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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 11, 2019
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Corey Graves
-Cole opened the show by saying they’re just 27 days away from WrestleMania as the screen noted they were in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Shield music started and they made their way through the crowd. Cole said they were there to offer their farewell address. Graves said they are three men closer than brothers taking a final ride in the circle. (That’s a little deceptive to simply say they’re closer than brothers after what Dean did to Roman just five months ago. I’d like to see more acknowledgment of Dean repenting rather than pretending now it didn’t happen or glossing over it as a hiccup.)
The Shield stood mid-ring together in their Hounds of Justice t-shirts. Roman said in the last few months, he’s come to realize life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed, so if last night is the last night ever, he has no regrets. Cheers. He said he did what he loves with people he loves. He said he asked for a favor last week from two people “who didn’t let me down AND THEY NEVER HAVE and for that I’ll be forever grateful.” (He wasn’t let down by Dean attacking Seth last October after he made his cancer announcement?) Reigns said he hasn’t had a singles match on Raw in over five months, so he’d like to correct that tonight here in Pittsburgh. He said Ambrose has some business, too. He said he doesn’t know what it is, but Dean might not either, “and that’s why we love you, man.”
Roman turned to Seth and said he’s the one with serious business. He asked how long he’s had this dream. Fans chanted “Slay the Beast!” Reigns said that’s exactly what he’s going to do. He said he’s the main event of WrestleMania and he’s going to take the Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar. He said the whole world will then chant “Burn it Down!” Roman hugged Seth. Dean hugged Seth. They stood mid-ring and touched fists. Their music played as Cole said they now go their separate ways.
Dean and Roman left. Seth remained in the ring and looked up at the WrestleMania sign. He said last night at Fastlane, The Shield burned it down. He was interrupted by Paul Heyman. Boos. Heyman did his schtick. Then Seth finished what Heyman usually says. Heyman said he appreciates it and affirmed it. Seth said Lesnar “had a real tough time getting by Daniel Bryan” and “got pushed to his limit by ‘The Phenomenal’ A.J. Styles” and “was this close to being beaten by Finn Balor.” Cheers. Heyman conceded it would be that Brock Lesnar he faces. Seth said it seems Lesnar has trouble with guys who are his size, his stature, his style, his agility. He said with all due respect to the names he mentioned because they’re incredible, but he said he is uniquely suited to beat his client at WM.
Heyman turned and wiped sweat from his forehead. Seth said he’s winning the Universal Title and bringing out back to Raw every single week. “Slay the Beast!” chanted the fans. Heyman said Lesnar didn’t have proper time to prepare for any of those wrestlers. Seth laughed. Heyman scolded him. Fans booed. Heyman said there is no booing him when he has the mic. Heyman talked about how each of them were replacements for scheduled opponents and Lesnar only had 5, 6, or 12 days to respectfully prepare. He said if Seth wants to get to know his client, he will introduce him. He pointed at the big screen and a video aired on Lesnar that lasted about two minutes showing him suplexing a bunch of wrestlers.
Heyman said ever since Seth won the Royal Rumble, Lesnar has had the sadistic fantasies in his unrepentant mind of what he’s going to do to him because he’s prepared for him for months now. Heyman said Seth doesn’t know Lesnar. Suddenly Shelton Benjamin hit a German Suplex Out Of Nowhere times four on Seth. Shelton looked down at Seth and smiled as his music played. Graves said Shelton is doing The Beast’s bidding. Cole said it appears that way.
