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The entire week leading to WrestleMania 37 is filled with events, and it all kicked off with Monday’s episode of WWE Raw.
Before they do battle for the WWE Championship, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley both had singles matches against somebody they have had run-ins with recently.
The Scottish Warrior took on Baron Corbin, and The All Mighty faced his former Hurt Business associate, Cedric Alexander.
The New Day will defend the Raw tag titles against AJ Styles and Omos this weekend, so WWE booked a rematch between The Phenomenal One and Xavier Woods for Monday’s show.
We also saw future opponents Asuka and Rhea Ripley team up to face the women’s tag team champions, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, in a non-title bout.
Let’s take a look at everything that happened on the go-home episode of Raw heading into WrestleMania on Saturday and Sunday.
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Raw opened with McIntyre making his way to the ring. We saw a clip of Corbin attacking him last week before The Scottish Warrior delivered a promo about his upcoming fight with Lashley.
He got a little choked up as he talked about the conversations he has had with his mother over the years about his career and all of the sacrifices he has had to make. Lashley came out with MVP to cut his promo short.
Lashley called McIntyre a great champion but said his time was over. McIntyre tried to provoke a fight, but MVP told him he would have to wait. King Corbin joined the party and said he is going to stop McIntyre from ever making it to WrestleMania.
This was a decent promo segment, but it didn’t have the sense of urgency that is needed for the final show before WrestleMania.
McIntyre and Lashley were good with the delivery of their lines, but Corbin slowed things down. His presence wasn’t necessary. In fact, his short speech would have been more effective if it was delivered backstage during an interview.
This segment didn’t cover any new ground or make the match between Lashley and McIntyre any more interesting. It was kind of bland, but the people involved did a good job with what they had.
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The first match of the night was a rematch from last week featuring Styles taking on Woods. Omos and Kofi Kingston were there to support their partners from ringside.
Styles struck first with a few punches and a hip toss. Styles locked Woods in the Calf Crusher, but he was distracted when Kingston threw a microphone at Omos.
This allowed Woods to roll Styles up for the pin. The New Day celebrated as its challengers looked on in anger.
This was a short match that didn’t do anything to make this feud more exciting, but what we did get to see was entertaining.
Woods and Styles only had time to hit a few moves, but each one looked great. The stuff with Omos and Kingston was contrived and still managed to be entertaining.
Was this necessary? No. Was it good? Maybe. Was it funny? Yes.
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Braun Strowman delivered a passionate promo from inside a steel cage about his WrestleMania showdown with Shane McMahon. Once he was done, McMahon brought out Elias and Jaxson Ryker to face him in a handicap match.
After the break, the bell rang and Strowman immediately took control of the situation. He threw Ryker out of the ring before going after Elias. Ryker prevented him from hitting a powerslam to save Elias.
They stomped The Monster Among Men into the mat after hitting a double side suplex. They each took turns hitting moves from the top rope, but Strowman kicked out.
The big man recovered and hit both men with powerslams for the win.
The promo from Strowman might not have made a ton of sense, but he delivered it with more heart than expected. He was convincing and did more to make this match matter than all of the previous moments he has had with McMahon combined.
The match that followed was as predictable as it gets. McMahon stacked the odds against Strowman, but he still came out on top like we all knew he would.
Elias and Ryker looked good for the few seconds they had the upper hand. Even though this whole segment was average at best, it was still the best thing we have seen during this feud.
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Asuka and Baszler began in the ring with a heated exchange before The Empress scored the first takedown. Asuka brought her to the corner for a tag, but Ripley refused.
Baszler broke away before Ripley decided to take a turn in the ring. She picked up The Queen of Spades and threw her toward her corner. Jax came in and traded words with the No. 1 contender before they started throwing punches.
Ripley tagged Asuka back in against her will and watched as she put Jax in an octopus stretch. The Irresistible Force countered to escape, but Asuka hit a knee to the face.
