guys like Ricochet and Black down and skip key pieces of their acts to get the time back. The Black entrance is important for him. It sets the tone for who he is and nobody saw it. Again, I get the time crunch, but WWE has to be smarter on what they sacrifice. Black and Ricochet are infants on this show. Fans need to see them to grow attached to them.
-After the break, Charly Caruso interviewed Baron Corbin. As soon as Corbin came on screen, the audience booed. Caruso asked Corbin about his Roman Reigns comments and said that some of those words were taken out of context. Corbin then said that he hoped his path didn’t cross with Reigns for “Roman’s sake.”
-Shawn Michaels was shown backstage before Elias strummed his guitar in the ring. The show then went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Elias strummed the guitar, but was then interuppted immediatley by Lacey Evans. Evans walked down the ramp, but then turned her back again and walked to the back. From there, the lights dimmed again for Elias. As he was about to play, Dean Ambrose hit the ring and interuppted him once again. As Dean walked down the ramp, he said that all of the celebrating has made him relive the past. He said he felt good and when he feels good, he feels dangerous. From there, Ambrose challenged Drew McIntyre to a rematch in a no disqualification match. Ambrose then got in the ring and questioned why Elias was playing. Ambrose then said he was a fan of Elias and requested a handful of songs. He then addressed Dirty Deeds which prompted Elias to try and hit him with a guitar. Ambrose dodged it and hit Dirty Deeds anyway. With Elias laying in the ring, the Riott Squad walked out as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: See? That segment. If I’m looking to get time back, that’s the segment I cut. Not Aleister Black’s entrance. Good grief.
-When the commercial break ended, the Riott Squad was shown in the ring as Ricky Steamboat was shown on a split screen. After, Natalya walked out to a nice pop from the crowd. From there, Nattie waited on the ramp and Ronda Rousey walked out. As she did, the announce team recapped the events between her, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch at Elimination Chamber.
(3) RONDA ROUSEY & NATALYA vs. RIOTT SQUAD w/ Liv Morgan
Once Rousey got to the ring with Nattie, the bell rang, and the match began. Out of the gate, Logan took Nattie down to the mat and took full control of the match. Logan quickly tagged Ruby Riott into the ring, but Natalya got quick offense in her which allowed for a tag to Ronda. Ronda hit the ring with fire, but was immediatley neutralized by Ruby Riott. As this happened, the audience chanted “we want Becky.” Riott beat Rousey in corner, until Ronda finally battled out with a clothesline to Riott. She then rolled and tagged Nattie into the ring. Nattie hit the ring and clocked both Logan and Riott with moves. She then hit the ropes, but Liv Morgan tripped her up. This caused Ronda Rousey to walk over. Together with Natalya, they hit a doomsday device-esque move on Morgan. From there, Nattie was clocked with a dropkick from Logan as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rousey feels cold to me. She got a decent pop, but her tag into the match was met with a quiet reaction and then she immediatley sold for Ruby. Add in the Becky chants and not the best showing for Rousey thus far.
Out of the break, Ruby Riott had full control of the match over Nattie. She locked in a side headlock on Nattie before rolling her up for a two count pin. Nattie then attempted to make the tag to Rousey, but Riott stopped it and backed her into her own corner.
Riott then tagged Logan into the match again and Logan connected with a stiff splash against the ring post. From there, Nattie tried to crawl toward Ronda for the tag, but Logan caught her to prevent it. In doing so, she locked in a Texas Cloverleaf submission on Nattie. Finally, Nattie broke the hold and made the tag to Rousey. A decent pop for Rousey as she hit the ring. After she did, Rousey hit both Logan and Riott with judo throws before nailing both of them with a series of punches to the stomach. She then went for a pin, but Riott interuppted it. In the end, Ronda hit Pipers Pit on Logan. As she went for the pin, Becky Lynch hit the ring and attacked Nattie with her crutch. Seeing this, Ronda attempted to battle Becky and the two exchanged a flurry of shots, but security and WWE officials separated both.
WINNER: No contest
-After the match, Becky was cuffed and walked out of the arena in handcuffs while Ronda was held back in the ring. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked. Becky looked like a star babyface, but one with an edge. The way she addressed the police as they cuffed her saying “I need those hands to hold up the title,” was nice touch that felt organic. Again, Becky vs. Ronda is hot. This is the match. WWE has to see that after segments like this unfold. Charlotte just isn’t necessary.
