Roman Reigns Interrupted Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon
What a great way to kick off the show with Stephanie announcing she would be running Raw only to have Reigns interrupt her. Clearly, I say that sarcastically. That is the absolute biggest turn-off for viewers. I feel like I've seen these two in the ring together a million times before, so this was nothing new. Reigns continues to come off poorly as a babyface and I yearn for him to turn heel sooner rather than later. On a somewhat related note, congrats to Teddy Long for the WWE Hall of Fame nod!
Roman Reigns def. Raw Tag Team Champions The Club by Disqualification
This was far from the first time we have seen a babyface plow through a tag team and I'm sure it won't be the last. I've never understood the logic behind it. Granted, The Club scored some offense over Reigns, but they looked extremely inferior against Reigns here. It could have been worse with them being beat cleanly, but the match served no purpose and Reigns hardly benefited from getting the better of the duo, so why bother booking it at all?
Kofi Kingston def. Bo Dallas
The New Day are still spinning their wheels in matches with people I couldn't care less about. To their credit, the promise of ice cream bars kept the crowd engaged in this inconsequential match, but they shouldn't tease giving us ice cream bars if they aren't going to deliver. Isn't that right, CM Punk? In all honesty, I hope the ice cream bars don't become an actual thing, because if they do, that likely means they won't be split up any time soon. I certainly see them going their separate ways in the WWE Draft this year.
Jack Gallagher def. Noam Dar
The Cruiserweights are basically what the Divas once were on Raw in that their matches don't receive much television time at all. Granted, they aren't nearly as deplorable, but how can they be considered good when they last no more than a few minutes? This was a fine match for what it was, and on the bright side, they promoted Neville vs. TJ Perkins for 205 Live in addition to hyping the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match for Fastlane.
Well, this was disappointing. As stupid as this segment was with Emmalina saying a few words before promptly walking off, at least she finally arrived on Raw. The last line of her promo was intriguing, though, teasing a transformation back to "evil" Emma. I have no idea why they would wait so long to do this angle because they've been allowing her talent to waste away this entire time, but fingers crossed this is part of a bigger story with her.
Braun Strowman def. Mark Henry
It's interesting Strowman went from annihilating three local athletes last week to facing someone more on his level in Henry. I'm not complaining, however, since Strowman should be beating members of the main roster more often. He had an impressive outing here while this was an effective use of Henry. I'm glad Strowman has gotten the upper hand over Reigns two weeks in a row now, but does this mean Reigns will defeat him cleanly at the pay-per-view? That would be worst case scenario.
Michael Cole Interviewed Samoa Joe
I truly believe Joe is one of the most underrated and talented talkers in the entire company and this sit-down interview proved it. He comes across as so cold, calculated and meanacing with everything he says and I liked how they touched upon Seth Rollins' attack and as well as his relationship with Triple H. They sure seem to be banking on Rollins being back in time for WrestleMania, but only time will tell.
Sami Zayn def. Rusev
Zayn and Rusev had that classic small man vs. big man dynamic going for them and it made for a really enjoyable match. Rusev hasn't been relevant in some time, so I don't know if I agreed with Cole when he called this an upset, but the matchup itself was excellent. There's a few different directions they can go in with Zayn either getting a rematch with Chris Jericho for the United States Championship or facing off against Joe at Fastlane or even at WrestleMania. Needless to say, I can get behind either idea.
akira Tozawa def. Ariya Darivari
In a short period of time, Tozawa has solidified himself as one of the top babyfaces in the Cruiserweight division. He can connect with a crowd with ease and he's so damn fun to watch in the ring. Daivari deserves credit for selling well for his offense, too. Additionally, The Brian Kendrick was hilarious to listen on commentary talking about how he thinks Tozawa is his protege.
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens Betrayed United States Champion Chris Jericho During Their Festival of Friendship
Shout-out to my buddy John Napolitano for pointing this out on Twitter: this segment was virtually the modern day equivalent to the unforgettable This Is Your Life segment with The Rock and Mankind from 1999. Gillberg returning was a pleasant surprise and the painting of the two almost had me in tears laughing. Jericho is over as a fan favorite anyway, so it was wise to go so over-the-top with this celebration and then have Owens turn on him in shocking fashion. It breaks my heart to see their friendship come to an end, but Owens has never been more hated as a heel.
Cesaro def. Enzo Amore
Enzo and Big Cass are an entertaining tandem, but putting them up against the ultra popular Cesaro might not be the smartest idea. The match was whatever because the crowd didn't have any incentive to cheer one guy over the other, though I assume this is building to a Triple Threat tag team match for the Raw Tag Team Championship at Fastlane next month. The division is lifeless at the moment and is need of some fresh faces.
Bayley def. Charlotte Flair to Win the Raw Women's Championship
These two put together a quality opener at the Royal Rumble last month, but there were parts of the match that felt off. Thankfully, the rematch was a vast improvement and the hot crowd was invested in the exciting action throughout the bout. Their chemistry was off the charts and this is the type of underdog Bayley should have been from the moment she debuted on Raw. I know they were going for a feel-good moment with Sasha Banks and Bayley afterward, but Dana Brooke hasn't helped Charlotte in months, so having her attempt to aid Charlotte to victory was strange. Furthermore, I would have held off on the title change until WrestleMania, because now I fear Charlotte will get the belt back at Fastlane next month. Rinse and repeat. Please let the game of hot potato with the strap be over.
Similar to Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, the first half of this show didn't do much for me, but WWE picked up the pace nicely from Joe's interview onward. The Festival of Friendship might have been one of the greatest segments the company has done in recent memory, so that alone made this an above-average episode, along with Joe's interview/attack and the women's main event championship match and subsequent title change. Mostly everything else was filler, but in between all the pointless garbage was pure magic, and this show gets a thumbs up from yours truly as a result. The build to Fastlane has been decent so far, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they fill out the rest of the card in the next three weeks.
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