In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 17, 2020
LIVE FROM EVERETT, WA
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Jerry “The King” Lawler
-Raw started with its typical intro video. When the intro wrapped, pyro went off in the arena and the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. After the welcome, Randy Orton hit the ring to a chorus of boos from the audience. As he walked down the ramp, Tom Phillips hyped major matches on the show including Drew McIntyre vs. MVP, the Sermon of Seth Rollins, and Becky Lynch’s response to Shayna Baszler.
Heydorn’s Analysis: MVP vs. Drew is an interesting avenue to go down. Clearly it makes sense after last week, but MVP is sure to get residual cheers because he hasn’t been seen by most audiences for quite some time now. I’d put Drew up against trusted heels at this point to avoid any potential mixed reaction at all costs. We’ll see how it plays out.
-When the hype was finished, the announce team recapped the events of the last few weeks with Randy Orton including the angle with Edge and Matt Hardy from last week. Eventually, Orton made his way into the ring. His music faded out and all that was left was a loud audience booing his every move. Orton soaked in the boos and then silently cued up a video that detailed his interaction with Matt Hardy from last week.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Orton continues to get massive heat because of this angle. Whenever Edge hits the ring, it’s going to be a major moment and a moment rooted in the work Orton is doing right now.
-After the video, Orton continued to soak in the boos from the crowd. Finally, Orton spoke and said he was supposed to face Matt Hardy in a No Holds Barred match. He said because of the events of last week, that wasn’t going to happen. Orton said Hardy was working hard to get cleared, but wasn’t and wouldn’t be. Orton briefly made a dig at the Hardy’s crashing to low levels and as he continued, Matt Hardy walked out in a neck brace to interrupt. He said he still wanted to know what was wrong with Orton. Matt said that Orton didn’t like that question and that he wanted to take his passion away from him. Matt said that couldn’t happen, but that he came to fight. From there, he said that the doctors wouldn’t clear him to compete in a match, but he was there and he wouldn’t die. He said he had grit and that he doesn’t know the future of Matt Hardy. He said even though he was unsure of his future, Randy Orton wouldn’t be the one to dictate those terms to him. At that point Orton spoke and told Matt that he should have said goodbye last week when he could leave the arena on his own two feet. In response, Matt climbed into the ring. Orton asked him what he was doing and what he would do if he decided to RKO him right then and there. Orton said that Hardy had balls, but that he would never understand why he did what he did. Orton said he respected Hardy and that he respected Edge too. He said he loved Edge like brother and then apologized. Orton said he was truly sorry and then left the ring. As he walked away, the announce team questioned “was that an apology?” As his music played, Orton paused at the top of the ramp and began to remove his sweatshirt. Orton then turned back toward the ring and started to walk down the ramp. As he did, Hardy grabbed a steel chair and brought it into the ring with him. Hardy yelled at Orton to finish him. In response, Orton slowly climbed up into the ring. As he did, Hardy swung the chair at him but missed. Orton then grabbed Matt and pulled him down onto the top rope. Orton then entered the ring fully and connected with an RKO. After, Orton picked up the steel chair and crushed Hardy with it multiple times. Orton then grabbed a second chair and brought it into the ring. He placed Matt’s head on it, removed his neck brace, and then primed up for another conchairto. He thought better of it and then walked away. As he did, he rethought things again and ran back over to Matt. Orton pulled Matt out of the ring and placed him face first on the steel steps. He then did the conchairto onto the steel steps and smiled. After, he sat on the chair before walking off as the audience booed. Again though, Orton ran back and hit the move again. After, he yelled “I’m sorry” before walking off as the show went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: That’s quite the follow to last week. First off, it went on too long. Each time Orton went back to hit the vicious chair shots, the audience seemingly moved toward his side. Some in the crowd chanted “one more time” which was clearly not the desired reaction. As for the apology, Orton tied that together nicely when he mockingly said “I’m sorry” to Matt after the brutality. That worked to convey that he obviously wasn’t sorry at all. Orton showed some good range with his performance, but I’m not sure how long this can go on without a tangible next step from a babyface. If tonight is any indication and that involvement lingers too much, Orton may start getting cheered even more. As strange as that sounds.
-Out of the break, the announce team played highlights of the events between Hardy and Orton from the first segment. They then seriously discussed the angle and put heat on Orton from what he did. They then showed a video of Hardy being stretchered out of the arena. After, Erick Rowan made his entrance to the ring. Once he got there, Aleister Black walked out to a strong reaction. As soon as Black got down to the ring, the bell rang, and the match began.