-Out of the break, Nattie was shown being helped out of the arena by Ronda Rousey and WWE officials. Ronda then walked back into the ring and was booed as she asked for a microphone. With it, Ronda Rousey said “its time to end this,” and called out Vince McMahon. Instead of Vince, Stephanie McMahon hit the ring. As she walked down the ramp, Stephanie started to talk, but Ronda interuppted and told Stephanie to reinstate Becky Lynch for WrestleMania. In response, Stephanie said that Becky had bigger problems because she was arrested. Again, Ronda demanded Becky be reinstated, but Stephanie said that her WrestleMania opponent was Charlotte. From there, Stephanie blamed Becky for not having a WrestleMania match and said that she should be on the road to WrestleMania and instead she’s on the road to jail. Once again, Ronda pleaded for Becky’s reinstatement, but Stephanie said it was a “hard no.” Ronda countered and demanded it. In response, Stephanie said that Ronda had a bad attitude like Becky. She said that Ronda can’t demand anything and that she is her boss. Ronda then spoke again and said that she isn’t controlled by Stephanie like the others. She said that by not giving the fans Becky Lynch at WrestleMania, Vince McMahon is making her championship meaningless. From there, Ronda said that she has bled for enough money before laying down the championship at Stephanie’s feet and walking out of the ring. Stephanie looked on speechless as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: WWE is protecting Ronda Rousey by having her be the one to advocate for Becky’s reinstatement. It may just have worked as some faint “triple threat” chants were heard. More importantly, Ronda didn’t “bend the knee” to Stephanie. She acted like the star she is and stood toe to toe and on an even level. That worked, but that said, Ronda is playing both sides of the field with this. She wants to decimate Becky in a fit of rage and hate, but then speaks about needing her in the WrestleMania match to give her title legitimacy? That’s two completley different stories woven into one.
-Out of the break, Stephanie was shown holding the Raw Women’s Championship backstage. Triple H walked up to her and the two walked together before the action rolled back into the ring. There, Jinder Mahal stood in the ring and ran down Ric Flair. In response, Kurt Angle hit the ring to a nice pop and for a match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: WWE is booking unannounced Kurt Angle matches now? I swear there are fans out there that may just tune in to see the guy if WWE promoted him properly. Kurt Angle vs. a cold Jinder Mahal unannounced on Raw. Man, that’s something. Yuck.
(4) KURT ANGLE vs. JINDER MAHAL
Mahal got the upperhand out of the gate, but Angle quickly turned the tide to get what amounts to a squash victory.
WINNER: Angle via pinfall
After the match, Angle beat up the Singh brothers. Then, as he stood in the ring, Alexa Bliss walked out for a Moment Of Bliss as the show went to break. (c)
-When the show returned, Michael Cole plugged Nikki Bella’s Win Award.
-From there, Alexa Bliss welcomed the audience to a Moment Of Bliss. To start, Bliss said “bye Ronda.” She said as a three time Raw women’s champion, she would never have disrespected the championship like that. Bliss then offered up her services as Ronda’s replacement for WrestleMania. Then, Bliss introduced Balor to her show. Balor walked out to a nice reaction and sat next to Bliss. Bliss then welcomed Finn and recapped the events of Elimination Chamber where he won the Intercontinental Championship from Bobby Lashley. Bliss then talked about Balor’s abs and that the IC title covers them. She said that if Balor shows her his abs, she’d show him her … and then she was interuppted by Lio Rush.
Heydorn’s Analysis: What is with the poor attempts at strange sex innuendos from Alexa Bliss lately. She’s infinitely better than that. C’mon WWE …
Rush proceeded to walk out as Corey Graves freaked out about not hearing the end of Bliss’s statement. Rush told Balor he wasn’t the real champion. In response, Balor said that if Lashley wanted a rematch, all he needed to do was ask. Rush told Balor that Lashley was busy with Braun Strowman. Balor then goaded Rush and said that maybe he should challenge for the title instead of Lashley. Balor said that he was the one that lost the title, maybe he should try and get the title back. Balor then suggested that Rush could try and prove that he was in fact better than Lashley. Rush said he understood what Balor was trying to do. As he did, Bliss interuppted and suggested that Rush was not man enough to do the job. Rush then accepted the match and was informed by Bliss that it was “next.” He then walked to the ring after making fun of Balor’s ring gear. Balor then made the rest of his entrance. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: And Bliss knows the match is next how? All she needs to do is add in that “she just heard through her earpiece from the back.” Something. Anything. Outside of that, this felt a little too juvenile for Balor. He bragged at Rush like he was out in the school yard during recess.
-When the show returned from break, the Ric Flair red carpet was shown and Sting appeared. Then in the ring, the bell rang, and the match began.
