The Shield Gave a Farewell Address; Paul Heyman Interrupted Seth Rollins
WWE advertised the opening segment as a "farewell address" from The Shield, but the only person we actually heard from was Roman Reigns, and he choose to keep his speech short and sweet before passing the mic to Rollins so he could engage in a verbal sparring with Heyman. If that is indeed the last time we see The Shield together, then what a letdown. Heyman and Rollins both cut pretty good promos, but they're really starting to run out of material to work with to build up this Universal Championship match at WrestleMania 35. Brock Lesnar couldn't return to Raw soon enough.
Seth Rollins def. Shelton Benjamin
Yes, Benjamin attacking Rollins out of nowhere must have seemed random to most, but Benjamin and Lesnar actually have history from their developmental days and even before that as college roommates. What I did have an issue with, however, was Benjamin showing up on Raw despite being a SmackDown Live Superstar. The Brand Split continues to die a slow death. The actual match was well-wrestled and I was glad they were given as much time as they were, even if the outcome was never in doubt.
Bobby Lashley def. Finn Balor to Win the Intercontinental Championship
I didn't care much for this feud late last year and they haven't been lighting the world on the fire over the Intercontinental Championship lately, either. I was hopeful Balor would beat Lashley here and we could finally move on from this rivalry, but instead, Lashley regained the gold and I'm not exactly sure why. Is this program set to continue through WrestleMania? If so, are we in for a multi-man match for the title at 'Mania? All I know is that these two don't have chemistry together and it's time to incorporate some fresh faces into the championship picture.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey Attacked Dana Brooke
Rousey still rushes through her lines a bit, but at least she appears to be infinitely more comfortable on the mic as a heel than she was as a babyface. I liked her intensity here, but her line about fans paying 60 bucks to see a real armbar (or something along those lines) was beyond dumb. After all, WWE loves to remind us every chance they get that the pay-per-views are free for new subscribers. Seriously, though, her beatdown on Brooke was well done. I'm sure most people forgot Brooke was still employed, so props to her for making the most of the television time she had. She probably won't be getting any more any time soon.
Aleister Black and Ricochet def. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
I wasn't thrilled when Black and Ricochet originally joined forces (just because they deserve to be showcased on their own), but it makes sense as long as they're a part of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Plus, they work wonderfully together and I've enjoyed all of their matches on the main roster up to this point. This was another quality encounter from them that allowed the duo to maintain their momentum. Obviously, based off The Revival's post-match attack on Black and Ricochet, the NXT alum remain in the title hunt.
Alexa Bliss Revealed She Will Serve as the Host of WrestleMania 35 on Moment of Bliss
You just had to know Bliss was going to reveal herself as the host of WrestleMania considering how this announcement hadn't been mentioned whatsoever prior to the show. I can't say I'm surprised, if only because she has been sitting on the sidelines for the better part of the past six months. I don't think she's still injured, but rather I think WWE doesn't have any plans for her at the moment. Similar to The New Day, it's a harmless role for her that will give her more television time leading up to the event than if she took part in the (likely) WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal.
Natalya def. Nia JAx by Disqualification
I honestly wasn't looking forward to this match whatsoever, so I wasn't disappointed by its brevity. It was probably for the best that it was so short, if only because it was meant to be more of an angle than an actual matchup, anyway. Beth Phoenix didn't receive a strong reaction when she entered alongside Natalya, but I'm happy to see the Divas of Doom back together. Jax and Tamina being in the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship picture does nothing for me, but hopefully the Divas of Doom can make matters more interesting with their involvement.
Triple H Agreed to Face Batista at WrestleMania 35
I may be in the minority here, but I've wanted to see Batista vs. Triple H at WrestleMania for a few years now. No, not because I have high hopes of it being an instant classic, but because I figured the buildup could be a lot of fun. I'd argue that has been the case so far with this segment being a prime example. Batista is in his element as a heel and was back to being a Hollywood prick for this promo, which was glorious. It could have been better, mind you, but there's still time for them to heat it up some more before 'Mania. They'll definitely benefit from the No Holds Barred stipulation as well.
Kurt Angle def. Apollo Crews
Angle announced before the bout that he will be wrestling his retirement match at WrestleMania, and that the next few weeks will be his "farewell tour" of sorts. It was cool he had the chance to compete in his hometown of Pittsburgh one last time, but Crews was a questionable opponent. If he handpicked Crews as his opponent, then that's fine. Otherwise, what a waste of a matchup for Angle. It was fine for what it was, yet hardly a breakout performance from Crews.
Roman Reigns vs. Baron Corbin Went to a No Contest
As Reigns was making his way to the ring, he was viciously attacked by Drew McIntyre, so the match never got started. If I could thank McIntyre in person, I would, because he saved us all from a main event nobody asked for in the first place. Corbin actually never surfaced, so fingers crossed Corbin vs. Reigns isn't being saved for WrestleMania. There's a better chance we get Reigns vs. McIntyre on the grand stage instead.
Drew McIntyre def. Dean Ambrose in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
After what McIntyre did to Reigns, Ambrose demanded a Falls Count Anywhere match with McIntyre and Triple H granted him his request. They have faced off two other times and both bouts were decent at best, but this was great. They made full use of the stipulation by taking their fight all over the arena, keeping the crowd engaged and beating the crap out of each other. McIntyre going over was the right call if Reigns vs. McIntyre is the direction WWE is headed in for WrestleMania.
I was pulling for a hotter show coming out of Fastlane, and while a few new matches were made official for WrestleMania, this wasn't too newsworthy of a night outside of the Intercontinental Championship changing hands. It just felt like business as usual. Normally, that wouldn't be a bad thing, but with WrestleMania less than one month away, WWE needs to be doing a better job of getting people excited for the event. This wasn't an amazing edition of Raw, but it wasn't awful, either. It was a solid show, but that doesn't suffice at this stage, at least in my opinion.
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