In a barbaric Last Man Standing Match main event, Drew McIntyre took Dean Ambrose to the limit and sent a message to Roman Reigns, who accepted The Scottish Psychopath’s WrestleMania challenge. But will The Big Dog suffer the same fate as The Lunatic Fringe when he squares off against McIntyre on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
For all the well-documented disdain among WrestleMania’s newly-minted main-eventers — open Twitter if you dare — Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair’s shared path to their historic moment has been defined primarily by their distance between each other. With Rousey savaging challengers and security guards on Raw and Becky and Charlotte trading barbs on SmackDown LIVE, it’s been difficult for any competitor to establish the upper hand, so Raw’s Beat the Clock Challenge (short version: fastest victory wins) provided an opportunity for one of these women to separate from the pack.
In the end, Becky Lynch got the leg up by posting the fastest victory and raining on what was looking like a perfect opportunity for Rousey to display her dominance over her two challengers. After all, The Baddest Woman on the Planet’s victories have gotten nastier, more brutish and shorter since she broke bad a few weeks ago; despite not knowing what a Beat the Clock Challenge was, she quickly got the gist of it and submitted Sarah Logan in 1:25. Charlotte was knocked out of the running when she couldn’t defeat Ruby Riott any quicker than that, and despite taking a frustrated big boot from The Queen, Lynch topped Rousey’s time by just seven seconds with a jackknife pin of Liv Morgan. Rousey didn’t seem all that impressed by Lynch winning a match where nothing was at stake, but just because nothing was on the line, it doesn’t mean it was meaningless: If there was a lesson to be learned, it’s that Becky can end a match just as quickly as Ronda can — if not quicker.
If anyone was going to leave a blemish on Kurt Angle’s farewell tour, the odds-on favorite had to be Samoa Joe. True, The Olympic Hero’s first two bouts on his road to his final WrestleMania ended in victories, but his opponents thus far have been relatively newer faces and ardent admirers of Angle who were happy to share the ring with him. Joe, on the other hand, is a molten ball of aggression and disdain on his most pleasant day, not to mention he’s a world-traveled competitor who’s feeling himself mightily as the newly-crowned United States Champion on SmackDown LIVE. This one had the look of a match that was over before it began.
To the surprise of all assembled, it wasn’t, though the margin for victory was even slimmer than his last-gasp win over Chad Gable last week. The Samoan Submission Machine had kicked out of an Angle Slam, and even though the Olympian evaded a Uranage, he soon found himself trapped in the Coquina Clutch. And yet, Angle prevailed, rolling Joe over with the Clutch still locked in to achieve a pinfall that left the titleholder in a state of shock.
So, the farewell tour continues apace. Tomorrow, Angle will mosey on to SmackDown LIVE for a scrap in The House That AJ Styles Built. That will be as tall a test as Joe, but Angle has already survived two upstarts and a bona-fide monster. Clearly, anyone counting him out is getting ahead of themselves.
If Drew McIntyre made any mistake in his grueling defeat of Dean Ambrose two weeks ago, it’s that he left The Lunatic Fringe with enough in the tank to get back up. He didn’t make that mistake twice.
Challenged by Ambrose to a Last Man Standing Match — the former WWE Champion took exception with Drew’s claim that he had been “exterminated” — McIntyre couldn’t help but respect Ambrose’s tenacity, but that was where all sportsmanship began and ended. In what was half a statement to Roman Reigns and perhaps half an acknowledgement that yes, keeping an actual cockroach down would probably be easier, The Scottish Psychopath brought everything but the kitchen sink against The Lunatic Fringe. That his plan of attack didn’t include an actual kitchen sink was the only sign of restraint; Ambrose was subjected to a Kendo stick to the torso, a slingshot into the underbelly of the ring, a tackle through a table and finally a Claymore before he was finally unable to answer the count of 10.
The idea of what Ambrose was fighting for remained something of a mystery to the commentary team. Was he fighting for pride? For the memory of The Shield? Just because he likes to? The WWE Universe ended Raw no closer to a consensus answer on that front. McIntyre, however, required no such speculation, as his step over Ambrose and gaze toward the WrestleMania sign made clear: It’s on to New York and a match with Roman Reigns. The rest is just ruin in his wake.
In other action … Finn Bálor def. Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley and Jinder Mahal to earn an Intercontinental Title Match at WrestleMania … Aleister Black & Ricochet def. Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival … Roman Reigns accepted Drew McIntyre’s WrestleMania challenge … WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks def. Natalya via Disqualification … Alexa Bliss added Colin Jost and Michael Che of “SNL” fame to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal … Baron Corbin def. Apollo Crews … Paul Heyman confronted Seth Rollins … and Triple H agreed to put his career on the line against Batista at WrestleMania.