With six days until Wrestlemania, now is the time for WWE to begin delivering on its promise. With the card stacked and the matches set – what lay in store for fans on the final step before the biggest show in WWE’s year? Let’s dive into WWE Raw.
Bayley & Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax & Charlotte
Austin Aries def. Noam Dar
Over the Top Rope Challenge (No winner)
Neville def. Jack Gallagher
Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens
WORST: The Raw Women Make Their Shouty Cases
Christ on a bike, if WWE doesn’t half know how to crash the momentum of its Raw women’s division. In one segment we had Bayley falling over her words, Charlotte screaming into the microphone like she’d just discovered what speaking was and Nia Jax coming across with all the intimidation of a large cuddly teddy bear. It was nice of Charlotte to bring up that whole NXT thing between her and Sasha Banks (You know, the one where Sasha turned on Charlotte) but lord was this a bad opening segment.
WORST: The Raw Women have a tag match that makes no sense
Riddle me this. Your name is Nia Jax and you’re fighting against three women this Sunday. Do you;
A. Destroy these women, thus increasing my chances of becoming Raw Women’s Champion.
B. Work with one of these women and follow tag match etiquette for no reason.
It seems Nia didn’t ponder this fully until the match ended, by which time the window of opportunity passed her by.
Not that the match she took part in was anything special. Heck at this point, the dynamic between Sasha, Bayley and Charlotte is so predictable you could map it out in your sleep
BEST: Stephanie Continues to Slam Zayns balls in a vice
If Zayn hasn’t learned anything by now, it’s that his mouth gets him into more trouble than anything else. No sooner had he opened his mouth and praised Mick Foley than Stephanie, who was standing just out of view, swooped in and forced him to put his WWE career on the line. Maybe Zayn should follow the rest of the WWE Raw mid-card’s lead and keep his head low.
BEST: Aries continues his one man mission to save the Cruiserweight Division
God bless Aries. If he isn’t working his ass off on the commentary booth trying to get people interested in the Cruiserweight division, then he’s working matches at feverish pace to try and get everyone else over. Moment was kind of ruined by Michael Cole talking over the end of match stare down like an over-obsessed mother hen. Man, WWE really don’t want fans to love the Cruiserweights too much, do they?
BEST: Triple H breaches all kinds of employment laws
I’m not sure what kind of boss Triple H is, but he might want to have a word or ten with WWE’s lawyers. I know that he got Rollins to sign a contract to say Rollins waived the right to sue the company due to his injury – but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count outside of the match itself. Shaky logic aside, the build to this match has been strong. Rollins looks weak but determined, and its crucial that the company keeps this momentum moving through Wrestlemania and to the other side. If the two actually have a proper hardcore match at Wrestlemania, it could be a potential show stealer.
WORST: Everything about the Over The Top Rope Challenge
So Sami Zayn has to jump through hoops and put his career on the line to get into the Andre The Giant Battle Royale, but Goldust gets a free pass? Fair enough. This match sucked all the wrong balls, with Big Show and Strowman the obvious big names intended to carry this match. Honestly I couldn’t care less, since its insanely obvious that Braun is walking out of Wrestlemania as the winner here. Why waste WWE Raw time doing this?
BEST: Gallows & Anderson finally look like Champions
It took almost a year for WWE to do it, but Gallows and Anderson look insanely strong heading into the tag-team match at Wrestlemania. Attacking Sheamus and Cesaro with the ladder was a great moment and coming out on top during the in-ring segment later in the show finally made the pair seem like a big deal. Will it be enough for the two to keep the WWE Raw Tag-Team Championships? I think not sadly. WWE seem to have a huge thing for Enzo and Cass right now, but at least Gallows and Anderson are finally heading in the right direction.
BEST: Gallagher makes us wish it was a triple threat at Wrestlemania
They slid this one out in the second hour, and it’s a damn shame because these two work so well together. If we hadn’t already seen it so many times in recent weeks, it’d be easier to get excited. As it stands, Gallagher seems like an amazing talent with nowhere to go right now (In particular if Aries captures the belt at Wrestlemania). I do wonder how they plan to rebalance the division once Neville has been removed from his throne – if only because the division seems to lack any other real conquering heels right now.
BEST: Undertaker turns the lights out again
It’s going to be a supreme shitshow this Sunday, make no mistake. Roman Reigns winning will cause the biggest tidal wave of fan apathy this side of Wrestlemania 32 – and WWE seems determined to dive in head first. The live crowd were having none of his talk and it only got 10 times worse when Undertaker popped up in the ring. It’s all a tiny bit bizarre too as the things Reigns are saying would usually be reserved for heel performers – the kind of baiting that a heel would make as they’re about to massacre a fan favourite.
Being truthfully honest, this match lacks something special.
If Undertaker loses it would be horrifying, but it wouldn’t mean much else. If his career was on the line then it might make for something more interesting, but as it stands the only thing happening after this match is one set of fans being majorly pissed off. And that just seems silly on WWE’s part.
BEST: Owens and Zayn work their magic
I feel so bad for Zayn. Here he is having great matches with Joe, Owens and Braun – yet WWE will cram him into the multi-man match at Wrestlemania just because they can’t be bothered to carve out a proper niche for him. This match was fine – not the best from the pair but certainly a good Raw match. Jericho’s interference was well sign-posted – and the fans popped HUGE for his appearance at the end. If nothing else, Owens has a shot at having the best Wrestlemania match this year. They deserve a better platform than WWE Raw though.
WORST: Lesnar and Goldberg mildy get annoyed
The problem here is that fans don’t want to see Lesnar and Owens again. The magic has been used up already – twice if we’re including the Owens/Goldberg match. The fact that this match is the main event at Wrestlemania – ahead of Bray Wyatt’s match – is the ultimate slap in the face to fans and the guys backstage.
Even Paul Heyman’s desperate attempts to get the fan invested felt a little half-assed. Like even he knew that selling Goldberg so heavily was only going to end in tears for fans. His spear to Lesnar was nice, but it didn’t make me want to see the two go for twenty minutes.
There was nothing overly wrong with this WWE Raw. Part of the problem with three-hour Raw’s is that they all melt together into an awkward clump of awkwardness. Storylines get dragged out, we see the same segments and matches play over and over. It wouldn’t be so bad if this was the GO-HOME-SHOW for Wrestle-god-damn-mania.
Reigns and Undertaker in particular didn’t really do much to sell their match much more. Quite the opposite actually, it really served to highlight just how awful it’s going to be when Reigns wins and 70,000+ people begin dumping on him from a great height.
As for the women’s match – I’d like to be more invested in proceedings. But can you really get invested when you know that the story between all the ladies involved is so convoluted and meandering that it’s hard to tell who hates who, and why Charlotte is trying to be buddies with Sasha suddenly?
Not the worst WWE Raw, but certainly not the best build for Wrestlemania.