(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE RAW

Well, folks, it’s the go-home show before WrestleMania 33, and yes, both of my articles this week are going to start with that video. How would this week’s edition of RAW go down? What matches would be made? Would this week leave us all sufficiently excited for the coming Show of Shows? Would we get a new GM? There’s only one way to know for sure, so you’d better read on to find out.

Opening Segment

Bayley was the first person out tonight. Apparently the 4-Way for the Women’s title at Mania is now an elimination match, which is awesome. Bayley told us all how excited she was to be headed to WrestleMania, her childhood dream come true. As she started to get into her actual material, she was interrupted by Charlotte.

And it’s at that point that my power went out. It came back on pretty quickly, but I did miss this first part of the show. Sorry, everybody. I’ve included the relevant video footage if you’d like to take a look for yourself at what happened. This article will pick back up right where I did.

Austin Aires vs Noam Dar

Neville, Aires’ WrestleMania opponent, sat in for commentary during this match. Aires started strong, dropkicking Dar directly in the face to open the match. Dar responded by rolling to the outside. Dar eventually took control, stomping and whipping Aires from corner to corner, earning a two count with a big uppercut. Aires fired back with a flapjack/piledriver thing (didn’t look pretty) and hit a series of signature moves, capping things off with a suicide dive and his rope-assisted neckbreaker. Aires hit two forearm strikes, and finished the proceedings with the Last Chancery.

Result: Austin Aires wins by submission

This, much like nearly every single cruiserweight segment on RAW, was far too short to be really meaningful. The crowd was also dead for this because unless you’re a relatively hardcore indie fan, you have no reason whatsoever to care about Dar. So, let’s look at the positives: I found it pretty refreshing that Neville didn’t get involved in the outcome of the match. Erm, that’s about it.

Seth Rollins Signs A Paper

Seth limped his way to the ring, but there was no contract to be found, only a microphone. He told Triple H to come to the ring and get the contract signing underway. The Game entered immediately with the contract in hand. The King of Kings warned Seth not to go throwing fists here, or the match would be off. The Cerebral Assassin made sure we all knew the various stipulations that go along with a non-sanctioned match. HHH didn’t understand Rollins’ preference for the fan’s approval over financial wellbeing. Rollins stated that he had lost his passion for the business while working with Trips, and had lost his sense of identity in the process. Both men signed the contract, and then The Connecticut Blue Blood assaulted Rollins. Both tried, and failed, to hit The Pedigree. Rollins belted Hunter with the crutch to send The COO out of the ring, retreating up the rampway.

I rather liked this. The motivations for both characters came off as believable enough, and Triple H did awesome heel work here. I really hope their match turns out ok. Rollins did whip out an enzugiri during their brawl, which he probably wouldn’t be doing if he wasn’t feeling  at least decent.

An Over-The-Top-Rope Challenge

I guess this is some kind of warm-up for the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal? This match was staffed with The Big Show and Jinder Mahal. Mahal went over quickly. Out came Bo Dallas, who also went over quickly. The Shining Stars were up next, attacking The Big Show 2-on-1, and went over the top in the same manner. Goldust, Curtis Axel, and R-Truth rushed Show. The whole field managed to push The Big Show over the top rope. He jumped back in and beat all seven up at the same time. Braun Strowman entered and said that he wouldn’t bother joining this match. And then… it just sorta ended.

Result: ?

I’ve got no idea what this was, or who it was for. Big Show ultimately got eliminated, so he doesn’t look exactly invincible. The other guys do come out of this looking like jobbers, though. And then, what was Strowman’s goal there, exactly? And who actually won this? What an utter waste of time.

YES! I want to see Gallows and Anderson doing this every week.

Neville vs Jack Gallagher

Neville tried to get an early upper hand, but Jack was wise to his attempts, and had counters for everything Neville tried. They traded blows and shoulder tackles, and Neville had Jack hurt with a release German suplex. Neville threw his various kicks, all of which connected. However, he ran right into a headbutt, the thud of which sounded throughout the arena. Neville on the outside, Jack hit an umbrella-assisted sitting senton from the top rope. Back inside, Neville landed a superkick, a superplex, and locked in the Rings of Saturn for the win.

Result: Neville wins by submission

The stronger of the two cruiserweight matches tonight, certainly. I also liked that both champion and challenger won their respective matches with submission moves. Their match on Sunday is one of the few I’m not worried about in the slightest.

Roman Reigns Gets Interrupted

The Big Dog decided to let us all know how he was feeling about his WrestleMania situation, to his usual toasty reception. He moved, moped, meandering, moving melodramaticly. After a fair bit of pacing around the ring, he told us all that he was win his match.  *GONG* The Undertaker‘s voice filled the arena as a video played on the titan-tron, which featured Mean Mark himself digging a ditch, with a headstone marked for Roman. Taker warned Roman that he may not have many days left. The lights went out to repeated gongs. When the lights came back up, The Deadman was stood in the ring behind Roman. He growled that Roman would R.I.P at Mania, and took the lights back down.

