SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 1, 2019
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
-As Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the program, Stephanie McMahon hit the ring to a reaction of boos. Cole said she was set to make some breaking news as she made her way to the top of the ramp. From there, Stephanie started talking and said she couldn’t believe that they were just six days out from WrestleMania. Stephanie then teased that she was going to add herself to the main event triple threat match, but then said it was an April Fools joke. Next, Stephanie hyped the all women’s main event WrestleMania match and announced that one woman would bring home all of the gold. She said that Sunday at WrestleMania it would be winner take all.
Heydorn’s Analysis: In a world where Stephanie could have overwhelmed this segment easily, she kept it focused on the match and on the wrestlers. The April Fools joke was what it was, but most of her verbiage centered on the stars. Making the match winner take all increases the stakes even higher and with both champions involved, makes the both sense. This worked to set a tone for Sunday’s main event.
When Stephanie was done talking, her music hit, and the announcers hyped the winner take all main event at WrestleMania. From there, Brock Lesnar’s music hit to a good pop from the crowd. Heyman was accompanied by Paul Heyman and as he walked to the ring, the announce team hyped his upcoming WrestleMania match against Seth Rollins. When Lesnar got to the ring, Heyman grabbed a microphone and ran through his typical intro. Heyman then said that it was poetic justice that Stephanie talked about the winner taking it all. He said that on Sunday, Brock Lesnar would be the winner and would take all that Seth Rollins has to offer. He said that Lesnar would take all of Seth’s best shot and then proceed to take everything that is important to him. Heyman then ran down all of the other things Lesnar had taken from people at WrestleMania. That list included taking the Undertaker’s streak and Roman’s chance at the Universal Title last year. From there, Heyman continued and said that at WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar would end the career of Seth Rollins. Heyman then said that Lesnar would violate Seth Rollins and desecrate WrestleMania. To finish, Heyman called Rollins an afterthought for Brock before being interrupted by Rollins himself.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Typical Heyman stuff that worked. He build Lesnar up as an unstoppable monster like always does, but set Seth up nicely to take advantage of some heat he generated. Simple, but well done. Nothing groundbreaking though.
Rollins received a nice pop from the crowd and then walked into the ring to confront Heyman and Lesnar. He said that Sunday was the biggest match of his career and that it was the biggest match for Lesnar as well. Rollins said that nobody wanted Lesnar around. He said that the people were sick and tired of Brock Lesnar as was the locker room. As Brock laughed, Rollins told him to enjoy it because on Sunday it was over and that things would change for him forever. He called Lesnar the most decorated star in WWE history and that beating him may be improbable, but it wasn’t improbable. Rollins said he was going to beat Lesnar, take his title, and that there wasn’t anything he could do about it. Once again, Lesnar laughed Rollins off and nudged him in the shoulder as he left the ring. Rollins then attacked Lesnar and the brawl was on. Rollins was caught with a German suplex and then was lifted for an F-5. Rollins countered and hit a low blow before kicking Lesnar in the face and nailing him with the Stomp. As the crowd roared, Rollins held up the Universal Title over Lesnar and then left as a stunned Lesnar looked on. The show then went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Again, nothing groundbreaking. That said, an effective babyface promo, but surprised it didn’t venture into the territory of Rollins highlighting again just how much the match on Sunday means to him from a personal standpoint. That was a nice touch to this point that defined the match as important. As for the physicality, I’ll never fully get on board with a true babyface like Rollins using heelish tactics. I can appreciate the idea, but WWE uses the low blow regularly as a go-to move for heels. Rollins pulling it out here dilutes the momentum he got from downing Lesnar. Did I just say momentum?
-Out of the break, Rollins was interviewed backstage. Rollins was told that if he does what he did on Sunday, he wouldn’t be the champion because he’d be disqualified. Rollins said Lesnar had it come in and Rollins said that he wasn’t a champion … yet.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A proper follow-up to Seth using a low blow on Lesnar was needed in order to justify the booking of that segment. This didn’t do enough to tell that story.
-After the interview, Sasha Banks and Bayley were shown making their way to the ring. Once they got there, they were followed by Natalya and Beth Phoenix. Both members of the Iconics, Nia Jax, and Tamina were already in the ring.
