WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 22
Sunday's Fastlane pay-per-view had its ups and downs, but it did leave us with a good idea of what to expect at WrestleMania 37 on April 10 and 11.
Peyton Royce had a chance to have a singles match for the first time in months, but she had to deal with Asuka, so it was no walk in the park.
We also saw Kofi Kingston battle AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy face The Miz, Rhea Ripley make her Raw debut and Randy Orton attempt to confront The Fiend.
Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's show.
Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus
The first match of the night saw Lashley take on Sheamus. The Celtic Warrior went through a war with McIntyre on Sunday, so he came into this bout battered and bruised.
They locked up and fought for control. Neither man wanted to give an inch, but once they were in the corner, Lashley beat Sheamus down. The Irishman fired back with a clothesline.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin showed up and used a distraction to attack Sheamus before the break. We returned to see Sheamus trying to make a comeback.
He put The All Mighty on the apron for the 10 Beats of the Bodhran before he took him out with a dive from the top turnbuckle. Another distraction from Alexander allowed Lashley to hit a spinebuster and apply the Hurt Lock for the win.
The Hurt Business kept attacking Sheamus after the match until Drew McIntyre made the save.
The way these two were fighting at the start, you would think this was a real wrestling match. They made everything look as real as possible by being very physical in their approach.
They kept a brisk pace and made every strike look stiff. This is the second night in a row where Sheamus had a brutal fight against another powerhouse. He looked great in both encounters.
It almost felt like WWE was booking The Celtic Warrior as a babyface in this bout, and the save from McIntyre made it look like he and McIntyre could find common ground again.
Asuka vs. Peyton Royce
After giving a fiery promo during a recent episode of Raw Talk, Royce was given a chance to face Asuka. The Empress took control early with a shoulder tackle, but Royce stayed in the fight.
She took Asuka down a few times and broke out of an armbar. She applied a unique leglock but had to break when Asuka kicked her with her other leg.
The former IIconic kept Asuka on defense for quite some time. We returned from a break to see both women trying to get to their feet. Asuka hit a kick to the head and a German suplex as she started to gain momentum.
The champ tried to apply the Asuka Lock, but Royce countered for a two-count. Royce hit a double stomp from the top turnbuckle for another near-fall. Royce eventually tapped out to the Asuka Lock.
Rhea Ripley's music hit, and she came down to the ring to issue a challenge for WrestleMania. Asuka accepted the challenge right away.
This is easily the best singles match we have ever seen from Royce, but that might not be saying much since WWE barely ever books her outside of tag bouts.
She looked more technically sound than ever before and gave Asuka a good fight. Her recent promo on Raw Talk clearly made an impression, and this bout allowed her to back up those words.
Asuka looks good, too. They worked well together, and if this was a prove-yourself match for Royce, she could find herself in the women's title hunt soon.
The Miz vs. Jeff Hardy
The Miz and John Morrison were out after a commercial break for another episode of Miz TV. As soon as he had a mic, The A-Lister started ranting about Bad Bunny.
He and Morrison complained about how Bunny is on the WrestleMania poster and they aren't. We saw a replay of The Miz hitting Bunny with a guitar last week before Miz and Morrison played a preview of the music video they will debut next week.
Jeff Hardy came out for the match and dared The Miz to fight without Morrison at ringside. The A-Lister agreed, and Morrison left the area. Hardy took control early and ran The Miz from turnbuckle to turnbuckle.
After taking several of Hardy's signature moves, The Miz pushed him into the ring post and hit his finisher for the pin. Bad Bunny hit him with a guitar after the match and accepted The Miz's challenge.
The Miz is on course to fight Bad Bunny at WrestleMania. How you feel about that will depend on your opinion of celebrity matches and Bad Bunny as a performer.
The match with Hardy was fine. It was nothing special and somewhat short, but it was fine for what it was. The Miz needed a win to prove he was still good enough to do things on his own, and that is exactly what he got.
Hardy seems to be directionless these days, but that is more a side effect of WWE pushing others than not wanting to push him. When WWE has room and a storyline, he will be back on TV regularly.
AJ Styles vs. Kofi Kingston
Styles, Omos, Xavier Woods and Kingston all gave promos to hype their tag title bout at WrestleMania before Styles and Kingston had their scheduled match. The New Day asked some questions to prove Styles doesn't know Omos that well. The Phenomenal One got every question wrong.
After a commercial break, the match got going. Kingston scored the first takedown with a side headlock takeover. He kept the hold applied for a long time while Styles tried to break free.
