(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

We are building towards Fastlane, or as it’s affectionately known colloquially, “That one show before Mania”. How would this week’s show go down? Would Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho be able to make a segment called “The Festival of Friendship” into something watchable? Would a new Women’s Champion be crowned? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Stephanie McMahon was the first person to walk through the curtain tonight. She let us all know that Mick Foley wasn’t in town tonight. Right on cue, Roman Reigns entered to his usual less-than-awesome reaction. He said he wanted Braun Strowman tonight. McMahon announced that Strowman was already busy with Mark Henry later tonight. Roman’s old nemeses The Club entered. They challenged Roman to a handicap match, and McMahon agreed. The Club walked towards the ring, and Roman jumped both, earning some pre-match momentum.

I didn’t really get The Club’s motivations to want to fight Roman, but iffy motivations are a staple of RAW, amiright? Ultimately, I just don’t have much to say about this bit. It was short, which is what I like in an opening segment, but it also didn’t accomplish much, which is what I don’t like in an opening segment.

Roman Reigns vs Gallows and Anderson

The action opened with a back-suplex/neckbreaker combo onto Reigns. Karl Anderson got sent into the ring post and ate a whole bunch of clotheslines. Roman knocked Luke Gallows off the apron and looked to be in control as he signaled for a Superman Punch. He smashed Anderson’s face, and got ready for a spear. Gallows got in the ring and together, they beat Roman up. They got disqualified for excessive rule-breaking. They picked Roman up for a Magic Killer, but since he’s just the man, Roman fought back and managed to force them both into retreat.

Ugh. So, Roman Reigns, probably the most intensely disliked man in the WWE at the moment, took on two tag team champions at the same time, technically wins the very short and uneventful match, and then beats both of them up afterwards. I don’t claim to know everything, but I can’t see how they think this is the way to get him over.

Kofi Kingston vs Bo Dallas

Bo Dallas got the jobber entrance. Anybody else remember Bo Dallas? His brother is the world champion on the other brand. The New Day continued to talk up their upcoming ice cream product.

Dallas was knocked to the outside of the ring. While there, he grabbed the “Ice Cream Blueprint” folder Big E was carrying and tore it, which brought about great distress among the New Day. Dallas took the lead in the match before Kofi hit an SOS for the pinfall.

Ugh. The New Day are just in a holding pattern until their new merchandise hits, I guess. I really think they could accomplish more with an actual storyline to work with, though. 60 second matches don’t really do much for anybody involved. A series of 60 second matches over multiple weeks do even less.

Jack Gallagher vs Noam Dar

Gentleman Jack Gallagher sought to keep up his momentum after winning number one contendership status that he earned last week by taking on Noam Dar here tonight. The match began with a lockup, which broke quickly. Jack was getting the better of the grappling exchanges until Dar opened up with strikes, where he began to dominate. Jack was able to fire back with a pair of dropkicks before landing a headbutt. Another dropkick followed, and the match came to a close.

Neville entered as Gallagher was celebrating his victory. He held up his championship… and that’s all.

Ugh. Gallagher is really good, Dar is really, really good. They are capable of putting on a much better match than this. In light of that, I’m going to fix the whole cruiserweight division right now. Strap in. Ok, you know how they usually do two or three cruiserweight segments on a given RAW? We’re going to stop that. Instead, we’re going to do one segment, and give all the time possible to them. Let them have a really good match with ample time, and they’ll steal the show every week. People will be intrigued and want to tune in to the cruiserweight show. This won’t happen, of course, because the world is cruel and WWE doesn’t read my articles.

Emmalina debuts

After months and months… and months of adverts, the female competitor formerly known as Emma entered. And then she left.

This made me chuckle, at the very least. It’ll be good to have a fresh face on the RAW Women’s division, since they’ve essentially only had four competitors in that division since the brand split.

Braun Strowman vs Mark Henry

Backstage, Kevin Owens was shown talking to Triple H, but no dialogue could be heard.

The two behemoths couldn’t get an advantage early, as they were matched in strength. Henry invited it, and Strowman began throwing strikes. Henry responded in kind, before Strowman took the lead with a running clothesline. Strowman continued to press the advantage until Henry rallied back. His success was short lived, though, as Strowman regained the momentum with a very impressive dropkick. Strowman hit a non-running powerslam for the victory. Roman Reigns came to ringside immediately thereafter, and brawled with his new rival. Roman ran right into a powerslam, and Strowman yelled.

Eh? The match was good for what it was, given that Strowman is still green and Henry is 45 years old and has been in the business for twenty one long years. Strowman looked like an animal in the post-match stuff, too, which is good. One thumb up for this bit.

Samoa Joe Does an Interview

Joe was asked about his “dishonorable tactics”. Joe agreed that it was an accurate term, and reiterated his appreciation for Triple H. Joe talked up the injury he caused to Seth Rollins, and his victory over Roman Reigns in his debut match. He claimed that nobody in the company can hang with him.

I love Joe’s promo style. He’s so intimidating because he’s soft spoken, but still exudes confidence. This was a great way to continue to introduce Joe to an audience that may not be familiar with his past work. He managed to get across a great amount of his character in spite of the short time frame.