(1) SASHA BANKS, BAYLEY, NATALYA, & BETH PHOENIX vs. NIA JAX, TAMINA, & THE ICONICS
Banks kicked things off against Peyton Royce and quickly tagged Bayley into the match. Both women double teamed Royce with some moves before Banks tagged back in to maintain momentum. After a few kicks, Banks tagged Nattie into the match and Nattie crushed Billie Kay with a suplex. After, Phoenix tagged in and put Kay into an arm submission before lifting her into the air. Royce proceeded to pull Kay down while Banks and Phoenix argued strategy as the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, the heels had control of the match with Billie Kay and Peyton Royce owning Bayley after rounds and rounds of strikes. They each tagged in and out of the match and did their Iconic pose before attempting a pin, but Bayley kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: My goodness, that pose bothers me. I suppose that’s the goal? So begrudgingly I’ll say well done.
Eventually, Kay argued strategy with Jax and Tamina. This allowed Bayley to create some space after hanging Kay up on the ropes. From there, Bayley attempted to tag Sasha into the match, but Phoenix took the tag instead. Banks looks surprised as Phoenix downed Royce with a power slam. She then hit the ropes, but was pulled over the top by Tamina. From there, Phoenix drove Tamina through the ring barricade as her shocked teammates looked on. With Phoenix down, Royce tossed her into the ring and mocked her with slaps to the face. In response, Phoenix crushed her with the Glam Slam for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Banks, Bayley, Natalya, and Phoenix via pinfall
-After the match, the winning team stared each other down in the ring with Banks and Bayley holding their titles high in the air.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ineffective in building hype around the WrestleMania match Sunday between these four teams. Phoenix was the focus in terms of being back, but the value of the tag titles were sacrificed to tell her story. With six days out, that light needed to be shined on the entirety of the match and not just one star in it.
-Batista was shown arriving to the arena as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Batista hit the ring to a nice pop from his hometown crowd. As he walked to the ring, the announcers played highlights of Triple H addressing Batista on last week’s show.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rough timing on the location of this go home show. Batista could easily get some cheers here which is one hundred percent counter to the narrative being told. Bad timing? Poor planning? Both.
Once Batista got to the ring, the lights dimmed, and a spotlight appeared on him as the audience cheered. From there, Batista paused, pointed at the screen, and cued up a hype video of Batista beating Triple H on various occasions. After the video, Batista removed his red glasses and said “Hunter, kiss my ass.” His music then played again as he put the glasses back on and posed on the ropes. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Sometimes three chords make a better song than ten chords. Same rule applies here. Batista didn’t need a long promo to further the story so why do one? The four words he said added drama and a bit of attitude with edge. Well done.
-After the break, Elias was shown in front of MetLife Stadium. He talked about his WrestleMania performance and said that nobody would interrupt him. From there, he said after WrestleMania everyone would be talking about him and his WrestleMania moment.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Like I said last week, cue up returning legend once Elias hits the ring on Sunday.
(2) JINDER MAHAL vs. APOLLO CREWS – Other ATGMBR competitors surrounding the ring
Mahal took the upper hand first and ground Crews with a chin lock. Eventually, Crews reversed the move and kicked Mahal before hitting him with a flying clothesline. From there, the hit a top rope frog splash and made the pin for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Crews via pinfall
-After the match, Crews posed with the ATGMBR trophy. This prompted everyone at ringside to get jealous. As other people tried to pose with it a brawl ensued with everyone around the ringside area. That battle ended with Crews standing tall after tossing the Singh Brothers over the top rope. He then posed with the trophy again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A nothing match top to bottom and same goes for the post match angle. The announcers laughed their way through commentary on this and did damage to any significance that this battle royal may have had left. Cole tried to save it at the end by mentioning that Braun Strowman was involved on Sunday, but too little too late.
-Kurt Angle was shown talking to Rey Mysterio backstage as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Kurt Angle’s music hit for one final time on Monday Night Raw. When he got to the ring, the audience chanted “thank you Kurt” before he spoke.
He said that he wanted to let everyone know that he appreciated the good times and the bad times he had while on Raw. He said he heard some boos throughout the years, but a lot of cheers too. He then thanked the audience before a ring announcer played a celebration video for Angle’s career.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very well done. It’s easy to forget just how much Angle did in such a short time.
After the video, the audience chanted “thank you Kurt” before Baron Corbin made his way out to a chorus of loud boos. He said he was sorry for interrupting his stroll down memory lane and called the Kurt Angle in the videos and old man. From there, Corbin ran down Angle and said that he couldn’t hang with the superstars of today because they were faster, stronger, and better. Corbin then addressed the fans and said he was irritated with them for flooding his social media with statements on wanting a better last opponent for Angle. Corbin then said that the last image fans would have of Angle would be that of a broken down man laying on his back at WrestleMania. In response, Angle challenged Baron Corbin to an exhibition match and Corbin appeared to accept before backing out as the audience booed. He said that if Corbin had the match, Angle wouldn’t make it until Sunday and that he would wait for WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked. Baron Corbin isn’t a flashy final opponent for Angle. That said, he is getting loads of heat and that should manifest nicely with the audience at WrestleMania.
