Wrestlemania is about two months away, but there’s still another PPV before that which the WWE needs to build towards. Without having a split focus, they did a great job at building stories for both upcoming PPVs on this episode. For the first time in a while, Raw felt important.
I thought this was an amazing promo from both Jericho and Owens. Now that the two best friends have somewhat distanced themselves from Roman Reigns, they automatically feel rejuvenated. Owens especially sounded great here, because it was the first time in a while where he cut a promo with this much energy.
Braun’s promo sounded a tad bit out of character. I wouldn’t imagine him getting footage prepared for a promo. It would’ve worked better if someone such as Foley came out and backed up Braun’s statement with the footage. Aside from that, this promo gave the fans a reason to tune in for the main event.
Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn
Sure, this was a strong match, but it needed an announced stipulation. Throughout all of it, Cole kept saying if Zayn won, he “might” receive a US title shot. If that’s the case, why not just announce it beforehand. A simple solution like that just allows for more fluid storytelling. I’m sure this was the kickoff to another feud between the two, but it could’ve been started off better.
The actual match got better as it went on. It was a great spot for Zayn because it highlighted his involvement in the show. As of now, the company seems keen on pushing him and hopefully this leads to something special for him. A superstar over as him shouldn’t be sitting idle on the sidelines.
Tony Nese vs Mustafa Ali
These cruiserweight matches are beginning to feel more like commercials for 205 Live. While this was about showcasing Tony Nese, this went on for far to long. The only highlight that came from this was Aries as a post-match interviewer.
Seth Rollins/Stephanie McMahon Promo
For the first time in a while, Seth cut a solid babyface promo. Usually his promos lack substance, but that wasn’t the case here. Instead of overusing jokes, he spoke with passion and it made more likeable than he’s ever been as a good guy. At the same time, he still had some clever one liners.
I liked how this segment was used to create another one on the show. It’s a smart way to keep viewers hooked, especially when this left fans wanting more.
The Club & Charlotte Flair vs Bayley, Sheamus, & Cesaro
I absolutely loved this match. It allowed for two feuds to be showcased at once, which shows that they can be intertwined from time to time. This was a simple way of getting these programs on TV, and have them slightly furthered at the same time. Also, it was fun to watch as it was a well worked mixed tag match.
My one gripe about this match was Bayley pinning Charlotte clean. The champ just beat Bayley clean at the Rumble, so why does she need to lose clean the night after? This was the epitome of 50/50 booking.
Rich Swann/Neville Promo
While this was Neville’s “coronation”, Rich Swann was the stand out. His promo was excellent because of how real it came across. It genuinely sounded like Swann was telling Neville that he was going crazy.
Even though the rest of the division is forgettable, these two are doing a fantastic job at putting forth a strong feud.
Kevin Owens vs Braun Strowman
Having Strowman put Jericho through the announce table was a great way to start this match. It certainly set the tone for how the match would turn out.
Before the bell was rang, I was 100% convinced this was not going to happen. The matchup felt too big for them to just give it away on Raw. Thankfully, they did because Owens and Strowman put on a show with what little time they had. Obviously KO carried most of it, but it’s impressive how Braun was able to keep up.
Roman interfering was an invitable outcome, and it worked. His spots with Strowman looked amazing, and it was a good way to showcase their young feud. However, Roman didn’t need to spear KO, that was unnecessary and it didn’t add to anything.
Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar Promo
Heyman’s promo as of late haven’t been as sharp as they once were (not to say they’ve been bad), but he hit a home run here. It had a beginning, middle, and end, which was filled with substance. Also, this segment had a purpose which was to set up the eventual Mania match of Lesnar vs Goldberg.
Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks
Absolutely nothing was accomplished from booking this match. Sasha was beat down by Nia at the Rumble, so what was the point of doing it again? Along with that, Bayley looked like such a terrible friend as she didn’t do anything to help Sasha when she ran out.
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs Jinger Mahal & Rusev
This feud has been going on much longer than it should’ve. Was it even highlighted on last week’s show? While the action wasn’t bad, there was no reason to be invested in this match. None of this felt like it would lead to anything.
Triple H/Seth Rollins Brawl
Since September of 2016, this is the Triple H promo everybody wanted hear. He certainly lived up to the hype, as his promo was excellent. His character’s logic was sound and it fits the narrative for Seth Rollins. I also thought Hunter had the right tone in his voice which set the mood for what was to come.
As for Joe making his debut, that was a complete swerve. I think most fans had predicted Joe to debut on Smackdown, and I was one of them. Either way, he made an absolute impact on this show. In terms of execution, there was no better way for him to debut on the main roster.
The Royal Rumble may have ended on a shaky note, but that didn’t effect this episode of Raw. Just about every program was furthered and in an entertaining way. The great part about that is the two part timers (Hunter and Brock) didn’t take away from the full timers. Instead they simply complimented the flow of the show.
The low point was the tornado tag match, while the high points included Strowman vs Owens, the Stephanie/Seth promo, and Joe’s debut. Overall, I give this show an 8.5/10.