By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Shane McMahon Interrupted The Undertaker
Following a lackluster build for their WrestleMania match, they desperately needed to deliver a strong segment here to get fans amped for the match and they certainly succeeded. They kept their back-and-forth on the mic short, sweet and to the point and the subsequent brawl was excellent. I was surprised to see Shane actually connect with the flying elbow through the commentary table, but it made for an awesome spot and the Brooklyn crowd ate it up. This is exactly what the episode needed to set the right precedent for the rest of the night.
Zack Ryder def. Chris Jericho
The "Y-2-Jackass" chants have been pretty lame, but everything else about the AJ Styles-Jericho feud has been great and I'm happy to hear their match is finally official for WrestleMania. I was pulling for an Iron Man or Ultimate Submission match of some sort, but I'm actually kind of glad it will be a standard singles match considering all the other gimmick matches on the card. Ryder scoring the upset victory was a pleasant surprise and he was the perfect person to benefit from it since fans need to be able to take him seriously in the upcoming Intercontinental Championship Ladder match.
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Becky Lynch (Non-title)
Charlotte and Lynch have always had very good chemistry together and this was another quality contest from them. Lynch has come a long way in the last few months that she would have been a threat to the Divas Championship regardless of whether she won or lost here. Sadly, Sasha Banks wasn't on commentary and her role was kept limited afterward. As I've said several times before, I'm anticipating this match more than a majority of the card and I expect all three women to have a phenomenal performance on Sunday.
Big Show and Kane def. The Social Outcasts by Disqualification
I saw this exact same match at the Main Event taping last week and had zero desire to see it again. I was glad it was basically over before it began, but at the same time, it was a waste. We got the post-match preview of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal that I figured we would and pretty much everyone you would think would be in it, is. Big Show and Kane are the odds-on favorites to win, though throwing the hometown hero Mark Henry a bone with a victory would be cool.
Roman Reigns Attacked WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H
Triple H's promo was too similar to his promo from two weeks ago to feel fresh. He was able to garner genuine heat, but I sat on my hands waiting for him to stop talking and/or for Reigns to come out. Ultimately, he did and they were smart to not give too much away for their match. Typically, Reigns was booed out the building by Brooklyn, but he deserves credit for being extra aggressive as of late. As for a possible heel from Big Dog, I'll believe it when I see it.
WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston def. Alberto Del Rio
It's a good thing The New Day are as over as they are because I likely wouldn't have cared about this program otherwise. Then again, with the tag titles not being defended in the Handicap match, I don't care much as it is. Kingston and Del Rio produced a well-wrestled match, but it didn't make me any more excited for their Handicap match and League of Nations have zero momentum. By the way, how sweet was it to see Jonathon Coachman back on Raw?
United States Champion Kalisto def. Konnor (Non-title)
These two had a fun match against each other on last week's Superstars, but this bout wasn't designed to be anything more than a quick squash for Kalisto going into his title defense versus Ryback. It's nice that they bothered to further that feud on the show this week unlike last week, but I still don't get the feeling people give two craps about it. At the very least, it will be on the Kickoff show where it belongs.
Dean Ambrose Interrupted Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
Once again, Heyman cut a gem of a promo regarding Ambrose vs. Lesnar and why it should prove to be one of the most must-see matches at the event. The whole program has been well-built, but having Ambrose come out, pick out weapons from underneath the ring and leave was strange as it didn't feel like the last thing we should see from them before WrestleMania. However, I must admit that Ambrose completely ignoring Lesnar as he walked away was comical.
Emma def. Paige
These two had a hell of a match two years back at NXT Arrival and have plenty of history that I don't think the commentators acknowledged (maybe they did and I just wasn't paying attention). They made the most of the time they were allotted and Emma scoring a rare win on Raw was a refreshing change of pace. Who in the hell thought it was wise to have Eva Marie return as a babyface in Brooklyn? Mind-boggling.
Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and Sin Cara def. Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens, The Miz and Stardust
I didn't mind this match as much as most people did, but I can't say I blame the crowd for attempting to hijack it with their chants. The main focus in the Ladder match is on Zayn and Owens, and by the time they got to their encounter at the end, the crowd was ready to move on. I can't stress enough how asinine it is that we're getting a seven-man Ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania when the one-on-one rivalry is right there with Zayn and Owens.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H and Roman Reigns Brawled
I was wondering in the second half of the show what WWE had planned for the closing segment, and as soon as it was announced that The Authority was coming back out, I rolled my eyes. Why? We already saw them earlier in the evening and even in a backstage segment with HHH attacking Reigns, so was this really necessary? It was a passable brawl and a significant improvement over the infamous "tug of war" we got last year from Reigns and Brock Lesnar yet underwhelming and slightly disappointing.
I guess WWE felt they didn't give Reigns and Triple H enough spotlight over the past few weeks so they decided to shove the hype for their match down our throats on the go-home edition of Raw leading into WrestleMania 32. Other than that, this was a solid show and I remain excited as well as optimistic for the event. I know I'm likely in the minority when I say that, but I truly feel WWE could deliver a strong show for the third straight year with expectations generally being low. We'll see Sunday. Enjoy WrestleMania week, folks!
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