They say that the Raw After WrestleMania is always huge but the Raw before WrestleMania 34 wasn’t that bad either.

As the Red Team hit the final home stretch into WrestleMania 34 there were still some questions that needed answering and a couple slots needed to be filled for the big show. It’s great how they can wait until the last minute like this because they’ve already built up such anticipation over WrestleMania existing in the first place.

Vince McMahon and Company has branded the Show Of Shows into something epic by name alone and this show was shaping up to be one of the biggest ever.

Team Rousey was set to oppose Team McMahon to kick off the show, but only time would tell if and when The Undertaker might answer John Cena’s plea and do something.

Opening Segment

Jonathan Coachman was already in the ring when the show kicked off and he introduced Stephanie McMahon and Triple H who each got their own entrance. Surprise, Triple H got a much larger applause.

Next, Coachman introduced Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey to the ring which was dressed up like a little mini press conference with four tables covered in black cloth arranged in front of a podium.

After the Ronda Rousey chants died down, Coachman started asking questions from social media. Everyone was actually sitting in their seats like civilized people.

Trips interrupted Coachman and brought up the Ronda Rousey chants and they didn’t start too fast which Steph brought attention to while alluding to the fact that the Atlanta crowd was crowd was slow which was great.

He continued talking about Kurt Angle’s 3 I’s and said he never understood the intelligence part of it because Angle isn’t being too smart with this move because he ruined Rousey’s WWE signing. He said Angle set Rousey up for a loss at Mania “and this is a whopper even for you, this is a whopper. I gotta know Kurt, why.” There must be a Burger King advertising deal in the works.

Rousey asked why she was signed with ulterior motives. Steph said they will rebuild Ronda’s career after they beat her. Ronda said she wanted an answer and McMahon said they signed her because she’s a huge star and “in spite of your appalling attitude we bring you here because it’s best for business.”

They said Kurt Angle cost WWE “millions of dollars” and they wanted to know who Rousey thinks she is. Kurt handled that question and said, “she’s Ronda freakin Rousey” and at Mania, she will make Steph tap out.

It doesn’t look like they’re ever getting to the Coach’s questions from social media.

Triple H said he knows who Rousey is but she’s only been dreaming of coming to WWE her whole life but to him and Steph, WWE is their whole life. Ronda has no idea what’s going to happen. There’s a massive learning curve and they make those rules.

Jonathan Coachman actually got to ask a question to both sides which is how important is it to win at WrestleMania and how it will impact the future of WWE. Steph said they will shut them down and everyone will learn to “respect authority.” This got some boos.

Angle was asked how he felt about teaming up at Mania with Rousey. Angle said Rousey is the Baddest Woman On The Planet and she’s going to prove it by making McMahon tap out. Rousey didn’t have to say much at all as everyone talked around her. She’s good at the nonverbal response at least and her makeup looked much better as well which was a plus.

But she did wear a jacket which Stephanie complimented. Then Rousey asked Stephanie McMahon if she was right or left handed and Steph told her “right-handed” which Rousey then said “good because I wanted you to still be able to sign my checks” and she kind of flubbed the line in the process but it still got a reaction from the crowd. “After I rip it off” Rousey continued.

Then Coachman said everyone was going to pose for a picture but they’re going to do it a classy way which was just hilarious. As everyone got face to face Stephanie extended her hand to shake Rousey, but Ronda didn’t shake. Instead, she just got right in her face.

Suddenly, Triple H jumped Kurt Angle hitting him in the head with his microphone which sent Angle toppling out of the ring. Then, in a split second, Ronda grabbed Triple H, but Stephanie McMahon jumped behind her and sent Rowdy Ronda through one of the tables.

Steph stood over Rousey as she laid on the ground and tried to sell her injuries but you could tell if she wanted to get up she totally could. She just laid there as Triple H and Stephanie posed over her as she ground her teeth and looked angrily up at them.

“Welcome to WWE Ronda Rousey, that’s the way we do things,” Corey Graves said.

Bayley vs Sonya Deville

The Women’s WrestleMania Battle Royal trophy was at ringside so that’s why this match was happening I guess.

Deville used her skills and brutality to gain an advantage while Paige and Mandy Rose cheered her on at ringside. Deville caught Bayley with a stiff kick to the chest and The Hugger just fell limp and rolled out of the ring.

