(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

RAW! Happening, yet again! This time, we are in the city of Angels. How would this week go? Last week set up an Owens-Jericho feud, as well as a Joe-Zayn rivalry. There was a new Women’s champion crowned (Which I’m still not sure should have happened in the first place)! Would WWE capitalize on those story threads? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

The show began with Owens, alone in a darkened arena. Owens waxed philosophical about his Fastlane opponent, Goldberg. Owens mentioned that he wouldn’t take Goldberg lightly, but also that he wasn’t particularly impressed by the man. Owens revealed his strategy for defeating Goldberg: Outlast the notoriously stamina deficient monster, and outsmart him. Owens teased bringing up his ambush on Chris Jericho last week, but instead nonchalantly dropped the mic and walked off.

I’m not… entirely… certain… why Owens… was talking… like this. He didn’t do it the whole time, which is a good thing. But talking slowly does not intimidation make. In terms of content, the promo itself was good. Owens played off of Goldberg (the actual person)’s real life athletic shortcomings, which is always good. It could have been a bit snappier, but this was fine.

Cesaro and Sheamus vs Enzo and Big Cass for the Number One Contendership

The two bigger men got things underway to begin the match. They got off to a really quick start, trading blows immediately. Cass took control with a scoop slam, but Enzo failed to keep the momentum on his team’s side as the show headed to commercial. We returned on an Irish Curse Backbreaker to Amore, and Cesaro followed that up with a double stomp. Amore was unable to tag out, leaving him at the mercy of his opponents. Finally, Amore made the tag to Cass, who teed off on Sheamus. Cesaro made a blind tag and fired off some offense, but Big Cass hit the East River Crossing, and won himself and his partner the number one contender status. After the match, Enzo mocked his opponents, and Sheamus kicked him in the head for the comments.

The match was really quite standard for Enzo and Cass; if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen most of them. Assuming they hold on to their #1 contendership, though, I think Fastlane will be their first crack at main roster gold? If that’s the case, good for them. They’ve managed to become hugely popular, and are both very young into their careers.

Brian Kendrick vs Akira Tozawa

HWA! Kendrick ambushed and beat down Tozawa before the match officially got underway, before putting his jacket back on and leaving.

Backstage, Kendrick said that he felt disrespected by Tozawa, and would be teaching the man some lessons.

They changed the ropes and the canvas for this? Can you imagine how dead that would make the audience? “Hold up, guys. Let us switch out the ropes and the canvas. Ok, good to go. 30 second segment. Cool. Now, hold on again, as we change the ropes back to red and switch back to the normal canvas. Thanks, and we’ll do this again a little later.” Despite the nonsense that this was, it was ultimately an effective and logical way to set up a program between them.

Gallows and Anderson vs Roman Reigns

This match ended up being really underwhelming last week, so we may as well run it back tonight, amiright?

Karl Anderson got off to a fiery start but it didn’t last long. The heels took control, utilizing the numbers game, and Gallows was in charge. Gallows hit a bearhug spinebuster for a two count, and the Anderson and Gallows clubbed Roman together. Gallows brought a chair into the ring, but Roman got a hold of it and beat down both Tag Champs with it.

This was slightly better than when the exact same thing happened last week, but was still bad for all the wrong reasons. Having Roman lose get pinned in a 2-on-1 match against the tag team champions wouldn’t hurt his stock any, because the deck is so stacked against him. That Gallows and Anderson can’t capitalize on that makes them look really bad.

The New Day vs Jinder Mahal and Rusev

Rusev and Mahal are still a tag team? It was too much to hope that they were only partnered up for that one story? Fine. Before the match, the commentators reminded us that The Showcase of the Immortals is only 41 days away, and that the show will be hosted by the New Day. They cut a lengthy promo where they talked about their upcoming ice cream. They were interrupted by Lana, who is Russian, and therefore has hacking powers, or something. She has their ice cream plans, is the point. I’m not sure why The New Day are concerned about that, but they are.

As the match began, Rusev had Kingston trapped in a bear hug. The heels worked a quick tag style to keep Kingston down, but he managed to make enough space to tag in Big E with a tornado DDT. Big E hit his usual sequence of moves just before things broke down and all four men were involved. Xavier Woods stole Lana’s plans in the chaos, and destroyed the I-pad they were contained on. Midnight Hour to Mahal and the match ended.

This was a really long segment that took up lots of time between the promo and the less-than-stellar match. I’m not sure what else I have to say about this.

Contract Signing Between Neville and Gallagher

Neville marched to the ring, signed his name, and attempted to leave immediately. Jack called him back to the ring and offered the champ some tea and biscuits. Neville berated Jack for being a caricature of British folk. Jack said that he wouldn’t stand for Neville’s elitist ways. Neville tossed the table and dared Jack to do something. Jack obliged with a headbutt, much to Neville’s surprise. The cruiserweight champion retreated.

Great segment. They again changed the ropes for this, though. Anyhow, the dialogue was strong, and the motivations for both Englishmen were clear and sensical. I do wish Jack would stop headbutting people, though. I know I probably don’t need to be concerned, but I get nervous whenever there’s head-on-head contact. Who has ever used that move and turned out really well? Benoit? Daniel Bryan? I guess Harley Race isn’t completely insane, so maybe one guy.

Nia Jax Beats up a Jobber

Nia Jax beat up a jobber.