From there, Rey Mysterio’s music hit. He ran down to the ring and said that someone needed to teach him a lesson in respect. He then challenged Corbin to a match on Kurt’s behalf. Corbin angrily denied the match, but then sucker punched Rey. From there, Rey and Kurt battled Corbin out of the ring before embracing each other to end the segment.
-Charlotte Flair was interviewed backstage and said that on Sunday the entire world will be blindsided when she breaks Becky’s leg and taps out Ronda Rousey. She said she changed the game and that she will be the winner that takes it all. From there, Charlotte called herself a professional and that she isn’t a hot head or loose cannon like Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. She said after their match later, both women better stay away from her or they wouldn’t make it to WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Heel Charlotte is incredibly polished and effective. Her looks, emotions, and words resonate well in this type of character and she looks like a major star because of it. She struck the right tone here regarding the stipulation later in the night, but threatened her WrestleMania moments simultaneously. Good stuff.
-When the interview ended, Ricochet made his way to the ring. He got a nice reaction and was followed by Aleister Black. Black also got a big pop. As he walked to the ring, the show went to break. (c)
(3) THE REVIVAL vs. RICOCHET & ALEISTER BLACK – WWE Tag Team Championship
Out of the break, official introductions were made and the match began. Black started things off against Dawson and both men exchanged holds before Dawson took Black down with a shoulder takedown. After, Dawson tagged Dash into the match and he continued to maintain momentum with few elbows to the face. In response, Black hit Dash with a kick that knocked him to the mat. He then tagged Ricochet in. Ricochet hammered Dash’s arm with his elbow, but that offense was quickly reversed to give the Revival momentum in the match again. From there, Dawson tagged back into the match and grounded Ricochet with pummeling forearms to his back. Both Revival members then tagged in and out of the match to keep Ricochet from his corner. Finally, Ricochet took back control after connecting with a double hurricanrana on both Dash and Dawson. After, he tagged Black into the match and both men hit a double team of their own. Their control was short lived as Black was tossed over the top rope as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good action thus far. It’s clear these teams have chemistry and the fans seem into what they are doing. Typically a recipe for success.
Out of the break, Dash and Dawson were still firmly in control of the match. Dawson had Black in a submission hold and grounded him until Black connected with a kick. From there, Dawson tagged Dash into the match as Black tagged Ricochet in. Ricochet hit the ring on fire and connected with a flurry of moves including a springboard neck breaker, a variety of dropkicks, and a rollup on Dash that got a two count. Out of the pin, Ricochet rolled Dash up again, but Dash kicked out. His kick out launched Ricochet into the ropes and Dawson illegally clocked him with a punch. From there, Dash connected with a face first slam and covered, but Ricochet kicked out at two. Out of that pin, the Revival turned their attention to Black. Dash connected with a tornado DDT off of the barricade and in response, Ricochet connected with a flying suicide dive over the ring post and onto the Revival on the outside. From there, the outside battle continued with Black still down. Eventually, Dash slammed Ricochet into the ring barrier and then rolled into the ring as the referee counted. As Ricochet was about to beat the count, Dawson tripped him up from under the ring which caused him to slip and not make it back. Because of that, the match was over.
WINNER: Revival via count out
-After the match, Black and Ricochet hit their finishing moves on the Revival as the audience cheered in approval.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A really good match that seemed to save third and fourth gear for a future date. WrestleMania perhaps? This existed to build that match and succeeded in that goal.
-Ronda Rousey was shown warming up backstage. She told Charly Caruso that she wasn’t in the move for talking, only fighting. As she kept warming up, she said no matter the stipulation on Sunday, it would be Judgement Day for Becky and Charlotte. She then said that Judgement Day could come early if Becky and Charlotte get in her way later in the night. The show then went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Like the Charlotte promo on this same subject, Rousey was good here. She maintained character well and toed the line in alluding to a showdown later in the show between herself, Charlotte, and Becky.
-After the break, Cole and the announce team recapped the events of last week between Braun Strowman and the SNL hosts from A Moment Of Bliss. When the video ended, Alexa Bliss was shown backstage with Tyler Breeze and EC3. Bliss ran down her accomplishments surrounding this year’s WrestleMania and Breeze and EC3 laughed about watching Weekend Update on a friend’s tablet. Braun Strowman appeared and confronted those friends with the tablet. He called them the names of the SNL hosts and demanded they meet him in the ring later in the show. From there, he walked off.
