WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens Addressed Goldberg
Wow, where the hell has this Owens been this whole time? Don't get me wrong, Owens can be such a riot when with Chris Jericho or even on his own, but as a world champion, he should have undergone this transformation long ago. The suit-wearing, slow-speaking Owens is absolute money. It's a shame it came so late in his title run, but better late than never. I also loved how he left fans hanging with his comments (or lack thereof) on Jericho. There's no need to rush into that assuming they face off at WrestleMania.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass def. Cesaroa and Sheamus in a Raw Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
Enzo and Cass have fallen far since they initially arrived on Raw last year, largely because of the terrible feud they had with Rusev and the awful lines they're forced to recite every week. Maybe they coming up with their own material, and if that's the case, they're to blame. Either way, they're fresh faces in the title picture, so although Cesaro and Sheamus can have a better match with The Club, it's a match we've seen several times now. While I had no problem with Enzo and Cass going over here, they desperately need some sort of overhaul.
The Brian Kendrick vs. Akira Tozawa Went in a No Contest
Well, the match never got underway, and there will be those disappointed by that, but I actually thought it was smart booking. Tozawa has looked like a total star in his few appearances so far and it would have been a mistake to lose this early into his run. Kendrick needed some heat, so attacking Tozawa before the bout could even get underway accomplished that. At this point, I hope they hold off on their first match against each other until Fastlane.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Club def. Roman Reigns in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match by Disqualification
It was bad enough this match was booked last week, so where was the logic in doing it again? Reigns didn't benefit whatsoever from beating them the first time, and if anything, The Club came across weaker for failing to beat Reigns despite the odds being in their favor. This match also ended in disqualification, and although The Club were awarded the victory this time, Reigns was the last one left standing. Way to give your tag champs credibility, WWE.
The New Day def. Rusev and Jinder Mahal
If you needed any more evidence as to how directionless New Day are at the moment, their current character motivation is that they are attempting to stop others from stealing their ice cream plans and that they'll be hosting WrestleMania 33. Just be thankful isn't a celebrity that knows nothing about the product. The match was fine filler, but this throwaway tag team with Mahal is such a waste of Rusev, who was on a roll only a few short months ago.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville and Jack Gallagher Signed the Contract For Their Fastlane Match
The Cruiserweights don't often receive promo time on Raw, so I was glad Neville and Gallagher made the most of their time on the flagship show. Contract signings are such a tired troupe in wrestling and this wasn't much different than what you would normally expect from a contract signing, but both men played their roles well and I liked that Gallagher was able to outsmart the heel champion on this one occasion.
Nia Jax def. Sarah Pierce
Jax was conspicuous by her absence on last week's show, so this was a nice return to form for her. As is usually the case, she made short work of her unknown opponent and made it clear with her post-match promo that she wants the title. Sadly, she didn't deliver her line all that well and she continues to come off awkwardly. Jax worked well in NXT because she had Eva Marie as her mouthpiece for a time. Would it be possible to get her something similar on the main roster?
Stephanie McMahon Confronted Raw Women's Champion Bayley
I assumed there was a chance coming in to this show that Bayley could be stripped of the strap following the controversy that clouded her title win, so they did a good job of teasing that. However, it was weird for Bayley to be completely content with her win being tainted. Yes, Stephanie had a condescending tone when she talked down to Bayley, but what she was saying wasn't wrong. I'm not saying Bayley should have relinquished the gold, but I thought she would at least tell Sasha Banks to stay away from her matches in the future so she could win on her own.
Sasha Banks def. Charlotte Flair
WWE billed their Iron Man match as the blow-off to their ruthless rivalry... yet here we are a mere two months later. Granted, their matches are always entertaining and this was another solid encounter from them, but they shouldn't facing off as often as they are at the risk of ruining the appeal of the match. That said, Bayley preventing Dana Brooke from interfering tied nicely in the story they're telling with these four. I'm also anticipating Banks' inevitable heel turn.
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn (Non-title)
In the same way WWE shouldn't be throwing Banks vs. Charlotte away on free television, I wish they wouldn't do Owens vs. Zayn so often, either. On the bright side, this was less of a match and more of an angle. There were speculation last week from fans that Triple H might be forming some sort of stable with Owens and Joe, and this pretty much confirmed that. Owens was ruthless in his assault on Zayn, building off that exceptional promo he cut earlier in the evening.
Michael Cole Interviewed Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
I said last week that I hoped WWE would do more sit-down interviews with Cole on Raw because it's an excellent use of him, so I was happy they took that approach with Lesnar and Heyman here. But what made this interview unique was Heyman hijacking it while Lesnar menacingly stared into the camera. That was wonderful. My only complaint is, why wasn't this advertised in advance?
Braun Strowman def. Big Show
Once crew members were shown adjusting the ring, I was fearful they would repeat the spot with the two giants crashing through the ring, but it was cool that they teased it yet didn't deliver. The match itself was actually enjoyable and the nearfalls had me hooked. It's amazing that this same match stunk up the joint almost exactly a year ago, which goes to show how much Strowman has improved since then. This was one of his better bouts to date, and with Big Show of all people, so Show deserves credit as well. Strowman should continue to get the better of Reigns until Fastlane, where he'll likely lose, but I have my fingers crossed WWE will handle it in a way where he isn't damaged by the defeat.
I don't think this was on the same level as the editions of Raw we've been receiving recently, but all in all, the good outweighed the bad. The third hour didn't drag as much as it has in the past and there was an ample amount of hype for Fastlane. Granted, there weren't any must-see matches, but the main event was built up well throughout the night and managed to exceed my expectations. Reigns running down in predictable fashion didn't end the evening on a high note, but their feud was furthered and the episode held my interest for the most part.