I found myself enjoying this week’s Raw for the most part. I do question why so many key players for Wrestlemania keep getting held off of TV though. This week, we had two excellent matches and some memorable moments as well as some decent mic work. But it’s shows like this that really make you wish Raw was back at it’s 2-hour format. That extra hour of chaff can really weigh an otherwise good show down.
Shane O’Mac opens Raw: Hit
Shane got another solid pop from the live crowd, and his promo with Vince was good. I liked the added touch of Vince stepping on the family picture with he and Shane as a kid. I guess The Undertaker is more of a prop in this storyline and the main feud is really between Shane and Vince. I can sit back and criticize this storyline all I want, but it’s still easily the most intriguing thing going on WWE TV right now simply because I don’t know how it’s going to end. Shane fending off a group of security guards was a bit corny, they did the typical action movie trope of running at Shane one at a time, and Shane’s attacks looked so… not good. But I get needing to at least try to make Shane look like a guy that could possibly hold his own in a fight, even if he is destined to be destroyed by The Undertaker.
Kevin Owens vs. Neville: Hit
An excellent match. It was just really, really good. Neville doesn’t need to cut great promos or have a great character, the fans just respect and appreciate his crazy athleticism and work in the ring. They really seemed to step it up and put on an above average match for the crowd, and Neville’s shooting star press to the outside is just insane.
Sami Zayn re-debuts: Hit
Looks like Owens has an opponent for Wrestlemania! This was a crowd pleasing moment for all the NXT fans. I was hoping Cole would reference Owens and Zayn’s feud and their NXT rivalry, but he didn’t, and so I can’t help but wonder if the casual fan just sees this as Sami Zayn randomly attacking Owens. He at least came to Neville’s aid so whatever way you swing it, Zayn is a big time babyface and I’m looking forward to their program over the next few weeks. This Mania undercard is starting to fill out very nicely.
Brie Bella vs. Summer Rae: Botch
It just wasn’t a very good match. They’ve been giving Summer wins lately, which is good, but I really don’t know where this Brie and Lana feud is heading. I am really, really hoping that it’s not going to be a Wrestlemania match, but I have a bad feeling that that’s the plan. Lana’s facebuster on Brie at least looked decent though. I just don’t think people want to boo Lana or Brie at the moment for various reasons.
Dean Ambrose promo: Hit
Even when Ambrose’s promos aren’t completely on point and the humour somewhat misses its mark, his mic work is still great because of his charisma. He has better promos with Triple H than Reigns has had, that’s for sure, and segments like this only stand as a reminder that Ambrose would be a better top guy than Reigns. Although I wasn’t excited in the slightest bit by the announcement of Wyatt vs. Ambrose for later on, I still thought this was largely a decent promo.
Dolph Ziggler vs. The League of Nations: Botch
What were they trying to achieve here? Backstage, Ziggler was gloating to The Authority about how he single handedly put them out of business – which is stupid for so many reasons. For one thing, the stipulation lasted barely a month, so it reminds you that stipulations don’t matter. Another thing, Ziggler had the crap beaten out of him and only won thanks to Sting’s interference, so his gloating makes him seem like a liar. And isn’t it embarrassing that the last thing Ziggler can brag about happened in 2014? Why are the writers making him look like such a goon? Then they book him in a handicap match in which he eliminates Barrett, but then loses. I feel like if you’re doing a match like this, you either have him win, or get very close to winning, or you have him destroyed. Going halfway like they did here just made Ziggler and Barrett look like chumps. I don’t know what the purpose of this was.
Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks vs. Team BAD: Hit
It’s a hit because it was short and the two girls getting a title match got a fast and strong win. Charlotte walks away as the true victor though, and I hope they do everything to keep her strong going into Wrestlemania. I don’t imagine she’ll retain there, and it should be a big deal for whoever wins the belt (likely Sasha).
R-Truth delivers pizza to Goldust: Botch
Ugh. This is the slowest of slow burns to build a tag team that will almost certainly fizzle out in a week. Honestly, will Truth and Dust actually remain relevant beyond their initial tag team debut? On the bright side, the Social Outcasts will have someone to feud with on Superstars.
The New Day vs. Y2AJ: Hit
Absolute best match on the whole show, it was phenomenal – no pun intended, really. Everyone was on top of their game and they put on a pay-per-view level match in the middle of an episode of Raw that was beginning to drag. The crowd was SO into it and bought into every near fall. It’s one of WWE’s best matches of the year so far. Awesome. I hope they can build up a decent long term tag team for New Day. There’s really no active team on the roster that can hang with them. I think it’s time for another NXT call up.
Chris Jericho turns heel: Hit
I think it was expected but still, the heel turn was great and needed to happen. Babyface Jericho is nowhere near as good as bitter heel Jericho. The three Codebreaker beat down was brutal, and stuffing the Y2AJ shirt in Styles’ mouth was a beautiful heel move. I know some people wanted something bigger for AJ going into Wrestlemania, but honestly, this program is solid and their match could easily steal the show.
Kalisto vs. Tyler Breeze: Botch
It could have been good, but it was too short to be anything special. Kalisto is over, sort of, but I find myself often forgetting that he’s the US Champion. I don’t know if that’s a booking thing or more of a character thing. Probably a bit of both. Hopefully there’s a big match to showcase him at Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, Tyler Breeze has achieved absolutely nothing since being called up. The Social Outcasts get more wins and TV time than him.
Ryback vs. Curtis Axel: Botch
I was more keen on the squash with Adam Rose last week. I think they gave Axel too much offense. With Ryback, I think they need to go all the way with him as a heel. He should be wrecking guys in 30 seconds. Social Outcast’s promo was at least entertaining. “The Axe Man Cometh!” is a great line.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt, and Triple H attack: Botch
The work was fine, but the show peaked at the tag match, which I’m thinking maybe should have been the main event. The crowd was dying down, and honestly, The Wyatt Family AND Ambrose have both lost so many big matches and feuds over the last year or so that it’s like, who cares? It ended in a DQ finish, which I think most people saw coming a mile away. It felt like they were just going through the motions for this main event. Ambrose finally got to leave Triple H laying, which is great. They couldn’t have him beaten down AGAIN right before he inevitably loses at Roadblock. But I was hoping for a bit more. Ambrose hits his finisher and that’s it, he’s happy with that result? Last week, Triple H beat the hell out of him. And the week before that, Triple H broke his best friend’s face. I was hoping for a bit more heat here. But I guess it could have been worse.
All photos via WWE.com