Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins Invited Dean Ambrose to Reunite The Shield
You had to know this was coming after what happened last week on Raw when Reigns and Rollins came to the aid of Ambrose. I was going to praise Rollins for not immediately wanting to reunite The Shield given his recent rivalry with Ambrose, but then he opened up to the idea pretty quickly. I wish we got a slower build to The Shield getting back together, but Fastlane is this Sunday and Ambrose is reportedly leaving soon soon after WrestleMania, so I can't say I'm surprised WWE is rushing the reunion. It's worth noting that Reigns mentioned how Rollins was the only person standing in his way between him and the Universal Championship, so expect that to be the first feud over the title post-WrestleMania.
Bobby Lashley, Drew MCIntyre and Baron Corbin def. Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor, Braun Strowman and Kurt Angle
We saw this exact same match three weeks ago before Fastlane, so from an in-ring standpoint, this was hardly anything new. The wrestling was solid and everyone played their roles well, but it dragged on far longer than it needed to. The heels winning puts the babyfaces in chase mode and I'm sure this will factor into the stuff with The Shield somehow. Lashley pinning Balor should also lead to him getting a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship eventually.
Natalya def. Ruby Riott
The Natalya and Riott storyline ended only three months ago, and that's not nearly long enough for this match to feel fresh again. They've worked well together in the past, but there was nothing about this that stood out to me whatsoever. It was too short to be anything special, and The Riott Squad continue to look like massive losers. Lacey Evans did her usual walk to the ring and back up the ramp again afterward, so perhaps her first feud on the main roster will be with Natalya. Or maybe that meant nothing and I'm just reading too much into their interaction.
Triple H Addressed Batista
Triple H can deliver an intense promo when he wants to and I thought this was solid followup to Batista's vicious attack on Ric Flair last week. Personally, I'm looking forward to their WrestleMania match and I liked how Triple H brought up how Batista has been desperate to face him for the past two years. The only thing I didn't appreciate about this promo, however, was Triple H mentioning how he won't be "in character" at WrestleMania and how it'll instead be him as a man. I'm fine with them making it feel personal, but flat-out acknowledging that Triple H is a wrestling persona is a bit too on the nose for me.
Heavy Machinery def. The B-Team, The Ascension and Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins in a Gauntlet Match
I'm all for making Heavy Machinery out to be a dominant force on the tag team scene, but I didn't see the point in having them beat three teams in one night when these victories could have been spread out over several weeks. Ryder and Hawkins are looking to pick up their first victory since reuniting and break Hawkins' lengthy losing streak, but no such luck here. It says a lot that they couldn't beat Heavy Machinery even after they had already technically wrestled two matches.
Elias def. Dean Ambrose; The Shield Reunited
As a match, this was painfully bland and boring. I enjoy both Ambrose and Elias, but this was more about telling a story with Ambrose failing to get the job done on his own than it was about being entertaining. Elias going over was the right call considering Ambrose is on his way out of the company (as of now, anyway). The post-match Shield reunion with Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose battling McIntyre, Corbin and Lashley was well received by the live crowd, but part of me thinks we could still see Ambrose turn on Reigns to set up a one-on-one matchup at WrestleMania.
Tamina def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks
WWE made the mistake of giving Bayley and Jax way too much time on last week's Raw for their match. I applaud any effort by the company to grant the women more television time, but their matchup was no good. Thankfully, this was a bit better as a result of its brevity, but that doesn't change how atrocious Tamina is. Something about Tamina beating Banks is terribly wrong, but it was the logical outcome coming off Bayley's victory over Jax.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival def. Aleister Black and Ricochet by Disqualification
I'd argue that it was too soon for Black and Ricochet to vie for the Raw Tag Team Championship, but then again, they do hold a non-title victory over The Revival, so this match did make sense. Besides, it culminated in a non-finish thanks to interference from Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, so I assume a Triple Threat tag team matchup with the gold up for grabs will be added to the Fastlane card. This was fun while it lasted as Black and Ricochet are a terrific team and have strong chemistry with The Revival.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey Attacked Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair
This angle took a confusing turn earlier in the evening when Stephanie McMahon announced that Rousey had been stripped of the Raw Women's Championship and that Lynch vs. Flair would happen at Fastlane to determine a new champ. Rousey showed up at the beginning of this segment to take her title back before turning heel by going off on the audience. That was the best thing WWE could have done seeing as how she was already getting booed some weeks and she won't be cheered over Lynch. Her assault on Lynch looked vicious and now I'm excited for them doing battle at WrestleMania that much more. Unfortunately, it seems Flair will be involved in the 'Mania match no matter what.
The Shield and the Rousey-Lynch-Flair storylines are the top two focal points of Raw at the moment, and both of them were effectively furthered on this show. It was a tad hard to follow at times, mind you, but they delivered in the end. As for Fastlane, I'm not sold on the pay-per-view any more than I was before. I maintain that any events in between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania are painfully pointless, but we'll see if anything of note happens like at Elimination Chamber. As for this episode of Raw, check out the key segments (Rousey turning heel, The Shield reuniting, and Triple H's promo), but feel free to skip everything else.
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