Raw Women's Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks def. Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax
The pre-match promos from all four women were an appreciated attempt to make me care about the upcoming Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania, though Charlotte is far and away the best mic worker of the bunch at the moment. Banks could be better once she eventually turns heel. Charlotte questioning Banks' loyalty to Bayley was the story of the segment and I'm sure that will play a major factor in the Fatal 4-Way match. As for this matchup, they were given a ton of time and they made the most of it. We have seen pretty much every combination of these four women against each other in recent months, but it was a good tag match that benefited from opening the evening. It was also encouraging to see Bayley score a meaningful win for a change in clean fashion, though it was Jax who stood tall afterward. I didn't mind that because she has been an afterthought in this title program lately.
Austin Aries def. Noam Dar
First and foremost, I was disappointed to hear the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match would be relegated to the Kickoff show at WrestleMania. Perhaps it means they'll receive more time, but I was looking forward to that more than anything else and it isn't even on the main card anymore. Regardless, this was a really fun match, better than most Cruiserweight matches we tend to see on Raw. The hype for Aries vs. Neville has been excellent and I loved how Aries introduced his Last Chancery submission maneuver days ahead of their encounter.
Seth Rollins and Triple H Came Face-to-Face
Other than Neville vs. Aries, I have been highly anticipating this 'Mania match more than any other as the build has been extremely well done. They ran into a roadblock with Rollins' untimely injury, but I think that has actually added to their story of HHH claiming Rollins is weak without him. The back-and-forth between the two on the mic was strong and I've been pleased with how well Rollins has come off as a babyface since the feud started. The subsequent brawl was also a nice preview of what to expect at WrestleMania and I'm glad neither of them successfully executed the Pedigree on the other.
An Over-The-Top-Rope Challenge Descended Into Chaos
It's too little, too late to start making the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal mean something, but in all honesty, it wouldn't have made much of a difference had they started with the build to the bout earlier. I imagine everyone who participated in this Battle Royal (aka the undercard talent of Raw) will be taking part in the match, but the only thing worth noting coming out of this was that Braun Strowman has been officially announced as an entrant (sigh) and my money is on him to win it all.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville def. Jack Gallagher (Non-title)
While I thought the hype for the Cruiserweight title match from earlier in the evening was enough, I can't complain about a quality contest. This wasn't quite on the level of their fantastic Fastlane match, but it was better than a quick warm-up for Neville and more along the lines of being competitive. Gallagher looked credible in defeat and Neville was able to build momentum heading into his title defense on Sunday with a decisive victory. I could have done without the stuff with Aries and The New Day afterward, but it wasn't offensively bad.
The Undertaker Confronted Roman Reigns
I have liked parts of the build to Undertaker vs. Reigns at WrestleMania, but by and large, it has left a lot to be desired. This segment was a prime example of how it hasn't done much for me, no matter how good the match ultimately is. What is their real issue with each other anyway? It's obvious WWE won't go all the way with turning Reigns heel, so this just feels like a weak way of giving him a big win at WrestleMania before putting him back in the Universal Championship picture. The crowd was responsive toward this, yet their wasn't anything particularly memorable about it.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Club vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
We've seen this match so many times in the past that I had no desire to see it again. What we saw instead was way better than the bout could have been with all three teams brawling with ladders. It's no secret that I haven't cared about the build-up to the tag title match at WrestleMania, but throwing ladders into the mix definitely enhances my excitement for it. Now there's a decent chance it could steal the show, especially if it kicks off the show.
Sami Zayn def. Kevin Owens in a No Disqualification Match to Qualify For the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
I think we all knew how this would going down, but the predictability didn't hinder my enjoyment of the matchup. I really wish they would keep Zayn and Owens apart for an extended period of time, but they worked a different style than usual with the No Disqualification rules and it was an entertaining affair as a result. Chris Jericho furthered his feud with Owens by costing him the contest while Samoa Joe's interference leads me to believe he'll soon be joining the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as well to join Zayn.
Universal Champion Goldberg Attacked Brock Lesnar
Paul Heyman's promos tend to blend together more often than not nowadays, but this was an above-average promo from him hyping up the Universal Championship match for 'Mania. Goldberg's mic work was kept short and sweet as it should have been and that Spear to Lesnar on the outside of the ring looked fantastic. I assumed they would brawl a bit, but it was wise to merely wet the appetite of fans before their mega match, even though it is bound to be short-lived. After getting his ass handed to him here, it is all but confirmed Lesnar goes over and takes the title on Sunday.
We have sat through some underwhelming go-home shows in recent years, and say what you will about how lackluster this road to WrestleMania has been, but this was a hell of a final edition of Raw before WrestleMania in my opinion. Of course, I'm biased because I'll be in attendance for the event (more on that shortly), but this show certainly made me more amped up than I already was for the pay-per-view, at least for the Raw side of things. WrestleMania 33 could very well go either way, but here's hoping it delivers and exceeds expectations with all the talk from fans of it potentially being a dud. That said, my review will likely be up on Monday, and my on-site report for NXT TakeOver: Orlando on Saturday night will be delayed as well. Enjoy the show, folks!
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