(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

I don’t look at reality through any veil. Nor do I see the truth through any veil. It is what it is, things are as they are, and I am who I am. When I rest, I rest in reason. When I move, I move with passion and there’s nothing I’m more passionate, about, than watching RAW for you all.

That said, we’re twenty days away from WrestleMania. Was this week deserving of my passion? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Brock Lesnar and his advocate, Paul Heyman were the first two men out tonight. Paul giggled about how Brock had given an F5 to Goldberg last week. Just as he got going, he was silenced by “Goldberg” chants, but he quickly managed to put the attention back on himself, asking the crowd to shut up. Paul talked the fact that Goldberg always gets the upper hand in their encounters, except for last week. Heyman talked up the destructive nature of the F5 and they left.

Backstage, General Manager Mick Foley was told he had to fire somebody by the end of the night, to send a message of leadership.

Heyman is always good, isn’t he? I don’t know that his material was anything ground-breaking this week, but his delivery was spot-on as always. As for the Foley stuff… I’m writing this seconds after the segment ended, so here’s my prediction: He fires himself. He has a surgery coming up that he needs to leave for. I usually don’t love it when they do Authority-Figure stories, so we’ll see how it goes.

Sasha Banks vs Dana Brooke

The two competitors, their respective friends in their corners, began by locking up. However, Dana was able to gain control with strikes and dirty tactics in the corner. Sasha fired back some strikes of her own, and won the match with a tights-assisted roll-up.

Result: Sasha wins by pinfall

After the match, Charlotte took to the ring with a microphone. She ran down her protégé, and said that she had no more use for Dana. Dana attacked Charlotte. Charlotte tried to escape, but couldn’t. Charlotte eventually got free and retreated up the ramp.

Ok, I obviously don’t have much to say about the match. Are they really going to try turning Dana face? She’s not going to get over that way. She got a big pop here, but I don’t think she’s talented enough to keep that sustained long-term. We’ll see, I guess, but I’m really not optimistic about this.

Tony Nese and Brian Kendrick vs TJ Perkins and Akira Tozawa

HWA! Tony and Akira began things, but Tony quickly tagged out. Tozawa got the upper hand with a hurricanrana and suicide dive headbutt. Perkins took out Nese as he tried to get involved illegally. A reeeeeeeeeally long commercial break followed. Back in the action, Kendrick had Tozawa grounded in a submission move. Tozawa fought back against both his opponents, but was prevented from making the tag. Tony Nese stuck Tozawa in a body scissors hold. Tozawa finally made the tag to Perkins, who lit up Nese. Nese managed to nail a clothesline for a two count. Perkins responded with a big, springboard DDT which Kendrick broke up. Tozawa and Kendrick were busy with each other, and in the chaos, Nese rolled up Perkins for the win.

Result: Tony and Brian win by pinfall

These guys got eight whole minutes, bell to bell. It was good action throughout, the pace was high and the storytelling decent. I hope to see more like this from the Cruiserweight segments on RAW.

Kevin Owens Does a Promo

Kevin grabbed a mic and recapped the events from the Festival of Friendship one month prior. Kevin admitted that his motivations were less than legitimate during their partnership, but accused Jericho of also being in it for less than honest reasons. He threw shade on his scheduled WrestleMania opponent.

Good promo. Kevin is a really good talker, and he’s got great character work. It’s always the best form of heelery that sees the heels seeing themselves justified, and Kevin always keeps that in mind. Good stuff from him.

Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe

Joe and Jericho began the action, which Jericho quickly took control of with a dropkick and a chop. Joe fired right back with a kick and a senton, which earned him a one count. Jericho hit a missile dropkick and tagged in Sami Zayn, who came up on the losing end of their scuffle. Joe tagged in Owens, who continued to beat up Zayn whilst also mocking Jericho. Owens hit a superkick on Jericho, before Zayn took out both Joe and Owens by sailing over the top rope, injuring himself in the process. Owens and Joe stomped on Zayn together, drawing the disqualification.

