Oh Raw, you so silly. Sometimes I feel like scripts get duplicated from the previous week – the company forgetting that it needs to advance the biggest story lines. With Royal Rumble this Sunday and that pay-per-view overloaded with Raw matchups, was this go-home worth the effort to watch? Let’s find out in our weekly Boom or Bust article.
Luke Gallows def. Cesaro
Sami Zayn def. Seth Rollins (To qualify for the Royal Rumble match)
Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins, and Jack Gallagher def. Ariya Daivari, Tony Nese, and Drew Gulak
Braun Strowman, Titus O’Neil, Jinder Mahal, and Rusev def. Kofi Kingston, Big E, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass
Roman Reigns def. Chris Jericho (via DQ for the US Title)
Nia Jax def. Ray Lyn
Rich Swann def.. Noam Dar
BOOM or BUST
BUST: Roman Reigns Opening Segment
You have to admire WWE for their commitment to the cause. As if fans weren’t bored enough by these guys constantly battling back and forth, now we get to enjoy them in 20-minute opening segments too. No new ground was broken here, as Roman Reigns remembered that he has a rematch clause for the United States Championship and went about invoking it. Owens accepted the challenge on Jericho’s behalf, but since we know shenanigans will happen – the drama kind of seeped away from this segment quickly.
BOOM: Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows
Part of me wants to be excited for this feud, then the rest of me realises that WWE just can’t help themselves when it comes to making silly decisions. For example, the decision to have two referees present during the Royal Rumble match makes almost no sense – and kind of confuses the more you think about it. Surely a no-DQ match would work better? As for this match, it was passable. Cesaro can work better matches but for Gallows, this was a fun little outing and a chance to notch up a fairly interesting victory.
BOOM: Bayley Sit Down Interview
Bayley’s main-roster character is so docile it hurts. There’s literally not an ounce of hatred in her, even though Charlotte has been gunning hard for her in recent weeks. I’m not a fan of Bayley talking for extended periods, she’s very much got that air of awkwarness that hangs over some of her promos. Here she didn’t come off quite as terrible, but I’d be lying if I said this got me anymore invested in this somewhat bland feud.
BOOM: Stephanie Puts Mick in his place
Stephanie works best when she’s kept at arms length, away from all the feuds. Here she belittled Mick’s optimism for Zayn by forcing him into a qualification match – then making him tell Rollins that his Royal Rumble spot was on the line. It’s good storytelling, and when utilized so effectively, helps to really define the power relationship between the pair. Also how stupid does Zayn come off, interrupting Stephanie McMahon?
BOOM: Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins
A nice little match that got better as time went on. Zayn and Rollins have some great chemistry and thanks to the storyline developing between then, the stakes in this match made it enjoyable. It’s a shame that Rollins lost, but the Triple H tease was hugely enjoyable for the live audience – who lost their minds when his music hit. Finally they seem to be doing something with the Rollins/Triple H feud that’s been sat in the wings for so many months. Zayn winning was a good shout in the end too, as it gives him something to do this Sunday.
BUST: Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins, and Jack Gallagher vs. Ariya Daivari, Tony Nese, and Drew Gulak
I just can’t get into this Cruiserweight mess when they throw everyone into tag-team matches. Might as well send out jobbers.
BUST: New Day Segment
Can The New Day perform a segment these days that isn’t hot garbage? There were some good moments in this, but the decision to throw every mid-card Raw guy who wasn’t in the main feud kind of made it hard to digest the goings on. Rusev came out well from it all, but honestly this was filler of the highest order – and led to a tag match I’m sure nobody wanted. It also kind of unintentionally de-elevated Braun Strowman slightly by sticking him in with the mid-card rabble.
BUST: Braun Strowman, Titus O’Neil, Jinder Mahal, and Rusev vs. Kofi Kingston, Big E, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass
A four minute match that served no purpose other than to remind that Braun Strowman might possibly win the Royal Rumble this Sunday. The second he jumped in the ring, poor Enzo stood no chance against the man mountain. The real story came just after the match, when Big Show made his way out to the ring to stare down Braun – selling all of two Network subscriptions as WWE teases something nobody really wants.
BOOM: Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns for the U.S. Championship
At the very least, Roman Reigns got some momentum back by slamming Kevin Owens into the shark cage at the end of the match. It was a nice setup for the stipulation at the Royal Rumble, and nicely made clear that without Jericho, Owens is kind of in a tough spot. Wasn’t so much a fan of the way they had the match end here though – Owens just kind of attacked Reigns and the match broke down. Given how active Mick Foley has been in trying to prevent such blatant interference in recent PPV’s, you’d have thought he’d have stuck Owens in the shark cage throughout the match.
BOOM: Charlotte’s sit-down interview
Charlotte benefits greatly from this format of interview, as it gives her a more controlled environment to be a heel in. One thing I don’t like about her promos is how easily distracted she gets by a crowd – here she was laser focused and showcased why she’s probably winning this Sunday.
BUST: Nia Jax vs. Ray Lyn
I’m very indifferent to the ongoing Sasha/Nia feud, if only because it seems that WWE are building Sasha up to get a huge upset victory – even though she’s a 3-time Women’s Champion now. Nowhere was that showcased than here, where Sasha came out and faked injury, only to attack Nia with her crutch. Hopefully the inevitable match between the two is much better than the build to it.
BUST: Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar
The only reason you haven’t turned over by this point is because you know Goldberg’s coming in the main event segment. It certainly wasn’t for this match, where a whole load of nothing happened for five minutes, and Alicia Fox stuff happened. Can we make it go away, please?
BOOM: Goldberg Segment
Interesting decision to forgo the traditional “everyone piles in” finale to pre-Royal Rumble Raw. The focus here was on making sure fans knew that Goldberg and Lesnar would be gunning for each other – which they did in spades. Wasn’t a fan of Goldberg’s awkward promo work though, which hasn’t gotten better with age sadly. The surprise appearance of The Undertaker really got fans excited, and left Raw on an iconic picture.