SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE PERFORMANCE CENTER
MARCH 30, 2020
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton
Top 10 Moments from Last Week’s Show:
Arena, and Items Advertised by WWE
The trend of audience-free shows continues as Raw will emanate from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL. Tonight’s episode should have been filmed last week prior to the “shelter-in-place” order put in place for Orange County, of which Orlando, FL. is included. The order went into effect this past Thursday evening and remains in place until at least April 9. Most of WrestleMania was to have been filmed throughout Wednesday and Thursday which other matches likely being recorded elsewhere, such as the Boneyard match between Undertaker and A.J. Styles and perhaps the Firefly Funhouse match between John Cena and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt on Smackdown.
Here is what’s on tap for tonight:
- WWE Champion Brock Lesnar makes final pre-WrestleMania appearance
- The Undertaker rises before Boneyard battle with A.J. Styles
- Edge returns following Orton’s Last Man Standing acceptance
- Becky Lynch prepares to close out against Shayna Baszler
Brock Lesnar Final pre-WrestleMania Appearance
It wouldn’t be WrestleMania without Brock Lesnar either defending or challenging for a world championship. He’s done so in each of the last three events, although in all those cases it involved the Universal Championship. This year he defends the WWE Championship against 2020 Royal Rumble winner Drew McIntyre. His last match involving the WWE Championship took place 17 years ago at WrestleMania 19 where he challenged and defeated then-champion WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle.
Last week on Raw, Brock and his advocate Paul Heyman opened the show with an in-ring promo. Paul said, “I assure you, when WrestleMania is over, Drew McIntyre is going to be another bitch that tried, another wannabe that got douched out, by the greatest champion to ever stand in a WWE ring.” Prior to that they showed videos of Brock F5ing several of his opponents including Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, John Cena, the Rock, etc. Drew said he would knock Brock on his ass and somewhat mocked Paul saying he would be the “reigning, defending, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world” at WrestleMania.
We have one more stop on the way to that match, and that’s tonight, where Brock Lesnar appears on Raw. This is Drew’s first one-on-one match for any world championship in his WWE career. He’s talked a couple of times recently talking about always envisioning facing Brock, as well as dedicating the upcoming match to his wife and mother. Here’s links to those articles off Twitter:
Drew McIntyre on WrestleMania 36: "This match is dedicated to my mother and my wife"https://t.co/Edjd5XKZGd
— Justin Barrasso (@JustinBarrasso) March 24, 2020
— WWE Public Relations (@WWEPR) March 27, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: It’s still a shame that this has to be in front of no fans, but I would still put the title on Drew if that was the original plan. It makes that first appearance in front of fans, whenever that takes place, all the more special. If they weren’t going to have Drew win all along, that’s different.
The Undertaker Readies for Boneyard Match with A.J. Styles
Last week, A.J. Styles and his O.C. friends Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson came out to talk about A.J.’s match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania. He showed a video of Undertaker and his wife, former WWE wrestler Michelle McCool at home with a tiger at their pool. A.J. questioned what the Undertaker had become, and at WrestleMania wanted to see the Undertaker of old, but he’s nowhere to be found. In an effort to bring out the old ‘Taker, A.J. challenged him to a Boneyard match.
Here’s a little Twitter trash talk from A.J.:
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) March 24, 2020
A.J. apparently explained some of the details of the match on his mixer channel, so if you’re a fan of that go check that out. According to one article he said it will take place in a graveyard setting, but the rules and finish aren’t clear. We’ll have to see. Undertaker appears tonight, in advance of this new & unique match.
Frank’s Analysis: It makes sense to do something like this, giving WWE a way to film a match outside of the Performance Center. On the other hand, and maybe it’s me, isn’t it a little insensitive to do this in a graveyard setting considering people are dying from the coronavirus? I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore and it’s pretty exhausting thinking about all of this.
