Ronda Rousey returned to the red brand to reclaim the Raw Women's Title she laid at the feet of Stephanie McMahon one week prior, but that wasn’t all that The Rowdy One had in store. After lashing out at the WWE Universe, she brutally attacked Becky Lynch, who will enter the Raw Women's Championship Match at WrestleMania if she can defeat Charlotte Flair at WWE Fastlane. Did The Baddest Woman on the Planet drastically lower The Man's chances of conquering The Queen this Sunday?
Last week, Batista re-emerged out of nowhere to ambush Ric Flair on his 70th birthday, ostensibly as a ploy to get Triple H’s attention. This week, he didn’t show up at all, citing a general distaste of Philadelphia for his absence. It was, as The Game himself called it, “Bad Guy 101,” but The Animal might regret the day he called this particular class to session. His choice of Flair as a target hit a little closer to home with Triple H than even he might have realized. The 14-time World Champion fought back tears and fury in equal measure before issuing his official ultimatum: He would be waiting for Batista in every building WWE traveled to, not as Triple H but as himself, and if Batista had the courage to stand up and tell him what he wanted, he would give him everything he desired. In short? Yes, Batista has his attention.
Never say never, ladies and gentlemen. Dean Ambrose seemed resigned to a lonely, nomadic life of fighting any warm body in his way rather than throwing in with The Shield, but The Lunatic Fringe came around after all, thanks in no small part to the team who has claimed to replace them.
Elias had just picked off Ambrose with Drift Away, capitalizing on the lingering effects of his show-opening attack on The Lunatic Fringe (between that and a song that had the city of Philadelphia on the edge of a riot, it was a very good night for The Living Truth). But then Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made their final attempt of the night to rally Ambrose to their cause. The Lunatic Fringe declined and was halfway to the concourse when Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin emerged from atop the ramp. The trio was flush with victory and mockingly claiming that they had been willing to offer The Shield a one-time-only match at WWE Fastlane if the reunion was made official. With Ambrose having made his choice, however, the rising trio opted instead to deliver the final blow to what remained of the once-mighty faction.
They spoke too soon. The sight of Rollins and Reigns, outnumbered, spurred Ambrose back into action, and The Lunatic Fringe sprinted to his brothers’ side to drive their would-be usurpers from the ring, ultimately joining in the trio’s iconic, three-pronged fist bump as his final sign of solidarity. The band is back together. All is forgiven. And the match is made. One last time it is.
The good news for Becky Lynch is that she officially has a path back to WrestleMania. The bad news is that, even if she somehow manages to make it, she might not be facing the Ronda Rousey she thought she’d get.
Yes, a woman can only take so many tweets and so many boos before she snaps, and The Baddest Woman on the Planet seems to have finally broken. Though, the Raw Women’s Champion pointedly waited to let all her aggression out until after Becky had been reinstated, freed of all legal woes and placed into a win-and-you’re-in match against Charlotte Flair at WWE Fastlane. Brimming with frustration over the audience for spurning her and Stephanie McMahon’s willingness to award the Raw Women’s Title over to someone else — she thought Ronda vacated the championship last week — Rousey finally dropped any pretense of being an entertainer.
She laid into both her opponents with reckless abandon, or at least she would have, had Charlotte not made an immediate and well-considered exit, leaving The Man to the proverbial wolves as Rousey savaged her with judo throws, arm bars and body blows. And given that Lynch, is still recovering from her injured knee and had to sign a hold-harmless agreement to get the Fastlane match in the first place, she has little protection from Rousey’s unbound fury.
Stephanie, however, might have further recourse. In a backstage interview moments after Rousey had completed her savaging, Stephanie expressed shock and disgust at the renegade champion. Stephanie hinted she may have some tough decisions to make next week — despite Rousey’s assertion she was too valuable to be punished in any meaningful way — and officially threw her support behind whoever challenges Rousey at WrestleMania. If tonight is any indication, she might not have much to back: One wanted no part of the champion, and the final word on the other may end up being that that she wanted too much, and got it.
In other action … Roman Reigns asked Seth Rollins to re-form The Shield with Dean Ambrose … Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley & Baron Corbin def. Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor, Braun Strowman & Kurt Angle … Natalya def. Ruby Riott … Heavy Machinery def. The B-Team, The Ascension and Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins (Tag Team Gauntlet Match) … Tamina def. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks … Michael Che and Colin Jost ran afoul of Braun Strowman … and Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival def. Aleister Black & Ricochet via Disqualification.