(1) ALEISTER BLACK vs. ERICK ROWAN
Black charged at Rowan to start things off, but his knee was blocked. After, the action quickly spilled to the outside of the ring where Rowan took the upper hand. The show then went to commercial break with a split screen. (c)
Out of the break, the action continued. Rowan hit a vertical suplex on Black in the middle of the ring and then covered, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Rowan hit a series of elbows and then tossed Black into the corner. There, he crushed him with strikes before pulling him out of the ring and swinging him into the barricade. From there, Rowan tossed Black into the barricade again before attempting a powerbomb into the ring post. Black countered the move into a hurricanrana and then connected with a moonsault. After, Black rolled Rowan into the ring. There, Black hit a series of kicks on Rowan including a knee to the face. Black made the cover, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Black attempted Black Mass, but Rowan countered it. They exchanged punches in the ring until Rowan hit a powerbomb on Black. He tried for a pin attempt as well, but only got a two count. Out of that pin, Rowan went for the Iron Claw, but Black countered it with Black Mass. The move knocked Rowan into the ropes which saved the pinfall. Soon after, Black hit Black Mass again and made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Black via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: A solid and straightforward TV match and win for Black. He needed it. Not that Rowan has infinite credibility or anything, but he had more than the jobbers Black had faced for the last month or so. On the Rowan side of things, this certainly slows his push. At this point though, he was a one trick gimmick that ran its course after a few weeks anyway. Because of that, he doesn’t lose all that much here.
-After the match, Black celebrated in the ring as the show went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, Charlotte made her way to the ring. Once she got there, she pointed at the WrestleMania sign and smiled.
Heydorn’s Analysis: It’s falling on deaf ears. I know. But please, enough with the sign pointing already.
From there, she grabbed a microphone and said that last night she was at NXT TakeOver Portland. She then cued up a video of what she did on that show including taking out Rhea Ripley and accepting her challenge for WrestleMania. When the video ended, Charlotte nodded as some in the audience chanted NXT. In response, Charlotte said that she went to NXT to see who was filling Rhea Ripley with the idea that Ripley could come to Raw and interact with her. She then talked about how she reminisced on her time in NXT and how her generation made NXT what it is. She said she was angry about the entitlement that those in NXT now have. She said those in NXT now don’t have respect. From there, Charlotte addressed Rhea Ripley and said that she had a lot of nerve bringing the NXT Championship to Raw and holding it in front of her. Charlotte said that she would humble Ripley at WrestleMania and that everyone is the next big thing until they aren’t. Charlotte then pointed at the WrestleMania sign again as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked. A bit cliched? Sure. But, because of Charlotte’s history in NXT you could see how she might feel that way. They need to take it further now. Use the story Charlotte told, but frame it as out of touch and rooted in her own distorted reality so she stays in the heel camp opposite the babyface Ripley.
-Out of the break, R-Truth, Mojo Rawley, and Riddick Moss stood in the ring. The bell rang and their match began.
(2) R-TRUTH vs. RIDDICK MOSS vs. MOJO RAWLEY
The action was back and forth until Truth hit a series of John Cena moves. Right after, Moss rolled Truth up for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Moss via pinfall
-After the match, Mojo tried to attack Truth, but Truth got the upper hand and walked off. The show then went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: It happened. Usual 24-7 nonsense without direction. Yawn.
-Out of the break, Drew McIntyre was introduced and made his way to the ring.
As he walked down, Tom Phillips suggested that maybe Drew couldn’t believe the words that he would “main event WrestleMania.”
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a huge deal, but why draw attention to potential doubt in Drew. The point is that he always thought he’d be in the main event of WrestleMania. No doubt at all. Stick with that. It’s the sweet spot for McIntyre.
Once he got to the ring, he spoke and said that the crowd was fired up. He said that there was only 48 days until WrestleMania and then joked about pointing at the sign. He said he wanted to do it better than Charlotte and got the entire arena to point with him. They did and cheered along. From there, he continued and said that these days suplex city lived inside Claymore Country. Drew said that he was invading Suplex City, burning that bitch to the ground, and becoming the WWE Champion.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I can do without the sign pointing, but the post point promo was on point. Ha! See what I did there? Drew sounded believable and looked like a badass babyface who was ready to take that next big step. Really good stuff.
