As Raw celebrated the 70th birthday of two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair, Batista shockingly stormed “The Nature Boy’s” dressing room, dragging an incapacitated Flair through the hallway and asking Triple H, “Do I have your attention now?”
The curtain still hasn’t quite settled back into its proper position from the night Roman Reigns announced he was relinquishing the Universal Championship and taking a leave of absence to battle leukemia, but The Big Dog’s return to Raw gave the WWE Universe occasion to breathe a welcome sigh of relief.
The former champion, appearing for the first time since his fateful announcement, revealed that his treatment had been a “home run” and that he was in remission, which meant, as he said, “The Big Dog is back.” But he used the meat of his appearance to thank the WWE Universe for their outpouring of support in his time of uncertainty, hesitation and even fear. “God’s voicemail was full,” Reigns said of the well-wishes he had received from the WWE Universe and beyond; he even went so far as to change his signature battle cry to encompass everyone who had given him strength and grace: “This is our yard.”
Pointedly, Reigns also said that his diagnosis and battle had led to a new purpose: To use his platform as a Superstar to raise awareness and support for those who find themselves in a similar fight to his own. As The Big Dog made his exit, he was joined atop the ramp by Seth Rollins, who embraced his friend in an impromptu celebration of a battle well fought, a purpose renewed and a sentiment that nobody in the WWE Universe could possibly find cause to argue with: It's good to have him back.
If Dean Ambrose was a man on a singular mission at the end of 2018, he has become something of the opposite in the early months of this year; by seeking out Drew McIntyre for a No Disqualification Match and poking the proverbial bear by stepping to Elias, The Lunatic Fringe has shown himself to want little more than a fight, any fight, against anyone who is willing to oblige. That he tends to get his wish has been a sharp — if unsurprising — double-edged sword, and tonight was no exception.
On one hand, the McIntyre match was right up Ambrose’s depraved alley: The Lunatic Fringe ripped off his leather belt — sneakily, he wore two to the ring — to tan the hide of The Scottish Psychopath. But Elias, who had been hit with Dirty Deeds earlier in the evening, sprinted down the ring with payback on his mind and clobbered Ambrose across the back with his guitar. McIntyre didn’t hesitate to take the help, downing The Lunatic Fringe with a Claymore for the three.
Things took a quick turn for Ambrose when Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley arrived for a four-on-one stomping of the former WWE Champion, but The Lunatic Fringe found himself fielding an unlikely assist when Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns came to the ring and cleaned house with a chair and Superman Punches, respectively. The Big Dog sealed the attack with a Spear to McIntyre, but neither acknowledged Ambrose until they had made their way back up the ramp, when they stared down their turncoat brother from afar. An extending of an olive branch? A one-and-done assist for old time’s sake? It’s anybody’s guess, but Dean Ambrose certainly looked like he didn’t mind what he’d gotten, whether he asked for it or not.
A few months ago, during SmackDown’s 1,000th episode, Batista made an offhanded comment that the only thing Triple H had yet to accomplish was beating him. It would appear that The Animal did not get the result he desired, so he decided to reiterate it at the expense of the one Superstar The Game respects above all others.
The former WWE Champion made a surprise return in Raw’s closing moments, attacking Ric Flair before “The Nature Boy” could strut down the aisle to his 70th birthday celebration, where the entire Raw roster and some select guests of honor — Shawn Michaels, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Kurt Angle and Sting — were gathered to wish Flair many happy returns. Dragging a beaten Flair from his dressing room, Batista stared directly into the camera and asked, “Hey, Hunter, do I have your attention now?” The Game sprinted back to the locker room to Flair’s side as Raw went off the air. The Animal had vanished and left Flair in a heap, but he got what he came for: He has Triple H's attention, and everyone else's, too.
In other action … Ricochet & Aleister Black def. Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival … Becky Lynch was arrested after attacking Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey … Kurt Angle def. Jinder Mahal … Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor def. Lio Rush … Braun Strowman attacked Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush … and WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Bayley def. Nia Jax.