United States Champion Chris Jericho Called Out Kevin Owens
I'm really glad Jericho isn't back to his old tricks now that he's a babyface again and is more or less the same character he was as a heel. He and Owens had a strong verbal exchange with Owens explaining his actions as to why he betrayed Jericho in the first place and Jericho laying the groundwork for their WrestleMania match. I honestly forgot Jericho was still the United States Champion and it made storyline sense for Owens to accept Jericho's WrestleMania challenge as long as the gold was up for grabs. The brawl that ensued between the two in addition to Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn was well done and set up two matches for later in the show.
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn
Not only have we seen this match so many times over the past year, what bothers me the most is that it's thrown on free television for no apparent reason. I realize it tied in from the opening segment, but almost all of their encounters should be advertised in advance because it's a high-profile match. As always, they contested a pretty good matchup and I liked how Owens went over in decisive fashion. The fact he took his time decimating Zayn helped develop that aggressive edge he's had going lately.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville def. Rich Swann
Although their Royal Rumble match was solid, I thought Neville and Swann had an even better bout on this show. That's extra impressive considering they haven't interacted at all in over a month with the exception of a short backstage altercation at Fastlane. Swann wasn't all smiles here as he normally is and their match was a ton of fun. I'm glad they blew this feud off so they can transition into a Neville vs. Austin Aries program, which should be sensational. The Chicago crowd was really responsive for the post-match segment and it's easily the biggest match the Cruiserweight division can do right now.
Brock Lesnar Attacked Universal Champion Goldberg
Goldberg undoubtedly received more boos here than he has at any other point since returning to the company, but I honestly figured it would be worse because they were in Chicago and a majority of fans weren't happy with the ending to Fastlane. His promo was short, sweet and to the point, while Paul Heyman managed to sell me on the match for WrestleMania with his terrific mic work. Goldberg eating an F5 was a refreshing change of pace given he hadn't taken a bump in 13 years (seriously).
Raw Tag Team Champions The Club def. Enzo Amore and Big Cass by Disqualification
The Fastlane match these two teams had wasn't too much of note, and this match was along the same lines. There wasn't anything technically wrong with it, but you could see the ending outcome coming from a mile away as soon as Cesaro and Sheamus came down to ringside. The non-finish was fine in that it prevented Enzo and Cass from suffering another defeat and I assume we'll see some sort of multi-team match for the tag titles at WrestleMania.
Akira Tozawa def. Ariya Daivari
There's typically two Cruiserweight matches on every episode of Raw, and thus Tozawa was probably officials' best bet to get Chicago to care because he's so charismatic and can get a crowd engaged in his matches. Daivari sold well for his offense and this was basically a nice little showcase for Tozawa. His post-match promo calling out The Brian Kendrick wasn't half-bad and they piqued my interest with what they might be doing on 205 Live on Tuesday night.
The New Day def. The Shining Stars
New Day are directionless. What else is new? On the bright side, the match didn't run longer than two minutes, so I can't complain. They also kept the silliness to a minimum and killed time the right way because the Chicago crowd was into their act unlike most audiences these days. It seems New Day won't open their ice cream box (or whatever the hell it is) so so as The Solomonster recently pitched, is it possible they do the big reveal at WrestleMania and Vanguard 1 flies out instead?
Sasha Banks def. Raw Women's Champion Bayley (Non-title)
It was weird Bayley went from not caring about how she won at Fastlane and showing zero signs of regret on Raw Talk to then not being happy about it in this promo. However, it was better late than ever. She cut a better promo than she has in a while, but Stephanie McMahon emasculating Mick Foley yet again nearly ruined the segment. I was shocked they would give away Banks vs. Bayley for free on TV for the first time on the main roster, but they told a simple story with neither of them wanting to beat their best friend. Plus, I'm sure we'll see so many more matches between them in the future with Banks in the heel role. I wouldn't have had Bayley tap out, and you knew Charlotte Flair wasn't going to be left out of the title picture at WrestleMania. Still, couldn't they have done a disqualification or something at Fastlane to keep Charlotte's streak intact?
Triple H Addressed Seth Rollins
I still say not even WWE yet knows whether Rollins will be ready to go by WrestleMania. He will be appearing in some form or fashion, we know that, but in what capacity? HHH's promo here was decent, but it wasn't anything we haven't heard from him before. They're merely biding time until they find out more regarding Rollins' status. Then again, WrestleMania is a mere month away, so they need to confirm the match for the card soon if it's indeed happening.
Samoa Joe def. United States Champion Chris Jericho by Count-out (Non-title)
This is a match I have waited many years to see, and while I realize there were probably those who were holding out hope for a classic contest between the two, there will come a time for that. Right now, it's all about establishing Joe as a ruthless, calculating monster heel, so this match was successful in doing that. Fingers crossed Joe will have a meaningful program heading into WrestleMania and won't be trailing Triple H in his feud with Rollins. Joe deserves a match of his own on the blockbuster card.
Roman Reigns Confronted The Undertaker
You had to know they were closing the show with Undertaker returning once it was made clear that Braun Strowman was calling out Reigns in the last segment. That said, that didn't make this moment any less awesome. I had a small sliver of hope that Undertaker could be facing Strowman instead at WrestleMania, but no such luck. Reigns and 'Taker should be great as well, but Reigns needs to turn heel soon for the feud to work. This was a solid start in that direction and a fitting way to end the evening, though.
Needless to say, this was a way better effort from the red brand than Fastlane on Sunday, an absolutely atrocious event. Undertaker's anticipated comeback along with Aries attacking Neville, the Lesnar-Goldberg face-off and two WrestleMania matches being announced made this an above-average edition of Raw. Of course, the rowdy Chicago crowd made for an electric atmosphere as well and enhanced my enjoyment of the episode. WrestleMania can be an exceptional event if they can maintain his momentum in the weeks ahead.
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