Ripley and Baszler both got the tag, and thanks to a distraction from Reginald, The Queen of Spades took her down with a chop block. We returned from a break to see Baszler focusing on Ripley’s leg.
Asuka got the hot tag and took out both opponents with a series of quick moves. As The Empress climbed to the top turnbuckle, Ripley shoved her to the ground. She threw Asuka back in so Baszler could hit a running knee for the win.
This was a solid match with a logical outcome for everybody. Ripley and Asuka shouldn’t be getting along, and WWE made sure they were enemies by the time this was over.
Ripley costing her own team the match helped push her storyline and keep the women’s tag champs looking strong with a win at the same time. Two birds with one stone.
WWE also announced a four-team match for night one of WrestleMania with the winners earning a women’s tag title shot on night two.
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Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander confronted MVP backstage earlier in the show. Before the match began, Benjamin and Alexander attacked Lashley to wear him down.
Once Lashley was able to get free, the ref called for the bell and The All Mighty began beating Alexander in the corner. He hit a neckbreaker before throwing his opponent across the ring.
Lashley dominated his former associate until the show cut to commercial. Alexander tried to make a comeback when we returned and was able to shove Lashley into the steps thanks to a distraction from Benjamin.
The high-flyer hit a pair of suicide dives. When they got back into the ring, The All Mighty countered a DDT attempt. Shelton pleaded with Lashley to relent as he applied the Hurt Lock for the win. When he refused to break the hold, Benjamin came to his partner’s aide.
Lashley grabbed The Gold Standard and put him in the same hold until he passed out.
Lashley has two different feuds going right now, and he has managed to make both of them seem important. He has his storyline with McIntyre while still dealing with his former Hurt Business teammates.
Alexander and Lashley looked good together. Even though Lashley looked like a monster, Alexander was able to get in enough offense to keep himself from looking like a jobber.
This was a strong segment for all four men. It’s just too bad we don’t get to see them as a stable anymore.
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Sheamus joined the commentary team to watch Mustafa Ali battle Riddle. The U.S. champ almost had Ali in a triangle choke right away, but he was forced to break when Ali rolled over into a pinning position.
Riddle sent Ali over the top rope with a back body drop and followed up with a kick from the apron. He grabbed Sheamus’ hat and danced around until Ali took him out.
We returned from a break to see Ali in control, but Riddle quickly began to mount some offense. He hit all of his signature moves as he prepared to execute his finisher.
Ali countered and hit a gutbuster for a two-count. Riddle recovered and scored the win.
We need to address how WWE added a graphic of birds appearing to fly out of Riddle’s butt as he kicked off his sandals. Good, we got that out of the way.
Ali and Riddle have good chemistry and were given enough time to put on an enjoyable performance. Ultimately, Sheamus being there had no impact on the outcome.
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McIntyre and Corbin locked up and fought for control for several seconds before breaking away from each other and locking up again. Corbin went for a waistlock before knocking the former champion down with a shoulder tackle.
The King took McIntyre down with a clothesline for a quick one-count. He choked The Scottish Warrior against the rope until the ref made him back off.
McIntyre began to build up a head of steam as he threw Corbin across the ring with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Corbin avoided the Future Shock DDT but still wound up being thrown into the steel steps.
We returned from a commercial to see Corbin trying to turn his luck around. He ran McIntyre into the ring post to send him flying off the apron. He reversed a suplex by the former WWE champion to get a near-fall.
After both men came close to winning several times, McIntyre hit the Claymore for the win.
Corbin is a big guy who always tends to work best when he is in the ring with somebody of equal size, so it’s easy to see why this ended up being a decent match.
It wasn’t great by any means, but it did highlight both men’s strengths and gave Corbin something to do since he doesn’t have his own WrestleMania feud.
MVP being on commentary helped sell why this was taking place. He wanted Corbin to take out McIntyre so Lashley would have an easier challenge beating The King at WrestleMania. It was thin, but MVP made it work.
For the final episode of Raw before ‘Mania, this was kind of lackluster. Let’s hope this weekend gives us a show that is better than the buildup to it.