WWE Raw's WrestleMania "go-home show" was light on fresh in-ring action but brought some of the best promos of recent months from a variety of superstars. With WrestleMania 36 happening over Saturday and Sunday, WWE used the show to build matches through words far more than actions, culminating in Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman delivering their final message to Lesnar's WrestleMania opponent, Drew McIntyre.
The highlight of the show may well have been Edge, however, with "The Rated-R Superstar" offering up a promo that ranks among the best of his storied career. But The Undertaker, Becky Lynch and Kevin Owens all held their own on the show, using the mic to hype up matches for the biggest show of the year, which will join recent editions of Raw and SmackDown as taking place in an empty WWE Performance Center as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the mic work, fans were treated to a moment that may be iconic a decade from now as blue chip prospect Austin Theory made his WWE debut, replacing the injured Andrade in the night's featured six-man tag match.
Let's take a look at everything that went down as WWE kicked off WrestleMania week.
WWE Raw results, grades
The Undertaker opened raw with a promo directed at AJ Styles ahead of their Boneyard Match at WrestleMania.. Undertaker said Styles' mouth had written checks his ass can't cash, and that Styles' "pipe bombs" in recent interviews were only designed to get under his skin. Undertaker then accused Styles of hiding in other promotions until many of WWE's greats were gone. Undertaker then said the place Styles stepped over the line, going from business to personal was when he invoked the name of his wife. "You're going to pay the ultimate price for disrespecting her, my wife, Michelle McCool." This was one of Undertaker's better recent promos, likely aided by being a pre-taped video where he could get across intensity without needing to feed a crowd. Grade: B
Becky Lynch cut a promo after a replay of her WrestleMania 35 match with Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair. Lynch said she has no problem admitting she doesn't know her own identity without being the champion, but she knows she is starting to get to Shayna Baszler after she attacked her last week. "I can see it now, the relief and exhileration you'll get when you beat me -- if you beat me. As if, for once, you'll steal Ronda's spotlight instead of the other way around." Before she could finish, Baszler snuck up from behind and locked Lynch in the Karifuda Clutch. Baszler then dropped Lynch on the entrance ramp before picking her up by the legs and swinging her into the announce table. Baszler picked up the Raw women's title belt and threw it down on top of Lynch as the segment came to an end. Much like Undertaker earlier in the show, this was good mic work, but with the added drama of Baszler's vicious attack. Grade: B+
Aleister Black def. Jason Cade via pinfall after a Black Mass kick. Quick squash stuff for Black on Cade that did little to build to the Bobby Lashley match at WrestleMania. Grade: C
Kevin Owens & The Street Profits (c) def. Seth Rollins, Angel Garza & Austin Theory via pinfall in a non-title match after Owens hit Garza with a Stunner. The match was initially supposed to feature Andrade, but Zelina Vega said he was injured and not medically cleared to compete before introducing 22-year-old blue chipper Austin Theory as his replacement. Theory got some showcase spots through the match, but this was all about building to the WrestleMania match between the tag teams, and more importantly, the Mania showdown between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. Owens failed repeatedly to get in the ring with Rollins, eventually settling for getting the pin on Garza, but the moment the three count hit, Rollins ran into the ring to lay out Owens with a stomp before leaving the ring. The storytelling of keeping Owens from getting his hands on Rollins only to be ultimately laid out with a cheap shot was exactly the right decision. Grade: B-
After the loss, Owens cut a promo and said Rollins "kicked some sense" into him. Owens addressed Rollins' claim that the Performance Center was built on his work. Owens said the PC was built in spite of Rollins, not because of him, saying he had heard from everyone that Rollins was a nightmare to deal with when he was at FCW. And while Rollins has more WrestleMania moments in his career than Owens, he did none of them without backup or by using underhanded means to get what he wants. "This Saturday night, I will show you that you're not a prophet, you're not a messiah and you're not a god when I take my first WrestleMania moment from you." The strong promo work on the show continued here with a raw bit of mic work by Owens. Grade: B+
Edge admits he's a "junkie" for wrestling: Responding to Randy Orton's accusation last week that Adam Copeland is a "junkie" for Edge, the returning superstar agreed and said he's far from the only one who acts that way about competing in WWE. Edge went back to telling Orton he has no idea what "grit" actually means, noting that Orton coasted when he was hand chosen for Evolution and only had spurts of greatness during his career. He then provided his definition of "grit" -- never being anyone's lackey, putting together a Hall of Fame career off his own back, being forced to retire and then still finding a way back. Edge went on to say that he has passion and the only time Orton shows the same is when Edge is around. Mentioning the names of his kids was a mistake, Edge said, as was accepting a Last Man Standing match against a man who will do anything to win. "This time, I'm not going to pull you out. I'm going to push you so far in, you'll never get out." Superb. Grade: A
Asuka def. Kayden Carter via submission with the Asuka Lock. Asuka cut another brief, raving promo in Japanese before yelling "who are you?" at Carter. The match itself was another quick squash. Grade: C
Paul Heyman cut an in-ring promo with Brock Lesnar by his side to close the show. Heyman addressed the duo's status in the "go home segment" of the "go home show" before WrestleMania, saying it's a spot that only goes to the champion. Heyman touted Drew McIntyre as a "special" athlete who has stepped up to the challenge in front of him. Heyman then named the other "special" athletes who Lesnar has handled in his WWE and MMA career, naming The Rock, Hulk Hogan, John Cena and a host of other. "Next year, on the 'go home segment,' on the 'go home Raw,' before WrestleMania, do you know who is going to be standing here with the title over his shoulder?" Heyman asked, before answering his own question. "Brock Lesnar." Finishing a night of incredibly strong promos from everyone handed a microphone. Grade: B+