Who knew that Undertaker could not only make the lights come on, but he can make them turn off too! Wonders will never cease! I personally never get tired of his promos, cheesy as they are these days.
Welcome to the Mores, Flaws and Snores of the final Monday Night Raw before Wrestlemania 33! This is STC’s weekly rundown of what worked, what didn’t, and what put us to sleep for the flagship WWE weekly show.
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get right down to business.
- Hold-harmless means anything goes.
The best part of this week’s episode by far was the Triple H/Seth Rollins contract signing, and then later video package detailing their history. Triple H has developed this incredibly complex character, filled with nuance and layers and conflict within himself. He’s arrogant, but at the same time trying to (in his own mind at least) protect the future. Tonight it felt like he was channeling some classic Mr McMahon during his promo, talking about how you have to grab life by the throat, and that making money and living the “good life” was the best way to live.
Rollins held his own as well. The redemption angle is great, and the shenanigans at the end of the promo were fantastic as well. Nobody really had the upper hand, but nobody looked stronger than the other. Triple H brings the weight of his career with him, but Seth has his life to fight for.
And then the video package just brought the hype even more. Bring on sunday.
- Cruiserweights used well FINALLY.
Two Cruiserweight matches tonight. That worried me to begin with. But I was pleasantly surprised that both matches were really well done, and a lot of fun. Austin Aries vs Noam Dar was a brilliant exhibition of why Aries is the no.1 Contender, and Neville vs Jack Gallagher showcased both men’s strong points. Gallagher needs to be in the title picture post-Mania. Special mention to that incredible german suplex by Neville, and Gallagher’s insane headbutt. And of course, Austin Aries is simply amazing.
- Diggin’ a hole for Roman’s soul.
WWE, for the love of everything good, please don’t drop this new evolution of Roman Reigns. He’s showing cockiness, and arrogance and getting booed for the right reason. My fear though, is that after sunday, he’ll go back to the Cena 2.0 character, saying everyone can boo or cheer if they want. KEEP HIM HEEL.
Undertaker’s promo was everything it needed to be. I think we would all have been happy with just the video promo (although I could have done without him talking about the “ultimate thrill ride”, which I’ll get to later), but to have him then appear in the ring and finish his promo was excellent. Roman not attacking him was the right decision as well. And bringing the lights back down, why has this not been done more? Amazing.
- I beat you to it!
Paul Heyman. Who can deliver a promo better than Paul Heyman? Who can sell a match better than Paul Heyman? The answer, at least in WWE right now, is nobody. Of course, being in Philadelphia he was always going to get a good reaction, but that shouldn’t take away from his skill. Talking about respecting Goldberg, admitting that he is a real-life superhero, but that bad things happen to superheros when they meet Lesnar at Wrestlemania. I believe every word he says.
Also who else could deliver last rites during a promo?
- Still fighting forever.
Kevin Owens. Why is he not still the Universal Champion? (i’ll get to Goldberg later). He is consistently one of the best parts of Raw, on a weekly basis.
“Chris Jericho was right to mock me for being a fan of his, because, Chris Jericho fans.. are morons”.
The way he turned that promo on it’s head was masterful.
And tonight’s No-DQ match between he and Sami Zayn, even though we were told they wouldn’t be wrestling each other anymore, was the match of the night. Sami HAD to win or he would be fired, and winning (which he did, thanks to some helpful interference from Chris Jericho) secured him a spot in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I wish that there was a better spot for Zayn, like, oh I don’t know, Zayn vs Joe? but at least he’s on the card. Interestingly I feel the same about Owens. That title should be part of his match.
- Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax
I will get to the promo that preceeded this match in a minute, because that’s another story. The match however, was mostly great. There were some logical inconsistencies that bug me on a small level, like Sasha rolling into the ring in her opponent’s corner, and Nia not selling certain moves. But other than that, great match. The crowd warmed to the match, and Bayley got a great reaction when she got the hot tag. I want to make mention of one particular move as well. Bayley hit what looked like a reverse bulldog, and followed up with a headlock and punches on the ground, and it was fantastic. Everyone left the match looking like they have a real chance of winning on Sunday.
- Oh, Enzo Amore.
Just a quick one. I’ve been souring a little on Enzo and Cass, but this week’s promo was fantastic. I think the crowd being so into them helped, but they killed it. Also if the Tag Title match at Wrestlmania isn’t a ladder match after this week’s events, I’ll be very surprised.
- She’s not like most girls. She’s also not as good as them.
Nia Jax. What is it about Nia Jax that WWE sees, because all I see is “she’s a plus size woman so she’s dominant”. She has wooden promos, she is not on the same level in the ring as her other Wrestlemania competitors, and she doesn’t seem like she IS her character, rather that she is just playing A character. It’s not working.
- Missed Spots.
Please WWE, PLEASE. Lay off of cutting to the crowd during important moments. I don’t sit down to watch someone’s reaction to something happening, I want to react to it myself. Fingers crossed the big moments at Wrestlemania aren’t lost by cutting to the Brock Lesnar guy playing up to the camera or something awful like that.
- If we say it enough, you’ll have to believe it!
Enough. Enough with “The Ultimate Thrill Ride”. You had THE UNDERTAKER say it. I guess character doesn’t matter as long as you get that catchphrase over though. Every mention of The Ultimate Thrill Ride felt tacked on and awkward tonight. No. Just stop. At least smackdown is only 2 hours, so we’ll only get 67% as many mentions tomorrow.
- You just made the same promo!
I hate doing this. I love me some Y2J. But, after another week of “Do you know what happens?” with NOTHING else added this week, I’m left with the feeling that Jericho isn’t taking this match as seriously as he should (in storyline i’m talking about of course). We should feel like he wants to kill Owens, not that he wants to make jokes with him.
“Let’s fight now!” Spear. In ring (title magically teleports from entrance ramp to his hand in the ring). What does this do for the match? Not to mention that he’s barely been there, he’s barely been seen with that title, so much so that even though I knew he was the Universal Champion, I was not expecting to see a belt around his waist. Why is the title in this match? Is it simply to give Lesnar a title win at Mania? Why couldn’t they leave it on Owens and have Lesnar beat him a month later? Goldberg is not interesting. And this week did nothing to help that.
- Women’s Fatal 4 Way promo to open Raw.
This just fell a bit flat for me. The crowd wasn’t into it, as was shown by their (stupid) CM Punk chants. Bayley is ok on the mic, but was outclassed by Charlotte (who was the best part of the promo), Sasha’s promo was lackluster and not memorable, and I’ve talked about Nia already. It’s a good thing that the match following this was good, because without that, the Mania match would have lost a lot of momentum.
- The pre-battle royal battle royal..?
This was meant to be an over the top rope challenge, but no one talked about rules. Was it meant to be one on one? why did the shining stars come out together? Why was Axel with Golden Truth? Why did Jinder and the rest of the eliminated wrestlers jump back in the ring? Who won??
Clearly, this was all a big waste of air-time, just to get to Braun coming out to throw out a challenge to Big Show. Which is fine, but feels like a bad spot for Braun. Unless he wins.
Which he should.
So there we have it folks. The final episode of Monday Night Raw before Wrestlemania 33. All in all it was quite good, with only a few glaring problems. Unfortunately they stood out quite a lot, but didn’t diminish the show enough to make it not enjoyable. All the big matches got hyped, and with the exception of Lesnar/Goldberg, the results still don’t seem set in stone.
BRING ON WRESTLEMANIA!
Come back tomorrow for the Smackdown Rundown!