The Phenomenal One couldn't get in any offense until they took the fight out of the ring. Styles sent Kingston into the steel steps, and Omos prevented Woods from checking on his partner.
We returned to see Kingston starting to gain some traction. He set up for Trouble in Paradise, but Styles caught him with a jumping kick to the head. Styles tried to hit the Phenomenal Forearm, but Woods distracted him with the trombone. Kingston hit the S.O.S. to get the pin while Omos was trying to deal with Woods.
These two having a good match is not surprising. What was shocking was how much Kingston dominated. He had control for a solid 75 percent of what we saw.
Putting two former WWE champions in the ring will almost always yield good results, especially when they have similar styles like Styles and Kingston do.
This feud won't have a lot of time to develop, but it's nice to see Omos getting some character development. It will be fun to see him finally mix it up in the ring.
Drew McIntyre vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin
McIntyre agreed to a handicap match on the condition that if he won, Benjamin and Alexander would be banned from ringside at WrestleMania.
The Scottish Warrior started off strong, but Benjamin was able to take control for a few moments. McIntyre hit a clothesline to take him down. Alexander narrowly saved Benjamin from being hit with a Claymore.
As we went to a break, The Hurt Business ran McIntyre into the barricade. We came back from the commercial to see McIntyre trying to fight his way to his feet to no avail.
As the former WWE champion began to regain his composure, he started throwing his opponents around the ring. He nailed Benjamin and Alexander with two Claymore kicks for the win.
The addition of the stipulation helped make this feel like more than just another random match, but the way it was booked is what sold it.
McIntyre looked good but was still fighting as the underdog against two competitors. It was a smart way to make him look strong without making Alexander and Benjamin look weak.
This could have been a throwaway match, but the three men in the ring did a good job making it fun.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Mandy Rose grabbed Shayna Baszler and cornered her for some shoulder thrusts. She tagged in Dana Brooke to score a two-count.
Brooke tried to knock Nia Jax off the apron, but it backfired and Jax tagged into the match. She ran over Brooke with a clothesline while Rose chased Reginald into the ring. He did a quick acrobatic move to impress Jax.
The distraction allowed Rose to hit a knee for a near-fall. Jax hit Brooke with a Samoan Drop for the win.
This was almost a complete waste of time. Reginald is not an interesting character, but WWE insists on pushing him as part of the women's tag team storyline for some reason.
Most of what we saw involved Reggie trying to distract Rose and Brooke. Nothing they did looked horrible, but it certainly didn't help any of the four women in the match.
While it's great to see the women's tag team champions being featured more regularly in recent months, the way WWE is using them is counterproductive. Where is The Riott Squad?
Elias vs. Braun Strowman
Shane McMahon and Elias sang a new song about how Braun Strowman is stupid before this rematch from Fastlane took place.
The match began after a break. Strowman immediately started dominating the singer while talking trash at McMahon. All Jaxson Ryker could do was watch.
The Monster Among Men hit a huge dropkick that sent Elias out of the ring. He got the easy win with a running powerslam.
This segment was unnecessary and repetitive. The only development in this storyline came after the match when McMahon hit Strowman with his crutch and ran away, revealing he was uninjured.
This all could have been accomplished with a short promo segment. WWE did not need to devote two blocks of TV time to this feud.
The match between Elias and Strowman was basically a squash. There was nothing surprising or special about what we saw here.
Randy Orton Summons Bray Wyatt
Orton came to the ring carrying something in a bag. He talked about how he loved burning The Fiend alive, but at Fastlane, he smelled burnt flesh again when Bray Wyatt returned.
Orton vowed to be done with Alexa Bliss and The Fiend after tonight. The Firefly Fun House music began to play as Bliss came out holding a jack-in-the-box toy.
The Fiend appeared behind Orton but did not strike. He stood there as Orton revealed a gas can in the bag. He threw some gas at Wyatt as he stood in the ring motionless.
As soon as Wyatt took a step forward, Orton hit the RKO. Bliss distracted him while The Fiend got back to his feet and applied the Mandible Claw. Raw ended with Bliss and Wyatt standing side by side while she pointed to the WrestleMania sign.
We all knew Orton and Wyatt would have one more match at WrestleMania, but we didn't know exactly how we would get it until tonight.
As repetitive as this segment was, it did the trick. Orton and The Fiend have the weirdest storyline in WWE right now, but at least they commit to everything they do.
This wasn't a good segment, but it could have been a lot worse. The Viper will now face The Fiend on Night 2 of 'Mania.