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WWE Raw preview (April 1, 2019): Transition game

Team Red’s last stop before WrestleMania is in our nation’s capital. If you’re one of my fellow ‘Muricans, anyway.

The Headliner(s)

What’s been done with Drew McIntyre over the last month or so is pretty remarkable. It’s hard to imagine WWE could have built a better opponent for Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 35. They weren’t exactly starting from scratch, of course. Just look at him, for crying out loud. They didn’t dub him the Chosen One during his first run for nothing.

This run started off pretty well, too. But when his brutal submission win over Kurt Angle was followed with a heatless feud with Dolph Ziggler and lots (and lots) of matches with Elias, Bobby Lashley & Finn Balor, well... Drew looked more like a front runner for the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy than someone who’d make a good opponent for the guy who’d headlined the last four ‘Manias.

What a difference a whole lotta kicking The Shield’s ass makes.

McIntyre was on the losing side of the Hounds emotional reunion/farewell at Fastlane, but even there he looked strong. Since then, he’s got wins over Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose and has gotten the better of the Big Dog multiple times - including a devastating low blow/Claymore combo last Monday after Roman accepted Drew’s challenge for April 7.

WWE’s official preview for tonight’s ‘go home’ episode promises a response from Reigns to the Scotsman’s reign of terror, which is to be expected. Personally, I’m looking forward to a slobberknocker on Sunday, and really interested in how McIntyre will look on the other side of the Showcase of the Immortals.

Is this the start of his time in the main event? Or is he headed back to the midcard after doing the honors for Roman in his yard, setting Big Uce on his way back to his usual pursuit - Raw’s top title?

The work he and WWE have done over the last month should earn him a regular spot atop the card. But I’ve thought that in the past about guys like Bray Wyatt and Rusev before they did the ‘Mania job for WWE’s top guy. And while both of those guys have had some career highlights since losing to Cena at the Show of Shows, I wouldn’t call either of them perennial main eventers, either.

Perhaps whether or not McIntyre manages to do something other than get run over by Reigns tonight will give us a clue as to his future standing.

The title scene

Speaking of main eventers, there are definitely huge stakes for WrestleMania 35’s headliners tonight. Whether you believe there’s any chance WWE will use the stipulation they’ve laid out the tag match pitting Raw Women’s champ Ronda Rousey, SmackDown Women’s titleholder Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch against The Riott Squad (that if Ronda, Becky or Charlotte betray their team, they’re out of the match at MetLife) is another matter. But unlike last week’s Beat The Clock Challenge, at least they’re pretending it matters!

The Beast is in town, and will be around while Paul Heyman sells us on his match with Rollins this Sunday. So if the Architect tries to scare Universal Champion Brock Lesnar’s advocate to the ground this week, he just might catch an early ride to Suplex City.

We’re not sure yet if The Revival will be on the ‘Mania card, but if their Raw Tag title defense against Ricochet & Aleister Black doesn’t come to a clean decision tonight, there’s a chance this could be set-up for Dash & Dawson to work Sunday (and the NXT duo to pull double duty this weekend).

In the Women’s Tag Team championship scene, we’ll get a preview of sorts for the Fatal 4Way on April 7 when champs Sasha Banks & Bayley team with Natalya & Beth Phoenix against Nia Jax & Tamina and Peyton Royce & Billie Kay. WWE’s painting it as a test of whether the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection have bitten of more than they can chew. I don’t know about that, but I definitely don’t think this is gonna go smoothly for them.

Lio Rush thought he could help his man Lashley avoid having to give Finn Balor an Intercontinental title shot at ‘Mania by recruiting Jinder Mahal as the All Mighty’s partner against Finn last week. It didn’t work, and Jinder and the Singhs paid for it. Not sure what that has to do with this week... probably not much, but Balor and Lashley are wrestling again on Sunday.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Batista is probably walking into a Triple H trap when he returns to Raw ahead of their No Holds Barred match at MetLife. It’s hard to blame the Cerebral Assassin for looking for any advantage he can when his career is about to be on the line, though. At least Big Dave will almost certainly be cheered in his hometown.

- It’ll be Kurt Angle’s pentultimate WWE match, and a throwback to the SmackDown Six era, when our Olympic Hero locks up with Rey Mysterio tonight. Now, are we sure about Baron Corbin as Kurt’s opponent on Sunday?

- John Cena is free, you know. Not that him interrupting Elias wouldn’t be great and all, but...

- We also still have questions about Undertaker, Rob Gronkowski (or whoever Mojo’s been yelling at in that mirror), maybe even The Rock? We don’t have questions about Braun Strowman, Michael Che and Colin Jost, who are set to be the focus of the Andre. Don’t fight it. It’ll be a hoot and a half.

It’s the WrestleMania ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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