Result: Chris and Sami win by DQ

As the bell rang, Joe locked in a courtesty Coquina Clutch. Jericho ran in to make the save, but it was short lived and he failed to lock in The Walls of Jericho. Owens teed off on his former friend, and closed the segment with a Pop-Up Powerbomb to the legend.

Firey, fast action kept this from being meaningless (It was quite short). They also did a good job keeping Owens and Jericho apart. Owens and Joe looked vicious, Jericho didn’t get his hands on his rival. Zayn was a bit of an afterthought, but that’s really my only complaint. An overall solid bit, this.

New Day Talks

They charismatic trio are apparently getting a new talk show segment. They brought on their guest, The Big Show. They announced for him that he would be competing in the Battle Royal at Mania. They tried to interview him about his movie, but repeatedly talked over him. When they finally gave Show a moment to himself, he was interrupted by Titus O’Neil, who complained. He shoved Big Show into The New Day to close the segment.

I’m not sure what to say about this. The New Day came off kinda annoying, Show probably deserves better than being in the Battle Royal for what may well be his final WrestleMania appearance, and Titus O’Neil was there. I can only do so much when this is what I have to work, folks.

Sheamus And Cesaro vs Enzo and Cass

A WrestleMania Title shot at Gallows and Anderson was on the line in this contest. Cesaro went right after Cass with a dropkick and an uppercut, but Cass was too powerful to be held down for long. Cesaro tagged in Sheamus, who didn’t fare much better. Cass slammed Enzo onto Sheamus, and Cesaro broke up the attempted pin. Sheamus and Cesaro hit an assisted powerslam onto Enzo, but Cass broke up the pin. Enzo made the tag to Cass, who steamrolled Cesaro, fallaway slams and stinger splashes galore. Sheamus made a blind tag, but wasn’t too effective. The champs appeared, and laid out all four competitors, causing the DQ.

Result: Match ends in a no contest

Backstage, after the match, Foley made a triple threat match at Mania between all three teams for the Tag Titles.

Um, OK? The Club looked great at the end there, which was awesome to see. Hopefully they continue to do so. I’m pretty sure they’ll lose those belts at on the second of April, and if they don’t look like killers in the lead-up, it won’t mean anything.

Roman Reigns vs Jinder Mahal

Yeah, you read that right. Earlier, Mahal claimed he was a “Main Event Talent”, so Foley decided to put that claim to the test. Right before the match, it’s officially announced that Roman will be facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

The two competitors locked up to begin things, and Jinder took the lead with some dirty tactics. Roman fired back with a series of clothesl-*GONG*. Roman looked confused, and Jinder quickly took advantage, getting a two count, and teeing off with a series of dropkicks. Mahal had Reigns hurt until he walked right into a superman punch. Roman hit another jumping punch, and picked up the win.

Result: Roman wins by pinfall

After the match, Roman grabbed a mic and called The Undertaker out. As Roman waited, a familiar tune hit the speakers: That of HBK, Shawn Michaels. Shawn took to the ring. Mr. WrestleMania got a solid reaction that turned into a great reaction after everybody got over the shock. Shawn warned Roman about picking fights with The Undertaker during WrestleMania season. Roman was less than impressed with Shawn’s warning, though. Shawn said that he was rooting for Roman, but not many others would be.

As Reigns was stood on the ramp, he was blindsided by Braun Strowman, who knocked Roman into the third row with a shoulder tackle.

Great stuff. I enjoyed the moment with Jinder earlier for a chuckle, I liked Shawn’s point of view and promo, I liked Roman’s heel-ish-ness, and I liked Strowman getting involved. I have no idea what that means (if anything at all) for Roman’s feud with Taker. Top to bottom, this was just about perfect for what it was going for.

Austin Aires vs Airya Daivari

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived made his Monday Night RAW debut here. Austin got booted in his stomach right away, bit quickly fired back with a forearm shot and a few arm drags. Austin hit a back elbow, but got tossed to the outside. Daivari teed off with strikes, including his arm-trap pull-back clothesline (Love that move). Daivari nailed a chop before Austin was able to regain some momentum. Austin hit a suicide dive and a shin breaker, which moved into a back suplex. Austin hit the Roaring Elbow for the win.

