Tonight’s RAW was pretty good. We now have the build and hype WrestleMania deserves. The past few weeks, I just did not feel the “big event hype” for the matches, probably because most matches were not made yet, which WWE rectified tonight in quick fashion.
Kicking off RAW is Stephanie McMahon, calling the shots and berating Roman Reigns for attacking Triple H. Said challenger interrupts the promo, and after shutting down Steph, declares himself the new authority of RAW. Interesting.
First match of the night is a rematch from SmackDown, AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens. Good lord this was a fantastic match. Did you think I would say, phenomenal? Great match, unfortunately, like SmackDown, concludes when Chris Jericho distracts Styles, allowing Mr. KO to roll him up for the pinfall victory. Really, what an awesome match.
Post match, Owens wants a match at “KO-Mania” but does not have a suitable opponent. Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and The Miz interrupt and offer their respective challenges, however is refuted by Owens.
The Kevin Owens show continues backstage as he asks Stephanie to make a triple threat match to determine a number one contender to the Intercontinental Championship. Steph, agrees.
In a pre-taped segment at a bar in Philadelphia, a ranting Dean Ambrose is seen talking to the Hardcore Legend, Terry Funk. The crazy old man bestows Ambrose a gift of his own, a Chainsaw, likely a reference to his gimmick of Chainsaw Charlie in WWE. Ambrose goes giggle-crazy and chops up a table, while the interns in the back horribly act scared. New Jack must be jealous. Are we really going to see a chainsaw at WrestleMania?
Sorry, but if you are in a room with a chainsaw-wielding Dean Ambrose, you SHOULD be scared, fake or not.
Up next, The New Day cut a ridiculously funny promo on the League of Nations, pointing out how Barrett’s win at King of the Ring has been forgotten, and how Alberto del Rio went from main eventing and having lavish limo entrances to being thrown in a stable just to get TV time. Damn. That must have hurt. In a shockingly good match, Big E. Langston defeated Rusev by pinfall. Lots of Belly-To-Booty Suplexes.
If Booty-O’s become real, they better make them Kosher.
Bray Wyatt and his family cut a really dark promo.
Big Show comes out to hype up the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Michael Cole makes the mistake of stating how winning the trophy is prestigious and can catapult careers. Did we forget about how Cesaro went nowhere and Big Show is pretty much still in mid-card hell? Big Show wants to win it again. Out enters the Social Outcasts, who somehow manage to dominate, until Kane arrives and takes everyone out, including the Big Show. Cue pyro.
Stan Hansen is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nice. Will Bruno Sammartino do the honors?
In a “WrestleMania Rewind” match, Chris Jericho faces Fandango. I am still shocked he is employed. I honestly thought he was collecting unemployment. AJ Styles attempts to distract Jericho like he did earlier tonight, however the move failed, and Jericho defeated Fandango with ease.
Not a single chant for Fandango, no singing, no dancing, no nothing. I guess I wasn’t the only one who forgot he was employed. Should have come out to his old theme.
Throughout the night, various superstars and legends talk about Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker in Hell in the Cell. They are really pushing this hard as a game-changing match. What I don’t understand is how they came up with Shane vs. Undertaker for Mania. Was this one of those “We need something random” or “We need the Oh-s*** match.”
Kevin Owens dismisses Lillian Garcia to make the introductions for the triple threat #1 contenders match. He brings out Stardust, Sin Cara, and Zack Ryder. The match goes all of five minutes with minor botchery, until Ziggler, Miz, and Zayn confront Owens. The match is thrown out as everyone brawls. Yeah, you know what is coming…
…Backstage, the champ complains to Stephanie. Owens whines a bit too much, and Stephanie books the Intercontinental Championship to be defended in a 7-Man Ladder Match at WrestleMania.
This means, Zack Ryder, is in a high-profile championship match and WrestleMania. Woo Woo Woo!
Backstage, Stephanie meets a limo with Triple H in it. However, Roman Reigns is there to attack. He brawls briefly with Triple H before they escape out of the building.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch are on commentary as Charlotte defeats Natalya.
Bubba Ray Dudley defeats R-Truth. Post match, the Dudleys beat up Truth, until Goldust charges down, but is also beaten up. The Usos come down, make the save, attempt to use a table, but the Dudleys escape.
Vince McMahon is in the ring for the next-to-last segment of the night. He gets right to the point. Putting over Shane as resilient and never-say-die attitude, Vince says if the Undertaker does not defeat Shane, the Deadman’s career is over. He will retire.
I am thinking 22 and 2 here. This segment felt very rushed, Vince seemed to act more passive about the announcement, it just didn’t have a big feel to it. The crowd didn’t even react and the announce team did not seem to have time to react as the music for Dean Ambrose hit before Vince even made it to the back.
In our final match and segment of the night, Rabbi Paul Heyman is on commentary as Dean Ambrose faces off with Braun Strowman. Not a good match, however did culminate with Ambrose getting himself disqualified by clobbering Strowman with a chair and hitting Dirty Deeds. After the match, Ambrose stares down Paul Heyman.
Huh. Very odd conclusion to RAW. Very rushed, anti-climactic. Maybe there was a screw-up in production and the timing was off?
In any case, this was overall a good episode of RAW, some solid feud-pushing. I was satisfied with the show as a whole, even with the weak segments.