For all fans that felt last week’s show wasn’t well thought out, I’d like to let you know WWE must have heard. This episode, while promo heavy, was great for pushing most of the feuds for Wrestlemania. Since the Mania is around the corner, the WWE can go a few shows without having a ton of matches, because we want feuds that will equal into great matches on March 29th.
Opening Segment, Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns
It was very evident that this Raw was coming live from Newark. Not many cities cheer for Seth Rollins the way these fans did. When they showed the Daily Show clip, it made it look like Jon Stewart was the heel. Once they focused back on Rollins, he made sure the fans knew he was in fact the heel. This feud with Jon Stewart seems like a great idea, but I just hope it doesn’t come in the way of his feud with Orton .Seth was on point during this segment, as he delivered all of his lines very naturally. Reigns was welcomed with a mixed reaction, because he got a massive pop, but there were audible negative reactions when his music went out. To make things more confusing, Roman got an even bigger pop when he threatened to punch Rollins in the face .I felt like this crowd didn’t realize this promo actually had some substance to it because they were too busy chanting CM Punk while they teased a possible triple threat match at Mania. Overall, I enjoyed this opening because it really showcased how much these men have grown since becoming singles competitors and they both managed to get loud reactions.
Dean Ambrose vs Bad News Barrett (with R-Truth on commentary)
The second I saw Truth on commentary, I marked out. He’s been perfect on commentary these past few weeks, and I’d be open to him having a permanent spot on the team. I personally felt the most effective spot in this match was when Barrett had Ambrose tied up in the ropes and delivered two knees and a boot. This particular spot showed how aggressive and dangerous Barrett can be in the ring. I thought it was rather redundant to have Truth steal the title, because this angle is already stale. The wrestlers involved in this angle are good enough to promote this feud without the title being stolen .Since I have sympathy for Barrett, and get annoyed by Ambrose, I was hoping Barrett would get a clean win. The entire match was a mess. For something that has so much potential, it’s not starting off on the best foot.
The Miz Promo
As campy as this commercial was, I got a decent laugh from it. This continues to build on the feud for Mizdow and Miz. The promo after the commercial was absolutely brilliant. Both men sold their anger well, and I was hoping Mizdow would deliver the first shot. Seems to me like they’ll continue to build go with a slow build for these two.
Bray Wyatt Promo
There’s nothing better than getting at least one prediction right. While I won’t gloat too much about this, I do believe this was the right way for Bray to continue the feud. His promo about fire was effective, and I thought it was a great comparison to him. JBL decided to botch the segment by saying to the other commentators “I wonder if the Undertaker is in there”. Sometimes these commentators need to learn when to not say anything, because this segment didn’t need humor. Regardless, this was great work from Wyatt.
The Usos & Naomi vs Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, & Natalya
The WWE continues to find ways to continue this feud, but honestly, I don’t mind. These two teams have great chemistry with each other. This wasn’t a very long match, but I was happy that the Usos picked up the win. The team of Kidd, Natalya, & Cesaro play amazing heels, amazing enough that I wanted them to lose. The Usos needed the win to continue this feud, but I hope they get a little more creative with the matches starting next week.
John Cena Promo
While the crowd sounded confused in the opening promo, they were clearly not fans of John Cena. I remember how last year Cena wanted to enter the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and it looked like he’d finally get his shot this year. Stephanie could have used some better promo material here, because she made absolutely no sense. She could have taken Cena out of the match without telling him he was being disrespectful, because he wasn’t. I’m not sure if this is what she was aiming for, but it made her sound dim. Her delivery was on point, I just felt her material was terrible .I was happy Cena got a chance to cut a promo with someone else other than Lana and Rusev.
John Cena vs Curtis Axel
This match didn’t last very long, and it was meant to show us how angry Cena was at Stephanie. Everything in this match was made for Rusev to come out and reject Cena once again. While Cena didn’t get his rematch tonight, he should get it soon.
Triple H Promo
At this point in the show we were only given three matches, I was surprised with how promo heavy this Raw was. When Triple H began to ramble on, I was rolling my eyes because I thought he’d continue to say the same things about Sting and WCW. Everything changed once he called up Booker T and showed him how reckless of a boss he can be. I loved this promo because it brought out the purest form of Hunter’s heel side. Since sting will be an automatic fan favorite, it’s smart Hunter wants to make himself a hated man, and I think tonight he accomplished that with ease.
Paige vs Nikki Bella
This match was heavily promoted during the show, meaning the WWE must have heard the cries from the angry fans. It looked like they were going to give them a good amount of time, but for some reason they decided to cut to commercial early on. The spot of this match was easily Nikki’s spinebuster. She showed how much strength she has, and it was sold very well by Paige. Originally I was upset with the finish because the match was good, but they made up for it with the AJ return. AJ is actually from New Jersey, so it makes sense that she would debut in her home state. Chances are we’ll see a tag team program at Mania between these 4.
The Daily Show with Seth Rollins
Our promo heavy Raw continued with a comedic segment from Seth Rollins and Jon Stewart. To be honest, I thought Rollins was hilarious in this segment. He had to go on for about 4-5 minutes by himself, and that’s not easy to do. Well, he did everything right until the camera caught him reading over his script, but they recovered by having Stewart mention that. Everything said in the exchange between Rollins and Stewart had substance. I’m glad they used this to further story line instead of using it as a one-off segment.
Daniel Bryan vs Luke Harper
On our 5th match for the show, we were treated to a great matchup of Bryan and Harper. We discovered earlier on in the night that Harper has shown an interest in the Intercontinental title, so it was only right that these two would wrestle. The match was rather short, but it did make Harper look strong early on. There was a smile on my face when Barrett came to get his title, but it was obvious he wouldn’t keep it for long. Does anybody else feel like they’re wrestling for the Hardcore title?
Paul Heyman Promo
Heyman of course was nothing but amazing tonight. He needed to address the entire Lesnar situation, and he said as much as he needed to. There was no better way to put over but bury Reigns at the same time. Paul’s intensity was over the top, and I bought into every word he said. Normally Heymam cuts a calm and calculated promo, but the second he raised his voice for this promo he had me sold.
Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins
The tale of the tape was a nice touch, made it feel like this match was a bigger. For this match, the crowd was not favoring Reigns, which was bound to happen, but they didn’t seem to realize this earlier in the show .It had a slow start, but I liked the early atomic drops. The chin lock reversal from Reigns was rather impressive, he’s showing much improvement with his in ring work. These two worked an awesome match, they had everything right, from move execution to selling. For some reason though, somebody thought it would be a good idea to have the main eventer for Mania lose by a roll up pin. This soured me by a lot because they should have let Roman win. They could have had Orton cost Rollins the match. What also made no sense was that the commentators seemed to have forgotten Reigns’ loss after he tore through the entire Authority. I’ll admit though, the spear onto Rollins was beautiful, from both Roman and Seth. This Raw was great for the most part, but they managed to ruin the last 5 minutes of the show.
With ease I can say I really did enjoy this show. The ending might not have been the greatest, but I won’t let it ruin what was actually a good night. Generally I hope other fans feel this way, because there’s so much to a episode of Raw than just one 5 minute blunder. I still see much potential in the Intercontinental picture, because it’s just beginning to fill up, and they’ll most likely drop the stealing angle. The WWE used this Raw to add some major substance to most of their angles .Overall I’ll give this show a 7.8/10 or a B+.