-Roman Reigns was interviewed backstage. He said that he wanted to put all rumors aside. From there, he declared that he was 100 percent cleared for action. Drew McIntyre then attacked Reigns and beat him down while yelling “you should have said no, Roman.” McIntyre was then held back by officials as Reigns slowly got back to his feet.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great intensity from Drew. The way he yelled at Reigns was a nice touch and exactly in line with the character he’s trying to build.
-When the show cut away from Reigns, the Riott Squad’s music hit and they made their way to the ring as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Caruso interviewed Becky Lynch backstage. Lynch interrupted the question and said she would just tell Charly what she wanted to know. She said that at WrestleMania she would become the first ever Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champion. Lynch then addressed Charlotte and Rousey and said that they would be hoping that she would get bounced out of the main event by not getting along in their match tonight. Becky said she needed to make history at WrestleMania and that she needed to hold all the gold after it so the McMahon’s couldn’t take anything away from her. She said at WrestleMania she would do just that and then made her entrance.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Three for three on promos involving the women in the main event on Sunday. This was effective in telling the Lynch story opposite that of Ronda and Charlotte. It was a convoluted story, but she wove everything together quite well.
Becky received a big pop for her entrance and was followed by Charlotte Flair. Flair got boos and posed to the crowd in the ring as Lynch looked on. After Charlotte, Rousey walked out to a good reaction and didn’t slap hands with fans as she did. Rousey posed opposite Charlotte and Becky as well and jawed with both before the bell rang for the match to begin.
(4) BECKY LYNCH, CHARLOTTE, & RONDA ROUSEY vs. THE RIOTT SQUAD
Charlotte kicked the match off against Riott and did so with a flurry of chops that the audience “woo’ed” with.
Heydorn’s Analysis: In one tag, the attitude and charisma flowed from Lynch and Charlotte. Well done.
Soon after, Charlotte tagged Lynch into the ring with a hard tag. Once Becky stepped through the ropes, she mocked the Ric Flair strut and then kept up the offense against Ruby Riott. Eventually, Lynch knocked Riott out of the ring as the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, Sarah Logan had Becky Lynch grounded with a headlock. Logan then whipped Lynch into the corner, but got a boot to the face for her troubles. After the boot, Lynch hit Logan with a dropkick and tried to roll toward her corner, but was stopped by Riott who tagged into the match. From there, Logan tagged back into the match and locked Becky in a Cloverleaf submission as Ronda looked on with an unimpressed smile.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rousey was incredibly on point with that smile. It screamed disrespect and was the perfect use of her character and personality with the volume turned up.
Logan then tagged Morgan into the match and Lynch quickly knocked her to the mat with a clothesline. She then hit both Morgan and Logan with a suplex. Right after, Morgan tried to roll Becky up for a pin, but Becky kicked out. From there, Charlotte tagged herself into the match and got in Becky’s face. Seeing this, Ronda tagged in and locked Morgan into the Arm Bar for the win as Becky and Charlotte looked on.
WINNER: Rousey, Lynch, and Flair via submission
-As soon as the bell rang, Rousey attacked Charlotte and the WrestleMania main event brawled in the ring.
The brawl caused security to run out to break up the fight and as they did the audience booed. Eventually, Ronda Rousey was handcuffed and Lynch clocked her while she was. This caused Lynch to get handcuffed as well. With both Lynch and Rousey handcuffed, Charlotte attacked Rousey and got cuffed herself. As this went down, the audience chanted “let them fight.” As all three women were escorted up the ramp, Cole claimed that the main event of WrestleMania was in handcuffs.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I liked the intensity of the brawl. It came off as authentic with each woman looking to alpha out the other. Most importantly, it was chaotic and clear that big stars were going at it. Heading into a main event match, that’s what WWE is looking for.
-After the announce team recapped the events at the end of the match, Lynch, Charlotte, and Rousey were shown getting put into police cars backstage. Lynch and Rousey were put into the same car and fought in the car causing the windows to break. Charlotte then attacked again as Rousey drove a car into a police car. From there, Rousey and Charlotte brawled a bit before all three women were put into different cars. Those cars then drove off as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Geez, you put Lynch and Rousey into the same car? Nobody thought that one through? Outside of the silliness of that, this added fire to the brawl. Each woman continued to come off as serious and dangerous which adds intrigue to Sunday.
-Out of the break, the announce team cued up highlights from the brawl between Charlotte, Becky, and Ronda.
