(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

Just 24 hours after the annual Royal Rumble, how would WWE’s flagship show handle things? With new tag champs in The Club and a new cruiserweight champion in Neville, would their reigns kick off with a bang? Does it look like things are boding well for WrestleMania? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho made their way to the ring to open the show as highlights from Owens’ battle last night were shown. Kevin confirmed that yes, he is still champion. He also confirmed that yes, Jericho is still the U.S champion. Owens bragged about proving doubters, including RAW general manager Mick Foley wrong, and claimed that he was “The One”. Owens thanked Jericho for his help last night and the best friends embraced. Owens put over the fact that Jericho now holds the record for most cumulative time spent in the royal rumble. Jericho was similarly impressed with himself. As Jericho began to run out of things to say, Braun Strowman made his presence known. The cartoonishly large man demanded a title shot at Owens. Owens politely declined, but Strowman was insistent. Mick Foley came out in a bizarre plaid green suit. Foley made the championship match for later tonight.

Good for Strowman. He’s improved by leaps and bounds since the brand split. It’ll be interesting to see how this showdown of heel vs monster heel goes down. This segment was short and accomplished it’s job competently.

Sami Zayn vs Chris Jericho

The two foes traded some wristlocks and armbars to open up, as the commentators put over how much damage Zayn took in the rumble the previous night. The match went to the ring posts as the men traded chops back and forth. The action went outside, and Zayn took control with a moonsault from off the barricade. When the commercials ended, Jericho was in control with a chinlock. Zayn bounced back with a clothesline. Jericho sent Zayn flying with a hurricanrana off the top rope. Zayn countered some flying offence into a blue thunder bomb. The two chased one another around the ring outside. Zayn hit a tilt-a-whirl DDT and signaled for the helluva kick. However, he ran right into a walls of Jericho. He made it to the ropes to break the hold. Zayn sent Jericho into the turnbuckle with an exploder and nailed the helluva kick to pick up the win.

A match between Jericho (one of the best of all time) and Zayn (one of the best living) is never going to be bad, and this didn’t disappoint. The commentators mentioned that Zayn may have earned a U.S title match with that performance, which would be nice to see.

Tony Nese vs Mustafa Ali

Backstage, the former tag champs Cesaro and Sheamus bickered. Bayley entered and asked them to stop. Charlotte entered with Gallows and Anderson in tow. They mocked the faces and it was mentioned that there would be a six-person tag match between the groups. Also backstage, Owens complained about having to defend his title two nights in a row to Stephanie, who said that she’d see what she could do.

Ali took control early with an arm lock. However, Nese stole back the momentum and slowed the pace of the match. Ali battled back, but was cut off with a huge clothesline. Ali persisted though, and picked up a near fall with a falling neckbreaker. A spin kick had Ali firmly in control, and he headed to the top rope. Nese pushed him off balance, sending Ali falling back to the canvas. Nese hit a running knee to the head of Ali, who was sat in the corner, and brought a close to the action. Austin Aires interviewed Nese after the match, but Nese didn’t have much to say.

This was… Fine? The whole match lasted all of a few minutes, which was the biggest problem. This show lasts three hours each week; we really can’t find any more time for the cruiserweights?

 

Rollins… Threatens Stephanie’s kids?

Seth Rollins called out Stephanie McMahon and asked her to come to the ring. Stephanie obliged. Stephanie told Seth he would be disappointed, and that Triple H wasn’t here tonight. Stephanie asked for an apology for the insubordination Seth showed in invading NXT on Saturday. Rollins took the opportunity to again call out Trips. Stephanie warned him about heading down this path, and how Trips would destroy Seth if they did come to blows. Seth said he would crash board meetings and the like if he didn’t get what he wanted, and asked “What happens when I show up at your front step and one of your little kids answers the door, Steph?” Wow. McMahon said that she had lied, and that Triple H was currently on his way to the arena, coming for Rollins.

