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WWE Raw results, recap, reactions (Mar. 23, 2020): Boneyard

Since these Performance Center shows are different in terms of flow and what we ought to discuss afterwards, I’m going to test out a bit of a new format. Let me know how you like it in the comments below.

AJ Styles challenges Undertaker to a Boneyard Match


  • Styles argues that Undertaker’s mystique and “it” factor are gone, which is backed up by his theory that Michelle McCool’s the one running things at this point. He referenced a social media video of the husband and wife talking about preserving tigers in the wild as an example as well.
  • Styles, therefore, feels like it’s his duty to bring the Undertaker “back” with a match type that only the Deadman could handle. That match, incidentally, is a “Boneyard” match. And boneyard is readyyyyy
  • Ahem. Sorry about that last bit.

WrestleMania season is always awfully challenging for the writers in WWE because it’s very easy to fall into some redundancy. For example, there always seem to be a few stories that you could just swap out the names of the wrestlers with someone else on the show and it’d still make sense.

I’ll give Styles’ Michelle McCool conspiracy theory credit in that regard - it sure is unique. It also really fits the arrogance Styles has when he’s playing heel. It’s almost like he’s offended that he hasn’t gotten the usual fire, brimstone, and lightning that usually accompanies the Undertaker. It’s mainly the Coronavirus, AJ, but fair enough.

I’m never a huge fan of calling wrestlers by their real name and getting overly meta, and like I said that part got redundant with Randy Orton doing it later in the show as well, but I’m sure there’s a crowd for it. The big thing here is...what the hell is a Boneyard Match? In my head I’m imagining a cemetery and some awesome, over-the-top, Final Deletion-styled production, but I probably shouldn’t start assuming things before they explicitly state what’s going on.

More than anything else with this feud, Styles’ comical arrogance feels like it’s going to bite him big time. That could be fun.

Seth Rollins cuts an awesome promo

Not mincing words here, folks - this was one of Rollins’ best promos ever.


  • Started out with Kevin Owens in the ring calling out Rollins, but the segment was really just Rollins laying out his own perception of things.
  • Rollins started by admiring the Performance Center and expressing skepticism for Owens’ claim that fighting in the PC gives him an advantage. Rollins argued that sure, he didn’t train at the PC, but it was only built because of the time and effort he’s put in to make it a reality.
  • The heelish delusions started when Rollins talked about his own “starting in WWE” background. He was told at that time that nothing he’d done before that moment mattered. So he sacrificed everything he did outside of WWE to become who he is now. And because of who he is now, everyone owes him a debt of gratitude. Without him, there’s no Tommaso Ciampa, no Johnny Gargano, no Women’s Revolution.
  • From there, Rollins capped it by saying he always wins at WrestleMania and Owens couldn’t even make the card last year. Owens is a failure, and Rollins walked away before Owens could even say a word.

The thing I loved most about this one was that there wasn’t a back and forth. I feel like wrestling tries too hard to make both people look strong at times when they shouldn’t, and this is the perfect example. The doubts Rollins just verbalized need to resonate; they need to be felt by Owens - and the audience - to really make the match mean something.

And that’s what we got here! Rollins’ delusions are so far off the deep end, but he was really clear in describing how those delusions were formed. And when Owens tried to interrupt, Rollins lashed out by claiming that he’s a victim - that he never gets to speak - and that’s when he really twisted the knife with the WrestleMania stuff.

This was probably the most innovate thing WWE’s done with the empty arenas so far. The camera man slowly following Rollins around the ring and zooming on his face were excellent.

The Rest

Paul Heyman cuts a promo - Not much to say about this other than that. Brock Lesnar’s fighting in a few weeks, so Heyman’s out to cut a promo on his opponent. It didn’t really inspire any feelings one way or the other for me.

Re-run of Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins from 2015 - This was their triple threat match from the Rumble. Good match, but completely skippable.

Andrade, Angel Garza def. Ricochet, Cedric Alexander - There’s not much wrestling on Raw these days, but these are 4 of the absolute best in the world in terms of delivering a high-paced, entertaining wrestling match. Shouldn’t shock you at all that this was a fun match to watch.

Ricochet and Alexander have really had their momentum on the show taper off, to say the least. It was pleasant to see them get some lengthy time to work. I hope they can get something moving in the right direction when WWE hits the road again - but for now, matches like this won’t get any complaints from me.

But the real story here were the Street Profits.

Street Profits def. Shane Thorne, Brendan Vink - The Profits were out to watch the Andrade/Garza match, and after a brief staredown between the teams, got one of their own against a duo from NXT.

I’ve always really liked Thorne, so this was another solid match. I’m also intrigued by the brewing Profits/Andrade and Garza feud. Lots of personalities there to clash.

Shayna Baszler interview gets derailed with a chair shot - Baszler was having too much fun intimidating Charly Caruso in the ring with the lights dimmed, but finally said that she really enjoys destroying things and that’s what motivates her to take Becky Lynch’s title.

Becky responded by sneaking up and smashing her with a chair.

Aleister Black def. Leon Ruff - This was to promote Black’s WrestleMania match with Bobby Lashley. That’s a pretty ruff matchup, if you ask me.

Again, I’m sorry.

Randy Orton accepts Edge’s challenge - Orton had a good promo to close the show as well. Again, not a fan of the “Adam Copeland is a mark for Edge” sort of stuff, but it seems like some of the things Edge said have gotten under Orton’s skin. He clearly didn’t like that lacking grit comment, and scoffed at Edge’s claims that everything got handed to him.

He intends to write the last chapter to Edge’s story at WrestleMania.

...Y’all, I might honestly like these no crowd shows more that WWE’s usual programming. I am not the type who just sits at a TV and raptly watches; it’s nice to have moments to just completely tune out and come back for the important/interesting stuff. It makes the average/uninspiring stuff better as well, since it’s just one average moment instead of three hours of it dumped on your head.

I think a lot of it is that my expectations are just so low at this point, too. Like, what the hell are you supposed to do with an empty crowd and like 10 wrestlers for a weekly 3-hour show? From that mindset, I think it’s fairly impressive.

Grade: B

You enjoy the crowdless shows too, Cageside?

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