Sonya kept pummeling Bayley but she couldn’t keep The Hugger down for the three count. While Coachman said Sonya had a lot of things in her repertoire that other women don’t have, Bayley started a comeback.

Bayley hit a few shots and a cross body off the top rope and Coachman chastised her for not making a pinfall attempt. Deville then rolled out of the ring and her Absolution sisters joined her. Bayley then jumped out of the ring to follow Deville who got in first.

Bayley blocked a moved from Deville and they moved inside, then Bayley reversed another move and ended up covering Deville for a surprise three count.

Winner: Bayley via pinfall

After the match was over, Absolution jumped in the ring and attacked Bayley. This assault carried on for a second until Sasha Banks ran down for the save. Afterward, Banks told Bayley to raise her hand because she just saved her but The Hugger just didn’t want to do it.

“I didn’t need you” Bayley said. Then Banks grabbed Bayley’s face and squeezed her cheeks together. This really upset Bayley and she lit Banks up for a minute. But Rose and Deville jumped back in the ring and surprised them.

Each Absolution member hit their finisher on Banks and Bayley and they walked off looking very proud of themselves while Paige’s music played in the background.

They aired an Asuka promo with a lot of numbers in it. It just makes me wonder why they’re going to plug the SmackDown Women’s Championship match on Raw, but it’s all about Mania this week.

They also shared the great news that The Miz and Maryse had their baby and then plugged the match where he’s a hated heel facing Rollins and Balor who happen to be having a match next.

Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins

The Miz surprised us all by showing up to join the commentary team during this match. The A-Lister looked very happy to be there and he honestly pulled off a surprise there because I wouldn’t expect him to be in Atlanta with a days-old daughter at home in LA.

This match had some nice chain wrestling to start things out which just showed how amazing Balor and Rollins are. As they concluded a seamless sequence The Miz put the IC Title match at Mania over by saying they are three of the most talented Superstars on the planet.

The Miz talked about watching his daughter being born and holding her and he got very emotional about it. He said having a kid has changed him. The Coach agreed, especially when it’s a girl. The Miz said he’s motivated, dedicated, and he wants to be the guy his daughter to look up to and say, “that’s my daddy.”

As the match continued in the ring, The Miz kept talking about his baby and his family and how he learned how to swaddle. He said “you can forget about the Balor Club because I’m in the best club… The Dad Club.”

The Miz said he’s a new man because having a child changes a person as Rollins and Balor started slugging it out in the middle of the ring. Rollins tossed Balor outside and followed him. Seth hit a big chop and bounced Finn’s head off the apron before sending him in the barricade as The Miz said he’s been pooed and peed on by his daughter.

Balor started his comeback and sent Rollins outside to hit a kick from the apron as The Miz carried on about changing diapers. Balor hit a stiff kick across the back and got a two count.

The Miz said he hopes they have a long match at Mania and “when you have a child Michael, it just changes you” he said while talking to Cole. Seth Rollins hit a blockbuster in the ring for a two count as The Miz carried on about trying to make his child proud of him while he really presented this new side of The Miz.

Suddenly, WWE went to a split screen to promote the AJ Styles/ Nakamura match while Rollins kept Balor in a headlock in a small screen on the bottom of the picture. That was clever.

But once the promo was over Balor mounted his comeback.

Finn hit a suplex and rolled out of the ring but Seth rolled out first. Balor laid on the apron while Seth kicked him in the face and jumped in the ring for a two count.

Balor and Rollins exchanged chops as The Miz talked about feeding his new daughter and Rollins picked up the pace as Balor countered with a quick takedown. Rollins jumped on the turnbuckle while Balor pulled him down and The Miz said: “that’s why we warn children not to try this at home.”

Rollins hit a Sling Blade and Balor went outside the ring so Rollins hit a suicide dive which drove Balor spine-first into the barricade but did a lot of damage to both guys.

The two wrestled for a bit more while The Miz spoke in his changed attitude. Rollins nailed a superkick for a two count. Then Balor jumped on the apron and nailed a kick which sent Rollins down. Balor climbed up to the top but Seth caught him and prepped for a superplex.

Balor fought his way out of the superplex but Rollins jumped back up and hit the superplex and went for the falcon arrow combo but Balor turned it into a roll-up pin for a close two count. Then Rollins nailed a knee to the face for a two count as The Miz said it will only get better at WrestleMania.

Seth Rollins ascended to the top turnbuckle one more time and landed a splash but Balor got his knees up and rolled him up for another near fall as the sold-out Atlanta crowd blew the roof off the building.

