The Go-Home Show for the biggest Wrestlemania of all time actually delivered, at least for an hour or so. It felt like creative threw in the towel and winged it once we got into the final hour. We had a lively Brooklyn crowd that wasn’t going to stand for your usual filler matches and who were particularly resentful of any segment involving Reigns. Still, we know the Wrestlemania card now, and this show at least felt mostly effective in hyping the key matches.
Shane McMahon and Undertaker opening segment: Hit
This is the best Raw opening of the year so far. Taker and Shane’s promo work was on point, the crowd was super hot and the table spot was insane. Awesome way to kick off Raw. Commentary talking about Shane as though he’s somehow a bigger threat to Undertaker than say, Brock Lesnar, Shawn Michaels, Triple H etc. has just been silly, but having Shane actually take action and lay out Undertaker is a great way to get Shane over and actually make it seem like he has a chance of winning. He still shouldn’t have a chance of winning without a lot of shenanigans because, you know, it’s Shane McMahon versus The Undertaker. But I like that they’re trying to sell it like it won’t be a one sided fight.
Chris Jericho vs. Zack Ryder: Hit
It was fine. I wouldn’t get excited about a Ryder push like some people seem to be getting, but it’s nice to see him getting some relevant TV time though. I’m not sure that I’m a fan of the “Y2Jackass” chant or the way that they’ve built this match over the last few weeks, I think Styles has come off looking a bit second rate compared to Jericho. But at the end of the day, it worked and Styles vs. Jericho should be a solid match.
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch: Hit
Pretty good match, but it really feels like Becky is the third wheel in this storyline to me. Still, I’m looking forward to this triple threat, more than a lot of other matches on the card, even. I have no doubt that they’re going to bring their A game to the show.
Battle Royal build: Botch
Nothing really noteworthy. It was your usual big brawl. There are so few guys in this battle royal to care about. Most of them are jobbers or just guys that haven’t been featured on TV for a long time. I guess it’s not that big of a deal since it’s going to be a pre-show match, but I just couldn’t care less about this. I was surprised at the lack of Wyatt Family here too. If you looked in the ring, you’d just see Big Show and Kane and a bunch of jobbers.
Triple H promo: Hit
Trips delivered a solid promo that helped build to the match and place some real importance on the title. Say what you will about Reigns, but they’ve handled him awesomely over the last couple of weeks. They’re limiting his mic time and making him the man of action that he needs to be. I know, it probably is too little too late, and judging by the loud “Roman sucks” chants, I’m going to say that Reigns is up for a rough night at Wrestlemania. Crowd hatred for Reigns aside, I thought this was a good segment.
Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio: Hit
Brooklyn loved the New Day, seriously. They were in the zone tonight. Del Rio and Kofi had a really solid match, I was surprised at the finish too. Really thought it would just end in your typical massive brawl. The Coach announcement doesn’t really make a difference to me, but eh, it was all good, and I’m keen to see what The New Day have on offer come Wrestlemania.
Roman Reigns gets beaten down: Botch
I don’t have a problem with the heel getting some offence in before Mania, and it’s fine for it to be a sneak attack and all, but I just felt like Reigns looked so stupid and gullible for being so easily baited into an obvious trap by Bubba Ray Dudley. He might as well have been shouting “Hey Roman, come over here and let me distract you for a second!” Even Cole said it was an “obvious setup” during the replay. They’re having a hard enough time getting the audience to like him, making the guy look like an idiot isn’t going to help.
Kalisto vs. Konnor: Botch
It was a fairly weak match that benefitted from an energetic crowd. It was a bit botchy in places and a win over an Ascension member is really not going to do anything to get Kalisto over. I’ve been really disappointed in Kalisto’s US title reign. It’s been such a non-event. I really think that the US title should be up for grabs in the multi-man ladder match, so we can get an Owens vs. Zayn singles match. It is what it is I guess.
Paul Heyman promo: Hit
The promo was awesome. Heyman’s always awesome. He can sell anything. I’m pretty interested in this match and I really don’t know how it’s going to go down. I would expect Lesnar is going to win, but how he wins is going to be pretty important. Ambrose coming out and filling his wagon with weapons was actually a cool moment. Admittedly, I was hoping for something more physical between Ambrose and Lesnar for the go home Raw. But I don’t mind the mind games that were being played and the fact that they seem to be saving a lot of the physicality for Wrestlemania.
Emma vs. Paige: Botch
It was short and no one seemed to care. I’m happy to see Emma get some attention though, she deserves it for all the work she’s done in NXT, and I hope heel Emma can get a bit of a push post-Mania against whoever comes out as the Diva’s Champion. I absolutely cannot get over the fact that they tried to bring Eva Marie out as though she would be a heroic babyface that the crowd would welcome with open arms. I have to think that they knew she’d get ripped to shreds by the crowd and that this is some kind of rib or they’re setting something up. I don’t know. It’s so freaking weird. If they want Eva Marie on TV, she has to be a heel. The fans will never cheer for babyface Eva.
Six-Man Tag: Botch
Okay, the work was really good. And I found Owens to be entertaining. And I liked the ending with Zayn getting the pin on Owens. But this match was also really long, and a 20+ minute six man tag, this late in the show, is just not going to excite any audience. I feel like the creative (or lack thereof) has really let down this program thus far. We just haven’t heard a lot from the individual competitors. It’s mostly just been matches and brawls.
Triple H and Roman go at it again: Botch
We’d already seen two segments between Triple H and Reigns. Closing the show with another one probably wasn’t the best idea. I’m typically not a big fan of the usual big pull apart brawls with half the roster. Every now and then they work, I didn’t feel like it worked here though. Reigns’ big dive into the crowd was cool, but it wasn’t enough to sway the audience. I can’t help but think that maybe they should have gotten the Reigns/Triple H stuff out of the way earlier in the show and closed Raw with the Shane/Taker table spot. But meh. It’s basically done now though. They’ve hit the point of no return and Roman Reigns is still being vocally rejected by the large majority of WWE fans. I’ll be curious if they pull a last minute double turn on the night, or if they stay the course and try and ignore the supposed 100,000 fans that will be booing Reigns on Sunday. And that was Raw!
All photos via WWE.com