(5) FINN BALOR vs. LIO RUSH – WWE Intercontinental Championship
Balor took control of the things out of the gate. He locked in headlock before Rush escaped and hit a series of kicks on Balor that knocked him out of the ring. Rush then hit the ropes for a move, but Balor rolled back in and hit him with a clothesline. From there, Balor attempted a running punt on Rush from the apron, but Rush countered. Rush then hit Balor with a moonsault and two suicide dives before climbing to the top rope. Up there, he attempted his Final Hour finish, but Balor got his knees up to counter. Balor took over from there and hit Rush with a series of chops. He then whipped Rush into the corner and followed it up with another chop. Balor then connected with Sling Blade before attempting his corner dropkick. As he did, Rush countered and dropkicked Balor’s injured knee from earlier in the match. After the kick, Rush locked in a submission on Balor that targeted the injured knee as well. Eventually, tried to turn the tide, but Rush targeted Balor’s knee again before rolling him up for a pin attempt. Balor kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Rush kicked Balor in the head and tried for a pin again, but again, was unsuccessful. From there, Rush attempted a top rope 450, but missed. Balor then kicked Rush instead and climbed to the top rope for the Coup De Gras. Rush got to his feet fast and knocked Balor down. He then scaled the top with Finn and hit a top rope hurricanrana. Once they hit, Balor rolled through and pinned Rush, but only got a two count. Out of that pin, they exchanged strikes in the ring. Rush went for the springboard stunner, but Balor countered it. He then hit the Coup De Gras for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Balor via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match with some very unique spots. The build to this was nonsensical and childish, but these two have some chemistry together.
-After the match, The Ascension confronted one half of Heavy Machinery, Tucker Knight. They made fun of Otis’s weight and Knight told them that his brother didn’t like to be made fun of. Otis then walked into the shot and Knight told him what they said. Otis then fired up and slammed both men into the wall before walking off. (c)
-Out of the break, Roman Reigns highlights were shown and the WWE hyped different media outlets picking up his news.
-From there, Bobby Lashley berated Lio Rush and yelled at him for not winning his match. He said that he was supposed to go out there and get a rematch for him. Lashley said he couldn’t worry about Rush when he had bigger things to worry about like Braun Strowman. Lashley then asked Rush if he could trust him. Lio said yes and they both walked out together.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rush looked like a little kid there. He can’t be an effective heat generating heel manager if he keeps getting neutralized by Lashley. Plus, Lashley needs him and becomes even more irrelevant is Rush can’t do his job.
As they walked to the ring, the announce team recapped what had happened last week between Lashley and Strowman.
Heydorn’s Analysis: It was hard to catch, but within Cole’s announcing, he alluded to Strowman making his way through the trio of Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, and Bobby Lashley. Why hide that story? That is the story Strowman should be talking about. It gives credibility to his attack and gives fans something to grab on to and follow. Why bury this?
(6) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. BRAUN STROWMAN
Once Lashley got to the ring, Strowman walked out to a nice reaction. When he got to the ring, he posed and did his roar, but Lashley attacked him from behind. From there, the two men brawled around the ring before the bell would officially ring. Strowman ended up getting the upper hand in the brawl and walked off while the audience roared and chanted “get these hands.”
WINNER: Match never got started
Heydorn’s Analysis: WWE needs to go ahead and truly tell the story of Strowman going after each man that tried to put him on the shelf. It’s a mission that fans can get behind. No need to hide from it.
-After the encounter, Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage. Rollins said that the night had been fantastic and that he’s been thinking about Brock Lesnar every day. From there, he said he would become Universal Champion at WrestleMania, but that that played second fiddle to Roman returning. Rollins then said he knew Roman and that a cold beverage was waiting for him. He then walked off.
-A limo pulled up to the arena and Ric Flair walked out. The audience “woo’ed” in response as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, highlights of Becky Lynch interrupting Ronda Rousey’s match earlier in the night aired.
-After the highlights and with Dean Ambrose already in the ring, Drew McIntyre made his entrance.
(7) DREW MCINTYRE vs. DEAN AMBROSE
Once McIntyre got about half way down the ramp, Ambrose jumped out of the ring, ran at McIntyre, and the two brawled around the ringside area. The battle quickly rolled into the ring which prompted the bell to ring. With McIntyre down, Ambrose removed his belt to use it as a weapon. Instead, McIntyre booted Ambrose in the face and picked up the belt himself. From there, Drew whipped him with the belt before crushing him with a huge spinebuster. After, Drew made the cover, but Ambrose kicked out at two. Out of the pin, McIntyre continued to use the belt as a weapon. Eventually, Dean countered the belt shots and clotheslined McIntyre over the top rope. He then went for a suicide dive, but McIntyre caught him and slammed him into the ring barrier. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Brutal shots with that belt. You could feel those through the TV. Not sure Ambrose needed to sell them, but if he was, he was tremendous.