(Keller’s Analysis: Maybe WWE just wanted to celebrate The Shield, but it seems like this is setting up something else. I’m still considering the possibility of Dean turning on Roman to set up a grudge match at WM. WWE is staying so far away from talking about Dean’s attack on Seth last October that it seems like overcompensation to bring people’s guard down before Dean snaps again.) [c]
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN
Heyman joined the announcers. Cole asked if he arranged for Shelton to attack Seth. Heyman said that would be presumptuous. Cole asked where Lesnar is because they’re four weeks away from WrestleMania and he didn’t show up again. Heyman said Cole doesn’t dole out work assignments. He said Lesnar is training. Cole said Shelton is a long-time friend of Lesnar. Heyman said he wouldn’t say they were friends, but he has trained Lesnar. He said he was with him at the University of Minnesota. Seth made a comeback a few minutes in with a blockbuster. He stomped the mat as fans chanted “Burn it down!” Shelton avoided it. Seth threw him to the floor and went for a dive, but Shelton kicked him in the face and then scored a two count. [c]
Heyman said he paid Shelton to jump Seth from behind, but he didn’t pay him to wrestle Seth. Shelton was attacking Seth at ringside. Heyman took a call while on commentary. Heyman said the phone call was his client informing him he didn’t like the video package. He said his client will be on Raw live next week. Heyman said his client doesn’t like Cole’s facetiousness and that will be addressed next week. Cole made a flippant comment about maybe Lesnar beating him again and Heyman said a victim shouldn’t talk like that. He asked if Cole remembers. Cole said he had medical treatment for three days afterward. (Cole did sound flippant about Lesnar attacking him, not properly selling any sense of fear that Lesnar might snap and attack him again.) Seth eventually escaped what looked like an F5 set-up by Shelton, then hit The Stomp for the win.
WINNER: Seth in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was fine. This didn’t feel like a new push for Shelton as much as just a way to give Seth some ring time on Raw against a fresh opponent he can cleanly beat while Heyman does his thing on commentary. It served that purpose well. It’s another example of an unexplained brand jump, though.)
-The announcers hyped Reigns vs. Baron Corbin later, plus Batista and Triple H face-t0-face.
-Finn Balor made his ring entrance. He crossed paths with Seth. They shook hands and smiled. Seth wished him luck. Bobby Lashley appeared on the big screen as Cole said Balor would be defending his IC Title next. Graves noted Balor never pinned Lashley, but rather his hype man Lio Rush, to become champion. [c]
-The announcers hyped WWE celebrating 1 billion followers online. (Who had the lucky task of counting that number? Has any verified this? What if someone rounded wrong or hit the wrong button on the calculator?) Graves made a self-deprecating joke about being less popular than Renee on social media.
(2) FINN BALOR vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – Intercontinental Title match
The announcers plugged tickets going on sale for Summerslam in Toronto as Lashley made his entrance. Lashley controlled early. Balor kicked him off the ring apron and they cut to a break. [c]
Lashley was in control again for a while until Balor came back and landed a chop and then a stomp to the chest. Renee said Balor has more heart than you can imagine. Balor set up the Coup de Grace, but Lio Rush rang the bell at ringside frantically. The ref told Lio to leave. As Lio distracted Balor, Balor chased him and kicked him off the ring apron. Balor springboarded into the ring, but Lashley tackled him out of mid-air and scored the three count.
WINNER: Lashley in 11:00 to capture the Intercontinental Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was kind of flat and deflating. Balor didn’t pin Lashley initially to win, and now he loses after being a dope and getting gullibly wrapped up in Lio’s distraction.)
-Charly Caruso interviewed Corbin about his comments about Reigns the week after he left to battle leukemia. Corbin asked what he even said. Caruso then threw to a video that just happened to be all cued up. They showed Corbin saying that if he comes back, he hopes he doesn’t come back to Raw. Corbin admitted he said it. Corbin said he wanted Reigns gone from the ring, but now that he’s back, “you can’t tell me overcoming that disease didn’t take its toll.” He said his friends can’t save him now and he’ll be exposed. He said he has been carrying Raw ever since Reigns left. “Tonight I’m going to house train The Big Dog.”
-They showed Rousey marching backstage and not making eye contract with anyone. (It appears she walked right past Corbin who was wearing something else, but he had his back turned and didn’t seem to want to be noticed.) [c]
-Rousey made her ring entrance. Cole said he can’t wait to hear her explanation for what she did at Fastlane. Clips aired of what Rousey did at Fastlane to help Becky get re-added to the WM match. Graves said Rousey stacked the odds against her, “but that’s exactly how she wants it.”
