Roman Reigns Interrupted Samoa Joe
There was a small part of me hoping Shane McMahon would come out and announce they had signed Joe first to SmackDown Live, assuming Joe vs. Seth Rollins isn't happening any time soon, but no such luck. Nevertheless, this was a strong segment and I loved the logic that Joe blamed Mick Foley for not bringing him in sooner despite being high on him for all these years. I was not expecting Reigns to get involved at all, which set up that dream match for later in the show.
Nia Jax def. Bayley
This was a vast improvement over the match these two about a month ago. I knew they had it in them because they contested a solid series of matches down in NXT, and this was more along the lines of what they were capable of. The David vs. Goliath dynamic worked wonderfully for them as Bayley sold really well for Jax's offense, and I liked what they did for the finish with Charlotte Flair distracting Bayley long enough for Jax to pick up the victory. I pray to God Bayley doesn't win the title next week simply to keep Charlotte's undefeated streak on pay-per-view intact.
Braun Strowman def. TC Bonus, Rob Kelly, Dusty Wallace and James Stock in a 4-on-1 Handicap Match
You can always rely on Strowman to provide entertainment whenever he's up against multiple jobbers. In all seriousness, the guy is gradually getting over with the fans and it's cool to see. This was a simple squash match from Strowman, but I was worried the post-match promo would be a step backward for him since it felt like a repeat from four months ago. Thankfully, he was immediately granted a match with Roman Reigns at Fastlane next month.
Akira Tozawa def. Drew Gulak
As I mentioned in my review of 205 Live from last Tuesday, Tozawa has "breakout babyface" written all over him. He's exciting to watch in the ring, but not only that, he knows how to connect with a crowd. That's what separates him from the rest of the roster in the Cruiserweight division at the moment, and that charisma is what will make him the biggest babyface in the division has to offer. I enjoyed this outing immensely and him vs. The Brian Kendrick as a feud should be a blast.
Goldberg Confronted WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and United States Champion Chris Jericho
I think it's been pretty well-documented that I am vehemently against the idea of Owens dropping the title to Goldberg at Fastlane, but I must admit that this was a stellar segment. All three men played their roles well, and in addition to Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar being made official for WrestleMania 33, the Fastlane main event is now set. Goldberg putting himself on The List (after Jericho put Tom Brady on The List) was pretty comical, too. I expect the tension teased between Jericho and Owens here stemming from Jericho forcing Owens to face Goldberg will ultimately lead to them splitting up before 'Mania.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Club def. Cesaro and Sheamus by Disqualification
Although these two teams work well together, I'm already tired of seeing them against each other. Then again, the division on Raw is so depleted I guess we have no choice for the time being. It looks like Enzo Amore and Big Cass might be gunning for the gold in a Triple Threat tag team title match at Fastlane, so that's encouraging. The match was decent and the disqualification finish protected the two teams, but it was merely a placeholder ahead of something bigger it seems.
The New Day def. The Shining stars
New Day continue to spin their wheels, and that was evident based off how the premise of this match was essentially ice cream. It's too soon to put them back in contention for the Raw Tag Team Championship, but at the same time, this trash with The Shining Stars isn't much better. In fact, it might actually be worse. Although this was a relatively harmless match, it was a waste of time.
United States Champion Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn
When the match was announced earlier in the evening, I thought there was a small chance Zayn could capture the championship, but the fact they put it on at the 10 p.m. hour virtually gave away Zayn wasn't winning. Despite that, they produced a good match and I would like to see more from them in the future. Now I'm left wondering where this leaves Zayn if he doesn't earn another shot at the strap at Fastlane, so here's hoping they find direction for him.
Austin Aries Interviewed WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville
This was an effective way to advertise that stacked WWE Cruiserweight Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 5-Way match for 205 Live on Tuesday night, but in all honesty, I came out of this segment looking more forward to the inevitable Aries vs. Neville match. That could be insane. Anyway, TJ Perkins appears to be the favorite to win that 5-Way, but we've seen him against Neville a bunch of times, so I hope they go with someone different such as Cedric Alexander or Jack Gallagher.
TJ Perkins, Cedric Alexander and Jack Gallagher def. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville, Noam Dar and Tony Nese
Well, I probably should have seen this coming. I thought the previous segment was successful in hyping Tuesday night's main event for 205 Live, so this was pretty pointless, though I realize it was designed to kill time. On the bright side, all six Superstars put together a fine little match and Neville walking off on his partners was well done. Alexander was also able to score a measure of revenge over his adversary by pinning Dar.
Samoa Joe def. Roman Reigns
As a match, I liked this a lot and would love to see them engage in a full-fledged feud down the line. Joe's pre-match attack on Reigns established him as a monster, and even with the distraction finish, WWE did the right thing by giving Joe the victory in his debut match, in the main event of Raw, no less. Strowman's attack on Reigns was a solid way of ending the evening as well. I'm not sure where this leaves Joe heading into Fastlane, but at least he has momentum on his side.
The first half of the show felt like it went by a bit quicker than usual, and I appreciated how many notable matches and segments they gave us throughout the night. It didn't come across like business as usual where Creative just phoned it in, and this is exactly the type of must-see TV we should be seeing on weekly basis. Granted, it did drag toward the end and specifically during the third hour, but the good outweighed the bad I thought, and there was plenty of hype for Fastlane. I'm glad they aren't waiting until the last minute to confirm half the card for the event. On a side note, there wasn't much an update on Seth Rollins, so fingers crossed for a full and speedy recovery. The quality of Raw has been better on the whole in recent weeks and I hope that's a sign of things to come with WrestleMania season now upon us.
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