Long Haul Trucking – Raw/Smackdown/MMC/205 Live/NXT Recap and Reactions – 3/12-14/2018

Updated: 3/16/2018 10:47 EST

Hello Dark Match Fans!

Jeremy is traveling to attend a special celebration in honor of his Mom (Happy Birthday Jeremy’s Mom), so I’m running the gauntlet this week.  I’m surprisingly ok with it because in my cautious optimism, I managed to just legitimately enjoy the majority of Fastlane.  So let’s see what we’ve gotten from the WWE post Fastlane this week in our first of 4 weeks left until Wrestlemania!!!!

Raw is Strowman

Monday Night Raw gave us a few things of note, predominantly reminding us that Braun Strowman is amazing and should have all the belts.  I’d watch a PPV that was simply Brawn Strowman in a series of matches competing for every title in the company, and winning.

Braun Strowman for Raw Tag Team Champions

I know, sounds odd to think that one man could be tag team champions, but when Sheamus and Cesaro got jumped early in the show, Kurt Angle sprung into action because he’s strangely still in his role as General Manager even while feuding with the COO and Raw’s own Commissioner, but that’s neither here nor there.  Angle announced a Tag Team Battle Royal for the Main Event to determine who would challenge The Bar at Wrestlemania.  Your usual suspects arrived, including Titus Worldwide, The Club, The Revival and Slater & Rhyno.  Then Braun Strowman came to the ring, solo, demanded the referee start the match, and proceeded to lay waste to the entire tag division by himself, and now Braun Strowman is the Number One (?) Contender to the Raw Tag Team Championship, and will face The Bar at Wrestlemania.  Hell Yes.  If you’re going to refuse to let him go over Brock, I’m absolutely ok with this.

Cena’s Gone Rogue

John Cena is a lot of things, but at the end of the day he’s the company man.  So it probably came as a slight shock when he cut a pseudo shoot promo on the Undertaker telling him to let his ego go, get off his old ass and show up for one more match in New Orleans.  He laid out the challenge, I’d imagine the Dead Man emerges in Dallas next week to accept.

F*^& Brock Lesnar

Ok, so Roman didn’t drop the F bomb, but he got really damn close.  Angle opened the show to disappoint the crowd yet again by announcing Brock Lesnar wasn’t there.  Roman came out, spit fire at Angle, then seemed to get pissed off because they’re all being disrespected and Vince isn’t doing anything about it, so therefore Vince is disrespecting him.  He charged into the backstage area where he confronted Vince personally.  The chairman, uncharacteristically, took Roman into his office to discuss, emerging to let Renee Young know that Roman was temporarily suspended because of his actions and that he personally guaranteed that Brock Lesnar would show up for Raw next week.  Spoiler alert: If Brock is in Dallas, you can bet your bottom dollar on Roman coming through the crowd during Paul Heyman’s undoubtedly lengthy promo.  This angle has been the absolute best version of Roman Reigns I’ve ever seen.  He’s intense, believable, and I completely support their shitting on Brock Lesnar to get him over with this.  He’s worked his ass off through countless arenas trying to boo him out of town to get to here, now let him have his moment…..again.

The Other Stuff:

  • Sasha Banks defeated Sonya Deville with Bayley and Absolution at ringside.  Following the match, Bayley just walked off and Sasha was swarmed by the members of Absolution.  Just get to the point.  I’m losing interest in something I thought would be amazing again (a year or so ago when it should have happened).
  • Seth Rollins and Finn Balor bickered as the guests on Miz TV, this inevitably set up a match between them where Finn Balor defeated Seth Rollins with a quick roll-up.  Balor was clutching his shoulder towards the end and continued to do so after the match.  Maybe something worth keeping an eye on.
  • Asuka defeated Mickie James because why the hell would she not?  Later, Nia Jax defeated a poor jobber only to stand in the ring and watch as Mickie and Alexa bad mouthed her appearance via a camera conveniently left on in the locker room area and projected (by whom?) to the Titantron.  She flipped out and destroyed the women’s locker room after Alexa and Mickie fled.

Tuesday Night in the House that A J Styles Built

Respect is Earned

AJ Styles started the show, rightfully, and talked about the odds, overcoming them, and earning his rightful place in the dream match at Wrestlemania.  Shinsuke Nakamura came to the ring to let him know he respected him, but at Wrestlemania, “Knee to Face”.

At this point, Rusev’s music hit and the Bulgarian made his way to the ring where he would face AJ Styles with Nakamura sitting at ringside but not actually on commentary.  AJ was winning, of course, so Aiden English interfered and got Rusev disqualified.  They beat down on AJ for a bit before Shinsuke slid in the ring and took care of both, laying out Rusev with a wicked Kinshasa.

