WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 24
The final stop on the road to Super Showdown this Thursday in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia saw the return of Brock Lesnar, the latest in the vileness of Randy Orton, and Becky Lynch and Shayna Baszler sharing the same building for the first time in two weeks.
What went down on the jam-packed episode of WWE Raw, who emerged with momentum on their side and which rivalries enjoyed a spark as WrestleMania 36 also draws nearer?
Find out with this recap of the February 24 broadcast.
Randy Orton Kicks Off Raw
A week after brutally assaulting Matt Hardy and potentially bringing an end to his WWE career, Randy Orton took to the squared circle to apologize for his actions.
He took the viewing audience on a trip down memory lane, telling them about the day 15 years ago in Winnipeg, Canada when he was punched in the face by the man who would become a mentor and friend to him, Adam. Or, as the fans know him, Edge.
Kevin Owens interrupted the story to a thunderous ovation and came face-to-face with The Viper.
KO paused while the crowd chanted his name before asking Orton why he does not just tell the truth about his actions rather than continuing to lie.
Owens said he was personally disappointed when Edge prematurely retired because it meant he would never get the opportunity to face him. And because Orton seemingly ruined that chance, he wants answers.
The promo culminated in a challenge from Owens and an acceptance by The Viper for later Monday night.
When two performers can convey emotion to the extent Owens and Orton did here, even a formulaic promo segment designed to set up the night's main event can exceed all expectations.
This was fantastic. It connected Owens to Edge and gave fans a reason to care about him avenging his brutal assault at the hands of Orton.
Speaking of The Viper, there may be no WWE performer better or more in-tune with his character and the intricacies of his performance at this point.
If the reaction from the WWE Universe in Winnipeg is any indication, the match should be red-hot, with fans solidly behind their countryman, Owens.
Humberto Carrillo vs. Angel Garza
Family clashed in the night's first match, as cousins Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza battled each other in a grudge match nearly a month in the making.
During the break, Garza caught Carrillo with a dropkick to the back and fired off a big uppercut in an attempt to seize control of the bout. Carrillo shook them off, delivered a huge missile dropkick and scored a near-fall.
He pummeled Garza with a barrage of forearms to the face. The former cruiserweight champion recovered, removed his pants and delivered a corner dropkick to the babyface. A superkick continued his sudden onslaught but earned him only a two-count.
Carrillo got cute on the ring apron, and Garza made him pay, flattening him with a superkick. The babyface returned the favor with a moonsault that wiped out Garza heading into the commercial break.
A distraction by Zelina Vega allowed Garza to fight his way back into the match and deliver a top-rope Spanish Fly for a count of two. A series of counters and reversals gave way to Garza scoring a hard-fought victory.
Garza defeated Carrillo
The commercial breaks hurt the flow of the match, but that is the nature of the beast in this era of WWE. With that said, this was a strong back-and-forth match that continued to show the fans the level of in-ring performers Carrillo and Garza are.
Garza scoring the win in an anything-but-definitive fashion creates doubt in the audience that the former cruiserweight champion is the better man and opens the door for a rematch between the cousins somewhere down the line.
Given the quality of this one, a pay-per-view showdown would be appreciated.
Ricochet vs. Luke Gallows
Ahead of his WWE Championship opportunity Thursday in Riyadh against Brock Lesnar, Ricochet squared off with Luke Gallows in singles competition.
Gallows used his size and strength advantage early and often, overwhelming Ricochet and giving the former United States champion a taste of the pain and punishment that awaits him when he faces The Beast Incarnate at Super Showdown.
Ricochet created separation and delivered a standing shooting star press for a near-fall. Gallows answered with a superkick, but The One and Only delivered the Recoil. The top contender to the WWE Championship launched himself across the ring with a jaw-dropping shooting star press from the top rope for the win.
Paul Heyman watched from the backstage area as Ricochet celebrated his victory.
Ricochet defeated Gallows
This was a wisely booked and incredibly effective match that told the story of Ricochet having to fight from underneath against a much bigger, stronger and physically imposing opponent. Essentially, the same challenge the high-flying combatant will face in Saudi Arabia.
Ricochet conquered Gallows, pulled out the top-rope shooting star as another potential weapon against Lesnar and did so while Heyman watched, seemingly unimpressed by the challenge he will pose for The Beast come Thursday.
That sets up a David vs. Goliath tale for the WWE title match, a story Lesnar typically thrives in.
