ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA REPORT
Submitted by: Mike Murray
Two nights before Fastlane (the final PPV stop on the road to Wrestlemania…) the Raw crew rolled into Toronto for a show at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. The show started with only about 1/3 of the audience in their seats. Issues with slow parking attendants and security checks. But, nowhere near a sell out when everyone took their seats. Maybe around 3/4 full. A lot of empty seats on the floor.
Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Sasha Banks & Bayley VS Nia Jaxx & Tamina Snuka
Even though the audience was still getting to their seats, crowd was into the match. Jaxx was booed and did some classic heel house show stuff. Chants for Bayley from the audience. Jaxx and Snuka used their size and worked over Banks on Bayley at times. Boss and Hug Connection win when Banks use a side Russian leg sweep on Snuka and put her into the Bank Statement and Snuka tapped out.
Fun opener and crowd really enjoyed it
Mojo Rawley VS Tyler Breeze
They showed Mojo talking to his reflection to remind the audience of his current character on the video screen if you have a tendency to fast-forward through that stuff when you’re watching at home… Poor Prince Pretty did not get a worthy reaction from this Canadian crowd. The match was fine but flat. Two guys that don’t get any TV time, what can you expect. Rawley wins. A little bit of a beatdown on Breeze after the match.
Drew McIntyre VS Dean Ambrose
McIntyre comes out, grabs a mic. Tells Toronto that he is upset that he does not have a match at Wrestlemania (I think only 4 people on the roster have a confirmed match 30 days out). He says he deserves to be in the main event at Mania. That Rollins is not big enough or bad enough to beat Lesnar. And that McIntyre will need to be satisfied with ruining this Shield reunion at Fastlane. He demands that someone come out and shut him up. Ambrose’s music hits.
The crowd was into Ambrose, but nowhere near like a few years ago. McIntyre is a very large human being. Ambrose got him into a figure four, McIntyre pokes him in the eye. Rolls out of the ring. Ambrose does a dive to the outside onto McIntyre. Ambrose goes to the top rope, gets bumped off and McIntyre wins with a Claymore.
Alexa Bliss comes out, two chairs are in the ring for a Moment of Bliss. Bliss is wearing ring gear. Talks about how she would like to have a Bradley Cooper or Lady Gaga on a Moment of Bliss, but they wouldn’t be caught dead in Toronto. Bad mouths Tim Hortons as the only thing Toronto has going for it. Says her guest is a third-rate reality show star and den mother of the Raw women’s division and Calls out Natalya Neidhart.
After some further insults and Neidhart telling us that she likes Tim Hortons, things breakdown, and the ring announcer states that this is now an official match. Little brawling and Lacey Evans came out and down the ramp toward the ring. She interferes and breaks up a sharpshooter. The referee calls for a DQ. Evans and Bliss are working over Neidhart and Dana Brooke comes out to save Neidhart. They announced that this is now a tag match… who is the HR department in WWE? Neither Evans or Bliss agree to the match. Evans and Bliss end up working over Brooke who eventually tags in Neidhart who gets Bliss back into the sharpshooter and Brooke and Neidhart are your winners after Bliss taps out.
Match 5 or 6 depends on how you count the last interactions…
Finn Balor VS Bobby Lashley
Lashley is alone, no Lio Rush. Match ends up outside the ring pretty early. Brawl outside. Baylor is run into some guard rails. Crowd chanting “We want Lio” and “CM Punk”…
Balor wins with the Coup de Grace and retains his belt. This was the only time that the smarks made their presence felt. It was unfortunate because neither of these guys deserved that reaction and this was a decent house show match.
Merch booths had lots of Rousey stuff: at least 2 different T-shirts, baseball hat, toque, gloves. Cena gear, Rollins, Reigns. But it was the Rousey stuff that seemed to be selling the best. She was the draw for this card and my oldest daughter, and her friend was very excited to see Rousey.
2 out of 3 Falls for the Raw Tag Team Championship
The Revival VS Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
If you have the chance to see the Revival have a house show match, don’t skip it. These guys are fantastic and going against a team like Roode and Gable… this was really great. So many near falls, blind tags, double teams. I saw a tweet that said this match was 45 minutes, not sure that was the case, but they did get way more time then they would on TV or a PPV to tell their story. Revival won the first fall with Shatter Machine. Roode and Gable won the second with Roode delivering a neck breaker and Gable moonsaulting onto that. Gable and Roode used a combo German suplex by Gable and Roode doing a diving neck breaker off the ropes. Revival retains their titles in the third fall. A lot of good stuff in this match and my match of the night. It was around midway through this match that my youngest decided she had had enough and parked herself on my lap before falling asleep, so my notes suffered.
Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey VS Ruby Riott
Ruby Riott comes out with the Riot Squad. Rousey storms down to the ring. No eye contact with fans and appeared to be carrying a replica belt that had not quite been worked yet. This was pretty much a squash match with Riott tapping out to an armbar in a matter of minutes. The other members of the Riot Squad try their luck with Ronda are also dispatched very quickly.
Rousey seemed to be barking at the audience and did not give any high 5s to kids lined up along the railings to see her. This crowd was here to see Rousey though, and the heel act was not effective even after what happened on Monday’s episode. Maybe not everyone in the audience may have had the chance to see the angle. A quick pre-match interview slagging Toronto or her likely opponents for Mania would have helped get the reaction WWE seemed to be looking for but I would say that the audience was let down with this match and lack of post-match reactions.
Match 8 and the MAIN EVENT
No Disqualifications Match
Braun Strowman VS Baron Corbin
People started to pack up after Rousey finished, either to start lining up for SummerSlam tickets or because they were hoping to beat the rush to get out of the arena. Strowman and Corbin had a decent no DQ house show match. Corbin used a kendo stick, Strowman broke the kendo stick. Corbin used another, Corbin broke that one as well. Strowman tried to set up a table, Corbin put it away. Corbin used the stairs repeatedly on Strowman outside the ring. Strowman set up another table in the corner inside the ring. Corbin set the stairs up in the other corner and then ran Strowman into the stairs and then into the table but couldn’t pin him. Brawling outside the ring. Eventually, Strowman set up another table in the ring and powerslammed Corbin through it and pinned the former constable of Raw. The crowd was happy and seemed to go home with smiles on their faces.
Not a great turnout for this show, especially considering that kids start March break today and most people had to have known that pre-sales would be going on for SummerSlam. With Reigns and Rollins both not advertised and obviously no Lesnar, that the main draws were Strowman and Rousey. I would assume that Rousey should have gone on last but with perceived heel turn on Monday’s Raw, that might have changed. This audience was there to see Rhonda. Also, this was the first time that the new Women’s Tag Team belts were defended in Toronto, that is something that should have been promoted.
It was refreshing to go to a WWE show and not hear chants about how much Cena or Reigns suck though.
There was also an equal number of female and male wrestlers (12) on the card. Nice touch for International Women’s Day.
Little underwhelming card for star power maybe, but fun matches though. 2 out of 3 Falls Raw Tag Team Championship was the match of the night.