WWE RAW PRIMER 3/25: Drew’s challenge, Fight of the Phoenix, Kurt’s farewell tour, Ronda’s husband, The Monster among SNL

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist


WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
MARCH 25, 2019
BOSTON, MA. AT THE TD GARDEN
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00PM EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

WWE Raw comes to us tonight from the TD Garden in Boston, MA., a city which is no stranger to WWE. The arena opened in 1995 and has hosted many WWE shows and PPVs and even hosted a few WCW Monday Nitros. One of the more famous PPVs that emanated from this building was WrestleMania in 1998. It was at that event when WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross uttered the words “The Austin era has begun.” He of course referring to the main event which saw fellow HOFer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defeat Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship (WWF at the time). It was also in this building in October of 2016 where we had the first ever women’s Hell in a Cell match which saw Charlotte defeat Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship.

That was all then, and this is now. Here is what’s advertised thus far for tonight’s show, subject to additions and changes as we head towards tonight:

• Fight or flight
• The Phoenix saga
• The farewell tour continues
• Family affair
• One “Giant” leap
• It’s been one week

WWE Announcement: Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match Main Events WrestleMania

Before we dig into tonight’s Raw, WWE broke news this morning. They announced on their website and Twitter account that the Raw Women’s Championship match between champ Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch will main event the show. Here’s the announcement on Twitter, as well as reaction from Charlotte:

https://twitter.com/mscharlottewwe/status/1110199161146748928?s=21

On their website, WWE had thrown the idea out for discussion of this match or the Universal Championship match between champ Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins being the main event. Women’s matches have been the main event of PPVs, Raws, and Smackdowns a lot more frequently over the past several years. Evolution was the first WWE all-women’s PPV and took place this past October. This will be the first WrestleMania that will feature a woman’s match as the main event.

Frank’s Analysis: There was no doubt that this would be the main event. You could see it the minute Ronda Rousey set foot on WWE property last January that this is where we were headed. Say what you want about Ronda, but I’m not sure this happens without her not to disparage Becky and Charlotte. WWE has featured the women in a more prominent way over the past several years, and Ronda was the final piece of the puzzle to make this happen. The conclusion of this match will be incredibly interesting to debate in the next few weeks. You also wonder how this affects the outcome of Rollins vs. Brock. Like it or not, it does affect how that match is decided. I’m still not 100% sold Rollins wins the title even though it’s what should happen. That is another outcome that will be heavily discussed.

Fight or Flight: Drew McIntyre’s WrestleMania Challenge to Roman Reigns

It has been quite the few weeks for the man known as the “Scottish Psychopath,” Drew McIntyre as he continues his path of decimating the members of the Shield.

Two weeks ago he storyline concussed Roman Reigns by giving him a Claymore Kick and knocking his head into the ring post. He followed that by viciously beating Dean Ambrose in a no-DQ, falls count anywhere match. Last week, he defeated Seth Rollins in the main event when Rollins (like a dumba**) got distracted during their match as a result of Brock Lesnar’s music playing and Lesnar appearing with his advocate, Paul Heyman.

Prior to the match, Drew had a challenge for Roman Reigns and that was to a match at WrestleMania. He claimed while Roman was home fighting leukemia, WWE became his yard instead. He said Roman should accept the challenge if he wanted to be a real hero. While he may have beaten leukemia, he’ll never beat him. The challenge is worth a watch:

Roman was not on Raw last week. While WWE.com doesn’t specifically say he’ll make the decision tonight, it’s likely Roman does so given it’s the last of two Raws until WrestleMania.

Frank’s Analysis: This was a great challenge by Drew. If WWE is serious about Drew as a top heel, these are the types of promos we need to see. This is what was needed during his first tenure from 2009-’14. They need to lay off the leukemia references though as they’re completely unnecessary and a cheap way to draw heat. Do it the right way and draw heat based on you being a killer and how you plan to decimate your opponent.. I like Drew going over at WrestleMania if they do this, especially if he’s going to be the main challenger for the Universal Championship in the following months. It’s likely Roman is not going to see the title for a while and it gives them time to tell the redemption story. They did it with Cena after he lost to the Rock in 2012. Why not do it with the other guy they force fed us as a babyface for years?

