By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Roman Reigns Interrupted Stephanie McMahon
I feel like we've seen this same segment over a hundred times before even if we haven't. On the bright side, they kept it relatively short and sweet as they should have. Officials had to know that Reigns was going to get booed in Philadelphia, and yes, it was the same city that cheered him when he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship back in December. I don't think WWE did any harm by announcing that Triple H wasn't there since he isn't as big of a draw as Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker anyway. It's worth noting Reigns entered through the crowd again, so it looks like his days of coming out in the crowd are done. Twas time for a change.
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. AJ Styles (Non-title)
Coming off their exceptional clash on SmackDown last week, I held out hope for a future rematch, and thankfully, we didn't have to wait long at all! It was so refreshing to see their match go longer than the average Raw match and they more than made the most of it by producing a phenomenal matchup. Styles vs. Owens has "world title program" written all over it. The match ended the same way it did on SmackDown with Chris Jericho serving as a distraction, but it furthered the feud between the two nicely. I also really enjoyed the post-match promo with Owens, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Sami Zayn and the seamless transition into the Triple Threat match announcement for later on in the night.
WWE Tag Team Champion Big E def. Rusev
The New Day's entertaining antics can be hit or miss most weeks, and I'm just not feeling their chemistry (or lack thereof) with League of Nations. Kofi Kingston's one-liner about Alberto Del Rio not being what he once was was funny (albeit because it was true), but the rest of the back-and-forth fell flat for this viewer. They contested a good match, but it was largely dull up until the final few minutes when they picked up the pace. League of Nations has zero momentum. How does WWE expect anyone to take them as serious threats to the WWE Tag Team Championship come WrestleMania?
The Social Outcasts Attacked Big Show
The build for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has been pretty poor for the past two years, but the build for this year's installment has essentially been nonexistent. We're less than two weeks away from WrestleMania and Big Show, Kane and The Social Outcasts are the only six of the 30 men in the match advertised. This was absolutely awful. I couldn't care less about Kane and Show being involved despite Show having won last year's Battle Royal, something they haven't brought up on TV at all in almost a year.
Chris Jericho def. Fandango
Ugh, I would have rather not been reminded of this meaningless match from one of the worst WrestleManias in recent memory. Although it was fine while it lasted, the crowd was obviously waiting for Styles to interrupt similar to how Jericho did earlier in the evening, and I'm glad it didn't result in an upset loss for Jericho. It would have been one thing if he faced a lovable loser, but I'm sure half the audience didn't know Fandango was still employed when they showed him in the ring. Styles' post-match promo left a lot to be desired, but I'm very excited for their WrestleMania match.
Stardust vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder in a No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match For the Intercontinental Championship Ended in a No Contest
Okay, the match was a total waste considering the ending outcome was never in doubt, but it was well worth it for Owens' one-liners and hysterical commentary. I figured we would get some sort of multi-man match at WrestleMania with Owens, Zayn, Ziggler and Miz, but adding Stardust, Sin Cara and Ryder into the mix is so stupid. Who the hell cares about those guys? And who's going to be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? Owens vs. Zayn one-on-one is the money match at 'Mania, but a seven-man Ladder match for the second year in a row.
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Natalya (Non-title)
I loved the match these two had at WWE Roadblock last weekend, which is why I wouldn't have gone back to it so quickly, especially on an episode of Raw where it was apparent they weren't going to get the time they deserved. They had a nice little match in the time they were allotted, but sadly, the crowd sat on their hands for it. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch didn't say anything out of the ordinary on commentary, but the bout at WrestleMania should still be stellar.
Bubba Ray Dudley def. R-Truth
This was just about as random as Bubba's match with Goldust on SmackDown from last week. Are they feuding with Golden Truth or with The Usos? And I sure as hell hope this doesn't mean they're being added to the match. No one cares about Truth, so consequently, no one cared about this match. If nothing else, the post-match attack from The Usos was well done and it looks like their match will be changed to a Table match in the near future.
Mr. McMahon Made an Announcement Regarding Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
I've been saying for weeks that this match was in need of an extra stipulation, so I'm happy they did so with this segment. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's more obvious than ever that Undertaker is winning. He was my pick to come out on top before and this announcement only fueled that belief. Basically, everything changes if Shane wins, but WWE will stay exactly the same if 'Taker wins. So, why would anyone want Undertaker to win?
Braun Strowman def. Dean Ambrose by Disqualification
I was surprised when Vince's promo didn't go longer than it did, but then I realized we still had this match to go. It would have been worthless anyway, but what was the point in having it be the main event? To remind viewers that The Wyatt Family are losers? Because that was all I got out of this ultimately. Keep in mind that The Social Outcasts, Ryder, Sin Cara and Stardust have a WrestleMania match before they do. Not even Paul Heyman on commentary could save this from being a total disaster. Not exactly the best way to close a rather boring show.
I got a good feeling about the show following the enjoyable first hour, but it was all downhill from that point forward. Nothing exciting came out of the subsequent two hours and the WrestleMania hype was lackluster. And this is coming from someone who is genuinely amped for the event! This wasn't the show WWE needed to get people in the 'Mania mood. We still have one more week until The Show of Shows, so here's hoping WWE can deliver a strong go-home show to make that happen.
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