As soon as he finished, Paul Heyman walked out to a chorus of boos. Heyman introduced Brock Lesnar, but Lesnar did not appear. Heyman then asked Drew if he really thought Brock Lesnar was there. He continued and said that he just wanted him and everyone else to know what it would sound like after Lesnar beats Ricochet at Super Showdown and after he F-5’s and beats Drew at WrestleMania. In response, Drew told Heyman he could say Brock’s name over and over, but wanted him to make sure he said it when he was crying after losing the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Heyman spoke again and said he didn’t want to debate Drew because he respected him. Heyman then introduced MVP and MVP walked down to the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: McIntyre held his own with Heyman and continued to come across as a big star that is unfazed by Lesnar. Having Heyman intro MVP helped alleviate any potential cheers he may have gotten because he’s a rarity at this point. Smart move.
As MVP walked down, he said he had a big issue with Drew McIntyre. He said that since Drew was a friend, he invited him to the MVP lounge as a VIP, but he repaid him with disrespect. Drew broke in and said he kicked his head off, but MVP said it was a cheap shot. MVP told the ref to ring the bell, but then hit Drew with a cheap shot of his own. The match then began.
(3) DREW MCINTYRE vs. MVP
Drew dominated out of the gate. He hit the Future Shock DDT and followed that with the Claymore Kick for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: McIntyre via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: A squash all the way, but exactly what it needed to be. As I’ve said, another week in, and Drew is looking strong.
-After the match, the announce team recapped the events of last week between Becky Lynch and Shayna Baszler. When the video ended, Becky Lynch hit the ring to a big pop from the crowd. Lynch carried her title and a bag with her. She posed on the ramp and then walked down to the ring. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, Lynch paused in the ring as the audience chanted her name. She said she had been feeling a lot of things over the last week. She said she came to the country seeking fame and fortune. She said she learned she didn’t need fame and then poured hundred dollar bills around the ring. She said that that money was a downpayment for violence once she finds Shayna Baszler. She said bad things would happen when she finally finds Baszler. From there, Lynch continued and said that she has cut down every challenger because she had to. She said she was going to cut down Shayna because she wanted to. Baszler then appeared on the big screen. She said she was in the Elimination Chamber match and that was perfect for her because she was a cage fighter. She said everything had lined up perfectly for her here and that it would finish with her taking the Raw women’s championship from Becky. She said biting Becky wasn’t planned, but to imagine what kind of menacing destruction she did have planned. Shayna said she would “tear the shit” out of Becky. In response, Becky said that she would be watching Elimination Chamber and cheering for Baszler to win. Lynch then dropped the mic and left.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Strong stuff from Baszler. She tied last week, Elimination Chamber, and her fight with Becky together in a logical way given the circumstances. Loved the line about wondering what things would look like when she did have something planned. She’s a star, no doubt about it, and she appears to have chemistry with Lynch too. That all begs the question, why book the Elimination Chamber for the Raw women? Just for the cage tie in with Baszler? A little weak and certainly predictable, but if booked correctly, Baszler could look like a very dominant opponent heading into WrestleMania.
-Lana, Bobby Lashley, Zelina Vega, and Angel Garza were interviewed backstage. Lana talked about how it was great that two great couples were teaming up so close to Valentine’s Day. Vega stopped her and said that her and Garza weren’t a couple. Garza agreed because no woman could tie him down. From there, the broadcast made its way back to the ring where Rusev made his entrance. As he did, the show went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, Lashley and Lana made their entrance to the ring. As they did, the announce team cued up a highlight recap video that detailed the events of two weeks ago between Garza, Humberto Carrillo, and Rey Mysterio. After the video, the bell rang, and the match began.
(4) RUSEV & HUMBERTO CARRILLO vs. ANGEL GARZA w/Zelina Vega & BOBBY LASHLEY w/Lana
Out of the gate, the action was back and forth. Garza and Carrillo exchanged a flurry of holds and moves including arm drag takedowns and dropkicks. Eventually, Garza took full control of the match after a dropkick and then taunted the babyfaces by throwing his pants at them. From there, he kissed a fan in the crowd, but was crushed by a Carrillo suicide dive. The show then went to break. (c)
Out of the break, the action continued with Lashley maintaining control over Humberto. Finally, Carrillo made the tag to Rusev. He hit the ring strong and crushed Garza with two straight suplexes. After, he made the cover, but only got a two count because Lashley interfered. From there, Rusev and Lashley brawled with each other until Garza hit Rusev with a superkick. Garza then covered, but only got a two count because Carrillo made the save. Out of the pin, Carrillo hit Garza with a corkscrew dive over the ropes, but was then hit with a Lashley spear. Rusev then nailed Lashley with a spear before climbing into the ring and battling with Garza gain.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Hot spot. They seem to have the audience.
