With Bray Wyatt and his convincing win in the Elimination Chamber being the talk of the town, the writers for Raw had their work cut out for them. Yes, it’s all the same company, but they had to find a way to make Raw something to talk about, or else fans would simply forget about.
There’s a lot of people that don’t enjoy Steph or Roman, but together they actually have some decent promo chemistry. They may not have the most deep conversations, however it’s refreshing to see someone being able to stand up to the commissioner of Raw.
Speaking of refreshing, seeing Gallows and Anderson interrupt the segment was great. Unfortunately the writers of Raw don’t like to execute too much cross over in terms of feuds, but when they finally do, it creates depth for the overall story.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Does anybody know if the commentary team made any references to Roman having issues with Gallows and Anderson in the past? From what I heard, they didn’t, and that was missed opportunity at maintaining continuity.
For most weeks, Raw tends to open with a promo which is followed up by a long match, but that wasn’t the case here. Instead this handicap match worked a shorter length, and that completely fine. Sometimes it’s okay to for the first few segments to be short, because it’s easier for the fans to get into the show that way. Also, this gives the wrestlers involved a chance to move quicker which gets the live crowd more excited.
Kofi Kingston vs Bo Dallas
Initially, this looked to be a quick squash, but it was far from that. After having two segments that were meant to be more serious, this match acted as a solid buffer. I like how the New Day was booked early on the show as that kept the audience pumped.
Jack Gallagher vs Noam Dar
Apart from showcasing Gallagher on the show, this match didn’t accomplish much. There needed to be something here that furthered his new feud with Neville.
What? All I know is that I’m even more curious to see how the transformation of Emmalina to Emma works out.
Mark Henry vs Braun Strowman
It’s surprising how these two haven’t had a match since the brand split. You’d think this would’ve been done for at least one of the Raw PPVs. Either way, this match had a place on the show. Watching Strowman destroy jobbers is a lot of fun, but sometimes he needs to take out regular roster members to increase is momentum. Was it a great match? By no means, but it worked in terms of furthering Braun’s character.
Of course Roman was going to interfere, but at that point this brawl became more about whether Stephanie would stay true to her word. She did say Roman vs Strowman wouldn’t happen if the two got physical, but somehow nobody on the commentary team seemed to remember that.
Samoa Joe Interview
Samoa Joe was absolutely amazing in this interview promo. He has a great way of articulating his words and getting his character across. We’ve seen many of these promos from him in NXT, and I’d say it’s a strength the main roster writers are working with.
Sami Zayn vs Rusev
Considering how these two are consistently on TV, they could’ve used some kind of context before wrestling this match. There’s three hours in this show, how is it so difficult to do that? Luckily for Zayn and Rusev, they’re talented enough to make the most of an empty match up.
Rusev’s heavy hitting style was perfect in terms of complimenting Zayn’s speed. This gave them the chance to work some intense spots which made the outcome unpredictable.
Based on the flow, I was extremely surprised we saw a clean finish here. However, seeing how Joe attacked Zayn during his post match interview, a clean win made sense. Sami needs to look as credible as he can before he inevitably faces Joe at Fastlane.
Akira Tozawa vs Ariya Daivari
Tozawa was incredibly over last week, so he had to be on this show. It’s obvious that he has some sort of connection with the crowd, and it’s essential the WWE capitalizes on that.
As expected, Tozawa put forth an entertaining match. This could’ve been the same as last week’s but it was quite different, which keeps him fresh. It’s also worth noting not that Brian Kendrick was hilarious on commentary.
Festival of Friendship
There was no way this segment was going to fail. Everything Chris Jericho did was comedic gold, and he had me laughing throughout the whole promo.
While the first half was all fun and games, this promo became quite emotional in the second half. Jericho’s bit about KO being his brother and always being there for him felt so genuine. In that moment, I just wanted them to be a team for as long as they could. When Jericho asked why his name was on the list of KO, my heart broke. I’m assuming many others felt this way, hence why a KO turn was fitting.
The entire segment was an emotional roller coaster. Out of all the big break ups that have occurred in WWE, this certainly deserves a top spot on that list (pun intended).
Enzo Amore vs Cesaro
The more I see of Cesaro & Sheamus, the more I hope the continued to get pushed as a strong tag team. They’ve gotten to a point where they look like a natural fit with each other. As for Enzo & Cass, I don’t believe I’ve ever been less interested in them. With the lack of momentum, the two have become nothing more than a catch phrase. Hopefully this new angle will change that.
The pacing and outcome to this match were perfect. With Cesaro being the larger competitor and more skilled, there’s no reason that Enzo could’ve kept up with him.
Charlotte Flair vs Bayley
Quite honestly, the first three quarters of this match went by slowly. The back and forth was strong, but it lacked any type of urgency. In that sense, I thought their Royal Rumble match was better.
Aside from my criticism, the last few minutes of this were pretty exciting. Both Charlotte and Bayley executed some great spots, and the nearfalls were well done. The finishing sequence was absolutely incredible in the sense of creating unpredictability. First Dana Brooke (after an absence) came out, and it appeared this was over for Bayley. Quickly after that, Sasha came in to even matters out. It was tough to guess what would happen next.
I didn’t mind the title change or Sasha’s involvement, but it could’ve been done more seamlessly. Obviously Bayley didn’t break the Figure 8, so why wouldn’t the ref immidietely question what happened to Charlotte? I understand the “distracted ref” is a normal wrestling trope, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a smarter fashion.
From top to bottom, I’d say this was an effective episode which pushed every current Raw feud. Not only was everything progressed, it was done in a way which makes me want to tune in next week. Even though it explored current stories, everything felt so fresh.
The low point was Gallagher vs Dar, while the high point was undoubtedly the KO-Jericho break up. Overall, I give this episode of Raw a well deserved 8/10.