Beth Phoenix Wants the Women’s Tag Team Championship

Last week on Raw, alongside her best friend Natalya, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix announced her intentions to come out of retirement and challenge the Boss ‘n Hug Connection (Sasha Banks and Bayley) for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania. Bayley balked at it, questioning Beth as to whether or not she wanted more time to prepare. Natalya didn’t take to kindly, re-emphasizing that her friend is a Hall of Famer and previously won the women’s championship where they were last week in Chicago. Sasha did not take kindly to Natalya and the two teams brawled.

Sasha and Natalya would wrestle to a match where no decision was announced (there’s a shock). Technically Sasha Banks won via DQ when Tamina attacked her from behind outside the ring. Nia Jax interrupted the match and talked about how she did more in three years than Beth ever did in her career. She said she is the prettier, stronger version of The Glamazon (Beth).

The Iiconics also lurk as they defeated Bayley and Sasha on Smackdown in a non-title match. We can certainly expect the Women’s Tag Team titles defended at WrestleMania. It’s just a matter of whom and how many teams are in the mix.

Frank’s Analysis: Rewatching the segment last week I’ll have to admit I wouldn’t mind Beth and Natalya winning the tag titles as they came off the most likable, at least to me. They had a good idea when they teamed years ago as the Divas of Doom until they messed with it and called them “Pin Up Strong” and if memory serves me correctly they gave Natalya a flatulence gimmick. I could be wrong on that but I remember something goofy that just didn’t make any sense. Sasha and Bayley came off unlikable, as did Nia and Tamina. It’s likely we’re looking at a fatal four-way with the IIconics in the mix. There can’t be much emotional investment here.

Kurt Angle’s Farewell Tour

WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle revealed that his opponent at WrestleMania, in what will be his final match, will be Baron Corbin. He talked about wanting to make Corbin tap out after he made his life a living hell when Kurt was Raw G.M. and Corbin was the “Constable.” Corbin eventually supplanted Kurt as interim G.M. before losing his opportunity at the full-time job back in December.

Kurt went on to wrestle Chad Gable last week and tapped him out with the Ankle Lock. Gable was a fan of Kurt’s growing up and even got his autograph on the WWF Home Video Kurt Angle: It’s True It’s True back in 2000. Here’s that tweet if you missed it:

WWE fans have not taken kindly to Kurt choosing Corbin as his final opponent. One pronounced wrestler, whom wrestled his first TV match against Kurt joined in on the sentiment. You may know him. He’s a guy by the name of John Cena:

Corbin would later lose to Apollo Crews. Tonight, we can expect the farewell tour to continue. It’s anyone’s guess whom Kurt’s opponent will be tonight. It’s already known he will face A.J. Styles on Smackdown, which I will cover in tomorrow’s primer. It’s anyone’s guess if the match at WrestleMania stays put.

Frank’s Analysis: In last week’s primer I put my money on John Cena being Kurt’s opponent. I still think that’s a possibility, given how the video came out with Cena calling Corbin a dumpster fire and the fact that they’re in Cena’s hometown of Boston tonight. The way they have told this story, and given how Corbin lost to Apollo Crews, it tells me it’s possible he may be switched out of the match. It’s hard to say why they’d go to such lengths, but given how they’ve overbooked just about everything these days it’s not all that crazy. Personally I’m OK with Corbin being Angle’s opponent. They have obvious history and Angle losing at WrestleMania could benefit Corbin or winning could be satisfying. How would you book a match against Cena? Do you put Angle over? That doesn’t seem to make sense. Do you put Cena over? Why so everyone can hate him even more? It’s a weird spot.

Ronda Rousey and Travis Browne On the Loose

In a matter of 20 seconds, Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey retained her title over Dana Brooke by tapping her out to the armbar. Prior to the match, Dana said that all she recognizes she may not be better than Ronda (glad she knows that), but all she needed to do was be better than Ronda for three seconds and she could be Raw Women’s Champion.

The action didn’t end with the match. Ronda held onto Dana for a little while longer. When an official pried her off, she shoved him down. Eventually she went outside to see her husband, Travis Browne, who had watched the match at ringside. An official went over to Ronda and she shoved him down as well. Travis would do the same to another. Here’s the YouTube clip:

Bear in mind, Ronda had been fined an “undisclosed amount” prior to Raw and had been assigned extra security. Ronda is set to defend her championship at WrestleMania against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair from Smackdown. It’s unknown if Ronda will continue to bring her husband to matches, but the fact that WWE.com is talking about it certainly makes it a possibility.