-Rousey told the fans to “take your applause and shove it.” She said she doesn’t give a damn “what any of your bandwagon bitches think.” She said she wouldn’t forget they chanted “You deserve it” when she was beaten by a stick. She said the fans booing her would cower in front of her if they couldn’t hide behind the safety of a barrier, but Becky Lynch has no barrier. She said she’s going to embarrass and humiliate Becky on the grandest stage of them all. She said that’s why she did what she did last night. She said she needs to be able to expose that Becky and Charlotte and WWE are “carny con artists.” She said she’ll walk through Becky and Charlotte and remain champion. She said no one can stop her. She said she is giving WWE permission to make it a handicapped match. She said if she broke a sweat, she’d be embarrassed. She said if anyone believes in “this whole charade,” they’re a joke too. She threw the mic down and appeared ready to leave. Then Dana Brooke’s music played.
Brooke walked onto the stage. She said she won’t let her disrespect WWE and the WWE Universe or the women’s locker room. (I’m surprised WWE hasn’t renamed the WWE “locker room.”) She said she might not be a big time fighter, but she loves WWE. She said she fights for respect every week but she doesn’t get the time of day let alone a match. She said she’s not a household name like Rousey, but she just wants a chance. She said usually Rousey issues an open challenge the night after PPVs. “My name is Dana Brooke and I accept,” she said. Rousey took off her jacket, kicked Brooke, and punched away at her. Brooke rolled to the floor. Rousey flipped her over hard twice and then threw her back into the ring. She lifted her onto her shoulders and threw her onto her head. Four referees ran in as Rousey set up an armbar. Rousey threw Dana’s arm down and said she’d show people an armbar for $60. She slapped a ref hard across the side of his head. “Rousey’s gone rogue!” shouted Cole. Rousey grabbed her jacket and belt and walked to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like Rousey as a heel because WWE isn’t fighting a head wind on this like they were with her as a babyface. The code language used was fine here, coming up short of saying “fake” or “shoot,” but still implying she doesn’t respect wrestlers compared to MMA fighters. They also kept it short.)
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole threw to a video package on the Ric Flair 70th Birthday Party and then Triple H’s response to Batista. Renee plugged they’d be face-to-face later in the show.
-Aleister Black made his ring entrance. Cole said he’s the Dutch Destroyer who is “dark and quiet and brooding, but extremely intimidating.” (But not *too* Dutch, we hope.) Then Ricochet made his entrance. Cole said he is “eye-popping and exhilarating.” Cole said they face Bobby Roode & Chad Gable next.
-A commercial for Smackdown advertised that Vince McMahon will address Kofi Kingston, plus Shane McMahon would explain his actions. [c]
(3) BOBBY ROODE & CHAD GABLE vs. RICOCHET & ALEISTER BLACK
Cole said a lot of wrestlers have been upset with the opportunities NXT wrestlers have received, but they’ve earned it with their results in the ring. Graves said you work your way up the ladder by not squandering opportunities, and that’s what Ricochet & Black have done. He said having fresh faces can be good for everybody because it shakes things up and makes everybody step up their game. Ricochet hot-tagged in a few minutes in and took it to both Roode and Gable. Roode gave Ricochet a blockbuster as Gable gave him a German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Ricochet fought back and took Gable down with a hard lariat, then blocked a Glorious DDT by Roode. Black tagged himself in and he roundkicked Roode in the head. Ricochet kneed him in the face. Ricochet dropkicked Gable and then Black surprised Roode with Black Mass for the clean win. Cole said they just put themselves back into tag team title contention. Graves said to those complaining about Ricochet & Black, beat them.
WINNERS: Ricochet & Black.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice to see a clean win, but it feels sudden to have Roode & Gable lose. It seems they could have built that up more, especially since it appears Roode & Gable turned heel.)
-Cole said Kurt Angle has asked for an opportunity to address his future. Just then The Revival attacked Ricochet & Black from behind on the stage. Graves said they were marking their territory.
