WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Becky Lynch suspension highlights otherwise flat effort
Lynch was reprimanded by Stephanie McMahon to open Monday night's show
The Road to WrestleMania 35 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, hit a large pothole on Monday following a ho-hum episode of Raw that brought the recent booking and creative expectations back down to earth. This was WWE moving the chains without much of anything new to give, save for an opening segment involving Becky Lynch that served as the show's high-water mark just five minutes in. The majority of what came next over the three-hour broadcast was forgettable just two weeks out from Elimination Chamber.
Let's take a closer look at the good, bad and ugly from Monday night.
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Becky Lynch draws a suspension
Lynch opened Raw by interrupting her own introduction from commissioner Stephanie McMahon. Asked about the brace on her injured left knee, Lynch assured that no doctor would be coming near her. McMahon countered that in saying she won't let Lynch compete without being cleared by WWE's medical staff. Lynch called McMahon a "daddy's girl" who never had to fight for anything. "I earned my way to WrestleMania and there is nothing you or any stupid doctor can do about it," Lynch said.
After McMahon suspended her for refusing treatment, Lynch knocked her down with a right hand. She tried to apply the Dis-Arm-Her but her leg injury prevented it. Lynch then took out security guards and road agents until succumbing to knee pain. Ronda Rousey approached Lynch backstage and the two went nose-to-nose. She called Lynch out for getting suspended and failing to help sell their pay-per-view match at WrestleMania. Rousey cut an angry promo that closed with sentences that were barely audible due to how intense she was attempting to make the moment.
Ronda Rousey def. Liv Morgan via submission: Still angry, Rousey took out her emotions on Morgan following multiple powder breaks from the heel. The squash match ended with Morgan tapping out via armbar and Rousey grabbing the microphone to rip both the RIott Squad and the WWE crowd (which had booed her into promo submission last week). Rousey challenged the faction to another immediate match before cutting a humorous one-liner about the backwoods quality of Sarah Logan's character.
Ronda Rousey def. Sarah Logan via submission: An immediate attack from Logan was quickly reversed into an armbar, which took both Morgan and Riott interfering to help Logan to the ropes. After a commercial break, Rousey produced a quick tap out via armbar and then placed her Raw women's title on the ground to try and entice Riott into a third singles match. Riott retreated, and shortly after during a backstage interview, cut a cowardly promo about her injured teammates needing her. Riott concluded by telling Rousey she would have to wait and that she'll only accept a title opportunity.
Consider this a strong opening segment as WWE smartly went back to the well of double-dipping with the red-hot Lynch on Raw while using her in a female, Steve Austin-like role opposite McMahon that seemed to originally be set aside for Rousey last year. The problem for Rousey's hopes of maintaining that level of booking is her repeated struggles on the microphone. One week after hitting rock bottom (before repairing things late), Rousey wasn't much better delivering overwritten dialogue that felt anything but genuine and spontaneous (The fact that she was too hyped up backstage to deliver her insults to Lynch in an audible manner didn't help much either). Lynch's attack on McMahon sure wasn't prime Attitude Era reincarnated, but it was strong enough to keep the story moving in the most-anticipated feud ahead of WrestleMania. Grade: B
Kurt Angle shakes off retirement
Angle entered the ring prepared to announce he was walking away, saying his famous three I's of "intensity, integrity and intelligence" had been reduced to the three D's: doubt, defeat and depression. Angle, who said the only opponent he couldn't defeat is Father Time, was never able to finish his sentence thanks to run-in's from Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre. Braun Strowman eventually made his way out to even the sides and run the heels off until the main event.
Baron Corbin & Drew McIntyre def. Kurt Angle & Braun Strowman via disqualification: Consecutive hot tags late in the match to Strowman and Angle appeared to set the table for a babyface win. But after McIntyre dove in to save Corbin from being pinned following an Angle Slam, Strowman ran in to help. Corbin warned he would be disqualified should he touch him since he's not the legal man. Strowman attacked him anyway to end the match. He went on to rescue Angle from a further beatdown before choke slamming both Corbin and McIntyre onto the ring steps in the center of the ring.