Rollins rolled outside of the ring and Balor stood on the apron. Seth caught Balor’s kick and he tried to do a bucklebomb into the barricade to recreate the spot from SummerSlam 2016 that destroyed Balor’s shoulder.

Finn blocked the move and ended up hitting a shotgun dropkick into the barricade instead. Once they returned to the ring it was counter for counter as they tried to best each other. But Seth Rollins ended up scoring a double stomp to the chest on Balor and scoring the pinfall.

Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

The Miz stood on the announce table and held his title up high as Rollins looked on with an exhausted yet determined look on his face.

Backstage Segment

Paul Heyman was on the phone talking about proposing a name change to “the Brocktagon” when Kurt Angle walked up. He said his responsibility is to make sure the main event of Mania says intact.

Paul Heyman said he won’t do anything except compliment Reigns tonight and save it for WrestleMania. Then Angle said he didn’t want Lesnar doing anything that might cause Roman to injure him and then Heyman started laughing because he found that hilarious.

The Bar Want Answers 

Braun Strowman doesn’t really need a partner for Sheamus and Cesaro to get those hands, but Kurt Angle said he had to have one.

Cesaro said they didn’t care who Strowman picked as his partner because it doesn’t matter. Because eventually Strowman needs to tag in his tag team partner and he needs to have a plan and no matter who he chooses he’ll never have that. Becuase they’ll never be a real team and never get the titles.

Then they said that they are The Bar which was Braun Strowman’s cue to come out. Strowman took a moment to let the crowd soak his presence in. He said he didn’t play well with other but management has made it clear that he has to have a partner so he got one and he was just talking to him in the back and he didn’t appreciate what The Bar was just saying.

Cesaro told Braun that his partner can just come out and Strowman said he would under one stipulation but he wanted a match against one of them. Sheamus said his mystery partner had a match and then Strowman said, “good, I’ll go get him,” then he stopped and said, “I’m gonna warn you that he’s a lot like me… just a little different.”

Then Braun disappeared backstage while The Bar looked confused in the ring. Strowman’s music hit again and he came back out in a white button-up shirt with glasses on. He said his name was Brains Strowman and he’s about to come down and knock the brains out of their heads.

Sheamus and Cesaro jumped Strowman in the ring and actually took control of him. They beat him down for a bit but Braun fought out of it and ended up sending Sheamus and Cesaro flying across the ring.

Then The Bar hit the bricks while Strowman was left in the ring screaming his lungs out.

Matt Hardy vs Goldust

It looks like Goldust is next to be DELETED and they’re both plugging the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

These two fought around the ring and Goldust kicked out after a Side Effect. Goldust sprung up and knocked Hardy down and went for a senton off the middle rope but Hardy moved.

Then Hardy said “DELETE” a bunch of times and hit the Twist Of Fate for the win.

Winner: Woken Matt Hardy via pinfall

After the match was over, Hardy had a little conversation with the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy while he yelled, “procure!” over an over again. It was quite fun as he hugged it smiling like a genius lunatic.

Alexa Bliss and Mickie James cut one of those annoying backstage cell phone segments where Alexa said Nia Jax will be blubbering in her blubber after their match. That’s awfully close to calling her fat which is a word WWE will never go. But if they did go that far for this match I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, Nia Jax is likely to beat the stuffing out of Alexa Bliss at Mania.

This Mean Girls storyline is really getting a little out there but it’s the direction they obviously picked so let’s just watch this one ride out until Mania and then Mickie and Alexa can calm down at the cool girls’ table.

John Cena Wants Taker To Do Something Once Again

John Cena came out and people were automatically chanting for The Undertaker. Cena said he hates saying this but we’re out of time but there is no answer, “so I was wrong in this case because we have no more time left. Silence means no. No Undertaker.”

Cena said he’s not upset because he did everything he could to make Taker do something. But he’s going to Mania fired up because he’s going as a fan. Michael Cole apparently told Cena told to enter the battle royal or enter another match like bring Braun Strowman’s partner. But Cena said there’s a reason why he’s not doing that.

Cena said he lost at Elimination Chamber, Royal Rumble, and Fastlane so he if went into one of those matches he would be taking a spot. Then Cena said that’s why he wanted The Undertaker because it would be two legends not taking anyone’s spot.

