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Monday Night RAW in Phoenix: The 10 Storylines That’ll Carry Us To Wrestlemania

The Royal Rumble is always the official start to the “Road to Wrestlemania.” The Monday Night RAW following the Rumble, however, is always one of the more intriguing RAWs of the year. It’s when a majority of the big Wrestlemania storylines begin. It’s where, usually, the title matches are announced, and we plant the seeds for other main card feuds. There’s also a handful that will serve as placeholders for some wrestlers, and brief television fillers.

Tonight, 10 storylines were started. Some good, some great, and some…well let’s just say there’s a lot of work to be done on them.

1. “The Man” Becky Lynch Chooses Ronda Rousey as Her Opponent at Wrestlemania.

The match we all wanted. A year ago I surmised that, if Ronda was successful in the ring, that she and Charlotte Flair would be headlining Wrestlemania this year. None of us expected Becky Lynch, who didn’t even win the pre-show battle royal at ‘Mania last year, to be in the main event let alone be WWE’s top star.

Ronda really started this segment out shaky and it was quite worrisome as her promo about fighting Sasha Banks was pretty bad. Derailed by a pro-Becky audience, Rousey was visibly shook and could not recover.

Luckily, after defeating Bayley, and having Becky light her up on the mic, we got a more intense, fired up, and frankly a bit unhinged Ronda Rousey. This is what WWE needs Ronda to be. Sure, she can be all smiles on the way to the ring, but this handshaking babyface routine has to go. As for Becky, she’s a stone cold killer, and the coolest cat in the world. She’s confident, she’s ready, and she don’t a damn. This feud is going to steal every show it’s featured on, and obviously Wrestlemania.

2. Seth Rollins chooses Brock Lesnar…Who We’ll See in Two Months

Since last year’s RAW gauntlet match, Seth Rollins has been the ace of Monday Night RAW. He’s just killed it in the ring with everyone he’s gone to battle with. He looks fresher in every way. His mic work has dramatically improved, and he’s become the complete ring general we all thought he could be. His promo to open the show was a nice heartfelt moment, and his match with Ambrose was solid.

His choice of Brock Lesnar was expected although the match with Daniel Bryan would’ve been better. There’s a lot of backstory to work here though. Rollins has beaten Lesnar for the title…but in a three-way halfway through a war between Brock and Roman Reigns.

But in all honesty, Seth needs to beat Brock. His act is old. His feuds are predictable. Is this disappearing act he does with the belt stale? Absolutely. Is he still an elite level worker who sells like a madman for his opponents? Yes! But, let’s change the record.

3. Uhh…Jeff Jarrett and Elias?

This is a thing. It was announced that “Double J” Jeff Jarrett (You know how to spell it) has signed to be an on-air talent and producer for WWE. His Rumble appearance was not just a Legends Contract cameo, this is the real deal. So for everyone who dug his double juice main events with Dr. Wagner Jr. in Mexico — sorry about your damn luck. (Get it???)

Now, is this a bit of an odd feud? Well, it makes sense for Elias to legitimately hate Jarrett, he has been compared to him countless times. However, having Elias go from popular face back to a crowd-hating heel inexplicably is kind of weird. It’s a Big Show-esque heel turn for sure. I did get a nostalgia kick out of the use of “slapnuts” and he and Road Dogg signing “Alone with My Baby Tonight.” However, as an actual feud once this gets into the ring…ehhhhhh….it’s not going to be pretty, unless it’s a street fight.

4. The Women’s Tag Titles

We’ve got Nia Jax & Tamina, The Riott Squad and the winner of The Boss & Hug Connection vs. Alicia Fox & Nikki Cross heading to Elimination Chamber along with one team from Smackdown (assuming this is The IIconics vs. a team like Sonya & Mandy or Carmella & Naomi). It’ll be fun to see who takes the belts, and it’s going to be interesting to see who actually will be the #1 contender.

Bayley and Sasha by all rights should win the belts first since they are two of the cornerstones of the women’s division. But, you can’t rule out Nia and Tamina … because WWE will not take the foot off the gas on Nia.