-Graves plugged that “A Moment of Bliss” would reveal the Raw host next. [c]
-They showed Reigns visiting kids at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
-A Moment of Bliss: Bliss walked onto her set on the stage. She said she has a scoop and she’s ready to reveal it. She said hosting WrestleMania is an amazing honor that only a lucky few can do. She listed Kim Kardashian, The Rock, and The New Day. She said this year’s host is a bigger deal. She threw to a video that showed Hollywood scenes and red carpet ceremonies, and then revealed it is her. “It’s me!” she said. “I’m the host of this year’s WrestleMania.” She pretended to be in total shock and said she wasn’t prepared. Graves said he didn’t think he could get any more excited about WrestleMania. He wondered how WWE pulled this off.
(Keller’s Analysis: She built it up enough that it almost was a letdown for the crowd. I think there was a better way to do that where fans would have reacted better. No big deal, though.)
-A video package aired on the SNL cast members Colin Jost and Michael Che last week guest hosting Raw. They showed headlines about their appearance.
-They went to Braun Strowman backstage. Caruso interviewed him about what Jost said last week “and does that give you the right to jack him up by his neck.” She said they’re going to be special guest correspondents at WrestleMania. Braun said Jost better stay away from him, and he liked jacking him up by his neck. A worker told Strowman his car has arrived. Strowman said, “What car?” They cut to a break. [c]
The worker and Strowman were in the parking lot where there was a new red sports car with a giant red ribbon on it. Strowman told the guy to read the card that came with it. It was from the cast of SNL to show there are no hard feelings. The message got snarky about Vince McMahon’s limo and how there are no more title matches for Vince to screw him out of. Strowman eyed the car and said he wanted to see what it was made of. He said it’s cute to send him a present to win him over. He yanked off the car door and kicked the chair. He said he can’t even fit in it because it’s too small. He said there’s crap on the window. He smashed the windshield with his fist. He tore off the hood and stomped off the bumpers. He handed the worker part of the car and said he should give it to Michael and Colin. He said to tell them he’ll see them at WrestleMania and they’re going to “get these hands.”
-Elias sat mid-ring. He said Braun didn’t appreciate the gift, but fans would appreciate his. He said he vowed not to return to his hometown until he was a superstar and a hero everyone could believe in, “and here I am.” He said he’s got one question for everybody. “Who want to walk with Elias?” Fans cheered. He said statistically speaking it’s a miracle he’s such a success because there is overwhelming evidence that if he’s born in Pittsburgh, “you are going to be an enormous waste of life.” He said the evidence is clear. He said he’s reminded now of how miserable everyone is here. He said the miserable people hold the great people back. He said that is exactly the advice he gave to his good friend, Antonio Brown. He said he told him that he should force a trade and get out of this city, “and he listened to me.”
No Way Jose marched to the ring with his parade of followers. Elias attacked Jose at ringside and then some of his friends. Jose has new green and yellow dreadlocks that matched his outfit. Elias delivered his Drift Away finisher on Jose on the ramp. Cole said he’s obviously had enough interruptions. Graves said fans obviously don’t want to hear him play music.
-They went to the announcers on camera who announced that Harlem Heat are the latest inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame.
-Lacey Evans walked out with a feather fan and red and black hat. Cole called her “a sassy Southern belle.” Then Nia Jax and Tamina walked out and had a brief staredown with her on the stage, then brushed her off and walked past her to the ring. Renee said Nia would face Natalya next. [c]
-Clips aired of Natalya coming to the aid of Beth Phoenix at Fastlane when Tamina and Jax attacked her.
(4) NATALYA vs. NIA JAX (w/Tamina)
Natalya said she used to think Rousey had her back, but she apparently didn’t know Rousey the way she thought she did. She said she doesn’t trust Jax or Tamina, but she knows her best friend will have her back. Out walked Beth Phoenix. They marched to the ring together. The bell rang and Jax clotheslined Natalya seconds into the match. Jax smashed Natalya in the corner. Phoenix ran in and attacked Jax, knocking her out of the ring. Cole said she was once known as the strongest woman in WWE and she hasn’t lost a step. She knocked Tamina out of the ring, too, with a hard chop. She yelled at Jax and Tamina.