Cena said his life changed last year and looked at the camera to talk to Nikki Bella who was at home where he thanked her for this morning and said he’ll be here soon. The crowd started chanting for Undertaker once again and Cena just said, “I hope he hears you… I don’t think he does.” Then Cena said he’s going to WrestleMania as a fan and “I’m damn proud of it.”

Then he said he’s excited to watch this amazing show and he’s humbled to know they don’t need him to pull off the show. He mentioned Daniel Bryan and how he’s proud of him and how he’s proud for AJ Styles getting the WrestleMania moment he deserves. He’s even glad to know that WrestleMania falls on Rusev Day. He is also proud to Walk With Elias. Then Cena said he’s proud of both of the women’s matches at Mania so he’s going as a fan and he’s damn proud of it.

Then he apologized to The Undertaker because he did everything he could to stir up The Undertaker on social media and all the times they tried to summon The Undertaker. Then he said that they hadn’t tried to summon The Undertaker in Atlanta yet and John said he didn’t think they could be loud enough.

“Sounds Atlanta is about as serious as a Dallas warm up,” then he said if they want the Phenom then they have to give it all they got. The crowd cheered again but it wasn’t deafening enough. Cena tried to rally them again and said if they want the lightning then they have to bring the thunder and said: “let them hear you all the way to Death Valley.”

As the crowd cheered, Cena ran around the ring with his microphone extended and loud Undertaker chants broke out. Cena just stood in the ring as the reality washed over his face that nothing was going to happen.

Cena said that’s four weeks straight of the fans cheering for him and he doesn’t have the common decency to answer them. Then Cena said Taker was a Dead Man walking which is interesting wording. Then Cena said, “hey Undertaker, you left your hat in the ring last year at Mania, I guess you left your balls at home.”

That was quite a way to build toward a match that isn’t happening as of yet.

Roman Reigns was backstage and Kurt Angle came up to him and said he’s already got one match that’s not happening at Mania in Taker vs Cena and he doesn’t want another one. He wanted Roman to leave and he said he wouldn’t leave or talk to Paul Heyman.

Then Roman finally said he’s going to hear Heyman out but everyone’s sick of Brock Lesnar and then he told Angle to take that peace treaty and go down to that pawn shop where ANgle sold his Olympic Gold Medals before he left Kurt with a shocked look on his face.

Ladies and Gentlemen… Elias vs Heath Slater

Yes, Elias was very over in Atlanta but just as he was about to play guitar, Heath Slater’s music interrupted him.

Heath Slater tried to light Elias up but The Drifter came back with a knee and then he hit the Drift Away for the win. It was a very quick match but it put Elias over.

Winner: Elias via pinfall

Braun Strowman was walking backstage and he ran into Curt Hawkins who was wearing a tank top that said, “Pick me, Braun.” He said he wanted to be Braun’s partner and then Strowman asked him what his win/loss record was.

Hawkins said that’s where Strowman comes in because he could help him out and be his big break. Then Braun Strowman hurtled Hawkins through a fake wall they had put up for the segment. As the drywall crumbled around Curt Hawkins’ body, Braun put his head through the wall and said, “there’s your big break!” That was clever.

Renee Young interviewed Nia Jax backstage in a formal sit-down interview. Jax said this feud brought out a lot of bad feelings. She said she knows who she is, she’s not a goddess, she’s just herself.

Jax said she’s been disappointed in herself recently because she trusted Bliss and thought she was her best friend. Then she started to get the waterworks going a little bit as she repeated some of the hurtful comments that Alexa said about her.

The Nia Jax said she had a chance to look at her self in the mirror and say, “I’m Nia Jax I don’t take that sh-t.” She’s proud of what her momma gave her and then said something directly to Alexa, “you’re nothing but an insecure little girl, pathetic fly and at WrestleMania, I’m gonna squash you like a bug.”

Alexa Bliss and Mickie James vs Dana Brooke and Asuka

It’s interesting that they arranged this tag team match so Asuka could get her hands on Alexa Bliss before Mania. It will be interesting to see where Asuka goes if/when she wins the SmackDown Women’s Title too.

“We want Asuka” chants filled the arena as James and Brooke kept fighting in the ring. As James kept wearing down Dana Brooke Michael Cole said he they could beat her then it would end Asuka’s undefeated streak in a tag match.

