This week’s episode of Raw didn’t need a post-WrestleMania crowd, a “Superstar Shakeup”, or any random wrestler cameos to be solid. They just needed a storyline that could run for the entire episode, and a few quality wrestling matches. It’s as simple as that.
The fact that Roman Reigns wasn’t there, but was still apart of the overall story shows how well WWE is telling this Braun Strowman MONSTER tale.
Strowman heads up with Kurt Angle. I get a kick out of Strowman’s voice, and Roman didn’t show up after last week’s thrashing, so it was a decent opening segment.
Chris Jericho vs Samoa Joe w/Seth Rollins on Guest Commentary
Samoa Joe has been proving that all WWE TV matches are NOT automatic throwaways. Now that Kevin Owens has been shaken up over to Smackdown, I hope we get more Jeri-Joe in the future, as they seemed to have some chemistry, like most great wrestlers do.
Joe’s post-match promo on Seth highlights how great Joe can be on the mic. He knows how to tell a story while sounding like a bad ass, which isn’t for most WWE baddies to do.
Seth Rollins going full Nattie Neidhart, and using the word “bitch” in his retort. Sounded forced, but I bet the kids ate it up.
Braun killing Goldust and R-Truth set a nice little tone before the commercial break. Strowman’s Raw storylines feel like they were written in the late-90’s, which is a testament to how entertaining they are. Braun punking the referee after the break just further solidified my enjoyment of the angle.
The Club vs Enzo & Cass
Two funny tag teams, who have slowly built up a nice little rivalry. Cass throws Enzo into people like Roman throws Superman Punches… a lot. Gallows working Enzo’s shoulder looked as serious as anything on tonight’s Raw. Nothing like some technically sound brutality in this beautiful sport. Karl Anderson did a move that looked like a double-legged takedown, but Corey Graves called it a “picture perfect Spinebuster”. K.A. usually does a money Spinebuster, so I assume Enzo is what made this one look so turrible.
The finish had a lot of bodies flying around in dangerous-looking ways. Cass’ big boot on Gallows sent them both over the top rope, but both seemed to land fine. Anderson spiking Enzo off the top rope may not have been as clean of a landing, but once again this is Enzo we’re talking about here. I don’t know if he’s #WorseThanLuger, but he’s certainly sloppier.
Starting the hour with a Nia Jax promo package that is voiced solely by Michael Cole put a bad taste in my mouth. Cole makes ANYTHING hard to enjoy.
MIZ TV w/Dean Ambrose
Miz looking a lot like Danny Doring on this episode of Raw, but the “Dastardly One” never had Maryse on his arm.
Dean Ambrose went for the hometown cheap pops, which certainly doesn’t add to the “edgy” persona they want us to believe he has. It was effective in getting him a positive crowd reaction, though, which WWE babyfaces haven’t been known for lately.
The low-point of this segment was Miz saying “Zoombas” when he meant to say “Zubaz”. At least he got “fanny pack” right.
I really have no interest in this feud (again), and these goofs fumbling over eachother didn’t help.
They pulled me back into Raw by having Braun Strowman toss Kalisto into the garbage, and then Big Show stopping the terrorism. Seeing Big Show flying into Strowman was as shocking as all the times Braun killed Roman over the past weeks. A good wrestling tale told by athletic GIANTS is what this business is all about.
TJ Perkins vs Jack Gallagher w/Special Appearances by: Neville & Austin Aries
I’ll probably always be a TJ Perkins fan, but hearing his music instantly makes me think “I hate weight divisions in pro-wrestling”. Davids are supposed to face Goliaths! With the reactions I’ve seen on Twitter since his CWC run, I’m not shocked at all that WWE has Perkins turning heel. I dig that Neville is randomly becoming allied with Perkins, but I’m over all the “Game of Thrones” references on Raw. “The Hand of the King” for Perkins? “Kingslayer” for Seth Rollins is about enough of that for my tastes.
Austin Aries adds unlimited charisma to any segment he’s apart of. I loved seeing him pull up a chair next to Neville, so Neville had to move away from him out of disgust. They chose the right guys to be at the top of the 205 Division.
Jack Gallagher’s suicide dive onto the invisble man (and his own head) was a true BUMP. I’m glad it was used to get the match going, as opposed to being the moment where Gallagher met his demise.
Perkins clearly learned something with all his time opposite Kendrick, as he kicked the middle rope into Jack G.’s face to setup his finish. One of the better 205 Live segments ever on Raw.
