By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Seth Rollins and United States Champion Roman Reigns Interrupted Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon
I feared the worst when Stephanie returned and I thought we were in for another 20 minute tirade until the babyfaces came out to interrupt her. Thankfully, she only got one savage dig in at CM Punk fans by mocking his UFC debut. Was it necessary? No, but it shut Chicago up pretty quick. This was a pretty paint-by-numbers otherwise and set up the night's two biggest matches just fine. The crowd was hot for Rollins as expected and booed the hell out of Reigns, also as expected. The teases for a Shield reunion have been much more frequent as of late. Could we see them get back together again during the Royal Rumble match (on the off-chance Reigns competes)?
Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus def. The New Day
I was surprised they blew off the tag title rematch so soon because this seems to be the only feud Raw's tag division has to offer at the moment. Granted, they're both babyface tandems and we've seen the match a million times before, but there's no denying they work well together. Similar to Roadblock, they contested a highly entertaining match and Cesaro continues to impress. It will be interesting to see if New Day remain in chase mode going forward or if they are totally done with the tag team scene for now.
Nia Jax def. Scarlett
I knew I recognized the blonde from somewhere, and once they said her name was Scarlett (which was a surprise since they usually change the names of enhancement talent), I figured it was Scarlett Bordeaux. I don't follow women's wrestling on the independent scene too closely, but I'm familiar with the name and know she's an excellent talent. She didn't get much offense in here, obviously, but she would be a good pick-up for the company at some point. Meanwhile, Nia Jax was able to showcase her skills and asset her dominance.
Raw Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Bayley (Non-title; Dana Brooke Served as Special Guest Referee)
Raw is Jericho? More like Raw is Rematches. I was not at all looking forward to Bayley and Charlotte having another match following their face-off last week, but this was a different type of match, so I appreciated that. Brooke acting as the special guest referee stacked the deck against Bayley, so she lost nothing in defeat. And that's the way it should be with Bayley as the ultimate underdog. Her having multiple wins over Charlotte didn't make any sense to me because it should have been the other way around. This was an effective way of furthering their feud.
Neville def. T.J. Perkins
Truth be told, this might be the most I have ever been engaged in the Neville character. He feels so much fresher as a heel, despite how he is essentially the same wrestler in the ring. He and Perkins had a nice little matchup, but imagine how much more exciting it could have been with more storyline support and time and if they weren't limited with what they could do (see: Cruiserweight Classic). Neville's post-match promo was also well done, though it is odd he would blame the fans for him turning heel even though they never technically turned on him.
Big Cass and Enzo Amore Brawled with Rusev and Jinder Mahal
I am already tired of this terrible feud, but this was the best way to get them on Raw without giving them too much time or relegating them to atrocious backstage segments (those sensitivity skits last week were the drizzling shits). Mahal's involvement in all of this doesn't interest me in the slightest, and I'm sure we're bound to get a tag team match between these two teams on next week's show.
The Shining Stars vs. Darren Young and Bo Dallas Ended in a No Contest
I'm starting to think WWE is slowly but surely turning Strowman babyface. I mean, why else would they have him come out, decimate jobbers, and put an end to matches no one could have cared less about anyway? He did us all a favor! In fact, the chants of "Thank you, Strowman!" he received afterward from Chicago were well-deserved. These guys must have forgotten that WWE Superstars was cancelled last month.
Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins Ended in a No Contest
As something we have never seen before, I liked this for what it was. Granted, it didn't last long, but if anyone can get a good match out of Strowman, it's Rollins. There was no need to deliver a clean finish because both guys should be protected right now, so I was completely content with the non-finish. It looks like Chris Jericho and Rollins will resume their rivalry, at least for the foreseeable future. If that's the case, why not make the WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble a Fatal 4-Way involving them?
The Club def. The Golden Truth
It was weird to me that WWE would use the legacy of Dusty Rhodes to set up a throwaway tag team match on Raw. That was pretty dumb to me, and Cody Rhodes summed up my thoughts on it pretty well with this tweet. As for the match itself, it was whatever. Golden Truth are a comedy act and The Club have absolutely nothing going for them currently. What else is new?
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann def. Ariya Daivari (Non-title)
The Cruiserweight division has a few but not many heels, and as strange as this sounds, I wish they would have used someone else to lose to Swann in decisive fashion here. Unlike Tony Nese or Drew Gulak, Daivari actually has something going for him right now in his feud with Jack Gallagher, and I'm anticipating their upcoming duel on 205 Live on Tuesday night, whatever that might entail.
United States Champion Roman Reigns def. WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens (WWE Universal Championship Was Not Defended)
Same match, different day. Seriously, would it kill Raw to switch up their main event scene a bit? Throwing Strowman into the mix has been a breath of fresh air, but he's still busy with Sami Zayn, so it's not enough. It doesn't help that Jeri-KO get their asses handed to them almost every week by the babyfaces and don't come off as legitimate threats as top heels. Reigns and Owens produced a well-wrestled main event that was a step above their encounter at Roadblock, but we'll be seeing them face off again in a month's time at the Royal Rumble. As previously mentioned, after what we saw here, a Fatal 4-Way would be the right way to go.
I guess I should be thankful that for the second straight week, WWE didn't give us a campy holiday show. I tend to enjoy that stuff being the holiday mark I am, but I understand it doesn't make for the most compelling television. That said, this show wasn't much better. I rarely miss Raw live, but I had to this week due to attending SmackDown Live's house show at Madison Square Garden (which you can see photos from here). I'm glad I was able to skip through some stuff because this would have been a chore to sit through in its entirety. We see the same matches almost every week, and the Brand Split isn't the issue because SmackDown Live is doing just dandy with their limited roster. Raw needs to figure out how to make the three hours work, and they can't count on the Royal Rumble season to heat things up for them because they can't coast until then. Now is the time to start building stories and planting the seeds for WrestleMania 33.