Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman Ended in a Double Count-Out
I will give credit where its due in that they didn't open Raw for a change with either Stephanie McMahon or Mick Foley in the ring. All right, so they were the first two people we saw when Raw went on the air, but it was a backstage segment that led nicely into this match. You didn't actually think they would give away the United States Championship match in the opener, did you? This was a fun little match while it lasted with Rollins and Strowman working the David vs. Goliath dynamic, and if nothing else, it was something relatively new. The non-finish protected both men, although whatever the hell happened afterward with Rollins fending off Strowman with the chair fell flat. Why didn't Rollins just come out at the end of Raw last week and announce his involvement in the Royal Rumble match then?
Jack Gallagher def. Drew Gulak
Aside from Neville, Gallagher continues to be one of the best parts of the Cruiserweight division, and I'm glad that his feud with Ariya Daivari has been given some substantial television time over the past few months. The cross-promotion between Raw and 205 Live has also been well done. Daivari didn't show up here, but this was merely just a showcase for Gallagher ahead of their next face-off.
Rusev Confronted Shawn Michaels; Big Cass def. Jinder Mahal
Fans really should not have gotten their hopes up that Michaels was going to be doing anything meaningful on Raw. Once it was made clear he was only appearing to promote his upcoming movie, it was obvious this segment was total throwaway. And it was. There were a few lines during the back-and-forth between him and Rusev that I got a chuckle at, but not even he could salvage this terrible, terrible angle. Additionally, the subsequent match between Cass and Mahal belonged on WWE Superstars.
Neville def. Lince Dorado
Dorado seems to be the go-to enhancement talent for the babyface side of the Cruiserweight division, essentially the equivalent to Gulak or Tony Nese. He is a skilled wrestler in the ring, though, so was a fine match in the time it was allotted. Neville's heel run has been terrific thus far and this might be the most amount of wins he has scored consistently since his days on NXT. Him vs. Rich Swann would be an excellent addition to the Royal Rumble card if they can wait that long.
Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus def. Luke Gallows
Although Cesaro and Karl Anderson were slightly distracting on commentary, this was a well-wrestled match. Anderson's new gimmick is apparently that he and Gallows talk relentlessly about how they were so big in Japan. And look where they are now! The match lasted longer than I thought it would, but this would have been a good opportunity for The Club to score back-to-back wins in singles competition and allow them to finally build momentum. This 50/50 booking virtually benefits nobody.
The Undertaker Announced His Participation in the 2017 Royal Rumble Match
Undertaker announcing his participation in the 2017 Royal Rumble match is what I expected would happen and I couldn't be happier that's the case. I was glad he also acknowledged the elephant in the room that the last time we saw him in November, he was on SmackDown Live, but he said here that "no one controls him." It's awesome they're really loading up the Royal Rumble match this year with the likes of 'Taker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, Seth Rollins and others because there are a handful of candidates that could realistically win it.
Raw Women's Champion Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax def. Bayley and Sasha Banks
While I'm happy they've finally moved away from Charlotte vs. Banks, the two feuds we've been left with haven't been lighting the world on fire so far. I realize it has only been a month since they started, but this tag team match illustrated how little buzz there is surrounding the Raw women's division at the moment. It was a solid match and the right team went over, but it was weird Bayley was the one pinned and not the "injured" Banks.
Kofi Kingston def. Titus O'Neil
On the bright side, it looks like that O'Neil segment with The New Day from last week wasn't a complete waste of time if it was the beginning of a longer storyline involving him and them. However, I am not the least bit interested in it. O'Neil tries his best, but he is awful in the ring and is way better off as a babyface because it is a genuinely good person. New Day are spinning their wheels right now and I have no clue what the road to WrestleMania will have in store for them other than the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. On a side note, that footage of NXT Season 2 (back when it was a crappy competition show) deserves to be burned and buried.
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and Chris Jerico def. Roman Reigns in 2-on-1 Handicap Match (Jericho Won the United States Championship)
Well, if they wanted to protect Reigns in defeat, they definitely did that by having him take a number of finishers in addition to being attacked earlier in the evening and prior to this bout. WWE went out of their way to make him look stronger than the heels, which to me must mean he's becoming WWE Universal Champion at Royal Rumble. As thrilled as I am Jericho is finally the United States Champion, the moment would have meant more a few weeks ago, you know, before he lost to Reigns as many times as he did. In retrospect, what was the point of Reigns holding the gold for so many months, let alone at all, if there was never any long-term plan for him to do something substantial with it?
The main event wasn't anything exciting outside of the title change, and with the exception of The Undertaker's Royal Rumble announcement, this was another dull edition of Raw. Strowman vs. Rollins was decent albeit nothing must-see, and everything else was just kind of there. That has been the case for weeks with Raw and it's sad to see. I've missed the last three episodes of Raw live and I don't regret a thing because it doesn't feel like I'm missing much. We can only hope things start to pick up after the Rumble and they put actual effort into their storylines. With all that said, I'm anticipating the pending pay-per-view with everything that's been advertised thus far.
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