What a crappy way to end an uneventful episode. In a main event match that glaringly lacked meaning or stakes (beyond Angle realizing he still had it), ending it with a DQ finish that defied logic or continuity was nothing short of an insult to viewers. After a hot few weeks of booking, this was WWE admitting it had nothing left creatively between now and Elimination Chamber on Feb. 17. Had WWE followed through on what felt like a setup for Jason Jordan's triumphant return from injury to rescue his storyline father, all would likely have been forgiven. Grade: D
What else happened on Raw?
- The Revival def. The B-Team via pinfall, Lucha House Party and Heavy Machinery in a four corners elimination match: Fun two-segment match in which Heavy Machinery was largely booked as a top team, with an equal mix of comedy (including a Bushwackers dance and Otis Dozovic's caterpillar) and power spots. With Raw champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable watching backstage on a monitor, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson became No. 1 contenders after hitting Bo Dallas with the Shatter Machine.
- Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins decide to stay together: Despite Hawkins' attempt to prove that his losing streak makes him toxic as a partner, Ryder cut a promo about how he's a loser, too, who has been overlooked by his own employers. Ryder referenced his first name being misspelled on Raw last week and said, "You can't bring me down because I can't get any lower."
- Boss 'n' Hug Connection def. Nikki Cross & Alicia Fox via pinfall: Pairing up two heels with nothing in common outside of their hysteria seemed a little too convenient. Still, the heels made an impact by taking out Bayley and Sasha Banks from behind on the stage during their introduction. Banks remained down off the apron for the majority of the match as Bayley worked from underneath but could never quite make a hot tag. In the end, it wasn't needed as Banks helped Bayley outwit Cross outside the ring before Bayley rolled up Fox for the emotional victory.
- Elias def. Jeff Jarrett via pinfall: This mini-feud remains a nostalgic breath of fresh air on Raw, getting the full treatment this week with Road Dogg's promo entrance and a karaoke version of "With My Baby Tonight" with Jarrett. Out came Elias to deliver some amusing one-liners before Jarrett attacked to start the match. Jarrett snapped a record 19-year gap between Raw matches and held up fairly well for being 51. A few bumps from Road Dogg later and Jarrett succumbed via Drift Away to a pinfall. After the match, Road Dogg gained revenge by attacking Elias before delivering a "suck it" gesture just as Jarrett attacked from behind with a guitar that stiffly hit Elias' back without shattering.
- Dana Brooke mistakenly turns on Natalya: Brooke's attempt to apologize to Natalya in the locker room for her actions last week were never received thanks to Natalya wearing earbuds. An angry Brooke turned on Natalya for her accidental silent treatment vowed she would find a McMahon in order to secure a match against her.
- Finn Balor def. Lio Rush via pinfall: Plans for a scheduled match against intercontinental champion Bobby Lashley were scrapped for Balor when Lashley canceled it and told him to fight people his own size. That meant a match against Rush which saw Balor, who was already nursing sore ribs, attacked by Lashley before it even started. The match failed to live up to its aerial potential because of that as Balor rallied late to hit a Coup de Grace for the 1-2-3. Lashley, who was ejected earlier for interfering, came out looking for a fight but Balor escaped.
- EC3 def. Dean Ambrose via pinfall: What began as EC3's guest spot on "A Moment of Bliss" quickly turned into chaos. Bliss's open flirting and steady innuendos were interrupted by Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka to heavy boos. Out came Dean Ambrose, who awkwardly told Jax that it's obvious she has a crush on him. He then began insulting EC3 by calling him everything from a Creed fan to a mute Chippendales dancer. After EC3 decked him with a right hand, a match was booked during the commercial break. Ambrose, who WWE confirmed will leave the company in April when his contract expires, did the job by putting EC3 over clean in his debut Raw match via jackknife cover.
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