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The entire week leading up to WrestleMania 37 is packed with events, and it all started with Monday’s episode of WWE Raw.
Before battling for the WWE Championship, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley both had singles matches against someone they have recently raced with.
The Scottish warrior took over Baron Corbin, and The All Mighty faced his former fast business assistant, Cedric Alexander.
The New Day is defending its Raw titles against AJ Styles and Omos this weekend, so WWE ordered a rematch between The Phenomenal One and Xavier Woods for Monday̵
We also saw future opponents Asuka and Rhea Ripley team up to meet the women’s roof team champions, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, in a title fight.
Let’s take a look at everything that happened in the go-home episode of Raw on its way into WrestleMania on Saturday and Sunday.
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Raw opened with McIntyre taking the road 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 suffocated as he talked about the conversations he has had with his mother over the years about his career and all the sacrifices he has had to bring. Lashley came out with the MVP to shorten his promo.
Lashley called McIntyre a great champion, but said his time was over. McIntyre tried to provoke a fight, but the MVP told him to wait. King Corbin joined the party and said he would stop McIntyre from ever coming to WrestleMania.
Grade: C +
This was a decent promo segment, but it did not have the sense of urgency 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 was not necessary. In fact, his short speech would have been more effective if delivered behind the scenes during an interview.
This segment did not cover any new ground or make the match between Lashley and McIntyre more interesting. It was a bit boring, but those 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 with Styles coming on Woods. Omos and Kofi Kingston were there to support their partners from the ring side.
Styles struck first with a few punches and a hip throw. 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 to the pin. The new day was celebrated as its challengers watched in anger.
This was a short fight that did nothing to make this feud more exciting, but what we got to see was entertaining.
Woods and Styles only had time to hit a few moves, but each of them looked good. Things with Omos and Kingston were contrived and still managed to be entertaining.
Was this necessary? No. Was it good? Maybe. Was it fun? Yes.
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Braun Strowman delivered a passionate promo from inside a steel cage about his WrestleMania showdown with Shane McMahon. When he was done, McMahon brought Elias and Jaxson Ryker out to meet 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 power slam to save Elias.
They stomped the monster among the men into the mat after hitting a double-sided supplex. They each switched to hit moves from the top rope, but Strowman kicked out.
The big man recovered and hit both men with powerslams for the victory.
The promo from Strowman might not have made much sense, but he delivered it with more heart than expected. He was compelling and did more to make this fight important than all the previous moments he has had with McMahon combined.
The fight that followed was as predictable as it gets. McMahon stacked the odds against Strowman, but he still came out on top, which we all knew he would.
Elias and Ryker looked good in the few seconds they had the upper hand. Although this whole segment was average at best, it was still the best 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 removal. Asuka brought her to the corner for a mark, but Ripley refused.
Baszler broke away before Ripley decided to take a ride in the ring. She picked up the Queen of Spades and threw her towards her corner. Jax came in and exchanged words with Candidate No. 1 before they started throwing punches.
Ripley felt Asuka back against her will and watched as she put Jax in an octopus stretch. The irresistible force countered to flee, but Asuka hit a knee in 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 chopping block. We returned from a break to watch Baszler focus on Ripley’s legs.
Asuka got the hot-tag and took both opponents out with a series of quick moves. As the Empress climbed up to the top buckle, Ripley pushed her to the ground. She threw Asuka back so Baszler could hit a running knee for the win.
This was a solid match with a logical result for everyone. Ripley and Asuka were not supposed to be together, and WWE made sure they were enemies when this was over.
Ripley, who cost her own team the fight, helped push her story and keep the women’s tag champ strong with a win at the same time. Two birds in one stone.
WWE also announced a four-team match on the evening of WrestleMania with the winners getting a women’s brand title shot on night two.
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Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander confronted the MVP backstage earlier in the show. Before the match started, Benjamin and Alexander Lashley attacked to break him down.
When Lashley was able to get free, the referee called the bell and The All Mighty started hitting Alexander in the corner. He hit a neck breaker before throwing his opponent over the ring.
Lashley dominated his former employee until the show cut to commercials. Alexander tried to make a comeback when we got back and was able to push Lashley in the steps thanks to a distraction from Benjamin.
High-flyer hit a couple of suicide dives. When they returned to the ring, The All Mighty thwarted a DDT attempt. Shelton begged Lashley to give up as he used Hurt Lock for the win. When he refused to break the hold, Benjamin came to his partner’s helper.
Lashley grabbed The Gold Standard and put him in the same grip until he went out.
Grade: B +
Lashley has two different feuds right now and he has managed to make them both seem important. He has his story with McIntyre while still dealing with his former Hurt Business teammates.
Alexander and Lashley looked great together. Although Lashley looked like a monster, Alexander was able to get into enough insult to prevent himself from looking like a worker.
This was a strong segment for all four men. It’s just a shame we can no longer see them as a barn.
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Sheamus joined the commentary team to see Mustafa Ali the giant Riddle. The American champion almost had Ali in a triangle choke right away, but he was forced to break when Ali rolled over into a fastening position.
Riddle sent Ali over the top rope with a back body fall 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 bring some offense. He hit all his signature moves when he was ready to perform his finisher.
Ali countered and hit a gutbuster for a two-count. Riddle recovered and scored the victory.
We need to address how WWE added a graphic of birds appearing to fly out of Riddle’s ass as he kicked the sandals off. Well, we got it out of the way.
Ali and Riddle have good chemistry and got enough time to give a pleasant performance. In the end, Sheamus had no influence on the outcome.
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McIntyre and Corbin unlocked and fought for control for several seconds before breaking away from each other and unlocking again. Corbin went for a lock before knocking the former champion down with a shoulder grip.
The king took McIntyre down with a rein line for a quick count. He strangled The Scottish Warrior against the rope until the referee got him back.
McIntyre began building a steam head as he threw Corbin over the ring with an overlying belly-to-belly suplex. Corbin avoided Future Shock DDT, but still settles into being thrown into the steel steps.
We returned from an advertisement to see Corbin try to turn his luck around. He ran McIntyre into the ring post to send him flying from the apron. He turned around a suplex of the former WWE champion to get an almost fall.
After both men were close to winning several times, McIntyre hit Claymore for the win.
Corbin is a big guy who always tends to work best when he’s in the ring with someone of the same size, so it’s easy to see why this ended up being a decent fight.
It was by no means amazing, but it highlighted both men’s strengths and gave Corbin something to do as he does not have his own WrestleMania feud.
The MVP, who was on comment, helped sell why this was happening. He wanted Corbin to take McIntyre out, so Lashley would have an easier challenge beating The King at WrestleMania. It was thin, but the MVP made it work.
In the last episode of Raw before ‘Mania, this was a bit boring. Let’s hope this weekend gives us a show that is better than building for it.