The Hurt Business powerhouse ended a 17-year journey for Lashley to reach the summit of the company, and particularly three years of toil since his comeback in 2018.
The comprehensive victory ended Miz’s second reign with the title at just over a week – and if WWE were looking to portray Lashley as a dominant champion from the off, the night played out perfectly.
Miz dodged Lashley throughout the show, first complaining of cramp to get an hour’s delay, then immediately getting himself counted out as soon as the match started. That left on-screen authority figures Shane McMahon and Adam Pearce less than impressed, telling the incumbent he’d have to go again in a Lumberjack Match or face being stripped of the gold.
Finally face to face, Lashley wiped out his foe swiftly, forcing him to tap out to win the title. Quite whether Lashley will go up against Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania remains to be seen, but it was hinted at the top of Raw this week before the Scot waged an absolute war with former pal Sheamus.
A hard-hitting battle between the two saw Sheamus kick out of White Noise from the second rope and be bounced off a commentary table before eventually succumbing to a Claymore.
Meanwhile, Pearce and McMahon’s oddball partnership of sorts continued on Raw. We’re left in no doubt that McMahon is the boss and Pearce the comparative pawn, but where this is headed is, delightfully, anyone’s guess just now.
McMahon ordered a still-angry Braun Strowman to form a tag team with Pearce to prove he could work with WWE management – an experiment that went horribly but predictably wrong when opponents The Hurt Business rolled up Pearce for the win.
Mustafa Ali’s frustration with his Retribution colleagues continued to boil over after T-Bar, Mace and Slapjack lost a six-man tag team match against Riddle and Lucha House Party. Ali at least was able to channel his anger in a match of his own as he beat Riddle moments later.
Charlotte Flair made a challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship against absent champion Asuka, who was said to be recovering from an injury sustained a week prior. To keep her busy, Flair was confronted by Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
A stinging verbal attack on Flair by the former came before The Queen turned things around in a match with the latter to secure a win with Natural Selection. Jax had at least fared better in her own bout earlier in the night, a short win over Naomi, while an in-form Damian Priest got the better of Elias.