A few friends of mine brought up the idea of making these belts a touring belt since there are not many women’s tag teams on the main roster. Think of how this could build the prestige of these titles quickly without burning out feuds on the main roster, as well as elevating talent from say NXT, NXT UK, OR an independent affiliated with WWE like Progress, Evolve, ICW, WXW, or OTT.

5. Dana Brooke vs. Natalya

We’re not seeing this go to Wrestlemania, but this could definitely be a multi-week feud on RAW. Dana Brooke has been off the radar for a while, and seems to be much improved since she was Charlotte’s bumbling assistant. Hopefully this’ll be entertaining, and Brooke gets a new lease on life in WWE.

6. Kurt Angle’s Redemption Saga

Kurt Angle got trounced by Baron Corbin. So, it looks like the long con for Angle is — he needs to rebuild himself in order to 1.) avenge his losses to Corbin and possibly Drew McInytre, and 2.) prove he deserves to be on the Wrestlemania card. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will come out after Kurt’s next loss (to Baron or Drew) and give him the Ric Flair ultimatum — you lose again, and you’re done. Kurt does look physically compromised still, possibly worse than his last Mania appearance, so it’s going to be a tough road to get him into elite shape. The safe money is him vs. Corbin for Mania, but don’t be shocked if Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre are thrown into this.

7. Battle of the Bad Asses: Strowman vs. McIntyre

These two in a straight up hoss fight is print money awesome. However, are we seriously passing up on Strowman for the Universal Title AGAIN? WWE keeps pushing this guy to the moon then hard slamming the breaks anytime he gets close to Brock. Remember when they threw Kane into the title match at The Rumble last year? Or how he got yoinked this year? Then he gets inserted into the Rumble at the last second to be eliminated last by Seth. I don’t know what’s going on there. McIntyre is primed for a title run, and that’s why the WWE needs to move the belt to Rollins — because they aren’t booking McIntyre to go over Lesnar. So, I think these two will feud for quite some time, and possibly go into the big show as a solo match or teamed with Angle and Corbin.

8. Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley is finally interesting. He’s been in WWE for close to a year, and they’ve finally found the right formula for him. I say it’s the leather vest. Some would say he and Lio Rush have finally gelled. The latter is probably the right answer. Them battling with Finn is the right call. They’ll have a fun match. Hell, maybe we get Finn and Lio at some point too. I still think Seth’s got unfinished business with Bobby, so I could see them have a bit of a feud — so Seth has something to do while Brock does whatever Brock does on his off time. Either way, Finn needs the title, and Lashley is prime to drop it.

9. The Curious Case of Dean Ambrose

Remember when it was big news that Dean Ambrose came back, and he came back utterly jacked to the gills? Yeah, not so much anymore. His feud with Rollins was not good — derailed by some poor promo choices, the Bane mask, and the crowd just not digging their matches. On RAW we saw classic Ambrose. He cut scintillating promos on Rollins and Triple H, but once that bell rang — it was not pretty. Ambrose literally stood around waiting for Seth to hit him with a move. It was bad. Then he tries to cut that soul searching promo, but they had to crowbar Nia Jax into the moment. I want to hear more about Uncle Dean’s problems. Maybe there’s something here that’s interesting. And maybe we get a HHH/Ambrose feud. They did have a hell of a match at Roadblock all those years ago.

Edit: After writing this review the story broke that Dean Ambrose will likely be leaving WWE in April. This changes everything.

10. Nia Fight Dudes

It was a weird moment when Nia Jax entered the Rumble, and eliminated Mustafa Ali then bounced Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio around. I was hoping it was one and done. Apparently not. She decided to hit Dean Ambrose from behind and with that ridiculous smile on her face screamed, “What! What! What you going to do?”

Is she going to fight dudes from now on? I mean, she isn’t great in the ring with women, do we think she’ll be better against men?

WWE really dropped the ball with Nia turning her too quickly last year from being a body positive role into a heel. WWE found something special with her, something real and tangible and people believed in her. Now after a dozen heel and face turns, and some really abysmal promos and horrendously danger spots in matches — she’s going to fight men? Bad move guys.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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