Frank’s Analysis: After an awkward promo two weeks ago, last week set the ship on the right course. Ronda should be no talk, all action, and mowing through lower opponents in a matter of minutes or seconds for that matter. It’s what it should have been all along. I don’t credit WWE for turning her heel as I believe they were painted into a corner with Becky’s popularity and did it as a matter of being reactive and not proactive. She should have been heel months ago when the L.A. Survivor Series crowd, amongst which I was a part, booed her out of the state or California. Ronda’s where she needs to be though, and thus we head towards WrestleMania. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any interaction with Becky and/or Charlotte as they have mostly tangled amongst themselves on Smackdown.

Braun Strowman and the Andre Battle Royal
Alexa Bliss, the Ambassador of Peace

Last week, Braun Strowman entered himself in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as a result of SNL’s Michael Che and Colin Jost “disrespecting” him weeks earlier. As you may recall, Jost for all intents and purposes questioned Braun if wrestling was real. Braun picked him up in a choke slam and asked “what do you think?” (Does Jost not know what Dr. D. David Schultz did to John Stossel back in the 1980s when Stossel asked the same question? Study your history people!).

One week later Che and Jost offered a car to Braun as a peace offering, but Braun did not take kindly to the gesture and destroyed the car. On Instagram, Che said that Braun should be disciplined. He said if WWE doesn’t do so, maybe others should referring to them. Che and Jost are set to be correspondents at WrestleMania.

When Braun made his announcement, and said he was coming for Che and Jost, Alexa Bliss interrupted. Playing off their history as Team Little Big from Mixed Match Challenge, she asked for one week to broker peace between both sides. For those of you biting your last fingernail, we’ll see if that comes to fruition tonight.

Frank’s Analysis: What a difference four months makes. In November, Braun was challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Now, he’s involved with the guys from SNL. It is possible they’re being cautious with him coming off the elbow surgery as for the most part, he’s worked tag team matches as of late. The Andre match is a safe bet I suppose, and something he can win. With someone like Braun, you need to find gimmicks like that which keeps him in the “success column.” He’s won Money in the Bank, The Greatest Royal Rumble, the Raw Tag Team Championship with a 10-year old, and destroyed just about every vessel and prop in existence. The Hall of Fame will soon be-a-calling.

Other Possible Items for Tonight

•According to multiple wrestling media outlets, WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan will be at WrestleMania. If true, it will be his first appearance at a ‘Mania since 2015 when he came out alongside Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as the NWO and intervened in the match between Triple H and Sting. It’s hard to know what his role would be, but it would be Hulk to go out there and endorse Kofi Kingston should he be in the WWE Championship match against Daniel Bryan. Nonetheless, WWE may acknowledge his appearing at ‘Mania if in fact it’s true.

•Last week, Batista talked about his issues with Triple H through the years. He said Triple H used him as his muscle and held him down. He talked about him using people to make himself look good, and being insecure and jealous. It was interesting as those are a lot of the complaints people had about Triple H through the years. Look for follow up tonight.

•Look for the Raw Tag Team Championship picture to come to fruition tonight. There are a lot of moving parts as Aleister Black recently married Zelina Vega, and were given some time off. I’m certain they’ll be back before WrestleMania. Given Black and Ricochet are in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tournament in NXT, it’s hard to imagine them winning that and challenging for the Raw titles in the same weekend. The winners of the Dusty tournament gets a shot at the War Raiders at Takeover: Brooklyn for the NXT Tag Team Championship.

Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website

The TD Garden website advertises a start time of 7:30 p.m. local, with doors opening ay 6:00 p.m. They show a “double main event:”

• Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin (yeah that’ll get people to stay)
• Finn Balor vs. IC Champ Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre. It doesn’t specify if the title is on the line.

They also show Ronda Rousey, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (whom are incorrectly shown as tag team champions), Sasha Banks, Bayley, and “many more!”


Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani or e-mail me at fpeteani@gmail.com. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!

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