Bliss and James tagged in and out and kept Dana down laying on the pressure but Brooke finally broke free and made the tag to Asuka. The Empress Of Tomorrow destroyed everyone and looked great doing it. She laid in multiple strikes to Mickie James and then knocked Bliss off the apron with a hip attack.

James started to run away but Asuka followed her on to destroy James and toss her back in the ring. James created some separation and climbed on top. James jumped off but Asuka caught her with an Asuka Lock and caused her to tap out.

Winner: Asuka and Dana Brooke via submission

After the match was over, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James jumped Asuke. They landed a double DDT to Dana Brooke and then Nia Jax ran down to make the save.

Bliss got away, but Mickie James wasn’t so lucky as she sacrificed herself for her heel champion. Bliss nailed a Samoan Drop on Mickie James and popped right up to stare Alexa Bliss down while her music played away.

Backstage Segment

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were talking backstage and Kurt Angle jumped in front of them to beg them not to forget what they talked about. Paul Heyman said they will do nothing but compliment Roman Reigns and they’re on their way to the ring. So here we go…

Brock Lesnar Bounces Around While Paul Heyman Cuts A Promo

As Brock and Heyman came to the ring a bunch of WWE Superstars formed a line blocking the ramp with their backs to the ring. This included The Bar, Titus Worldwide, Miztourage, The Revival, The Club, and others.

This was a demonstration of how people don’t approve of Lesnar’s ultimate part-timer championship status.

Heyman chastised Angle for being up Ronda Rousey’s backside and not taking care of this kind of thing. Then Heyman said he was going to speak the truth and he said they stood in that ring four years ago and Heyman said Lesnar would conquer The Undertaker’s undefeated streak. He said everyone laughed at them then but they were the ones laughing in the end.

Then Heyman said the two men who defeated The Undertaker at Mania will collide in the main event and you can’t help but be impressed with Roman Reigns.

Then Heyman said Brock Lesnar will F5 Roman Reigns and defeat him at Wrestlemania and that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler.

Then Heyman said if Roman Reigns happens to win the Universal Title at WrestleMania this is the last time you’ll see either of them on Monday Night Raw.

Heyman said he would say goodbye via social media and Brock will wave hello to UFC. Then Paul Heyman said the entire image of Brock Lesnar having creative control over his character is true. He said there’s not one person in the locker room who Lesnar feels is good enough to hold his jock let alone his title.

Then he said at Mania, Reigns’ only choice is to accept defeat and his options are like his ass… they’re both owned by Brock Lesnar.

Hey said Roman Reigns is going to have to go back to his family and tell them he was conquered by Brock Lesnar. Reigns will just be another notch on his title belt and he’s Brock Lesnar’s b-tch because they’re allowed to say b-tch before WrestleMania now.

Suddenly, Roman Reigns came out and he met the human wall on the top of the ramp. The Bar and Titus Worldwide were at the front and they wouldn’t budge.

“Really?” Roman asked, “all you full-time talent are gonna stand here and protect that part-time bastard? Think about it boys.” The Superstars started to waiver and then the parted like the Red Sea.

Roman walked down to the ramp and stood at the base of the ring. “Think about it real hard,” Heyman said — “Think about it, boy!” Brock shouted from the ring.

Roman got up on the apron and stared Lesnar in the eye and then he slowly got in the ring to approach his WrestleMania opponent. We’ve known about this match for a year now but it’s actually shaping up to be something interesting.

Lesnar dropped to his back and rolled out of the ring instead of engaging Reigns as the two circled each other.

Lesnar grabbed a steel chair and got back in the ring with some insurance. Brock went for a chair shot but he caught three straight Superman Punches and then Roman prepared himself for a fourth which he landed on the Beast Incarnate.

Lesnar got back up with the chair still in his hands so Roman nailed him with a fifth Superman Punch to send him crashing to the canvas. Reigns spotted the Universal Title and picked it up to lift it high into the air while the crowd gave him a decent pop.

But suddenly, Lesnar sprung up and lifted Roman Reigns into a fireman’s carry and nailed an F5. As Lesnar left the ring with his title in tow, Roman Reigns remained in the ring and sold Brock’s devastating finishing move.


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Aaron Varble hasn’t just been writing for more than a decade in various formats including sketch comedy, stand up, television, radio, and other various projects; nor is he just another professional wrestling fan with a master's degree in journalism and Tourette’s syndrome. He's always looking to explore the why not with the why and the how come along with the how. Follow on Twitter @TheVarble