With Royal Rumble fast approaching, WWE has to make sure fans are still excited by the upcoming pay per view. To this end, the company stacked tonight’s show front heavy, bringing back Brock Lesnar and having him fight against a large number of the big names in the Rumble match. It was interesting for sure, but could the rest of the show keep up that momentum? Let’s get on with this weeks BOOM or BUST recap.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass def. Rusev & Jinder Mahal
Ariya Daivari def. Lince Dorado
Gallows & Anderson def. Cesaro & Sheamus
Big E def. Titus O’Neil
Cedric Alexander def. Kendrick
Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho & Braun Strowman def. Sami Zayn & Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
BOOM or BUST
BOOM: Opening Segment Brawl
WWE decided to do their traditional Royal Rumble close out at the start of the show, and it worked really well. Reigns opened proceedings but was quickly joined by a host of other Superstars. The best moment for me was when Sami Zayn squared off against Brock Lesnar, who squashed him with insane ease. The intent here was to create the idea anyone of the dozen guys in the ring could win on the night, which is something most fans are enjoying about this years Rumble match. Yet more teasing towards a Reigns and Braun match was thrown in here.
BOOM: Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Rusev & Jinder Mahal
This gets a boom purely because it might, just might, be the end of this silly feud. Enzo finally returned and got some mild offence in, getting the pinfall in the end. I think we’re all ready to say goodbye to this feud, so hopefully this is the end of the whole thing.
BUST: Ariya Daivari vs. Lince Dorado
I’d love to say anyone cared about this match, but the live crowd could have been sat in another arena for all they cared about. I understand they’re working towards fixing this division, but it looks painful whenever these guys go out to the ring and are met which such muted indifference. Reminds me of the 2012 Divas division, and that’s not a good thing for WWE or its Cruiserweights.
BOOM: Sasha gets Beaten Up Before Raw Begins
I’m fine with this kind of thing. They need a storyline between these two and if it makes Nia look more like a badass then I’m all for it. The biggest thing from this is that it aggravated Sasha’s injury further, offering a potential way for Jax to win in their inevitable match. Nice little segment for sure and felt unique.
BOOM: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Gallows & Anderson (WWE Raw Tag-Team Championships)
Well this was a pleasant surprise. A great match with a heap of storytelling and a heel team being cheated out of the titles? It’s not often WWE lets its heel teams get legitimate gripes in, but this was a nice way of helping to build Gallows and Anderson while saving their big moment for the future. The live crowd wanted to see the title switch, which made the reaction all the more enjoyable. I’ll be interested to see where this develops but it’s nice to see Gallows and Anderson being treated as legitimate threats to the tag-team championships.
BOOM: Snuka Tribute
Whatever your stance on the allegations around Snuka, WWE should always acknowledge the passing of their legends. They did so here, and rightfully so.
Did you know, Emmalina is so amazing in the ring – they have to invent a whole new plane of existence for us to see her.
BOOM: Neville attacks Swann
I applaud Neville for sparing us from another Cruiserweight match. Feel bad for the ring crew though, who had to make the switch for no reason at all. WWE’s doing a nice job of building up the threat of Neville, showing he’s probably capturing the Cruiserweight Championship at the Royal Rumble. Nice showing again.
BUST: Titus O’Neil continues to circle The New Day
Please WWE – make it end. END! No one cares and the live crowd couldn’t care less.
BUST: Charlotte and Bayley fight over poems
I see what they were doing here, and it was a nice attempt to load Charlotte with the kin of nuclear heel heat not seen since Vickie Guerrero was in the company. The problem is that Bayley almost awkwardly killed the entire thing by coming out and cutting a sub-par promo in response. The crowd were still behind her, but it’s hard to take Bayley’s main roster character seriously when she seems to be OK about some of the things going on around her. Why didn’t she charge Charlotte and attack her, rather than let Charlotte bully her so mockingly? I don’t know, but this was further proof that Bayley’s probably losing at the Royal Rumble.
BOOM: Cedric Alexander vs. Kendrick
Best Cruiserweight match of the night (THIRD, if you can believe that). The story here was Alexander being staled by Alicia Fox, who got herself involved and helped Cedric pick up the win. These two worked well together, so the match was more entertaining than it had any business being. The crowd are still awkwardly quiet for these matches though.
BOOM: Sami Zayn & Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho & Braun Strowman
If you needed more proof that Braun Strowman is going to be a huge deal on Raw post-Wrestlemania, this was your biggest clue yet. Sure he got the pin on Zayn, but that’s still a huge win in the main event of Raw. Outside of this it was more of the same, although I didn’t approve of Kevin Owens standing tall to end the show. His run as WWE Champion has been somewhat lackluster, so it’s cool to finally see him being booked as the absolute badass he should be. Also props for using a steel chair to deflect Reigns spear.
A bad Monday Night Raw is one that drags. This weeks Raw wasn’t amazing, but it did enough with the things it threw out there to ensure that fans were happy. bizarrely we got THREE Cruiserweight matches tonight, perhaps a sign that the roster was feeling a bit thin on the ground. No Nia Jax or Sasha Banks live, nor an appearance from Heyman or Lesnar beyond the opening segment. It was a show that started strong and quietly maintained its momentum.
There wasn’t that many matches on the card tonight, which arguably made for a more promo heavy show. With the Royal Rumble coming up next week, it’ll be interesting to see how WWE builds into its go-home show.