Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar Addressed Universal Champion Goldberg
If you're going to open Raw with a promo (which I constantly dread), this is the way to do it. We didn't hear too much from Heyman last week, and his promo also didn't overstay its welcome this week. He was straight to the point in addressing Goldberg and the upcoming title match while Lesnar bounced around menacingly. My only issue with this was that WWE didn't advertise Lesnar for Raw ahead of time like they should have.
Sasha Banks def. Dana Brooke
We saw way too much of this match last year, but I didn't mind this because it accomplished a few different things. Of course, the in-ring action was completely inconsequential, but firstly, Banks built momentum heading into her upcoming Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania. Secondly, Brooke finally stood up to Charlotte, which the crowd surprisingly responded favorably to. Raw needs more faces in its women's division, especially once Banks inevitably turns, so this was fine. I was hoping Emma would attack Brooke, but no such luck.
Tony Nese and The Brian Kendrick def. TJ Perkins and Akira Tozawa
It looks like we'll be receiving yet another Fatal 5-Way on 205 Live tomorrow night, but I can't complain because the last one was excellent, not to mention this one coming up will crown a new No. 1 contender to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania. However, it's pretty predictable Austin Aries will win (as he should) because the other four don't come close to being on his level. Kendrick and Tozawa have their little thing going, but Nese is a glorified jobber. I understand that's why he won here, but does anyone honestly view him as a legitimate threat to the title?
United states Champion Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe by disqualification
This match was teased at the start of last week's show, so I was looking forward to seeing it eventually. Unfortunately, as a match, this was disappointing, but I can't say it wasn't successful in furthering the feuds involved. WWE held off on giving Jericho his revenge against Owens, and hopefully they won't pull the trigger on that until they go one-on-one. Besides, I'm sure we'll see this match in some form or fashion again before the Show of Shows.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus in a Raw Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match Ended in a No Contest
Raw's tag team division hasn't done anything for me in many months and this match was no exception. It was fine for what it was, but the ending outcome was incredibly obvious, so that didn't help matters. This wasn't a long match, but I was still bored by it knowing what would happen. Making it a Triple Threat tag team title match at 'Mania was the right call, but it's a shame quite a few fans aren't invested in this division whatsoever.
Roman Reigns def. Jinder Mahal; Shawn Michaels Confronted Reigns
Mahal lasted longer against Reigns than Lesnar did against Goldberg at Survivor Series. Think about that for a second. At any rate, this was a simple squash match, but what happened afterward was more compelling. Michaels showing up brought the crowd back to life and I enjoyed their exchange. No, I doubt Reigns is turning in his feud with Undertaker, but I'm glad officials aren't ignoring the fact he will be booed and they've portrayed him as the heel thus far (that "retirement" line will undoubtedly get the internet talking). That said, Braun Strowman laying out Reigns was completely unnecessary. Why bother revisiting that rivalry so close to 'Mania?
Austin Aries def. Ariya Daivari
I truly never thought the day would come where Aries was wrestling on Raw, so this was pretty damn cool. I'm so happy he's being prominently featured in the Cruiserweight division and hopefully he can break out and do bigger and better things down the line. This was what I wanted to see from Aries on 205 Live last week with him showcasing his skills, so this was an instance where I was content with the match not being all that competitive.
Big Show def. Titus O'Neil
Well, it's official: Show is not facing Shaq at WrestleMania 33 and will be competing in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal instead. I was only one of five or so people pulling for that match over the years, but you have to feel for Show, who was really lobbying for that match because it likely would have been his final big 'Mania matchup. Meanwhile, this was a waste of time and probably would have been better off in one of the first two hours or not happening at all.
Raw Women's Champion Bayley def. Nia Jax by Disqualification (Non-title)
As a big Bayley fan myself, I can't help but be underwhelmed by her Raw Women's title reign up to this point. She's been booked like such a loser that it's hard for fans to buy into her as being credible. And no, that's not the nature of her character because she was an underdog in NXT and didn't lose many (if any) matches during an eight month span while champion. Jax can't be entering the title match at 'Mania after this attack, right? And if not, what purpose did this serve? This was a lose-lose situation all around in my opinion.
Triple H Attacked Seth Rollins
It was about damn time Foley grew a set of balls and didn't back down from Stephanie or Triple H. I liked that Foley brought up how Stephanie flat-out lied to him about being in cahoots with HHH late last summer, a storyline that has been largely forgotten since then. This was the best Foley has come across in his entire run as general manager, which I assume is nearing its end. Additionally, the subsequent Rollins and HHH brawl was brilliant. Rollins shouldn't be getting his revenge over HHH until WrestleMania, and their match has to be a lock now that they have gotten physical with each other.
The ending to this show saved it from being a total disaster. Granted, several storylines were progressed heading into WrestleMania and there was some solid wrestling as well, but there was also plenty of filler and the three hours dragged on and on. On the whole, this was a fairly dull show, but I appreciate the effort they've put into making me care about a few of the feuds going on at the moment. Two more Raw episodes remain for WWE to sell viewers who aren't currently convinced the show will be worth it, on the event.
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