So, she didn’t lie? She said Triple H wasn’t at the arena… and that’s true as of the time that she said it. He’s “on his way”. Anyhow, this was a good segment. As much as Stephanie doesn’t always click as an on-screen character, she’s always been a tremendous microphone worker. Rollins was firey and passionate, and came off like a man at the end of his rope. The threat to the innocent children was probably a little much, but this was otherwise good. Well done to both involved here.

Intergender Tag Match

I’m really glad Anderson and Gallows won the belts. I wish they had looked better during the earlier parts of their WWE run, but such is life.

The women started off the match, but Charlotte tagged out almost immediately. Cesaro and Anderson began the bout proper. Gallows was tagged in, and in control heading into the break. Anderson was back in and in charge when we returned. Anderson’s spinebuster had Cesaro down for a two count. Cesaro managed to make the hot tag to Sheamus, who took out some aggression on Gallows. A spike white noise had Gallows down, but Anderson broke it up. Bayley tagged in and went after Charlotte. Cesaro and Sheamus took out The Club on the outside. Bayley landed her Bayley-to-belly suplex and won the match.

This definitely would have benefited from a few extra minutes. The ending really felt rushed. And, this may be a personal thing, but I generally would rather champions didn’t lose non-title matches all the time. Between Jericho to kick off the show, and then all three heel champions losing here… There are ways to make somebody who loses look good in the loss, without discrediting the champions all the time. Did Steve Austin lose non-title matches on TV every week when he was on top of the company? Did Lesnar? Did The Rock? Did Hogan or Flair? This is not the way to get a champion over as credible and dominant. Once in a while is fine, but it needs to happen sparingly so that when it does, it actually means something. Sorry for the rant, this just gets to me.

Neville Cuts a Promo

The new cruiserweight champion made his way to the ring and mentioned that he was, in fact, the new cruiserweight champion. He insisted that the fans had never believed in him, and called them “sniveling little peasants”. Rich Swann interrupted. He called Neville’s promo skills garbage. Swann attempted to inform Neville that in fact, the fans (and Swann himself) had a tremendous amount of respect for Neville. Neville responded to that by demanding that Swann bow before his king. Swann attempted to leave the ring, but Neville prevented that. A brawl broke out. Neville abandoned his championship and retreated up the ramp.

Neville is an awesome heel, there’s no disputing that. But, I would like to see him get over this “The fans have always hated me” angle that he keeps going on about. The best heels always have a hint of truth to them, and Neville doesn’t have that. The fanbase has always been 100% behind him. Anyhow, this was a good segment, with Swann making his first priority reasoning with Neville rather than immediately demanding a rematch, which is unique. And unique is usually good.

Kevin Owens vs Braun Strowman for the WWE Universal Championship

Backstage, Sasha Banks prepared for a rematch with Nia Jax, despite Bayley’s insistence that she take some time off. Kevin and Chris had some friction as Owens asked Chris to accompany and aid in the upcoming match. While he accepted, Jericho was a bit hesitant to do so. As they entered, Jericho joined the commentary table rather than accompany Owens to ringside. Strowman rushed the commentary table and went after Jericho, chokeslamming him through the desk, taking him out of commission. Following that, Strowman marched to the ring to begin his match, Owens now left all alone.

Owens immediately went to ringside, forcing the monster to pursue the champ. However, Strowman was all too happy to do so, and overpowered Owens with relative ease. He took control with a series of clotheslines and splashes to the cornered Owens. Owens reeled, again retreating to ringside. As Strowman charged, Owens moved just out of the way, sending the former Wyatt family member creasing into the ringside post. Owens delivered a cannonball and sent Strowman back into the ring. A senton, then a frog splash by the champion followed, and Owens went for a cover. Strowman was out at two. A superkick by the champion managed only to put the challenger on one knee. Strowman went for the running powerslam, and hit it successfully. Following that, Roman Reigns made his way to the ring and brawled with Strowman, bringing the match to a DQ close. Roman speared both challenger and champion to end the segment.

