Last night, Raw hailed from Atlanta, Georgia, where the big “Ric Flair’s 70th Birthday Celebration” was to finally take place after weeks of anticipation. And like many know, it was a lot more than just a birthday celebration for the Raw fans as a certain world champion returned to make a statement. But even bigger than that was the announcement of Roman Reigns. So instead of just hinting at it, let us dig in.
Raw MVP: Roman Reigns
While usually the Rundown ends with the MVP, last night’s episode was rightfully about the first segment and the biggest of the night. Roman Reigns started Monday Night Raw surrounding his big announcement. Reigns walked his way to the ring, giving the love to the WWE Universe, and the crowd would give it right back. “The Big Dog” was once again home in the WWE, as he stated there is no other job in the world that gives him this opportunity to receive this love and give it right back. He continued thanking his fans and even the people who weren’t, because the love and care they continued to send him gave him more and more power to fight. Reigns would continue discussing how he was able to do so much when he was away recovering, but nothing would give him the satisfaction of being able to lace up his boots night in and night out, entertaining the best fans in the world. He said being a champion does matter but realizing what life would be like without this was something he wants to make sure never happens. Roman continued, saying how he wants to bring awareness and help as many people he can because he experienced that pain, and wants no one to suffer how he did. And finally came his big announcement, which was simple but incredibly impactful, “I’m in remission, y’all.” As expected, the loudest pop of the night occurred when he said that, and it was a surreal moment in the State Farm Arena. He continued to say that he was back. He thanked the crowd one last time, leaving this night as one of the more memorable nights in recent history. Seth Rollins would come out to embrace Reigns, leaving a good heartfelt moment for the fans.
Reigns would even go on his own personal Twitter to say how nervous he was going out there, not fully knowing what to expect. He even joked and said, “they actually cheered me, crazy.”
However, Roman Reigns was not finished last night. Dean Ambrose took on Drew McIntyre in a No DQ match as a rematch from last week when Dean was defeated by McIntyre. It became a hard-hitting match where both men would have their fair share of offense. Towards the end of the match, Elias would come out to aid McIntyre following Dean ruining Elias’ performance earlier in the night when he laid him out with Dirty Deeds. Elias would smash his guitar over the back of McIntyre, which would give McIntyre the chance to hit the Claymore on Ambrose, pinning him for the second straight week. Then Baron Corbin’s music would hit, as he and Bobby Lashley headed to the ring, joining Elias and McIntyre in an in-ring beatdown on Ambrose. Finally, Seth Rollins’ music would hit, as he came out with chair in hand, but he wasn’t going alone. Roman would also appear, ready to bring the fight his first night back. Reigns would hit a plethora of superman punches. They would hit the wring to save their Shield brother, as Rollins would hit a Curb Stomp on Elias, and Reigns would follow up with the crowd chanting “OOH AHH” with him as he would hit his first Spear in his return. Reigns and Rollins cleaned house here and would head out of the ring to the top of the ramp. They would turn to Ambrose, signaling a possible Shield reunion one last time as Dean Ambrose’s days could be numbered. Seeing Roman in action like this means one thing and one thing only. Roman Reigns is BACK.
Becky Arrested As Rousey Lays Down An Ultimatum
Ronda Rousey teamed with Natalya last night in hopes of taking out the common enemy of the Riott Squad. And while the match didn’t have much to talk about, what had ended it did. As Natalya pulled Ruby Riott outside of the ring and connecting with a clothesline, “The Man” Becky Lynch appeared from the crowd with a crutch on a mission for Ronda Rousey. Natalya would try to hold back Becky, however this would just leave Natalya as a casualty, as Lynch took her out with a punch and a crutch to the back, as Becky Lynch was adamant to get to Rousey. They would get to each other, throwing punches and kicks in a skirmish before backstage agents, referees, and security would come out to separate the former WrestleMania opponents. Finally, Atlanta Police would come out to stop Becky Lynch, escorting the suspended star out of the arena despite her doing all she could to try and shake them. Ronda was left angry, as Becky would be handcuffed and brought out, seemingly saying they wronged her, they got the wrong person. And while Becky Lynch was not on Raw for a long time, she left an impact that will leave a lasting image going forward.
While you may think that Becky getting arrested was what mattered here, Ronda Rousey wasn’t done. Rousey would grab a microphone, calling out the boss, Vince McMahon. She would instead get Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie got to the ring to try and reason with her, informing her despite her frustration, she would be facing Charlotte at WrestleMania, not Becky Lynch. Ronda wouldn’t accept this however, telling Stephanie that they don’t own her, and if she isn’t going to get the match she wants, the Raw Women’s Championship means nothing to her and is simply just an accessory if she can’t defend it against the rightful contender. Ronda would lay the championship in front of Stephanie and leave the arena. This was one of Ronda’s best nights on the mic since coming into the WWE, and it all but seems we are getting closer and closer to the resignation of Becky Lynch.
Batista Gets Everyone’s Attention
Before the announcement of Roman Reigns returning to Raw, much of Raw was built around the fact that it would be “Ric Flair’s 70th Birthday Celebration”. As the show came to a close last night, we figured exactly why this was the big angle of the night. All the current superstars would stand at the stage as Triple H and Stephanie headed to the ring to celebrate the life of Ric Flair. They would welcome some legends to the ring, including some of Flair’s greatest rivals… and Kurt Angle. Shawn Michaels, the man who retired Ric Flair, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and Sting. While it was nice to see Sting and Steamboat back in a WWE ring for the first time in a long time, it simply wasn’t about them, it was about Ric tonight. They would present a video package for “The Nature Boy”, highlighting his career and would even present him with a very cool, custom World Heavyweight Championship to commemorate his whole career. As Flair’s music would hit however, Flair would not appear. The camera would show the faces of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Stephanie McMahon being confused. A camera would cut to the back to reveal Batista dragging a camera man with him. The view would change to this one, watching Batista head into Ric Flair’s dressing room. The door would shut, and you can hear something going on but not see exactly that. Batista would appear once again, dragging Ric Flair, his friend and hero, by the jacket with Flair seemingly injured. Batista would stare right into the camera, simply saying: “Hunter, do I have your attention now?” Triple H would run to the back to aid Flair, but this would leave the wrestling world in a frenzy and rightfully so.
After last night, it is fair to say WrestleMania just got amped up. Batista vs Triple H is on its way, Ronda Rousey won’t defend her championship unless Becky Lynch is there, and Roman Reigns is back and seemingly ready to go. We will see where these stories go next week, but be sure to tune back tomorrow for SmackDown LIVE’s Highlight Rundown!