The Road to WrestleMania began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after the Fastlane pay-per-view on Sunday night. WWE’s Monday Night Raw finally answered questions that the company hinted at for the last few weeks as pro wrestling gears up for “The Show of Shows” at WrestleMania 35.
Roman Reigns made his first return to WWE Raw since returning from a battle with leukemia, Bobby Lashley faced Finn Balor for the Intercontinental Championship, and two titans of the industry — Bautista and Triple H — finally agreed to a massive matchup coming at WrestleMania.
Seth Rollins vs. Shelton Benjamin
The show started with The Shield — Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose — in a salute to the fans in what could be the last time they’re together. Each enters their own storyline, and it started with Rollins’ WrestleMania match against Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship.
After Paul Heyman hyped Lesnar over chants of “Slay the Beast,” Rollins was attacked by Smackdown’s Shelton Benjamin from behind. Benjamin attempted Lesnar’s signature F-5, but The Architect countered with two super kicks and his signature Curb Stomp to pin the faux Lesnar, furthering hyping the co-main event at Mania.
Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley
Intercontinental Championship match
Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor lost his short-lived title after just defeating both Lashley and Lio Rush at Elimination Chamber. As Balor worked to finish Lashley, Lio Rush distracted Balor by ringing the bell. After the Irishman blasted Rush with a kick to the head, Lashley caught Balor mid-air with a spear, allowing Lashley to pin him and regain the title.
This move makes no sense if Balor was just going to lose the title anyway, but now Lashley is back in position to take on any challengers for Mania.
Ronda Rousey Addresses Fastlane Attack
The Raw women’s champion continued her tirade against WWE and the entire women’s division by telling the WWE Universe to “take your applause and shove it.” Rousey even told WWE to make the WrestleMania main event with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair a 2-on-1 handicap match because she doesn’t plan to break a sweat.
For some reason, that led Dana Brooke to confront Rousey about her recent actions and paid the price. Big time. The champion threw her around like a rag doll before a gaggle of referees broke up the attack. WWE Creative is positioning Rousey as a heel, but fans seem to be enjoying her bad-girl turn no matter what.
Alexa Bliss’s WrestleMania Announcement
During “Moment of Bliss,” the five-time women’s champion rattled off the personalities who have hosted in the past before revealing that she would be the host at WrestleMania 35. This is a perfect way for WWE to utilize one if its most-popular female stars, especially with the all-women’s main event coming in April.
Braun Strowman Beats Up a Car
It wasn’t Stone Cold Steve Austin level destruction, but Strowman sure broke that thing apart like it was a poorly wrapped birthday present.
Batista Gets What He Wants
Triple H and Batista met face-to-face, or at least separated by a flying-V of body guards, for the first time since The Animal attacked Ric Flair. Dave Batista, who starred as Drax in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, has wanted to return to wrestling, and he’ll finally get his chance.
Batista demanded a match against Triple H, spitting all over the mic and screaming, “Give me what I want!” in the process. WWE’s COO agreed to give his former ‘Evolution’ running mate a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania 35 in what’s going to be one of the night’s biggest matches.
Kurt Angle Says Goodbye
The Pittsburgh-born Olympian and WWE Hall of Famer announced that his last match would take place at WrestleMania 35, but he would be wrestling once more in front of his hometown.
Angle would catch Apollo Crews with an Angle Slam to score the victory. Seeing the legend win at home was truly bittersweet because while Angle was once one of the greatest athletes in the world, he looks like he struggles bending over to tie his boots these days.
Drew McIntyre Spoils Roman Reigns’ Return
Falls Count Anywhere match
Drew McIntyre attacked Reigns while he was waiting to fight Baron Corbin. McIntyre continued adding heat to his rise by putting Reigns’ head into the ring post. Rollins ran down to help Reigns as officials separated the two men.
As a result, an enraged Dean Ambrose looked for retribution in a Falls Count Anywhere match against McIntyre.
The pair raced all around PPG Paints Arena, jumping off chairs, throwing each other over concession tables and merchandise vendors, before returning to the main stage. McIntyre managed to put Ambrose’s head through a stage railing, then viciously kicked him to wins by fall right behind the announcer’s table.
The stage now feels like the stage is set for Roman Reigns to go head-to-head with McIntyre in some capacity at WrestleMania.