Triple H strutted out giving Cliff’s notes on the Elimination Chamber fallout and Degeneration-X being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. But he wasn’t out there just to reminisce about crotch chops and tank joy rides, he had to let us know that NXT stars would make their RAW debuts on this very episode.
After the exciting NXT Superstars were announced, a tables match between former General Manager Baron Corbin and professional giant dude Braun Strowman kicked off RAW. Only Corbin can be called his job title long after he lost it. Can I still be an Entertainment Specialist from Blockbuster? That was breaking the fourth wall, but who broke through the tables?
Braun Strowman def. Baron Corbin in a tables match
The battle of the furniture began, fueled by the awful actions that played out at Elimination Chamber. The two brutes battled outside with headbutts and tosses into the barricades. Strowman eventually slid a table into the ring but Corbin laid into the stomps and ripped Braun’s shirt off for some reason. Kinesio tape was
Corbin even stood on Strowman’s ribs at one point, adding insult to injury before yelling at some children and taunting them. C’mon, dude. That’s not General Manager material. You’ll never get your job back acting like that. Strowman finally suplexed Corbin on the metal right in front of the cheering children. They loved it. Then, the brawl continued up the ramp to the tables that Triple H pointed out earlier.
That’s just good writing. If you show a table in the first act, it needs to have a wrestler slammed through it by the third. Although, the weird announce table at the entrance was pushed off the stage instead of slammed through. That was disappointing, but it wasn’t the third act yet.
Corbin eventually stopped Strowman’s onslaught with a steel chair shot to the ribs and decided to continue with a kendo stick. Strowman gave Corbin a taste of his own medicine with some steel steps. After Corbin recovered, he ran at Strowman only to end up being in a stampeding tilt-a-whirl slam through the table resting in the corner.
Despite having his throat nearly ripped out by Strowman when they just so happened to be walking out at the same time, Paul Heyman still managed to hype up his client Brock Lesnar. He took it back to Webster, South Dakota with a long montage. He explained killer farm instincts led Lesnar to becomes an NCAA D1 champion and to eventually make history as the youngest champion in WWE history. The narrative climaxed at Lesnar killing everyone and deciding to go to the UFC, killing everyone there and then ending The Undertaker’s streak. The spectacle went on so long they had to end the video on
Speaking of spectacles, that leather-jacketed stud Bálor didn’t get to show off his new WWE Intercontinental Championship long before Lio Rush interrupted to belittle him. Although, we know it’s just a way for Rush to deal with his own feelings of inadequacy for allowing Lashley to lose at Elimination Chamber. Whatever it was, it served as a distraction and allowed for a temper tantrum double team by Lashley and Rush. Suddenly, Ricochet stormed out and started going freaking buck wild. Ding, ding, ding.
Finn Bálor & Ricochet def. Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush
That’s right, Bálor’s old friend from NJPW showed up to even the odds. Lashley started spiking Ricochet like a football and twisting his arms in all sorts of ways but Ricochet managed to Matrix out and fight back. Ricochet is almost as much fun to say as it is to watch him. Ricochet.
Lashley may have Hulk’s body but Ricochet has the aerial gymnastics of Spider-Man. There’s a lot of tagging that went on. Rush came in and Bálor got tagged, then Rush tagged back in Lashley, who used his strength to suffocate Bálor. Fans finally rose Bálor up purely from their chanting only to get slammed back down. More back and forths in this match than the ocean.
Lashley then put Rush back in to prove himself and it didn’t go too well. Bálor took a long time just absolutely breaking down Rush out of spite. Everything was going swimmingly until he got distracted and his leg taken out. Then, it was a suspenseful game of keep away. They know we want Ricochet. When he finally gets back in the place goes crazy. He finished off Rush with a 630. Incredible.
Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) def. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder
It wouldn’t be RAW without a lucha party in the middle of the card. It’s both something out of nowhere and something you always expect. Maybe a Lucha House Party match is the nexus of the universe.
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder worked over Gran Metalik. Dorado broke it up with a hurricanrana. Ryder regained composure and stopped the tag team with a double neckbreaker. He took both team members down and let out a triumphant scream only to almost get beaten by a roll up. Don’t fret, Dorado made sure that Hawkin kept his losing streak up shortly later with a nice pin from another hurricanrana.
DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) def. The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
Freshly-crowned RAW Tag Team Champions The Revival met some old rivals by the name of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Not only have they wrestled around the world and back again, but they are also both current NXT Tag Team Champions.
“The Black Heart of NXT” Ciampa with his teammate, enemy, and teammate again Gargano hope to make a huge impact for their debut. However, this is stiff competition. Dawson started using his power to tenderize Gargano. Ciampa intervened to tip the tables. These teams know each other so well, a lot evens out in the violent wash.
Wilder and Dawson got their double team reversed. Gargano smacked Ciampa’s hand. Kicks went flying. There were chained German suplexes. Toss out of the ring. Running knee. He went nuts but only got a near fall on Dawson, who returns the favor of a German suplex with a little help from his partner.
Shatter Machine for the win? Almost. Gargano with a vaulting DDT and goes for the count. Almost. So many near falls. The count got broken up after a Doomsday Device. Wilder got kicked out of the ring. Ciampa got kicked out of the ring. Only Dawson and Gargano remained. He landed a shoulder tackle then he and Ciampa sniped Dawson with the simultaneous superkick and knee. No coming back from that. Gigantic win for the NXT transplants.
Sasha Banks and Bayley paraded their new, first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. Nia Jax and Tamina interrupted like they always do to snidely trash everything. It looked like we’d get our first title defense of the
Drew McIntyre def. Dean Ambrose
These two wasted no time getting stiff and dirty. McIntyre got some good slaps and chops in as revenge from earlier in the night. A quick neckbreaker slowed McIntyre down but then Ambrose got caught with two Claymore kicks and the match is over. One was enough, but McIntyre was ruthless. At the end of this swift carnage, McIntyre looked up at the Wrestlemania sign.
Elias said he wasn’t going to sing like he always does which of course, he did anyway. But the acoustic twang got replaced by a screeching metal riff and former NXT Champion Aleister Black rose up from the stage like the Cryptkeeper and it was awesome.
Aleister Black def. Elias
Black does a backflip and then just sat cross-legged in the middle of the ring. Between Ricochet and this, we’ve certainly racked up some sky miles. A dumb commercial break interrupts the black magic. Somehow after we return, Elias has gotten the advantage. I call shenanigans. Black cannot be defeated by a man wearing acid-washed jeans.
Elias tried to take away Black’s greatest weapons (his limbs) by keeping a headlock latched. Smart move, but futile. Black slowly but surely slipped away and then he went all John Wick on Elias, finishing it off with a moonsault. It only earned a near fall but it was soon followed up with a Black Mask kick for the 1, 2, 3. Shades of Edson Barboza’s finish of Terry Etim at UFC 142.
Ronda Rousey (c) def. Ruby Riott, for the RAW Women’s Championship
Check out more about the grueling Elimination Chamber rematch to close RAW right here.