Rusev hit a top rope headbutt on Garza and covered, but only got a two count. Out of that pin, Rusev tried for the Accolade, but Garza countered. Instead, Rusev lifted Garza into the air for a move, but was distracted by Lashley. He hit Lashley with a kick, but was then rolled up by Garza for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Garza and Lashley via pinfall
-After the match, Rusev halted Garza’s celebration by attacking him. From there, Asuka and Kairi Sane were shown walking backstage. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: A fine match and one that the crowd seemed to be into. To what purpose though? A little more heat on Garza I suppose, but no clear progress in the story between him and Carrillo.
-Out of the break, Natalya made her entrance. As she did, the announce team recapped a recent match between her and Asuka. From there, Kairi Sane made her entrance with Asuka at her side. As she did, they spoke on the microphone as the audience booed. They said they didn’t care about Nattie and Asuka said she would beat Nattie inside the Elimination Chamber and go to WrestleMania. When she got to the ring, the bell rang, and the match began.
(5) NATALYA vs. KAIRI SANE w/Asuka
Nattie took control early in the match, but was eventually dropped by a spinning back fist by Sane. Sane kept the momentum from there and hit Nattie with a flurry of strikes before locking in a choke submission. Eventually, Sane tried for the cover, but Nattie kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Sane locked in the choke submission once again. In the end, Asuka crushed Nattie with an illegal kick on the outside of the ring. From there, Nattie didn’t answer the ten count and lost the match.
WINNER: Sane via count out
-After the match, the announce team hyped the upcoming sermon from Seth Rollins as the show went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: I’m still on board with the Asuka and Sane pairing, but this was just a match. Yes, Asuka and Nattie are in the Elimination Chamber match, but given Baszler is in it too, any other stories within the match are pretty much rendered useless at this point due to the trajectory already started between Shayna and Becky.
-Out of the break, AOP was shown in the ring with Buddy Murphy. They stood at a podium and Murphy spoke. The audience booed him, but he introduced Seth Rollins as the man who single handedly saved Monday Night Raw. From there, Rollins made his entrance to the ring. He walked out and shook hands with the crowd and then hugged his group when he got into the ring. When he finished hugging, he thanked Murphy for the introduction. He also thanked the crowd for making him their Monday Night Messiah and the audience booed. From there, he continued and said he didn’t name the segment a sermon, but that he wanted to just talk to the audience. He said sermon did fit though because what he had to say was divine. The audience continued to boo and the boos got louder when Rollins tried to stop them by putting his hand the air. Rollins then started the sermon and said they were there to celebrate progress and moving forward within his vision.
Rollins said that phase one of this movement encountered resistance, but they completed phase one last week when they beat Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, and the Viking Raiders. In response, the audience chanted “you suck.” In response, Rollins asked for a little respect. He said that through sacrifice, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. Rollins followed up and said that now the work really begins. He said he takes his responsibility as the messiah seriously and that phase two wouldn’t be easy either. He said phase two was necessary though and for the greater good. Rollins said they needed to seek out the week and non compliant to find the flaws in the system and rehabilitate them. He said if those flaws couldn’t be rehabilitated, they would have to be eradicated. Rollins said that any WWE Superstars that are non-compliant would be treated like the weak. From there, the Viking Raiders ran down and attacked. They took down AOP and Murphy as Rollins ran away. With his back turned, Kevin Owens hit Rollins with a Stunner and then stood over him. The show then went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: More of the same, but presented in the form of a sermon. Rollins delivered the words well and phase two was an interesting next step. That said, in the end, we got the same interruption that we’ve gotten by the babyfaces for the last three weeks. This needs true stakes of some kind if its going to continue on.
-Out of the break, Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage. He said that the men around him are the only ones that give him the respect he deserves. Rollins said that if Owens and Raiders want a fight, they’d get one tonight.
-The OC made their entrance. Once they got to the ring, Styles spoke on the microphone and said he was back on Monday Night Raw. He asked what would WrestleMania season be like without him. Gallows spoke next and said that he was phenomenal once the WrestleMania sign went up. Anderson then spoke and called him the new Mr. WrestleMania. In response, Styles said that he was humble, but that he was the greatest superstar on any roster and of any era. He said he would win the gauntlet match at Super Showdown and then nobody could doubt him.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Styles dropping the names of those legends will start that rumor mill up again. Lots of dream matches in there.
At that point, Ricochet made his way to the ring. When he got there, Styles said he was joking when he mentioned Ricochet as a potential WWE Champion. Styles said nobody sees him as champion and he didn’t deserve a title opportunity. Ricochet responded and said that he earned his title match and that he would beat Brock Lesnar at Super Showdown to become champion. The OC laughed and while they did, Ricochet challenged them to a match. They laughed the challenge off to until Karl Anderson accepted. From there, the bell rang, and the match began.