Sami Zayn vs Rusev

Zayn had to use his speed advantage to avoid the much larger Rusev, who prowled about the ring like a hungry predator. Rusev eventually captured Zayn, who had trouble escaping from under the bigger man. He eventually did, and landed a single leg dropkick and flew to the outside. As Zayn attempted to spring back into the ring, Rusev kicked him right out of the air just before the show went to commercial (This is the first match tonight long enough to warrant a commercial break! We’re halfway into the show as I’m typing this!) Back from the break, Rusev was still in control. Rusev went to a Bearhug submission. Rusev hit a fallaway slam to Zayn, and followed it up with a roundhouse kick to the head for a near fall. Rusev continued to destroy Zayn with hard-hitting strikes on the arena floor. Rusev rolled Zayn back into the ring. As the heel was climbing back in, he found a Helluva kick waiting for him, and Zayn picked up the win. After the match, Zayn called out Samoa Joe for some disparaging comments Joe made earlier during his interview segment. Joe entered, and bulldozed Zayn. Joe, still clad in a button-up shirt and slacks, locked in a Coquina Clutch, and left Zayn unconscious on the stage.

This was great, start to finish. Rusev and Zayn is a match that I haven’t seen a million times before, and it was good. Rusev looked like a killer throughout, and Zayn’s finishing move got put over in a big way. Zayn and Joe is going to be a great rivalry between two phenemonal workers. Two guys who were the top guy in NXT during their respective reigns there, but never met in that brand. Joe teased it nicely earlier in the night, and the post-match attack was brutal. Two thumbs up for this bit!

Akira Tozawa vs Ariya Daivari

Hwa! Hwa! Hwa! Daivari was getting the better of the early exchanges, but Tozawa “Hwa-ed” his way to control of the match. A hurricanrana and a suicide dive may have helped, too. Tozawa landed his German Suplex for the victory.

Ugh. Once again, matches this short don’t do any good for anybody. I’m not going to stop saying that anytime soon.

The Festival of Friendship

Jericho introduced the segment on the titan-tron. Some pyro went off and some dancers entered, with Jericho behind them. He again introduced the segment, before bringing out Kevin Owens. Owens seemed less into the whole thing. Jericho linked arms with the dancers and walked to the ring, Owens reluctantly following behind. In the ring, various gifts were wrapped. The first gift was a statue that Jericho had commissioned to symbolize their friendship. The next gift was another work of art, this one having Chris and Kevin replace Adam and God in the Creation of Adam painting.

Line of the night: “It’s art; You don’t need pants!” I’m not going to give context for that.

They had a magician do some magic tricks, and Kevin was critical. Jericho put the magician on The List. Jericho revealed his final gift: Ensuring that Goldberg never even makes it to Fastlane to face Owens at that event. Jericho called Goldberg to come to the ring. The music hit, and who should show up but Duane Gill, Gillberg, looking every bit the 57 year old man that he is. Owens snapped and attacked Gillberg, who was carted off to the back. Kevin said that he was less than impressed with this celebration. Jericho said that he had never had a partner like Owens, calling him a brother. He promised that he would make sure Owens would leave Fastlane with a successful title defense. They embraced. Kevin then turned on Jericho, tossing him from the ring. He powerbombed Jericho onto the ring apron. Owens picked up his championship and walked away.

Well, it finally happened. We all knew it was going to happen, and happen it did. The two best friends have consistently been the best part of RAW for months now, but partnerships exist in wrestling to be broken. Part of me knows that Kevin, as the current top guy on RAW, shouldn’t be the comedy relief on RAW. Your top guy doesn’t need to be the joke of the company; Kevin needs to be a killer, which is how he looked here. But another part of me is disappointed that these two had to split up, since they’re so entertaining together. I’m assuming we’ll see Owens’ motivations next week, and this can continue into WrestleMania. The segment itself was really well done, too. It was funny, and Owens gave a great performance as somebody slowly becoming more and more frustrated. Great work from all involved here.

Cesaro vs Enzo Amore

Cesaro began the match by levelling Enzo with a European Uppercut and a Gutwrench Suplex. Enzo escaped to the outside briefly. Despite his attempts, he was unable to overcome Cesaro’s strength. Cesaro hit a pop-up European Uppercut for the victory.

DIYAH! Do I even have to say it? On a three hour wrestling show, they can’t find time for more than one or two average length matches? This is ridiculous, guys. There needs to be more wrestling on this wrestling programming.

Charlotte vs Bayley for the RAW Women’s Title

Main event time.

Charlotte began the match by using her superior size and strength to dominate the early goings. Back from the break, Bayley was just beginning to fire back with some offense of her own. Her newfound momentum dissipated as soon as it had appeared, though, and Charlotte was back in her role as stalking predator. Charlotte used a unique neckbreaker/gory special submission hold and a knee drop. Charlotte transitioned to a standing Dragon Sleeper hold, but Bayley was able to fight her way out. The champ sent the challenger crashing to the arena floor with a Big Boot, and landed a Moonsault from the barricade. Charlotte fired off some chops. A double down spot followed, as both competitors went for cross-body moves at the same time. Bayley was up first and attacked the champion with rapid fire-offense that had Charlotte reeling. A big elbow drop had Charlotte down for a two count. A Hurricanrana from the top rope still failed to finish Charlotte off. Bayley locked in a Figure Four leglock, and various interference spots happened in rapid succession. Amid the chaos caused by Dana Brooke (on Charlotte’s behalf) and Sasha Banks (On Bayley’s behalf), Bayley picked up the win.

The first half of this match did all sorts of nothing for me, but the competitors really picked things up towards the end, and the match built to a solid finish. Bayley has a great connection with the fans, and her winning the belt was a solid feel-good moment. I think the face is usually not supposed to win in a screwy way, but I can forgive that.

And that was RAW this week. Good RAW? Bad RAW? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

 

 

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