Edge Returns Following Orton Acceptance
Last week, in the closing segment of Raw, Randy Orton accepted Edge’s challenge to a Last Man Standing match at WrestleMania. He cut a long promo highlighting some of Edge’s points, including Randy being handed an opportunity as opposed to Edge “working for it.” Randy acknowledged it was true, but also acknowledged what he did with that opportunity, and that was becoming a constant in the industry and the “three deadliest letters in sports entertainment” (gotta get that WWE-speak in there). They showed his first Intercontinental Championship win and his destroying of WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley. He talked about doing what he did out of love for Edge and his family, and that Adam Copeland (Edge) was a junkie to his own ego. Randy said he, not Edge, will write the ending of their story at WrestleMania.
Here’s a little Randy trash talk on Twitter:
— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) March 24, 2020
Edge appears tonight, as we get ready for this Last Man Standing match at WrestleMania.
Frank’s Analysis: This is still another shame that this is not happening in front of a crowd. Edge’s unexpected return and big match with Randy Orton feels like the biggest story of WrestleMania. It deserves to be in front of a crowd. That said, the intensity from both men has been off the charts. I very much look forward to seeing how this plays out. I could see a scenario for either man winning the match.
Becky Lynch Readies to Defend Raw Women’s Championship Against Shayna Baszler
Last week, Charly Caruso interviewed Shayna Baszler, who’s getting read to challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Shayna asked a nervous Charly “are you afraid I’m going to bite” as she couldn’t help herself. She said she is going to take the Raw title from Becky because she loves to destroy and taking that title will destroy Becky. As they were getting ready to show highlights from Survivor Series, where Becky and Shayna faced each other in a triple threat non-title match involving Bayley, Becky attacked Shayna from behind with a chair.
Becky spoke about this match on YouTube if you want to check it out. She appears on Raw tonight:
Video: here’s my full interview with @BeckyLynchWWE on Wrestlemania going down next weekend without fans, wrestling @QoSBaszler, McGregor’s last win, the pressure that comes with staying on top and more: https://t.co/tfVlYATUA4
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 28, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: This is a feud that’s just been a misconnect for me. Shayna’s biting didn’t help, but I also don’t feel like they’ve made this personal enough. She said she wanted to destroy Becky and taking the Raw title would do that. Why does she want to do that and why does taking the Raw title do that? There’s more ground to mine and I just feel like they’re leaving a lot on the table. Anyone can say they want to destroy so-and-so. Tell me why and how you’re going to do it.
Other Match Results and Segments from Last Week
- They replayed the triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between champ Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Seth Rollins from the Royal Rumble 2015. At the time, Rollins still held the Money in the Bank contract, which he eventually cashed in at that year’s WrestleMania during the match between Brock and Roman Reigns.
- U.S. Champion Andrade and Angel Garza defeated Ricochet and Cedric Alexander.
- Raw Tag Team Champions the Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) defeated Shane Thorn & Brendon Vink. Here’s the Profits in a WWE exclusive as they get ready to defend their titles against Angel Garza and apparently NXT’s Austin Theory, replacing U.S. Champion Andrade according to some wrestling media outlets:
- They showed R-Truth regaining the 24/7 Championship from Riddick Moss earlier in the week.
- Aleister Black defeated Leon Ruff.
- Kevin Owens called out Seth Rollins looking to answer his WrestleMania challenged. Rollins came out and accepted. He said the Performance Center and all that is NXT was built on his blood, sweat and tears. Without him, there’d be no Gargano, Ciampa, Women’s Evolution, Takeover, etc. Rollins pointed out how Owens has had a lack of success at WrestleMania, and last year wasn’t good enough to be on the card.
None of this should be taking place, but we may as well enjoy it while it’s on. Last week was decent overall and stories were advanced in a positive way towards WrestleMania. Given tonight should already be “in the can,” and the fact that they should have filmed most of WrestleMania at this point, I look forward to seeing the finished product. Sometimes wrestling is better filmed ahead of time, as there is planning involved.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.
CATCH UP… HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 3/23: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show in a crowd free environment including Lesnar and Heyman confronting Drew McIntyre, Orton gives an answer to Edge, and more