TOZAWA starting a segment with Apollo Crews had me stoked for both of their prospects, but then Titus “I can’t get WWE to make an Elite Figure of Me” O’Neill showed up. Blah City. Titus said “get jiggy”… multiple times!
Hearing Matt Hardy cut a promo as a normal human being isn’t very fun. It didn’t help that Raw keeps using the “look off camera at the enemy” for every single backstage segment.
Fatal 4 Way for Women’s #1 Contendership (Sasha Banks v Mickie James v Alexa Bliss v Nia Jax)
I’m not sure why the in-thing for Women’s Wrestling is fake hair these days, but having a bunch of extra hair just flopping around during a match is pretty distracting. Add to this match a bunch of people just lying around on-camera, and you get a pretty boring bout.
The best ending they could come up with was Alexa’s midget self drop-kicking the gigantic Nia Jax out of the ring, and stealing her pinfall. I guess it works, but the replay didn’t help sell it. Alexa Bliss could run full speed at Nia Jax, and not move her an inch, so it’s hard to buy her just knocking Nia across (and out of) the ring.
Curt Hawkins vs Finn Balor
Curt Hawkins’ “Star Factory” promo made me laugh, had an X-Men reference, and set-up a match all in a matter of seconds. One of the more underrated hands on the WWE roster.
Finn showed Alexa how to Dropkick someone across the ring with a quickness in this one. Look at the “HEIGHTH” of that move, as Booker T said.
“Face of Jericho” promo. Find it on Youtube, maaaaaaan! I mean, there’s a Sunday Night Heat mention, and then THE DRIFTER drifted by! “Daffy Drifter Dandy” made THE LIST!
The feel of early-90’s WWF washed over me, as Bray Wyatt’s promo video came on following Jericho. Totally different in every way, but back-to-back. Bray Wyatt stays babbling, but it works. The music was a nice touch.
Alicia Fox proved she’s the worst actor/actress in the WWE, and that’s with Dana Brooke trying to top her in awfulness. Emma had to deliver the line about “seeing how good your balance is”, and somehow pulled it off.
Jeff Hardy w/Matt vs Cesaro w/Sheamus
Sheamus rocking the kilt seems like genius in regards to his #TOYSPOTTING future. The more you change, the more figures you get. It’s funny because Sheamus was slowly becoming more of a face due to hanging out with Cesaro, but then the Hardy Boyz showed up, and it feels like Cesaro is starting to work more like an evil-doer. This is probably for the best, as Cesaro will never be a World Heavyweight Champion as a babyface, but I feel like cocky heel Cesaro could be a World Champ.
Jeff Hardy is still in “IDGAF” Mode when it comes to putting his body on the line. Cesaro slide him face first out of the ring, and it was as rough as Gallagher landing on his head earlier in the show.
I’m not sure what’s more impressive, how many variations of the European Uppercut that Cesaro can do, or how hard hitting all of them are. This match had a pretty straight-forward finish, with Jeff Hardy hitting a Swanton for the win. The friendly handshakes afterwards are hopefully just a precursor for the opposite when these two teams face-off at the PAYBACK PPV.
Heath Slater and Rhyno, who will now be known as “SNACKS” from here on out, had a fun little promo before Braun scared them to shut up. Any chance for Heath Slater to yell “BABAAAAY” is a good use of TV time, in my opinion.
Braun Strowman vs The Big Show
This match was more brawl than technical, like their last Raw main event. It was nice to see that these two can work multiple styles together. Big Show’s baseball slide alone makes this worth the watch, but there was a ton more to see than that. They may have went a little overboard with the arm-drags, but they produce things I’ve never seen in the ring, so it’s all good.
This song put Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” in my head for the duration. Only substitute “Tokyo” for “Ohio”. They slowly built up to the ring collapse, and I loved every second of it. Each near-fall, each time the camera pulled back to hint at what was to come, it was all brilliant. They somehow one-upped their last Raw Main Event, which I did NOT expect. Having to break the ring is probably why they saved this for AFTER WrestleMania.
Top 3 Stars of Raw
- * Braun F’N Strowman: Shows that an athletic hoss running around killing other wrestlers is as timeless as breathing air.
- ** The Big Show: Changed the way I look at him the second he ran through Braun Strowman mid-rampage. He’s the TOP babyface on WWE’s TOP show in 2017, which shows how much talent this GIANT has.
- *** Chris Jericho: Drink him in, as he may not be on Raw after PAYBACK, maaaaaaaan…