Roman Reigns Interrupted Raw General Manager Kurt Angle
As I said two weeks ago, don't be fooled by WWE's desperate attempt to get you to cheer Reigns. I do appreciate that they are trying to make this storyline feel as real as possible, but it is exactly that: a storyline. Lesnar has appeared as advertised at recent house shows, but it's entirely possible they hold off on having him show up until WrestleMania at this point. Reigns confronting Vince McMahon himself backstage was a nice touch, but I found it comical when he called Lesnar "one of Vince's boys" given Vince's plan for the past year has been to do another Reigns championship coronation at WrestleMania 34.
Sasha Banks def. Sonya Deville
As a match, this was similar to Bayley vs. Mandy Rose last week in that Banks carried Deville through most of it, but Deville held her own and it was a decent outing. Once again, though, the real focus was on the tension teased between Banks and Bayley. While Bayley prevented Absolution from interfering during the bout, she walked off before she could help Banks against Absolution afterward. I hope this is all a swerve and Bayley ends up trusting Banks only for Banks to turn on her and go heel.
Miz TV with Intercontinental Champion The Miz, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor Descended Into Chaos
Miz is the quintessential heel and is so easy to detest, as he played his part remarkably well here. He attempted to stir the pot between Rollins and Balor by bringing up their SummerSlam 2016 encounter, but I'm glad Rollins and Balor weren't dumb enough to fall for it initially. I'm also glad they went at each other anyway, effectively setting the stage for their match on this show.
Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The Miztourage Went in a No Contest (Non-title)
I fully expected The Miztourage to score the upset victory and punch their ticket to WrestleMania to contend for the Raw Tag Team Championship. Okay, I kid, I kid, but this was perfect in being more of an angle than an actual match because nobody would have cared. When the entire Raw tag team division emerged from the back and began brawling with The Bar, I feared we would in for a multi-team title match at WrestleMania. Thankfully, as we learned later in the night, that would not be the case.
John Cena Challenged The Undertaker
Needless to say, the idea that Cena won't have a road to WrestleMania is absolutely ridiculous. We've known for months that he'd facing The Undertaker at the event, so why not start building toward it sooner? Despite that, this was a strong promo from Cena that the crowd was hot for. Personally, I believe the ship sailed on Cena vs. Undertaker a while ago, but there's no denying that a majority of the casual audience wants to see it and that it's a money matchup.
Elias Blamed the WWE Universe
This was completely uncharacteristic of Elias, but that was what I liked about this. Instead of doing his usual shtick, he sold the beating he endured by Braun Strowman last week and walked out on the WWE Universe. I don't know what's next for him, but I surely hope it isn't the continuation of a feud with Strowman. He'd be better off in a non-wrestling role at WrestleMania, where he can stand out much more and perhaps rub shoulders with a notable name such as The Rock.
Finn Balor def. Seth Rollins
These two always work well together, so it was no surprise that they produced yet another entertaining encounter here. I thought there was a chance Miz would interfere and attack them both as revenge for what happened earlier in the evening, so I was happy we were treated to a clean finish instead. Balor and Rollins are on rolls right now, so the loss hardly hurts Rollins and instead gives Balor a bit of a boost.
Asuka def. Mickie James
It's well-documented that Asuka's English isn't the greatest, and even though she wasn't given much to say during her pre-match promo, it was still pretty rough. At any rate, I loved the match Asuka and James had at NXT TakeOver: Toronto back in 2016, so it was cool that they were able to get some time here and produce an equally enjoyable matchup. Asuka went over decisively as she should have, and I guess she'll be appearing on Raw through WrestleMania although it'll ultimately be her vs. SmackDown Live's Charlotte Flair.
Nia Jax def. Joan King
Jax is back to squashing local athletes so she can showcase her dominance, so in that respect, this served its purpose. Afterward, footage was shown of Bliss and James talking crap about her backstage, solidifying the split of Bliss and Jax in the process. I realize the microphone in there was supposed to be live, but what about the hidden camera? Anyway, she has been undergoing a gradual face turn for weeks, so this basically made it official. Anyone else getting Triple H-Batista 2005 vibes from this storyline?
Braun Strowman Won a Raw Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal
You had to know this is what Strowman had in mind for his road to WrestleMania when he put the entire Raw roster on notice earlier on. Everyone involved in the Battle Royal ganged up on Strowman at various points, but it was obvious he was winning because he is a far bigger star than the other competitors. I honestly figured this would be over quick, but a good portion of it was competitive until Strowman ran roughshod at the end and eliminated everyone. The rumor is Elias will be teaming with Strowman, but a returning Samoa Joe would a pleasant surprise as well.
With Fastlane over and done with, it was high time Team Red started locking in the remainder of their matchups for WrestleMania, and that was the goal of this edition of Raw. They succeeded. On the whole, it was an above-average episode with a number of highlights and the positives outweighed the negatives. They also hyped up Bliss vs. Asuka for next week in addition to The Ultimate Deletion, which I am more excited for than anything else. This show was light on wrestling, mind you, but it did its job in selling me on this year's Show of Shows. The best part is that we still have a little under four weeks to go until the event.
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