The Beast Is Back
WWE champion Brock Lesnar returned to Raw for the first time in weeks, just days before a title defense against Ricochet and on the road to WrestleMania 36, where he is scheduled to defend against Royal Rumble winner Drew McIntyre.
Paul Heyman hyped his client, claiming that since 2002, Lesnar has reigned every single time he has wanted to as the WWE champion. He put over the idea that his client owes Ricochet one after the low blow that led to his elimination in the Rumble match.
He vowed Lesnar would pummel his challenger and retain his title.
The Beast stood atop the commentary table and raised the WWE Championship high overhead to close out the segment.
Heyman is the hype man extraordinaire, and this was right in line with that well-earned reputation.
In one promo, he put over the WWE title match on this week's live event special in a way it had not been to that point, told the story he needed to and had fans ready to see Ricochet throw everything he has at Lesnar in an attempt to dethrone The Beast.
While it is unlikely to happen, Heyman painted a picture in which the unrealistic scenario could unfold and throw a wrench into WrestleMania 36 plans, all while promoting his client as the unstoppable force of nature he is.
This was excellent and further proof of why Heyman is among the most valuable promos in the industry.
Aleister Black vs. Erick Rowan
Moments after enduring a three-on-one assault at the hands of The O.C. backstage, Aleister Black limped to the squared circle for a rematch from last week's broadcast with Erick Rowan.
Rowan bowled over an opponent hampered by injury, his body wracked with pain following the cowardly attack by AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
Still, Black mustered a big kick that rocked Rowan and knocked him to the arena floor. Rowan followed up, dropping The Dutch Destroyer on the ring apron and throwing him into the timekeeper's area.
Black fought from underneath coming out of the commercial break but quickly found himself slammed hard into the mat. He countered a vertical suplex into a small package for two and continued an improbable comeback and set Rowan up for the Black Mass.
Rowan countered and slammed Black to the mat but still could not pick up the win. Frustration set in and the giant competitor pounded the mat in disbelief of his opponent's resiliency.
The fight spilled to the floor, where Rowan unleashed his fury on his opponent. He delivered a powerbomb into the ring post but the unwavering will to win fueled Black, who delivered Black Mass to pick up his second consecutive win over Rowan.
As he exited, Black issued a challenge to Styles for a match next week.
Black defeated Rowan
This was a star-making performance from Black, who entered the match a beaten and battered man and withstood everything Rowan threw at him to emerge victorious. He looked like a total badass in the process, overcoming the odds placed on him by The O.C. and surviving to challenge Styles to a match next week.
That bout, a genuine WrestleMania-worthy match, should be a show-stealer and further elevate Black to the level of a main event star on Raw.
And Rowan loses nothing in this one as there was nothing more he could have done to win. Black simply outlasted him through sheer, unbridled rage.
Drew McIntyre Interview
Royal Rumble winner Drew McIntyre sat down with Charly Caruso for a special interview.
The Scottish Psychopath relived his arduous journey to the main event of WrestleMania. He said he had spent so much time having people call him "the future" that he worried he would eventually be the past and never have the opportunity to be the present.
McIntyre said it did not matter who he faced as long as he was in the main event of WrestleMania.
Raw, real and emotional, this was the McIntyre fans needed to see before he embarks on the greatest push of his career. It was this promo that presented his story to the masses, gave them something to buy into beyond the personality and countdown gimmick, and it will fuel him as he prepares for his WrestleMania showdown.
More of this across the board, please. Let the men and women tell their stories, make that organic connection and become stars rather than forcing them into personas and characters that are transparent and unrealistic.
And put Caruso in more of these sit-down interviews. She is engaging and thrives in these situations.
R-Truth vs. Bobby Lashley
An impromptu winter debut of "Truth TV" with Bobby Lashley and Lana gave way to a preview of Thursday's gauntlet match to determine the winner of the "coveted" Tuwaiq Trophy as The All Mighty battled R-Truth.
Truth tried for the Attitude Adjustment in honor of his "childhood idol" John Cena, but Lashley fought out.
The All Mighty turned Truth inside out with a spear to pick up a much-needed victory.
Lashley defeated Truth
Truth is a superb performer and his comedic work in the promo prior to the match was spot on. However, the match was little more than a glorified squash that saw Lashley pick up a win he needed in order to recover from the total disintegration of his rivalry with Rusev.