Later, AJ confronted Nak backstage because he doesn’t need his help, but Shinsuke assured him he’d help every week until Wrestlemania, where “Knee to Face”.

The Definition of Insanity

All day a massive Shane McMahon announcement for Wrestlemania was promoted, so they held it until the end, where Shane announced he was abdicating his role as the Commissioner of Smackdown Live as a result of his interference at Fastlane, and that Kevin Owens would face Sami Zayn at Wrestlemania.  This is not a massive announcement, this is the same match we were hoping we were done with for a few years because it got run into the ground.

Shane was joined by both, who weren’t happy with the announcement and beat the living hell out of him, even dragging him into the backstage area and powerbombing him onto some equipment and leaving him, wheezing in pain and red faced, as the show went off the air.

I don’t know how you pay this off, honestly, because I don’t see a storyline where Shane has a natural tag partner here that makes any sense, but you can rest assured that in some form or fashion Shane and a partner will face Owens and Zayn at Mania.

The Other Stuff

  • The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Big E and Jimmy Uso.  I was hoping for a more clear update on the condition of Woods, and as of Fastlane ending Kofi was fine and being treated by backstage medical staff, so where was he?  Anyway, the payoff here should be pretty good.  I like when they get things rolling, build, and pay them off quickly, which I think will happen here because you can’t drag this out, right?
  • Charlotte and Asuka stared each other down and hyped their match.  If the streak is going to end, WWE wouldn’t let anyone but Charlotte be that person, and man what an accolade to put with all her others.
  • The WWE announced another Battle Royale match for Wrestlemania, this one for the women and meant to honor Fabulous Moolah.  I’m with the rest of you, as we all know this should have been named in honor of the 9th Wonder of the World.
  • Jinder Mahal defeated Bobby Roote with the Kallos.  Roode announced his rematch clause would take place at Mania, Jinder disagreed.  Orton was at ringside and laid out the victory with an RKO.
    • On a side note, I want them to stop booking Orton and just give Vince an RKO button.  When he doesn’t like how a segment is going, Orton emerges from the crowd, hits an RKO for literally no reason and completely out of nowhere, and disappears.  It needs no payoff, it needs no story.  It’s just a rogue Orton laying people out for cheap pops.

Facebook Live Mixed Match Challenge

It is with great sadness that I must report Lana’s initial win in the Mixed Match Challenge was just a fluke, and they have been eliminated from the competition by the Robe Warriors (Roode/Flair).  You can get them back in, by using the hashtag #RusevLana on your various social media platforms, though that means they would undoubtedly have to drop another one to Roode and Flair next week.  Not that it matters, #StrowmanForever.

The Best Hour WWE Puts on Television

Who’s Headed to Wrestlemania

Roderick Strong and Cedric Alexander meet in the first of our semifinals matches (with Ali and Gulak set to meet next week).  This match was fantastic, and while I was pulling for Roddy mostly because they did that awesome video package for him in NXT and then seemed to not really know exactly what to do with him, the Cedric Alexander victory with the Lumbar Check.  It seems unlikely that anyone but Alexander ends up the next Cruiserweight Champion.

The Rest of the Show

  • Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa defeated Lucha House Party, in yet another match that proved the division needs tag belts.
  • Jack Gallagher defeated a jobber.


  • The Dusty Rhodes Classic continued tonight as SAnitY def. Sabbatelli & Moss.  At some point, they’re going to utilize Sabbatelli.  He’s a damn good heel, and the crowd naturally hates him because, well, look at him.
  • The Street Profits def. Heavy Machinery to advance to round 2 where they will meet the Authors of Pain.  This was a fun match, and Heavy Machinery had a lot of fun during it.  I enjoyed this very much.
  • Dakota Kai def. Lacy Evans, only to be cornered by Shayna, and have to have Ember Moon come down to make the save again.  I like Kai, quit making her a damsel in distress.  Unfortunately, Shayna gets another title shot at TakeOver.  Boo.
  • Pete Dunne successfully defended the UK Championship against Adam Cole.  Post match, Undisputed Era attempted to beat down the champion when Roddy made the save.  Pete Dunne and Roddy are forming a bond.  They’d make a damn good tag team……
  • Zelina Vega shows up to the contract signing alone opposite Aleister Black.  This was fine, because Candice LaRae ran down to stomp her ass.  I’m excited to see what Vega can do in the ring, we already know Candice Wrestling is awesome.