(6) RICOCHET vs. KARL ANDERSON w/Gallows and Styles
Ricochet controlled the match to start and hit Anderson with a flipping dive. The show then went to commercial break in a split screen. (c)
Out of the break, the action continued. Ricochet hit a flurry of his flashy offense, including a rolling dropkick, springboard clotheslines, and other strikes. In the end, he lifted Karl Anderson on his shoulders and dropped him with a kick before making the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Ricochet via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Smart to give Ricochet some wins heading into the Lesnar match at Super Showdown. Yes, we know what will happen there, but might as well go through the motions.
-After the match, the announce team officially announced the six man between AOP/Murphy against Owens/Viking Raiders. The show then went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, the announce team played highlights of what happened earlier in the night between Randy Orton and Matt Hardy.
-Liv Morgan was interviewed backstage. Morgan said she was excited to see Ruby Riott when she returned. She said that moment was one of the best moments of her career. From there, she said Ruby betrayed her trust and that being betrayed by someone you believe in is enough to break anyone. She said long ago it would have broken her, but she isn’t a puppy on a leash any longer. Morgan said in her future, she’s stepping into the Elimination Chamber, taking out Riott, and moving on to WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Morgan looks like she’s about to crack up laughing during these promos and its a problem. She can’t convey a serious thought looking that way whether she means to or not.
-Kevin Owens made his way to the ring and was followed by the Viking Raiders. Once they got to the ring, AOP and Murphy walked out. They walked down to the ring and as they did, the show went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, the bell rang, and the match began.
(7) KEVIN OWENS & THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. MURPHY & AOP
Owens and Murphy started the match. Owens crushed Murphy with a round of punches and then tagged Ivar in. Ivar kept momentum and then tagged Erick into the match. He held control and tossed Murphy back near his corner. There, Owens tagged back into the match and continued to dominate over Murphy. He hit chops and a back elbow before talking trash to AOP in their corner. From there, Owens tossed Murphy back toward his corner and tagged Ivar back into the match. Eventually, Murphy made the tag to Akam and he and Erick went toe to toe in the ring. They exchanged punches until Erick took over and tagged Ivar into the match. Ivar hit a double team with Erick on Akam and then tagged Erick back into the match. Erick looked to maintain control of the match, but Akam dropped him with a power slam to turn the tides of the match. After, Rezar connected with a knee strike before throwing Erick back into their corner to cut the ring in half. Eventually, Erick made the hot tag to Kevin Owens. Owens hit the ring and cleared it as the show went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: From an in ring perspective, so far, this is just fine. More than fine, perhaps. That said, we’ve been here before. What’s next? Hard to engage fully without some sort of progression.
Out of the break, AOP and Murphy cut the ring in half and held momentum over Kevin Owens. Owens battled out with consecutive super kicks to Murphy, but couldn’t make the tag because AOP interfered. With Murphy opposite him again, Owens connected with a stiff forearm and then made the tag to Ivar. Ivar hit the ring and connected with a seated senton and then cartwheeled out of the way of Akam before hitting him with a clothesline. From there, Owens tagged in and connected with a Swanton before making the cover for a two count. Out of the pin, Rezar hit Owens with clothesline before tagging Murphy into the match. Murphy hit the ropes for a move, but Owens dropped him with a pop up powerbomb before making the cover for a two count. Eventually, Owens hit Murphy with the Stunner and went for a cover, but Seth Rollins broke the pin up. This caused the referee to ring the bell and call the match.
WINNER: No contest
-After the match stopped, Rollins and company beat on Kevin Owens. In the middle of the beat down, Rollins got on a microphone and yelled that “this is what would happen if you impede progress and impede his vision. To a fallen Owens, Rollins said that it was time to crucify him. As soon as he said those words, the Street Profits ran out to make the save. They hit the ring and helped clear it with Owens and the Viking Raiders as Rollins ran away. As the Street Profits, Owens, and the Viking Raiders celebrated in the ring, Rollins yelled as the show faded to black.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Once again, the Street Profits showed that they can bring it when booked as serious competitors instead of strictly working in hype segments backstage. They looked great here and fired up perfectly when needed. Really well done on their part and the crowd responded. All that said, whether its the secondary title or something else all together, the Rollins group and angle need more direction that eventually gets to and endpoint. This combination of guys simply can’t fight each other forever.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 2/10: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Lynch vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship, new Super Showdown hype, and more