WWE Paid Tribute to Bruno Sammartino
WWE also does an amazing job with their tribute videos and this was no exception. I was happy Sammartino received the ten bell salute as well given how much he meant to the business and how WWE likely wouldn't be around today if it wasn't for his contributions and his historic WWE Championship reigns. Even at 82-years-old, I was stunned he passed because he was always in such phenomenal shape. You'll be missed, Bruno.
Roman Reigns Confronted Universal Champion Brock Lesnar
Heyman's glorious gloating of Lesnar's shockingly successful title defense at WrestleMania would have been better the next night when it was still fresh in the minds of fans, but I loved it, nevertheless. He attempted to explain why Roman Reigns is getting yet another shot at the Universal Championship despite Lesnar beating him decisively, but even he couldn't make sense of it. Reigns' response was kept short and sweet, which was definitely for the better, and I thought this segment did an effective job of hyping up the main event for Greatest Royal Rumble.
Elias def. Bobby Roode
Sure, this was a fresh match and all, but I largely found it to be boring, probably because there aren't any established issues between them. Plus, I don't assume they'll be feuding moving forward (other than Roode getting his win back at some point), so this more of a way to kill time than anything else. In fact, commentary spent most of the matchup promoting the 50-man Royal Rumble match this Friday, which both men will be a part of. Can Roode please turn heel now?
"Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt def. The Ascension
Oh, I'm sure The Ascension will light the Raw tag team division on fire now that they're on Monday nights. And yes, I say that with sarcasm. In all seriousness, I honestly think they'd be a good fit for The Woken Universe. I like the team of Hardy and Wyatt and enjoy their antics, but The Ascension currently do nothing for me. If nothing else, this allowed Hardy and Wyatt to continue building momentum before they vie for the Raw Tag Team Championship on Friday.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn Hosted The Sami & Kevin Show with Raw General Manager Kurt Angle
I guess this is supposed to fill the void Miz TV left behind, but if anyone can make another talk show entertaining, it's Owens and Zayn. They had some fun at Angle's expense, only for Angle to tease that himself, Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho would get their hands on them in the 50-man Rumble match. Angle also announced that Owens and Zayn would face Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley later on in the night.
Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler def. Titus Worldwide
McIntyre and Ziggler definitely give off a Shawn Michaels-Diesel vibe together, and although I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing, what I do know is that McIntyre is an absolute star. He had a solid showing here and his passionate post-match promo was excellent. We'll see how far these two guys go as a tandem, but there is money in McIntyre as a singles star eventually, heel or a babyface.
Chad Gable def. Jinder Mahal
The set-up for this match backstage was well done. Gable can be a real unexpected gem in the Superstar Shake-up if he's booked properly. He's an outstanding athlete and we saw some of that here in his outing against Mahal. They had a nice little match with Gable scoring the upset victory. I assume Mahal is losing to Jeff Hardy at Greatest Royal Rumble (or at least I hope he will), so it was weird for him to lose to Gable, but I'm happy Gable is already off to a strong start on Raw.
Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley def. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens
Strowman and Lashley should have been the team that won the Raw Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 34, not Strowman and "Nicholas." At any rate, this was a really fun tag team match that the crowd was hot for. Owens and Zayn got their comeuppance and sold Strowman and Lashley's offense like death. Both babyfaces are fairly directionless right now, but a Strowman vs. Lashley program could be cool if the latter turns heel in the near future.
Baron Corbin Attacked No Way Jose
I feared that Jose would be quickly fed to Corbin in Corbin's re-debut on Raw, so I was happy that didn't end up being the case. Instead, the contest never came to fruition and Corbin ambushed Jose on the stage after declaring that Jose wasn't worthy of his time. It's a decent undercard feud that gives both men something meaningful to do. Neither guy had anything going for them on their former shows, so I'd say this is a step up for them.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and Finn Balor def. The Miztourage
Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel approached Balor and Rollins separately earlier in the evening asking if they could join their respective stables, which was funny. Of course, this match was designed to be filler ahead of the Fatal 4-Way Ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship (involving Rollins and Balor) at Greatest Royal Rumble. I thought tension of some kind would be teased here, whether it was between The Miztourage or Rollins and Balor, but nope, this was straightforward stuff and pretty pointless as a result.
Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and The Riott Squad def. Raw Women's Champion Nia Jax, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya by Disqualification
Obviously, this was WWE's way of throwing the ladies a bone since they won't be a part of Greatest Royal Rumble because Saudi Arabia doesn't allow women to compete on their shows. It had plenty of star power and furthered the feuds involved, but it felt as formulaic as last week's main event did. Moon wrestling in the main event of Raw was awesome exposure for her, but Bayley and Banks continuing to spin their wheels is disappointing. The longer they drag out their angle at this point, the less people will care about the inevitable heel turn coming from one of the two. On the bright side, Ronda Rousey showing up was a pleasant surprise, even if the disqualification finish was a bit of a letdown and made the rest of the women feel like afterthoughts. I'd be down for a Rousey and Natalya vs. Bliss and James match soon.
I realize Greatest Royal Rumble is important to WWE because it could potentially open up a new market for them (or something along those lines), but it was crazy how more time was spent hyping that up than WrestleMania three weeks ago. The lineup actually looks almost as stacked (if not more stacked) than WrestleMania's on paper, so I'm excited for the event. This edition of Raw was a go-home show of sorts for Greatest Royal Rumble, and while there was plenty of build for most of the matches, this was easily the most boring episode of Raw in recent memory. It wasn't terrible by any means, but it's apparent that WWE won't commit to putting their top stars in storylines until Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash pass.