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WWE Raw preview (Mar. 19, 2018): Reincarnation

The WWE is in Dallas for the Mar. 19 Raw, but the action’s in Cameron, North Carolina.

The Headliner(s)

After a promising start - who doesn’t like watching weird men laugh, or goldfish playing chess? - the post-waking portion of Matt Hardy’s feud with Bray Wyatt hit a wall. Or fell off a cliff.

Weeks of similar promos and matches in “The Great War” did neither man any favors, and had fans wondering if the act Matt popularized in TNA would follow the same pattern as Bray’s gimmick on the main WWE roster... highly anticipated with flashes of what could be keeping us excited or hoping things were finally about to really take off, but eventually leaving us to accept it was never going to be what it was before or thought it could be.

In the course of the last seven days, WWE, Hardy and his family have managed to reignite fan interest in the Broken/Woken Universe heading into tonight’s “Ultimate Deletion”. Over the course of Monday’s episode of Raw, we’ll find out if what was filmed at the Hardy Compound a couple weeks ago will help all involved turn the corner and head into WrestleMania with some momentum.

There’s much more at stake for Bray. The buzz generated online since the Mar. 12 episode has come entirely from House Hardy, and shows Matt can reignite interest with his Woken Weirdness pretty much whenever he wants. If it routinely leads to disappointing matching/segments, we might stop buying it... but we also just might dig the schtick and keep coming back for more.

Excitement for “Ultimate Deletion” is been almost entirely created by Hardy, though. So while The Eater of Worlds was WWE champ at this time last year, wins more often than conventional wisdom indicates, and clearly has backers behind-the-scenes who value his work... using this rare spotlight for a mid-card feud on the Road to ‘Mania to refresh or breakout would be a game-changer for Bray.

How would it happen? Maybe after years of hoping Wyatt would recruit more Superstars into his “family”, we’ll finally see him cleansed of Sister Abigail as he becomes a soldier in Matt’s army. Nobody really want Husky Harris to emerge from the Lake of Reincarnation, but what if Brother Windham did? Or just a more playful version of Bray Wyatt? The PG Era never let him take the cult leader act to the places it needed to. Could this be the route to a babyface Bray who wants to smash the machine without eating the world?

That’s all fascinating, but there other interesting questions about “Ultimate Deletion”? Is it all one segment, or will it be spaced out throughout the evening? How will the fans in American Airlines Center react to watching the show on the big screen, and how much of that will they put up with before a Manhattan Center-esque revolt takes place? Will it lead to finale in the ring like Wyatt and Orton’s House of Hardcore match, and what Woken teleportation magic will be used to explain getting them form North Carolina to Texas?

WWE thinks it woud be WONDERFUL if we all tuned in this evening to find out.

The title scene

A lot of words have been written, said, tweeted, etc about it, so we’ll just stick to the story. After no-showing the Elimination Chamber fallout and last week’s episodes, Vince McMahon promised Universal champion Brock Lesnar would be on Raw tonight. The Beast Incarnate worked Friday night in New York, but he’s been more willing to make house shows than TVs all along. Roman Reigns was suspended for verbally attacking Brock and publicly questioning Vince. It’s not clear if the #1 contender will be cleared for tonight (he’s advertised, along with Lesnar and Ronda Rousey, for what that’s worth).

Thanks to the very pro wrestling-mistake of revealed to Mickie James she’d been manipulating her “friend” Nia Jax while insulting her behind-her-back on live television, Women’s champ Alexa Bliss now has to face the undefeated Asuka. She won’t be getting any help from Jax, and will probably have a new challenger for April 8 in New Orleans by the time the night is through.

Cesaro and Sheamus officially have a #1 contender... but you usually need two for the the tag team titles? According to the rules laid out by General Manager Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman’s Battle Royal win in Detroit last Monday gives him the right to challenge for The Bar’s belts. The Monster Among Men seems game. The champs are confused, yet confident. It’s Angle’s call now.

FOr the second straight week, ‘Mania’s Triple Threat for Miz’s Intercontinental championship didn’t make WWE’s official preview for Raw. And this time, we can’t blame it on the possibility they still might be adding Strowman to the mix with Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor. Maybe Elias?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Free Agent John Cena is listed for this show in Dallas (not to be confused with this show in Dallas), and Texas is where the guy he called out last Monday lives. Will we get another impassioned promo from Cena asking for Undertaker to meet him at the Showcase of the Immortals? Will that lead to the sound of a gong, or a motorcycle engine? How about a nice note from Michelle’s husband Mark?

- When he’s not dealing with Braun, Cesaro and Sheamus, Kurt might want to watch his back for his own ‘Mania opponents... and bosses... Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Good news is, his partner should be in the house. Maybe for more than a “special appearance”?

- Whatever it’s called, there will be a Women’s Battle Royal in New Orleans on April 8. Is that where Sasha Banks and Bayley will be wrestling? The pair haven’t been able to get back on the same page since Elimination Chamber, with the Hugster teaching The Boss she won’t always be there for Banks if her friend is willing to shove her out of the way at the first sign of solo glory. We thought that was leading to an unprecedented fourth (or fifth) women’s match at the Superdome, but it may just be the main story in The don’t-call-it-The-Moolah.

Three weeks until WrestleMania 34!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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