Common sense would suggest Truth stands no chance of winning the Tuwaiq Trophy in Saudi Arabia, but given the fact Shane McMahon holds one of those overvalued pieces of tin, it would not be a surprise to see his hard work over the years pay off in the form of a high-profile victory.
Elimination Chamber Contract Signing
Jerry "The King" Lawler presided over the contract signing for the women's Elimination Chamber match on March 8. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Natalya and Asuka joined the Hall of Famer and penned their deals for the match.
Shayna Baszler joined the proceedings late but wasted no time attempting to intimidate her opponents.
The King had to keep tensions between Morgan and Riott tempered, but Asuka dropped Natalya and dared Baszler to fight her.
A brawl ensued until Raw women's champion Becky Lynch hit the ring and took the fight to The Queen of Spades. The segment ended with what amounted to a tease of a future match between the two.
Outside of Asuka, everyone in the high-stakes match on March 8 was made to look like a complete afterthought when compared to Baszler.
The Submission Magician screamed "star" as she entered through the crowd and joined her opponents in the ring, and the idea of her challenging Becky Lynch for the Raw women's title becomes even more obvious with every passing week.
It was disappointing to see Morgan and Riott essentially shoved to the background after witnessing what looked like a promising start to a personal feud between the two only a fortnight ago.
Angelo Dawkins vs. Murphy and Montez Ford vs. Seth Rollins
An energetic promo from The Street Profits gave way to a singles match pitting Angelo Dawkins against Murphy.
The sprint of a match saw Dawkins down his opponent with Sky High, only for Seth Rollins to interfere, drawing a disqualification and saving his Raw Tag Team Championship partner from a pinfall defeat.
Ford quickly challenged The Architect to a match, and the fight was quickly underway.
Rollins dominated the middle portion of the bout, capitalizing on Ford's tweaked left knee. Late in the match, he set Ford up for a Pedigree, but the charismatic NXT export countered out and planted The Monday Night Messiah with a spike DDT.
Sensing victory, Ford scaled the ropes for a big frog splash, but Rollins rolled out of the way. The Stomp followed and the former universal champion secured the surprisingly hard-fought victory.
Dawkins defeated Murphy via disqualification; Rollins defeated Ford
From start to finish, this was a showcase for Ford. From the pre-match promo that showcased the raw energy he brings to the show through to the lengthy match against Rollins, this was the first real indicator that he is management's choice to one day become the breakout star of the team.
Beyond that, it was a solid enough attempt to create interest and anticipation for The Street Profits vs. Rollins and Murphy at Super Showdown.
While it seems too early for Rollins and Murphy to lose the belts and interrupt their momentum, it would not be surprising for WWE to make the event feel that much more significant by switching the titles.
Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton
A fired-up Kevin Owens took the fight to Randy Orton early and often in the main event, delivering a cannonball on the arena floor and exclaiming, "This is my show!"
The arrival of Seth Rollins, Murphy and AOP provided just enough of a distraction that The Viper was able to recover and seize control of the bout.
He worked Owens over during the final commercial break of the night, grounding him while KO's rivals watched from ringside.
Back from the break, The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders arrived on the scene, fending off the heels at ringside while The Prizefighter created separation from his opponent.
As Owens built steam, Rollins jumped on the ring apron, diverting his rival's attention and leaving him prone to a big clothesline from Orton. Another distraction from The Monday Night Messiah led to KO booting him awkwardly into the guardrail and Orton capitalizing with a draping DDT.
A quick three-count from the official gave way to confusion from all involved, including Rollins, who could be overheard telling the official he was fine. Owens escaped an attempt at a con-chair-to before ripping the referee's shirt off and revealing the official was a disciple of Rollins.
The fans in Winnipeg chanted "yes," to which Owens responded with a stunner to the referee. From there, he retrieved a table and powerbombed the official through it to close out the show and generate a red-hot ovation from the Canadian members of the WWE Universe.
Orton defeated Owens
This was a tough one to grade in that the finish was garbage and failed to hit the way the creative team probably hoped. There wasn't enough emphasis put on the quick count or the fact it was intended to be one.
Besides that, it made Orton look weak when he has been one of the strongest characters on television of late.
At the same time, the crowd ate all of the post-match stuff up, really getting behind KO as he waged war against The Monday Night Messiah and his converted disciple. It made for a red-hot finish to the show, something Raw has not had a ton of success with over the last year or so.
Call it a solid "B" for the segment, including a fantastic home-country moment for Owens.