Written by M.J. Rawls
Ok, ok, so the reaction to the Raw PPV Fastlane was…strong, let’s say. Given some of the booking decisions, the road to Wrestlemania is paved with a lot of head scratching. RAW aimed to be an official primer to lead us to the biggest show of the year and set us some of the matches.
The show started off with Chris Jericho doing a promo and getting interrupted by Kevin Owens. Owens, obviously ornery from Jericho being a distraction, said that the entire friendship was a sham to use Jericho. From there, they set us a US Title match at Wrestlemania (hey, look at that – we are making lesser titles matter). They get into a brawl and Samoa Joe jumps in, followed by Sami Zayn.
Out of nowhere, we have a KO vs Sami match. I for sure thought this was going to be a tag match. KO kills Sami with two pop-up powerbombs for the win. I will say, I do like the heel KO that’s going here. The Chris Jericho/KO match at Mania is going to be good and hopefully, will give the US Title some muster.
Rich Swann vs. Neville for the Cruiserweight Title
The cruiserweights have had back-to-back nights where they have killed it. The crowd was even into this one. A good amount of back and forth, Neville wins with another finishing move, his submission, Rings of Saturn for the win. They have been building Austin Aries for a while, but now, with Aries attacking Neville, we have a good cruserweight title match for Wrestlemania. Good build here.
With so many mixed reactions to Goldberg winning the title at Fastlane, I was interested to see what the reaction would be in a wrestling town. When he came down, there were some Goldberg chants, but some boos, and then. Here come the CM Punk chants. They immediately sent Paul Heyman out – good stop gap. To everybody’s surprise, Brock Lesnar is there. He F-5’s Goldberg which is Goldberg’s first bump in a mighty long time and we are off to the races. The crowd was hot for the confrontation, but overall, it seemed lukewarm. Let’s see how they build this with both guys not being present until the last RAW before Mania.
Tag Team Title Match: Enzo and Cass vs. The Club:
This match is basically a rehash of the night before at Fastlane. Saying that, Cesaro and Sheamus get involved and lay everyone out. There’s a number one contenders match set for next week. Winner gets to take on The Club at Wrestlemania. Between that, Stephanie comes to chew Mick Foley out again.
Akira Tozawa versus Ariya Daivari: a quick match in which Tozawa looked good with the win. He then calls out Brian Kendrick to set up another feud for 205 Live.
In the “we don’t know what to do with the New Day” segment of Raw: they came down to make jokes and tease about their ice cream. The Shining Stars came down and lose in an extremely fast squash match.
Bayley comes out and has some reservations about her title win. This is twice that she has not won clean with Sasha’s help. Foley comes down and asks her to choose who her Wrestlemania opponent. Sasha comes down and make her case. Charlotte with Dana Brooke comes down and makes her case as well. Stephanie’s music hits and first, overrules Foley to gives Charlotte a rematch at Wrestlemania…then reneges and makes a match for Raw. If Sasha could be Bayley, the match at Wrestlemania is a triple-threat. You got all of that?
Sasha vs. Bayley: This was a good TV match. I would have rather them wait until Wrestlemania, but you can expect a good match from these two. Charlotte fails at interfering in the match and Sasha ends up winning with the Bank Statement. Ok, so…where does Nia fall into this?
Oh wait, we have another vignette for Emma. This time, evil Emma is coming back. Hopefully we see her before the next Wrestlemania build.
Triple H interview: Now, Seth Rollins is not a given for Wrestlemania. In fact, there is a lot of risk of him coming back so fast. Let me tell you, Triple H can sell a heel promo. There was a little dig at CM Punk (they were in Chicago) and it made you hate Triple H even more. When Seth does come back, he will probably be a bigger babyface like he should have been from the start.
Samoa Joe vs. Chris Jericho: Good match here. It does two things for both men; Joe still looks like a monster because of the count out victory and Jericho does not look too bad because of the Codebreaker at the end.
Braun Strowman walks down to the ring with every intention to kill Roman Reigns. The Undertaker music hits and there was a brief stare down between the two. Braun then backs away and Roman comes down. Roman mentions that it’s “his yard now,” and they both look at the Wrestlemania sign. Boom, choke-slam to Roman and the fans go home happy.
Overall, this was a good episode of Raw. A lot better than recent weeks. Now, there’s always that mid second hour lull, but they did a better job in setting up the matches for Wrestlemania on the raw brand. Still should figure out what to do with the Tag Titles and Women’s Championship, however.