Result: Austin Aires wins by pinfall

This was really well done, actually. Daivari didn’t come off as a total jobber, and Austin looked great. The commentators also did a good job putting Aires over as probably the most well-rounded and versatile member of the cruiserweight division. Nothing groundbreaking of course, but this did it’s job competently and didn’t even bury Daivari in the process.

The Big Show vs Titus O’Neil

Big Show immediately took control with some overhead chops, and knocked Titus around with his massive, massive hands. Titus walked right into a Chokeslam. Big Show wasn’t done yet, and hit another. The crowd asked for one more, and Show was only too happy to oblige. 1,2,3.

Result: Big Show wins by way of murder

Well, that was the very definition of filler. Moving on.

Bayley vs Nia Jax

Bayley wasn’t sure how to make headway against an opponent such as Nia. Jax muscled Bayley about the ring in the early goings. Bayley ran into a spinebuster and got caught up in a backbreaker submission. Bayley managed to counter with a jawbreaker, and doggedly pursued the knee of Jax. With her base removed, Nia was slowed down just enough for Bayley to be competitive. Jax had Bayley in the corner, and just went to town, getting disqualified in the process.

Result: Bayley wins by DQ

Jax continued the beating after the match, tossing Bayley into the barricade.

I guess this was fine. I dunno. Nia looked like a million bucks, and Bayley technically won. I can’t be too critical from a booking standpoint. This as a little slow, as Nia’s matches often are, but that’s my biggest complaint about this. A little samey to all their other encounters, but it progressed the story. I hope they add Nia to the Mania match, because it’s going to feel very strange if they don’t.

Lots of Things Happen

Foley had to make a decision about who to fire. Stephanie McMahon asked who he had decided on. Foley enthusiastically said that he had come up with somebody: Stephanie McMahon. McMahon said that Foley didn’t have the power to fire her. Foley ran through all the terrible things Stephanie had been doing since Foley took over as GM. Just as he was about to really get going, Triple H‘s music cut him off. The Game took to the ring, and the two former opponents verbally squared off, trading barbs. Trips claimed that he never would have brought Foley back. Foley said that he didn’t need this company. Triple H wondered at the legacy Foley was leaving for his kids, who want to work for/currently work for the company Triple H owns. The King of Kings demanded Foley leave the ring. Foley set the mic down and started to walk off, pulling something out of his pocket. Triple H walked right into a Mandible Claw to a huge pop from the crowd. Stephanie hit a low blow on Mick to break things up, and Triple H took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. As he marched across the ring, murder in his eyes, Seth Rollins hobbled to ringside, still aided by one crutch. He dropped it, though, and stood on his own two feet. Fully mobile, he jumped in the ring and brawled with Triple H. Rollins hit a superkick and a jumping knee to send The Game, reeling, to the outside. Triple H collected himself, then got back in the ring, crutch in hand. He bent it over Rollins’ injured leg, then stomped on it, and applied an inverted Figure Four to Rollins. Triple H again whacked the injured knee with the crutch to close out the show.

Whoa, ok. Trips tripped over his lines a bit when the crowd started chanting “CM Punk!” during his rundown of Foley (What are you people hoping to accomplish with that?), but other than that, this was phenomenal, top to bottom. I don’t think I could do this justice, there was too much going on, so I’ve included the video. Check it out if you get a few minutes. Foley with the sock, Rollins dropping the crutch, Trips with a savage beatdown. Good moment followed good moment, and it was a great way to close out the show.

 

What a fantastic episode of RAW. I’m entirely serious, that was awesome. I usually count it as a victory if RAW manages to hold my interest the whole time. From the start to the finish, with only one or two exceptions, I enjoyed everything on RAW, and I can scarce remember the last time that was the case. It’s a bit of a shame I had to wait until WrestleMania season for that to happen, but if RAW starts to be more like this every week, I’ll be quite happy indeed.

What did you think? Let me know in the comments. Did you get that reference in my intro? Come tell me on twitter @Ejdupras_VVV. I hope you’ll all join me tomorrow for a bit of SmackDown.

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