WWE Champion Bobby Lashley def. The Miz
First and foremost, Lashley's new entrance is absolutely amazing. He already came across like a star, but now he's a superstar (not just a "Superstar" like what WWE calls its wrestlers) with that entrance. Former champions getting automatic rematches has been a thing of the past for years, but this was actually a great way to kick off the show. It was kept short and sweet, and since there was never any doubt that Lashley was going to retain, it was smart to get this out of the way early. Despite cutting a good promo beforehand, Miz's days in the WWE Championship picture should be over for now.
Shane McMahon Apologized to Braun Strowman
Man, this storyline sucks. Strowman wanted an apology from Shane for making him look like an idiot last week in the Raw Tag Team Championship match, and Shane gave him what he wanted, but that was the entire segment. I guess I was glad they didn't drag it out (like they did later on in the show), but Strowman screaming for Shane didn't do a ton for me. Strowman has lost a lot of credibility and Shane shouldn't be a regular on WWE TV at this point. The endgame is obviously a WrestleMania match and that just isn't something I want to see.
Drew McIntyre def. Sheamus in a No Disqualification Match by Referee Stoppage
I'm happy that this rivalry isn't over yet because it would have been disappointing to blow it off on a random Raw last week. The match was fantastic and they deserve to run it back on a bigger stage (if not WrestleMania then at least Fastlane). This was another entertaining encounter as they made the most of the stipulation. The referee stoppage finish (assuming that's what it was supposed to be) keeps the feud alive and sets up the need for another matchup at Fastlane, likely with the winner earning a WWE Championship opportunity at Fastlane.
Xavier Woods def. Raw Tag Team Champion Shelton Benjamin
The Hurt Business originally beat The New Day for the Raw Tag Team Championship at the TLC pay-per-view in December. There was never a rematch, but there didn't need to be because of how many matches they had before then. At least they work well together, so I have no problem with them facing off again for the Raw Tag Team Championship on next week's show. This was a solid match with Woods getting a last-minute momentum boost for New Day.
United States Champion Riddle def. Slapjack (Non-Title)
Slapjack is probably the only person RETRIBUTION doesn't fail, because if it does, he's done for on the main roster. In all seriousness, he's a talented guy, but this was largely designed to be a showcase for Riddle ahead of his title defense against Mustafa Ali next week. And yes, they actually bothered to advertised a title match a week out. I was pleasantly surprised, too. Riddle vs. Ali, with more time than last week, should be fun.
Shane McMahon Played Games with Braun Strowman
As if the previous segment wasn't bad enough, this was even more of a waste of time. Literally nothing was accomplished and it felt like it would never end. The worst part is that it couldn't be more obvious that they're on a collision course toward a match at WrestleMania. Can Shane just challenge Strowman to a match at 'Mania already? And who are we supposed to be cheering for, anyway? This entire angle is a lost cause.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler def. Lana and Naomi
Lana and Naomi finally got their shot at the tag titles after waiting over a month and seeing two other teams contend for the titles before them. They aren't compelling whatsoever, so I had no desire to see them be the team to take the titles from Jax and Baszler. It was a perfectly fine match, though I could have done without the Reginald crap. It's been awful on SmackDown and expanding it over to Raw isn't exactly ideal.
AJ Styles def. Randy Orton
This was a rematch from WrestleMania 35 two years ago, but they've had so many matches since then that it doesn't feel remotely special anymore. You also had to know something was going to go down afterward considering that this was positioned as the main event over McIntyre vs. Sheamus and the WWE Championship match. It was well-wrestled and got better as they picked up the pace down the stretch, but there was no incentive for fans to want either guy to win considering they're both heels. The distraction from Alexa Bliss was expected, and although I haven't minded Orton's feud with The Fiend on the whole, Orton coughing up the black liquid has been pretty dumb. Firefly Fun House match at WrestleMania, anyone?
I'm still stoked that WWE did the right thing by putting the belt on Bobby Lashley when they did (even though his time could have been three years ago but that's beside the point), but it doesn't change how Raw is a creative mess at the moment. Nothing is set in stone in WrestleMania and I assume Orton vs. The Fiend is a lock and possibly Miz and John Morrison vs. Bad Bunny and Damian Priest (neither of whom were on the show this week), but that's about it. In other words, most of the card is up in the air. The Shane and Strowman stuff on this show was especially brutal. I liked the first hour, but it went downhill after that. On the bright side, the hype for next week's episode was well done as it's rare WWE hypes up one to two title matches in advance.