-After the recap, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable were in the ring. From there, Heavy Machinery made their entrance.
(5) HEAVY MACHINERY vs. BOBBY ROODE & CHAD GABLE
Roode kicked off the match, but it was soon interrupted by Lacey Evans. She walked out and did her usual schtick as the competitors in the match looked on. When she was done, the action continued with Otis hitting the Caterpillar on Roode. After, Otis went for the pin, but it was broken up by Gable. rom there, Gable attempted a splash from the top rope, but Otis caught him. From there, Tucker joined in for the Compacter finish and the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Heavy Machinery via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: A total filler match in every way. Lacey Evans is treading awfully close to Emmalina in terms of this gimmick. At some point, there needs to be a payoff.
-A hype video aired for Kofi Kingston earning his opportunity at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
-After the video, Braun Strowman walked to the ring as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Michael Cole revealed that Becky, Charlotte, and Ronda had been taken to a local precinct and booked on charges.
(6) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. “CHE” & “JOST”
When the bell rang, Strowman decimated both opponents instantly and tossed the out of the ring. From there, he connected with two vicious clotheslines that floored both men. The audience chanted “one more time” which prompted Strowman to hit the move again. From there, he tossed both men back into the ring and connected with a double power slam for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Strowman via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Some fun spots, but on Sunday its all comedy for Braun Strowman.
-After the match, Michael Cole recapped early events between Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar. From there, Bobby Lashley hit the ring as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Lashley was interviewed in the ring. Before Lashley spoke, Caruso cued up footage that highlighted Balor earning his IC title opportunity at WrestleMania. When the video ended, Lio Rush spoke for Lashley and said that what happened last week was a fluke. He said that on Sunday, Bobby wouldn’t have to deal with dead weight like Jinder Mahal. He said that all they are worried about it where the after party will be in New York. From there, Lashley addressed The Demon appearing at WrestleMania and said that it didn’t concern him. As Lashley spoke, Finn Balor appeared on the big screen and said that he’s always had demons. He said that at WrestleMania his demons would be come Lashley’s nightmare. From there, the shot of regular Finn turned into Demon Finn. Lashley and Rush both looked on with scared looks on their faces as the show went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: I can do without Finn Balor turning into the Demon in front of everyone’s eyes. Plus, what was with that sound? That said, the use of that gimmick here makes sense. The Demon entrance at WrestleMania will be memorable and since its a big match with history, it works within the story they are telling.
-Out of the break, Rey Mysterio made his entrance. As he did, the announce team hyped WrestleMania on Sunday and talked up the fact that Rey Mysterio hasn’t competed on Raw in five years.
(7) REY MYSTERIO vs. BARON CORBIN
When the Mania hype was done, Baron Corbin made his way to the ring and the match began. Rey took over early and hit Corbin with some strikes. He attempted to whip Corbin into the ropes, but couldn’t and dropkicked him in the legs instead. At that point, Corbin rolled out of the ring and taunted the fans. When he got back into the ring, Corbin caught Rey for a power bomb, but Rey pulled him out of the ring with his legs. Rey then went for a running dive, but Corbin caught him with and elbow. The show then went to break. (c)
After the break, the action continued and Corbin firmly held control over the match. He pounded on Rey with strikes and then tried to remove Mysterio’s mask. Rey avoided that, but Corbin continued to dominate with stomps to Mysterio’s knee. From there, the action spilled to the outside of the ring. Corbin tossed Mysterio into the ring barrier as the audience booed him. Corbin then tossed Rey back into the ring. While there, the referee kept Corbin at bay as the referee checked on Mysterio’s knee. Corbin worked to attack Rey again, but got kicked in the face a couple times. He then hit the ropes, but Corbin lifted him in the air and slammed him to the mat before sliding him out of the ring again. When Rey got back to his feet, Corbin slid out after him and clocked him with a devastating clothesline. At this point, the referee started his count. Rey made it to the ring apron at seven which prompted Corbin to lift Rey up and slam him face first into the metal ring post. From there, Corbin lifted Rey up for a power slam, but Rey held on for a sleeper hold instead. Then, Mysterio connected with a hurricanrana and a tilt a whirl DDT. After, he made the cover, but Corbin kicked out at two. From there, Mysterio lined Corbin up for the 619 and hit it before climbing to the top rope. He leapt off, but missed Corbin with the frog splash and landed on the mat instead. In the end, Corbin nailed Mysterio with Deep Six for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Corbin via pinfall
-After the match, Kurt Angle attacked Corbin as he celebrated on the ramp. Angle locked in the Ankle Lock submission before officials broke it up and the show faded to black.