Universal Champion Brock Lesnar Attacked Roman Reigns
WWE is desperately, and I mean desperately, trying to get you and the masses to feel sympathetic toward Reigns, and it simply isn't working. Granted, he wasn't booed nearly as loudly here as he normally is, but WWE's attempts to get him over as the conquering hero, again, aren't going to be successful. That said, this was another strong promo from Paul Heyman as well as another strong attack from Lesnar. He has looked absolutely relentless in his assaults on Reigns, so imagine how much more effective they would be if someone such as AJ Styles or Daniel Bryan was the target.
Nia Jax def. Mickie James
James allowed Bliss to escape Jax's wrath last week, so it was logical for Jax to get her hands on James this week. As a match, it was perfectly fine and served its purpose in giving Jax more momentum ahead of her Raw Women's Championship match with Bliss at WrestleMania. They're telling a simple story with them that the crowd is invested in, and that's all that matters.
Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander def. TJP and Drew Gulak
Although the quality of 205 Live has improved drastically over the last two months, you would never know that by watching this match. It was business as usual for the Cruiserweights. Drake Maverick was good on commentary and the wrestlers played their part by making the most of the time they were allotted, but this was no different than any other Cruiserweight matchup we have seen in the past on Raw, and that's a shame. They should really drive home how much more exciting the division is to watch nowadays.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz Hosted Miz TV with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor
I feared we would get a repeat of what we saw from Miz, Rollins and Balor on Miz TV a few weeks back with tension being teased between Rollins and Balor, but instead it was the opposite this time: dissension within the ranks of The Miztourage was hinted at, and it was very entertaining. Although it turned out to be a ruse, I still suspect that Miz will break away from them after WrestleMania once he loses the Intercontinental Championship and is drafted back to SmackDown Live.
Asuka def. Jamie Frost
I don't know if fans now view Asuka as any more of a threat to the SmackDown Women's Championship than she was before following this victory, but if nothing else, at least it was kept short and sweet and further established Asuka as dominant. Plus, it was a vast upgrade over Asuka's disappointing and boring affair against Alexa Bliss last week, so it was exactly what it needed to be.
Braun Strowman def. Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus
You had to know this match was coming after Strowman beat Cesaro last week. The in-ring work was decent albeit fairly predictable with Strowman overcoming the odds for the second straight week and getting one over on the tag team champs. In case you couldn't already tell, Strowman will likely hold off until WrestleMania to reveal who his partner is going to be.
Ronda Rousey Attacked Absolution
Rousey's mic skills are still a work in progress, but she was fine in this segment, and I was glad Paige did most of the talking for her. Her attack on Absolution, however, didn't blow me away. I'm really hoping that Rousey has more moves in her wrestling arsenal than what we've been seeing lately and she'll be able to go all out at WrestleMania. Perhaps officials want to limit her for now to ensure she doesn't get hurt before the big match. As for Absolution, I would complain about them being "buried" by Rousey, but let's face it: they haven't been a focal point on Raw in months.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows def. The Miztourage
I liked that this was set up earlier in the evening during Miz TV with the two teams brawling to the back, but it was beyond obvious that the match was designed to kill time and nothing more. As you could probably expect, this was every bit as lifeless as the Kickoff match they had at Elimination Chamber last month. There wasn't anything technically wrong with it, but the crowd sat on their hands because they were aware all four men are bound for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, so why bother giving a crap?
Elias def. Rhyno
Rhyno's first match back in WWE as part of NXT in February 2015 was against Elias, which Rhyno won. Elias returned the favor over three years later by beating him here (and boy, how the roles have been reversed). And that's all I got on this. I'm a big Elias fan, but this was a waste of time, and positioning it after the pointless tag team matchup was an odd move. It is interesting to note the commentators mentioned the possibility of Elias being Strowman's tag team partner, so that must mean he won't be.
John Cena def. Kane in a No Disqualification Match
I thought we would never have to endure another Cena vs. Kane match after their awful feud in early 2012, but here we are in 2018 with them facing each other in the Raw main event. The No Disqualification stipulation was definitely for the best, but I can't say that made the match much more enthralling for me. The live crowd enjoyed parts of it, but everyone was waiting for The Undertaker to show up, and that did not happen. They're teasing an answer from Undertaker next week, but that doesn't take away from how underwhelming of an ending this was to Raw.
Raw has been far from what I would consider a "hot" show on the road to WrestleMania, but the brand has produced a string of solid shows since right after the Royal Rumble. Unfortunately, this was the weakest episode in recent memory. The first two hours were average, but then the third hour fell off a damn cliff. There was an ample amount of hype for 'Mania, which I appreciated, but they truly need to deliver a hell of a go-home show next week to sell people on the event. It's a stacked and star-studded card on paper, but building anticipating is everything.
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