The Undertaker Addressed AJ Styles
First of all, the WrestleMania 36 video package for AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker that kicked off the show was excellent. Secondly, that was easily the best Undertaker promo I've heard in years. I loved how he was essentially in "American Badass" mode and actually came across like a human being for a change. There's a time and place for the Deadman persona, but it's refreshing that we haven't been getting that during his storyline with Styles. Here's hoping we get this version of Undertaker when he and Styles face off this weekend.
Shayna Baszler Attacked Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch
As I've said before, Lynch has been killing it on the mic for the past month and this was another quality promo from here. I liked how she hyped her upcoming encounter by tying it into her WrestleMania win last year, which was replayed in its entirety. I appreciated that she's stayed serious and it's added to my excitement for their match. Baszler's sneak attack was well done and was a nice way follow up Lynch blasting her with a chair from behind last week.
Aleister Black def. Jason Cade
I thought Cade was Jay Lethal for a second if Lethal grew his hair out again and was thrown into a dryer. We saw Black squash a local athlete last week and this was no different. Black beat him with ease and that Black Mass was a thing of beauty. Props to Cade for selling it so well, too. I'm not sure how this is supposed to get me excited for Black vs. Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania, but at least Black is being kept strong.
Kevin Owens and Raw Tag Team Champions The Street Profits def. Seth Rollins, Angel Garza and Austin Theory
Andrade was scheduled to compete in this match as well as in the Raw Tag Team Championship matchup at WrestleMania alongside Garza, but Zelina Vega announced that he suffered a rib injury last week (which is legitimate) and that he'll be able to compete here or at WrestleMania. Theory will serve as his replacement. I like Theory, but it's especially odd when you consider he just lost to Tyler Breeze a week ago on NXT. Nonetheless, this was a fun six-man tag team affair. Rollins hit Owens with a Stomp immediately after he picked up the victory, leading to Owens cutting a fantastic promo on Rollins following the commercial break. He admitted that he had help with all of his accomplishments but so did Rollins, and that at WrestleMania, he'll "burn it down." Other than last line, this was top-notch stuff from Owens.
Edge Addressed Randy Orton
Not only was the video package for Edge vs. Orton at WrestleMania phenomenal, Edge's subsequent backstage promo was even better. Seriously, he was on another level here. If this is because WWE has been forced to emphasize the promos more because they're taping TV at the Performance Center, then I hope they do empty arena shows more often. In all seriousness, Edge covered all the bases of his rivalry with Orton in this promo and left me looking forward to their 'Mania match even more than I was before.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Asuka def. Kayden Carter
Who knew that Asuka would be all over these empty arena shows than anyone else? She's made several appearances on Raw, SmackDown and even Main Event. Speaking of Main Event, this was basically the same exact match these two had on that show last week, albeit a bit shorter. Asuka being booked to look dominant is cool, but the shouting does nothing for me, personally. It was also announced that she and Kairi Sane will defend their WWE Women's Tag Team Championship against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross at WrestleMania.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman Addressed Drew McIntyre
While this was the usual exceptional stuff from Heyman, I'm slightly disappointed we didn't hear from McIntyre one more time before WrestleMania. I don't believe he's appeared on a single one of these PC shows, at least in anything other than video packages. At any rate, this was a hell of a way to sell viewers on Lesnar vs. McIntyre at 'Mania and establish Lesnar as the man to beat. Part of me would be sad if McIntyre fails to win the WWE title this weekend, but then again, they could save his big moment for another time when there's an actual audience there to celebrate it, such as SummerSlam. Either way, the outcome is far from predictable and I'm very interested to see how they handle it.
As much of a shame as it is that WWE will have to run empty arena shows at the PC for the foreseeable future (most of which being taped for the next week and a half), these shows haven't been completely terrible, or at least Raw and NXT. WWE once again made the most of a bad situation with this show by heavily focusing on the mic work and everyone knocked it out of the park with their promos. There were only two WrestleMania video packages and both of them were terrific. The match replays were enjoyable, the six-man tag team matchup was a treat and the three hours flew by for me. I'm probably in the minority here and I can't speak for everyone, but this edition of Raw managed to get me in the "WrestleMania mood." I really hope they can maintain this format with future episodes because it's worked wonderfully so far.
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