WINNER: Jax via DQ?
(Keller’s Analysis: No decision was announced and it seemed pretty lame for Phoenix to have so little faith in Natalya that she interfered 20 seconds into the match.)
-Backstage Sasha Banks and Bayley were brawling with Jax and Tamina. Finlay was among those breaking them up.
-Back to the announcers on the stage. Cole said Jax and Tamina are taking out their frustrations on anyone in their path since they didn’t win the tag team titles at Fastlane.
-They went to the parking lot where a black SUV drove up. Batista got out. He was, as usual, the best dressed man in the vicinity. [c]
-Triple H made his ring entrance. Cole said no suit for Triple H tonight because this is about a fight.
Batista walked onto the stage to his entrance music. As he stood there and was surrounded by ten security guys, Triple H asked if he’s going to stand there “like a nose ring model” or is he going to come to the ring like a man. Hunter asked why there’s so much security. Batista said he’s not stupid and he learned a lot from Hunter and Ric Flair. “I’ll admit they’re here for my protection,” he said. He asked where his sledgehammer is. He said it’s always near by. He said Hunter always underestimated him, but this time they’re doing things his way. He told Hunter to give him what he wants. Hunter said he won’t give him a damn thing. Hunter asked him how many times he has quit WWE and walk away. He said he won’t give him anything. He said he will do things his way and “walk up that ramp and tear my way through the Guardians of the Independent Scene of whatever they are and I will beat your ass on that stage.” Batista said they’re doing things his way. He said by the time Hunter gets there, he’ll be gone. He said he quit because he wanted to get as far away from Hunter as he could. He said he’s always looking down at him and shutting him out. He said what he wants is what he’s been asking for for years. He said he’d continue to hurt people he loves until he gets what he wants. Hunter told him to get into the ring and face him like a man. Batista said Hunter wants it and it’s killing him. Hunter yelled, “Get in this ring!” Batista said he knows him and it’s tearing him apart. He said he wants to hurt him, but he won’t give him what he wants because he’s not in control. Batista started to lose his composure as he said he is in control.
Batista said he wants him at WrestleMania. Hunter said if that’s what this is about? He said he beat up a 70 old man because he wants that? “You’re on!” said Hunter. Mild pop. Batista said he wants to have one last match to end Triple H’s career on his terms. “I’ll see you at Mania.” He turned to leave. Hunter said he’s right, he’ll see him at WrestleMania, but he had better dig down deep to find whatever scrap is left of The Animal because at Mania, the match will be on his terms. He said there will be no rules and no restrictions and no law. “There will be no holds barred!” he shouted. Mild pop. Batista took off his sunglasses and threw down the mic and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: Eh. Sorry, but that wasn’t very good. Batista seemed kind of pathetic in begging for something over and over as if everyone knew what he was talking about. He didn’t come across as a big time star or a particularly masterful promo. It’s like he showed up late, they had three minutes to prepare, and that’s what they came up with on the fly. I had much higher hopes. The line about Guardians of the Independent Scene was funny, but too cute. I mean, why are indy wrestlers going to be there to guard Batista? Not that we were expected to think that hard about it, but it just didn’t make any sense and was more just Hunter going for a laugh line that the internet fans would chuckle at and then appreciate Hunter for winking at them.) [c]
-Kurt Angle stood in the ring as his music faded. He said he has always considered Pittsburgh his hometown, so he wanted to save this announcement for tonight. He said he will compete at WrestleMania in his farewell match. He thanked WWE and every Superstar he shared a locker room with. He thanked the fans and said they made it so much fun for them. “I literally had the time of my life,” he said. Fans chanted, “Thank you, Kurt!” He got choked up. He said he wanted to have one last match here in his hometown, and then it’s on to WrestleMania.
-Apollo Crews came out to his music. Cole said Crews has looked up to Angle since he was a teenager.
