Raw's Royal Rumble Match Competitors Confronted Each Other
I remain completely disinterested in the whole WWE Universal Championship picture and Roman Reigns challenging Kevin Owens at the Royal Rumble. The promos that Reigns, Owens, Chris Jericho and Seth Rollins cut were all decent, though this segment was well on its way to being pretty forgettable up until Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar came down to the ring and reeked havoc. Them clearing house was exciting and their face-off was especially intriguing. This was a vast improvement over Paul Heyman talking and Lesnar bouncing around in the ring the whole time.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass def. Rusev and Jinder Mahal
It's been well-documented over the past two months that I have not been a fan of this feud whatsoever, but this might have been the best thing we have seen from these four yet. There wasn't any awful talking beforehand, the silliness was kept to a minimum, and the match was relatively straightforward with the babyfaces going over clean and in dominant fashion, which was a refreshing change of pace. I would love for that to spell the end of the program, but I fear this is only one of many tag team matches we'll see in the coming weeks.
Ariya Daivari def. Lince Dorado
This bout would have been a bore to sit through a few months ago, but Daivari has been built up very well as one of the Cruiserweight's division's lead heels as of late through his program with Jack Gallagher. I am highly anticipating their "I Forfeit" match tomorrow night on 205 Live. As for this match, it was well-wrestled and Dorado looked good in the first minutes he had to get some of his signature spots in.
The Club def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus by Disqualification
Why don't we see this aggressive side of The Club more often? I said it toward the end of their long-running rivalry with The New Day late last year that this version of The Club is absolute money. Instead, they're relegated to campy comedy and losing every other week. They worked well with Cesaro and Sheamus and it was an entertaining affair while it lasted. Using the "Dusty finish" with a pair of heels was weird, but if nothing else, it keeps the feud alive.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann vs. Tony Nese Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
Neville continues to be the best thing going in the Cruiserweight division with the way he carries himself and how he's actually credible after picking up so many wins over the last month. His mic skills have improved immensely as well and the little things such as attacking the babyfaces will help him garner more heat. I would not at all be opposed to him taking the title off Rich Swann at the Royal Rumble.
Big E def. Titus O'Neil For a Royal Rumble Match Spot
Compared to everyone else already announced for the Royal Rumble match, it feels like New Day are wasting three spots, and every spot is valuable because the 30 slots are being split between the two brands in addition to a surprise or two. This nonsense with O'Neil has been abysmal from the get-go and this segment was no exception. The subsequent match was meaningless as always, but at least something was on the line this time in the form of a spot in the Rumble match.
Bayley Interrupted Raw Women's Champion Charlotte Flair
Charlotte typically does a great job with her promos, but this one in particular fell flat with the live crowd for whatever reason. I appreciated what they were trying to do in playing off Bayley's history of being a wrestling fan and wanting to succeed in WWE, but the live crowd wasn't too responsive. That said, Bayley came off excellent here in ditching the happy-go-lucky stuff, marching down to the ring and going into serious mode. Their feud has been fairly underwhelming for me thus far, but this was a solid progression of it.
Cedric Alexander def. The Brian Kendrick
I was slightly surprised there wasn't much talk about Kendrick's recent feud with Tajiri on 205 Live, and even more surprised that Tajiri has yet to resurface on Raw. This was a fun little match, but since it happened so late in the show, I can't blame the audience for sitting on their hands throughout the bout. If you think about it, the angle with Alicia Fox has been realistic with Fox not knowing what she wants and Alexander thankfully standing his ground and not taking her back so easily. That's how relationships work, people (okay, I'm solely speaking from experience here).
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, United States Champion Chris Jericho and Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn
Needless to say, Reigns and Rollins vs. Owens and Jericho has been done to death in the past, yet somehow I wasn't sick of seeing this match simply because of the additions of Zayn and Strowman and how their feud has been engaging for me. All six Superstars had awesome chemistry together and it was a very entertaining main event with the right finish. I assumed Reigns would get his win back from last week, but that wasn't the case. Even better, Owens got to close out the show by putting Reigns through a table! It's so sad I'm excited about a world champion being booked properly, but I'll take whatever I can get from these Raw writers.
I might be alone on this, but I thoroughly enjoyed this edition of Raw and thought it was one of the best shows Raw has produced in a while. Now, was it perfect from start to finish? Absolutely not, but the build for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view was well done and the good seemed to outweigh the bad. And oh yeah, Kurt Angle is heading into the WWE Hall of Fame! Oh, it's true! I'll be watching that video package back at least a hundred more times until WrestleMania weekend. Fingers crossed Raw can pull off another bearable show next week as the Rumble quickly approaches.
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