This was fine, I guess. Probably not the type of thing I’d want to see during the go-home show before Mania, but fine. Everything here was done competently, although did little to get me more excited than I already was.

Enzo and Cass vs The Club… Or Not

Enzo and Cass made their way to the ring, and let us all know that they would be winning their title match at WrestleMania. As The Club were entering, they were jumped by Sheamus and Cesaro, bearing the gift of a ladder to beat up all four of their opponents. The various teams used the ladder to attack their opponents, taking turns. The champs stood tall at the end.

Anything that doesn’t end with The Club looking like total buffoons is good in my book. I’m assuming they’ll make the triple threat into a ladder match, but they never officially announced that, so maybe not.

Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens

A no DQ match in which if Sami Zayn lost, he would be fired. If he won, he would earn a spot in the AtGMBR at KO-Mania 2.

So, to be clear, they decided to put a no DQ match between Owens and Zayn, with Zayn’s career on the line, on an episode of RAW, with no prior buildup, days before Mania? That’s wrong on too many levels for me to get into here.

Owens started the match, throwing various appendages into the face of Zayn. Owens gloated for a bit too long, and Zayn was able to nail a clothesline and a 10 punch spot that went waaaay past ten. The action moved outside where Owens got the better of things, exploiting his knowledge of Zayn’s usual offense. They brawled around the outside. Zayn lept off the ramp and exploded into Owens, who was a few feet below on the arena floor. Back near the ringside area, Zayn prepared some steps. Owens was wise to it, though. He raked the eyes, delivered a DDT onto the stairs, and gave Zayn a senton from off the steel. Owens rolled Zayn back into the ring and went for a cover, which Zayn kicked out of. Owens went for a cannonball senton, but ran right into an exploder suplex. Zayn dove through the ropes and hit the torpedo DDT through the turnbuckle. Back inside, Zayn went for the Helluva Kick, but instead found a superkick waiting for him. Owens hit a frog splash, and Zayn kicked out, clutching his ribs. Owens missed an attempt at the Pop-Up Powerbomb as Zayn countered into a blue thunder bomb. Both men down, Samoa Joe entered with the intention of ruining Zayn’s day, collecting  a chair. Chris Jericho made the save, taking out Joe on the outside. Amid the confusion, Zayn rolled up Owens for the win, the spot at Mania, and his career. After the match, Owens attempted to get his heat back, but Jericho again made the save, forcing the heels to retreat. Jericho put Owens on the list to close the segment out.

Result: Sami Zayn wins by pinfall

Again, this never should have happened for a variety of reasons. These two should wrestle sparingly, and probably never on RAW. Furthermore, the fact that Mania is only a few days away tells us already exactly who is going to win. And the no DQ stipulation even made the ending fairly obvious. It was an awesome match, as these two are nigh incapable of doing much else with each other, but this never should have happened. Do you guys remember that Payback last year was the first time they had a 1-on-1 match on the main roster, despite having been feuding for months prior? Why can’t they show the same restraint now?

Brock Lesnar and Goldberg Come Face to Face

With just a few minutes left in the last RAW before Mania, the two (most likely) headliners took to the ring to square off one final time. Lesnar, advocate in tow, were out first. Paul Heyman talked up the circumstances of the match, quickly being cut off by chants of “Goldberg”. Heyman paused, then laughed it off, as a rival chant of “Suplex City” began, which even drew a smile from Brock. Heyman talked up the importance of the title in this match, and how desperately Brock wanted to win. Heyman put Goldberg over, but said that no matter how good he was, Brock would win. Goldberg decided that just then was as good a time as any to enter, so he did. He pulled a mic out of his pocket and said that people weren’t here to listen to talking. He offered to bring a little WrestleMania to Philly. Lesnar jumped out of the ring and ran right into a spear that left The Beast Incarnate writhing on the ground. Heyman went to assure the health of his client while Goldberg took to the ring and took off his shirt, holding up his title. Brock followed Heyman up the ramp, limping and holding his abdomen, murder in his eyes.

That was great. It was really short, but made every second count. Heyman’s promo was one of the best of this entire storyline. Goldberg enters and still gets the quick upper hand in the fight that breaks out, leaving the indominable Lesnar in a huddled heap on the floor. I’ve got no idea whatsoever about what’s going to happen between these two on Sunday, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it.

And that was the last RAW before WrestleMania 33. I don’t think this show really did the maximum job possible to build excitement for Mania, but it was a solid show, top to bottom. There were like, two decent matches, which is a rarity on RAW. But what do you all think? Leave your feelings in the comments below, or come tell me to my digital face on twitter @Ejdupras_VVV. Subscribe to the site if you want to get notified each and every day about all our new articles, including these ones. That’s all from me for today, and I hope you’ll all join me tomorrow when we take a look at the last bit of main-roster programming before the biggest show of the year!

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