There weren’t many strong points to this particular episode. For a go home show, nothing about Raw gave the fans a reason to be excited for Sunday. It appears everything on the red brand is on hold until Wrestlemania season officially kicks off.
This segment didn’t feel like a strong go home show promo. It was a big deal for Roman to get put through a table last week, but that wasn’t the case here. KO brought it up, but it didn’t seem to bother Roman whatsoever.
As per the US title, that angle came one week later than it should’ve. It almost feels as if last week’s opening segment should’ve been swapped with this one. This was just another example of how every episode of Raw feels like a one-off.
Luke Gallows vs Cesaro
Honestly, I liked how they went back to the singles match format for this week. The tag title match can wait until the rumble, and if it were done on this show, it would just become stale.
While this match wasn’t a thing of beauty, it did showcase that Gallows can work well with skilled performers such as Cesaro. Along with that, the pacing allowed for both men to look like credible threats.
Ever since last week, this feud has become more about the hatred than the babyface-heel dynamic, and it was properly shown once again this week. I for one loved how both Sheamus and Anderson got involved with the ring side antics. Overall, it added to the tone of this match.
Sami Zayn/Mick Foley/ Stephanie McMahon backstage promo
This may have been the first time in a while where Stephanie’s heel character was utilized properly. The Rumble stipulation for Sami Zayn made it easy to hate her.
Sami Zayn vs Seth Rollins
The stipulation for both men was rather exciting, and I’m surprised they didn’t save it for the main event. In my opinion, it felt more important than Jericho vs Reigns.
This contest was well worked from start to finish, and it maintained an element of unpredictability. The two showcased a great amount of passion, and considering the stipulation, it fit. Along with that, their overall reactions were perfect. Each of them consistently displayed their emotions correctly.
The spot of the match was easily Seth’s neck breaker from the top rope. It didn’t receive a loud pop, but it was executed smoothly and it hasn’t been done that often by Seth. In fact, just about everything from Rollins was done with fluidity.
While the finish was a typical distraction finish, I fully believed it worked for this match. First of all, it allowed for both men to look like competent wrestlers. Sure, we can say Rollins should’ve pinned Sami, but he genuinely thought Triple H was going to make his way out, and that fits his current narrative. Second of all, it possibly gives Seth a new road to Wrestlemania.
Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins, & Jack Gallagher vs Ariya Daivari, Drew Gullak, & Tony Nese
Apart from giving Ali a bit of shine before the match, this was completely pointless.
New Day, Big Cass & Enzo Amore vs Rusev, Jinder Mahal, Titus O’Neil, & Braun Strowman
Any other week, the pre-match promo would’ve been complete garbage. However,we’re six days away from the Rumble, so this crowded segment made sense.
Initially, I wasn’t looking forward to the eight man tag match, but once Braun made his way out this become relevant. I thought this was the perfect way to showcase Strowman as the biggest threat in the Rumble. In fact, he was the only reason this match was watchable.
Anybody could skip the eight man tag, but the confrontation between Strowman and Big Show felt pretty epic. I’m happy they didn’t indulge in a brawl, because it gives us something to look forward to come Sunday.
Chris Jericho vs Roman Reigns
Like I mentioned in my comments for the opening segment, this match was one week too late. Along with that it was was nearly impossible to care because we’ve now seen Reigns vs Jericho too many weeks in a row. The two do have great chemistry but it doesn’t feel special once they’ve wrestled multiple times within the past two months.
Nia Jax vs Local Talent
The squash match worked for Nia, but it went downhill once she grabbed the mic. She’s not horrible, but her tone doesn’t suit her character, and that takes away from her monster like presence.
The attack from Sasha certainly woke up this crowd, and it was the high point of the entire segment. I actually like how this feud has been presented in a limited manor because it gives them a chance to keep it going longer.
Rich Swann vs Noam Darr
I didn’t exactly care for this match, but it was completely worth it after Swann delivered a devastating kick to Darr on the apron. Aside from that, the rest of the contest was pretty useless.
The Swann-Neville brawl actually worked for their feud. This entire time Neville has been booked stronger than Rich, but this brawl showed us that the champ also has some hidden aggression.
It was difficult to focus on this promo because of Goldberg’s bleeding head. Had his promo actually been good, I’m sure the blood would’ve been forgettable, but that wasn’t the case.
This promo had a ton of potential, but it fell completely flat. They managed to get Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and Undertaker in a ring at the same time with nothing happening. I understand the whole point of building tension for the Rumble, but this just came across as a lazy way of creating hype. It simply shows me that the WWE doesn’t have the guts to give the fans some sort of taste. Also, it shows us what happens when three part timers close an episode of Raw.
For a go home show, I can’t say this episode did a outstanding job at creating excitement for the Royal Rumble. It was booked as a one-off show, and it didn’t escalate/further any feud. The low points of the show were the opening and closing segments, while the high point was Rollins vs Zayn. Overall, this show deserves a 4/10.