(5) KURT ANGLE vs. APOLLO CREWS
Cole asked Graves what Angle meant to him. Graves said he followed his career and he even tried being a sportscaster on the TV news. He said he was a much better sports entertainer and then chuckled. He said he’ll be sad to see Angle go. Angle went for an Angle Slam, but Crews avoided it and landed a standing moonsault for a two count. Crews climbed to the top rope, but Angle avoided a frog splash and then delivered the Angle Slam for the win.
WINNER: Angle in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice straight forward hometown moment and a good addition to make WrestleMania a bit more special. I’m glad Angle gets to retire at a WrestleMania.) [c]
–Cole apologized and then said, “Here comes the Big Dog!” Graves said he looks stronger than ever. Cole said Reigns announced two weeks ago he is now cancer free and is wresting on Raw for the first time in five months. Reigns entered the ring and raised his arms. The crowd wasn’t booing him, but they weren’t going crazy cheering him either. Drew McIntyre then attacked Reigns. He beat him up at ringside and delivered a Claymore Kick into the ringpost. Reigns gave off concussion symptoms, blinking and looking unfocused. Drew said this is just the beginning. “A disgusting pathetic human being!” said Cole. A medic checked on Reigns as he stood and tried to regain his senses. He was clearly out of it. Seth ran out to check on Roman. The doc said Reigns isn’t passing his test. Reigns staggered toward the back as Seth said it’s okay to say he’s not able to go. “I just have a little headache, that’s it,” he said. Reigns put his arm around Seth’s shoulder and they walked to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know they want the heat and the focus to be on Drew, but it’d have been great for Corbin’s character to stand on the stage and demand a match at this point.) [c]
-Backstage Dean joined Reigns and Seth. Dean was upset, fuming about what Drew did. Seth told Reigns to get checked out in the trainer’s room. “Do it for me,” he said. “Come on.” Seth led Roman in there. Dean walked up to Triple H said he wants to fight Drew McIntyre tonight. “Right now, no disqualification, no countout, falls count anywhere,” he said. Hunter smiled and said, “Hell yeah, you’re on.” [c]
-The announcers commented on a replay of what Drew did. Dean made his ring entrance. Cole plugged Raw in Chicago, Illinois next week. He pronounced the “s” at the end of Illinois. Drew then stood on the stage with the mic and asked Dean if he’s going to take the beating like a man or squeal like his “pathetic brother, Roman.” Dean ran to the stage and jumped Drew. He suplexed Drew on the stage. Drew tried to retreat, but Dean leaped off the stage onto Drew on the floor. Graves said Dean doesn’t have the best track record against Drew. Renee said Dean wasn’t fighting for Roman before, but now he is. Graves said this passion could backfire. Cole said Drew is quickly becoming perhaps the most dangerous man in WWE. They cut to a break after Drew slammed Dean into the wall at the top of the lower desk. [c]
They showed them brawling during the break in the concourse. Dean slammed Drew and then ate popcorn off the floor. Then he threw Drew into the t-shirt stand. Back live Drew overhead tossed Dean at ringside. They fought at ringside for a minute and then made their way through the crowd again. They fought into the production area. Dean put Drew on a rolling cart and shoved him into another rolling cart. Drew rolled off of it. Graves said, “I don’t think that had as much affect as Ambrose had hoped, but it was certainly disorienting.” Dean covered Drew on the floor after an elbow drop. Drew gave Dean a low blow. Then he jabbed Dean in the face with a pencil. Renee was good here, reacting like a wife would with gasps. Drew then dart-threw Dean into the stage backdrop twice. Drew put Dean’s head in the stair railing and then gave him a Claymore Kick to the side of the face. The handrail broke off and Drew scored the pin. “Mercilessly this is over,” said Cole. Cole said there is no man more dangerous in WWE than Drew. He said he wants to hurt people and he cares about nobody but himself and he’s put the entire WWE on notice.
WINNER: McIntyre in 15:00.
-As Drew stood on the announce desk and celebrated, Dean stood up. He gave Dean another Claymore. Drew’s music stopped which added to the drama as Renee gasped again. The show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: That got Drew revved up again. He’s clearly on course to face Roman one-on-one at WM. That’s a big spot for him. Dean was good here in his role.)