After the match, Jax was asked about her thoughts on the title picture. Jax talked smack about Bayley before exiting the ring.

Why couldn’t we just do the interview? Did the jobber squash do anything for anybody?

Bayley Does a Promo

Bayley began by running down her journey from childhood fan to reigning champion. As she started to run out of things to say, RAW Comissioner Stephanie McMahon entered. Stephanie called the victory tainted, and said that Bayley didn’t really earn the belt. McMahon argued that Bayley should give up the title, due to the circumstances surrounding the victory. The new champ looked on the verge of doing so, until Sasha Banks entered and attempted to talk Bayley down. Bayley mulled it over, but ultimately sided with Banks. Charlotte entered to set up a rematch at Fastlane in a few weeks. Sasha proposed an impromptu match between the old rivals, which Charlotte was only too happy to accept.

Bayley is still super likeable, in case you were wondering. This does bring us to the major problem in the storyline, though. Charlotte is undefeated in PPV matches so far in her WWE career. In that regard, she has the longest undefeated streak in WWE history. She isn’t losing that streak at Fastlane, a B-level PPV at best. But, if Bayley loses her belt in two weeks, that would be really bad. Because then, it’s just a rehash of Charlotte’s previous rivalry, and Bayley winning the title feels really pointless. The only way I ca see out of that is to have Charlotte win by count-out at the PPV, so Charlotte keeps her streak intact, while Bayley keeps her title. We’ll see if that’s what they go with.

Charlotte vs Sasha Banks

Charlotte got the better of the early exchanges, and had Banks reeling. A big boot to Banks, and Charlotte sent her former rival through the ropes to the floor outside as the show went to commercial. Back from the break, Charlotte hit a series of repeated back breakers whilst holding on to dragon sleeper. Banks managed to land some offense, and capped it off with a cartwheel bulldog. Banks missed an attempt at the double knee when Charlotte went outside. Banks responded with a flying meteora. Dana Brooke went for the least enthusiastic interference spot I’ve ever seen, but Bayley wouldn’t allow it. Banks hit the Banks statement for the win.

If this match suffered from anything, it’s a “been there, done that” feeling. It was a fine match, but they’ve still only just come off of having 1,560 matches against each other. There was nothing new or inventive here that they haven’t done in their previous matches.

Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn

DDP is going into the Hall of Fame! And that makes me very, very happy. The 2017 HOF class is really good.

As Zayn was in the process of making his way to the ring, he was attacked, nay brutalized, by Samoa Joe. Owens looked on absentmindedly. When he was done with his prey, Joe tossed Zayn into the ring for Owens. Zayn insisted on competing, and Owens was all too happy to oblige. Owens opened up with some clotheslines and two cannonball sentons. One Pop-Up Powerbomb later, and Owens was victorious.

Great work here. Owens looked like a monster (finally!!), Joe was great in his few moments, Zayn looked resilient and sympathetic. Zayn’s story with Joe moved along well. This was a perfect example of how to make every second on a show count. This was an extremely brief bit that did good for everybody involved.

Brock Lesnar Does an Interview

Brock was asked how he felt about Goldberg’s match with Owens at Fastlane. Paul Heyman took over. Lesnar moved a chair right in front of the camera and stared right down the lens, as Heyman talked behind him.

That was really cool. Brock with his intense, wordless stare as Heyman did his thing in the background was really compelling. I don’t want to say too much, because I want to encourage you to watch it. It was really good.

Braun Strowman vs The Big Show

They had the ring crew reinforce the ring before the match got started, because these guys weigh 600,000 pounds, don’t you know.

The match began in the most compelling way possible: A staredown. Strowman did a roll-through, and hit a kip-up, which are things that a man of his size should not be able to do. Strowman got a hold of a headlock and held it for a while, before sending Big Show to the ground with a clothesline. Off the back of that, Strowman hit a series of running power attacks. Strowman hit a DDT and some strikes. Another clothesline had Big Show down for a two count. The two traded attempts at suplexes, and neither were able to hit it. Show finally overpowered Strowman with a snap variant. Show again took Strowman off his feet with a running shoulder tackle. Show called for and hit a Chokeslam, but Strowman kicked out rather easily. Big Show hit his Knockout Punch, but Strowman again kicked out. Strowman hit a really sloppy Running Powerslam, but Big Show lifted the shoulder at the last moment. A better Powerslam finally brought an end to the proceedings.

After the match, Roman Reigns entered and traded blows with the exhausted Strowman. Strowman countered an attempted Spear with a dropkick, and nailed Roman with a Running Powerslam.

That was a much better match than I expected it to be. All the props in the world to Strowman, he’s developed so fast from being disgustingly one dimensional to now main-eventing RAW and putting on good matches on a regular basis. That’s nuts, guys. Anybody else remember the last time somebody kicked out of a Knockout Punch from Big Show? I’m doing my best, but I’m struggling to come up with anything; that move has been pretty well protected.

This was an awesome show, top to bottom. Especially because the last few weeks have been pretty mediocre, this week really stood out to me. With only one or two exceptions, every segment was, at the very least, good. The show flew by and I have very few complaints about tonight.

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Anyhow, what did you think? Good RAW? Bad RAW? Do you like DDP in the Hall of Fame? What do you think of no-nonsense Kevin Owens? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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