WWE’s Monday Night Raw might not be the first destination for wrestling purists – but last weeks show proved that sometimes the Creative team behind the show can deliver on promises. Bayley winning her first Women’s Championship was a huge moment – while Owens turning on Jericho captured headlines. Could this weeks show continue the momentum and deliver a solid outing?
Enzo & Cass def. Sheamus & Cesaro (No. 1 Contendership for Raw Tag-Team Titles)
Gallows & Anderson def. Reigns (via DQ)
The New Day def. Rusev & Jinder Mahal
Nia Jax def. Jobber
Sasha Banks def. Charlotte
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn
Braun Strowman def. Big Show
Monday Night Raw Review
BOOM: Kevin Owens Opens Raw In The Spotlight
What an opening for Raw. If there were any doubts about how strong Kevin Owens is as an out-and-out heel then this single segment should have converted you. Not only did Owens look amazingly competent here, the lingering question over why he attacked Jericho means that there’s a lot of intrigue heading into Fastlane. Will Jericho try to salvage the friendship, or will he help Goldberg capture the WWE Universal Championship? Make no mistake, this was arguably Owens best promo since becoming Champion.
BOOM: Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
I give this a slight pass, if only because Sheamus nailed Enzo in the face at the matches conclusion. Such things aren’t done often, so we much enjoy those brief moments when one of WWE’s Superstars loses their patience with the chatterbox. The match itself was entirely passable though, so don’t expect to see it breaking ground on social media.
BOOM: Brian Kendrick attacked xxx before their match
I’m still not sold on these undercard Cruiserweight feuds, but there’s at least some effort here to make sure that something sticks. I love how underhanded Kendrick was here, waiting until the match was about to kick off before committing his assault. Still one of the best heels in the division, and thankfully not being wasted in tag-team matches.
BUST: Roman Reigns Beats The Tag-Team Champions
WWE’s logic here is bewildering. Either Roman Reigns looks stupid for accepting a handicap match – or the Raw Tag-Team Champions look insanely crap for losing to one guy. Turns out we got the latter, although WWE’s logic of hiding the burial with a DQ win does absolutely nothing to cement Gallows and Anderson as genuine contenders. Terrible booking all around, and devalues the tag-team division.
BUST: The New Day def. Rusev & Jinder Mahal
The New Day have been relegated to feuding over ice cream. I guess if you’re a fan that’s great, I’d rather have brain freeze than suffer through one of their segments at this stage. Christ help us all as Wrestlemania passes and we have to deal with Monday Night Raw’s most obnoxious tag-team for five hours.
BOOM: Jack Gallagher & Neville contract signing
Meanwhile the strength of Gallagher and Neville continued to carry the Cruiserweight main event scene. While I’m not a fan of contract signings, it was nice to see Gallagher getting the upper hand and dictating the breakdown of proceedings. I’m not sure if he’s winning the belt yet or not, if only because Neville makes for such a compelling villain and that’s sort of been the Cruiserweight’s biggest issue.
BUST: Nia Jax Squashes the jobber, demands title match
Nia arrives. Nia squashes. Nia leave. Monday Night Raw knows how to surprise, that’s for sure….
BUST: Bayley almost hands back the Raw Women’s Championship
I don’t understand what WWE wanted fans to think here. Stephanie was so blatantly peddling the heel boat here – but she was having a go at Charlotte Flair not several weeks back for being a sucky champion. Perhaps worse, Bayley came off as a big soft touch here – pandering to the live audience with all the grace of a B-flick romance. Sasha was thrown out there to try and save the whole mess, but only served to lead us into yet another Sasha/Charlotte match. Honestly, this really didn’t need to be all that big but WWE tried to play it out as some huge drama.
BUST: Charlotte vs. Sasha
I don’t want to say that WWE are recycling ideas, but Michael Cole said this was “rekindling a classic feud” – as though fans weren’t jaded by this whole thing not two months back. A sign of just how shallow the Monday Night Raw Women’s Division is I guess.
BOOM: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
First off, hurrah. WWE seem to be playing the clever game and giving Samoa Joe as little to do on camera as possible. His interactions with Zayn are brutal and usually destructive – signs of a good time. Secondly, I’m glad they used Zayn here to further both guys and make them both look like monsters. Owens was savage, laying into Zayn and while I didn’t need the commentary team lathering the moment up with pointless platitudes (“Kevin Owens looks different”) it did make his heel turn feel all the more ruthless. I guess Zayn should make some friends locker room, otherwise these beat downs might become a touch inconvenient.
BOOM: Stephanie and Mick finally argue
Finally Mick is beginning to push back against Stephanie McMahon. I like that he finally called her out on all of her rubbish, and actually had a genuine character moment to boot. Granted, I would have preferred if this had come during the Bayley/Stephanie segment – but it’s good to see Stephanie rattled by everything that’s happening. I guess this lends credibility to the rumors that Mick will indeed be sidestepping the GM position once we get beyond Wrestlemania.
BOOM: Braun Strowman vs. Big Show
I give this the slightest of passes, based purely on the fact that the match itself was passable. At points it threatened to sink into lumbering territory, and it certainly didn’t deserve top billing. But the two guys worked their asses off, and I guess we can’t complain too much when a Big Show match in 2017 is “acceptable”. The Reigns attack post-match was also well done, firmly planting the flag of momentum in Braun’s back and highlighting that WWE must genuinely believe in his potential.
After last weeks Raw had so much going for it, the odds were this weeks Monday Night Raw was never going to match it for quality. Instead this was more of an even show, spread nicely over three hours with minimal clutter to ruin things. I’m not a fan of Raw’s general direction – if only because it feels more like a show that’s booking on the fly – but at least I can say I wasn’t too bored by the three hours offered up here. I do wish they’d pack it in with Roman Reign’s monster booking though, it’s beginning to crush entire divisions beneath the weight of his awkwardness.