Strowman looked like an absolute destroyer here, which is good. However, that comes at the expense of the WWE’s most prominent champion, which is bad.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman

Lesnar arrived in a black van and made his way to the ring with his manager backing him up. Heyman got cut off by the crowd’s chants of “Goldberg” as he began to discuss the same man. Heyman admitted that Goldberg has Lesnar’s number, in the same manner that Andre The Giant lost to Hulk Hogan, or Ronda Rousey lost to Holly Holm in the UFC, or how The Undertaker lost his WrestleMania streak to Brock Lesnar. Speaking on behalf of his client, Heyman challenged Goldberg to one final match at WrestleMania.

Wonderful. Heyman is the man, and was on fire here. Anybody and everybody knew this would be how this storyline ended up, so Heyman was fighting an uphill battle against predictability. And, by the end, he overcame that and had the crowd eating out of his hand.

Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax

An all-business Banks headed to the ring, followed by Jax. Banks attempted to attack the legs of Jax. The much smaller woman’s speed had Jax flustered at first, but it was only a matter of time before the Samoan took control with her significant power advantage. Jax locked in a reverse single leg boston crab and… the bell rang. No tapout. Jax seemed confused at first and didn’t let go, continuing the punishment on Banks. Bayley ran out to make the save and was successful in getting Jax to retreat.

I’m not sure that was how the match was supposed to end, but that’s how it ended. WWE needs to be careful as they tell this story that it doesn’t run too parallel to the Zayn/Strowman storyline that just wrapped up. That was a similar tale of underdog face against unusually large, dominant heel.

Tornado Tag Match

Rusev, Jinder Mahal, Enzo and Big Cass participated in a tornado tag match, meaning that all four men were legal at all times, with Rusev still sporting his nose brace. All four went outside the ring almost immediately and brawled at the various corners of the ringside area. Back from the break, the faces began to take some momentum, but an attempt at a suicide dive by Enzo was thwarted, and the heels took over, double-teaming the larger of the duo, before once again turning their attention to Enzo for a long stretch. Big Cass rallied back, and took on both heels at the same time. Cass hit the empire elbow and went for the cover, but Mahal broke it up, and the heels went back on the offensive. Enzo came back, and the faces hit the bada boom shakalaka for the finish.

If there are no tags because all four men are always legal… this isn’t a tag match? Right? If a tag match happens without any tags, is it really a tag match? Anyhow, let’s call this the end to this feud, eh? It’s done no good for anybody involved and has dragged on waaay past it’s sell-by date. I appreciate the attempt the keep all these guys involved in a story, but all four could do better things elsewhere.

Triple H Confronts Seth Rollins

Triple H made his entrance to a good reception. I happen to really like Trips, so I was happy to see that. The Game talked up all the achievements that Rollins gained while under the wing of Triple H, and his lack of success since their falling out. HHH talked up how hard it is to ignore Rollins’ challenges. He said he was done trying to ignore Rollins, and removed his tie and jacket. He dared Rollins to come to the ring. Rollins was all to eager. As he got to the ringside area, Rollins was bulldozed by Samoa Joe, making his main roster television debut. Triple H walked off and left Rollins with Joe, who destroyed Seth with hard hitting offense and a coquina clutch sleeper hold. Joe stood over his prey to close out the show.

That was awesome! Triple H’s promo ran a little too long, and he’s still not the smoothest microphone worker in the company. He dragged a bit in the middle and got a little repetitive, but Joe being there made everything else worth it in the end.

 

RAW is promo this week, I guess. Jericho and Zayn was a decent little match, but this week otherwise lacked on the in-ring aspect of the… well, of the wrestling. Luckily, all the promos that were cut were good. All either advanced storylines or set up new ones, which is just what you have to do following a PPV event, especially a big one like the Rumble.

Good RAW? Bad RAW? Joe on the main roster? No Tye Dillinger? As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on this week’s flagship show, and thanks for reading!

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