When the show returned, Ambrose had turned the tide in the match. He connected with a top rope forearm shot before slamming McIntyre into the steel steps. From there, he rolled Drew back into the ring and covered, but only got a two count. Out of that, Ambrose hit neckbreaker on Drew and covered again, but again, Drew kicked out at two. Out of that pin, Ambrose used the belt and decimated McIntyre with a flurry of belt shots. Eventually, the action spilled outside the ring again. McIntyre attempted to hit Ambrose with the steel steps, but Ambrose countered with a drop toe hold that sent McIntyre face first into them. With Ambrose in control, Elias attacked Ambrose from behind. McIntyre then rolled Ambrose back into the ring, hit him with the Claymore kick, and covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: McIntyre via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Certainly a better win for McIntyre over last week. Even in the win, McIntyre doesn’t have the same buzz or aura around him like he did four months ago.
-After the match, Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley walked out to join Elias and McIntyre in beating on Ambrose. Then, Seth Rollins hit the ring with a chair. After he walked out. Roman Reigns walked out as well to a huge pop. Both men stared at each other and then marched to the ring for the save. Reigns hit the Superman Punch on all four men before Rollins hit the Stomp on McIntyre. From there, Reigns hit the spear on McIntyre. After, Reigns and Rollins hugged in the middle of the ring. With Ambrose lying in the corner, Rollins and Reigns left together and walked up the ramp. When they got to the top, they looked back at Ambrose who was still in the ring. The show then went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nice to see Reigns move so well around the ring. Had to feel good. In general, the segment was what it was, but the audience popped big. Plus, the Shield tease to cross segments was a smart programming move too. Not fully believable, but smart given the circumstances.
-When the show returned, Bayley and Sasha Banks made their entrance.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Wait. No follow-up on that Shield reunion with Ambrose? Wow. That’s a curve ball and not a good one. Why dangle that out there and not deliver?
As they did, the announce team played highlights of their promo last week after winning the women’s tag titles.
(8) BAYLEY w/ Sasha Banks vs. NIA JAX w/ Tamina
Once Bayley and Banks got to the ring, Nia Jax made her entrance with Tamina. Out of the gate, Bayley took control of the match. She hit Jax with a hiptoss and followed with forearms, but Nia caught her by the throat and tossed her out of the ring. The show then went to break. (c)
After the break, Jax regained momentum and had Bayley locked in a bear hug submission. Eventually, Bayley battled out and attempted her corner elbow, but Jax ran her down with a stiff clothesline. From there, Jax picked Bayley up and tossed her across the ring. Out of that move, Jax locked in an inverted choke submission on Bayley that brought Bayley knees. As the audience cheered her on, Bayley broke the hold with a chin breaker and followed that with a series of stomps in the corner. From there, she hung Jax up on the second rope before driving her out of the ring with an elbow to the face. In the end, Banks got involved which caused a distraction for Jax. This allowed Bayley to hit her top rope elbow drop for the win.
WINNER: Bayley via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Fine match, but after all the monster talk, Jax loses to an elbow drop to the top rope? Felt like a rushed ending to me. Either way, the win gives Bayley credibility going into the tag title match against Jax and Tamina at Fastlane. I’ll take that if I have to.
-After the match, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were shown walking backstage with a bunch of Raw superstars for Ric Flair’s birthday celebration. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nothing like the monster among men following his leaders right? Eye roll.
-When the show returned, all of the Raw superstars were on the ramp. Then, Triple H’s music hit and he and Stephanie walked through them and down to the ring. With a large cake in the ring, Triple H and Stephanie each grabbed microphones to address Ric Flair and the crowd. The audience woo’ed as Triple H spoke. He said that things always get crazy on the road to WrestleMania and proceeded to run down all of the major happenings from tonight’s show. He then said that all of that stuff pales in comparison to celebrating Ric Flair.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Your WrestleMania main event and your biggest star returning pale in comparison to a birthday party? Ok then.
From there, Triple H called Ric Flair the greatest sports entertainer of all time and Stephanie started to introduce guests. From there, Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat, Kurt Angle, and Sting. Once Sting got to the ring, Triple H spoke again and then cued up a highlight video of Ric Flair’s career. After, Stephanie showcased a customized big gold belt and Triple H introduced Ric Flair himself. Flair received a roar of “woos” as his music played. As the music continued to play, the stars on stage clapped, but Flair was nowhere to be found. Then, the action cut backstage where Batista was shown pulling a camera man toward him. Batista then forced his way into Ric Flair’s dressing room where a commotion was heard. Batista then walked out of the dressing room and dragged a lifeless Flair behind him. Batista then spoke into the camera and said “hello Hunter, do I have your attention now?” Seeing this on the big screen, Triple H ran backstage to help Ric. As he called for the doctor, the show faded to black.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Now there is a pro wrestling angle, folks. Simple, but well done. Batista looked like a monster and preyed on sympathetic babyface. Folks were certainly expecting Becky here, but this delivered.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 2/18: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Elimination Chamber fallout, Balor’s IC title reign begins, Corbin vs. Strowman, and more