By Will Pruett
Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu. He has no regrets. This is an all random thoughts edition of my Raw review. Enjoy.
– This potentially being Undertaker’s final WrestleMania should be the talking point of this show, but all Vince McMahon’s announcement did was (further) ensure shenanigans in the finish. What’s to stop Shane McMahon from reinstating Undertaker for next year’s show? I still feel like Shane vs. Undertaker will set up Undertaker’s final match against John Cena somehow. What if this match gets made a year in advance the night after WrestleMania 32 for WrestleMania 33? Could the match happen before then?
– If you want to see something fairly delightful, check out A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens from this show. Owens and Styles seemed to be the only talents capable of exciting the Philadelphia crowd. Their almost 20 minute match was close to pay-per-view quality. This was delightful, even with a sub-optimal ending.
– I am pretty sure folks getting Owens vs. Styles as the main event on house shows (as Atlantic City recently did) are going home quite happy with what they see.
– Let’s continue the discussion of Kevin Owens by discussing the awful setup for the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match at WrestleMania. It made very little sense. It also took three men who were there to be laughed at as losers (Zack Ryder, Stardust, and Sin Cara) and put them in a major WrestleMania match. This is a very poor way to build up a match.
– Don’t get me wrong, Ryder, Stardust, and Sin Cara are delightful wrestlers. They are talented and capable. They aren’t characters the audience has been given a reason to care about. Randomly inserting them as fodder in a ladder fiasco doesn’t make the audience care. Adding these folks to this match waters down the match to an absurd degree.
– Miz calling Sami Zayn “skinny Seth Rogan” hits a little too close to home for Sami’s character. I’ve heard him described this way by wrestlers and fans alike and it doesn’t seem like a compliment.
– Roman Reigns had a pretty easy night of work. WWE limited his exposure in front of the hostile crowd, then allowed him to assault a frightened man backstage. It’s going to be weird when Triple H and Roman simply lock up to start their WrestleMania match after this heated build up.
– Stephanie McMahon is a very talented antagonist and did a great job with her opening promo. Her backstage work with Kevin Owens was decent, but not spectacular.
– I’m happy to see WWE giving the full video package treatment to Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker. This allows them to cover for Shane’s inability to remember lines and allows other wrestlers’ voices to chime in. This is super necessary.
– On this same note, where are the video packages for debuting talents like Sami Zayn? Who is Sami, by the way? What does he do? Why should I like him? WWE has told us very little about him on Raw and it’s bothersome. The track record of wrestlers called up from the current incarnation of NXT is not great. Aside from Kevin Owens, most wrestlers getting called up have been poorly presented.
– Dean Ambrose now owns a chainsaw. I assume Terry Funk enjoyed reliving his glory days as Chainsaw Charlie.
– The New Day were given a classic WWE babyface promo with classic WWE babyface material. The result was a disappointing clash in styles between what New Day does well and what WWE makes them do. The League of Nations are supposed to seem like the lame team between the two, but when the comedy bombs, what is New Day supposed to do?
– Rusev vs. Big E was a fun big man matchup. These two rarely disappoint.
– Chris Jericho is adept at winning when distracted. This is WWE experience paying off. A.J. Styles is still adjusting to WWE-style distractions, thus he loses when he sees them.
– What if Triple H’s driver had just run over Roman Reigns? That could have been funny.
– Charlotte vs. Natalya was a fine short match. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks having to talk over each other on commentary was distracting. Why not give both women a two minute backstage promo? Why not do a four minute video package with comments from all three women on who they are and what this match means to them? WWE knows how to do this stuff right. They do it right on NXT. They do it right on the main roster. They are intentionally doing this wrong and it makes the two babyface women (Becky and Sasha) seem hard to like.
– Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman was as “meh” a main event as I could imagine. Paul Heyman repeating his standard promo on commentary didn’t help things.
WWE did not deliver a good show here. It was long, fairly pointless, illogical in moments, and frustrating. This has not been a compelling Road to WrestleMania and it starts from the top of the card all the way down. Aside from Shane McMahon’s amazing return, I cannot think of a good segment in this entire build. I’m worried about what WWE will bring us next week and I’m worried about WrestleMania.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? If they aren’t super annoying thoughts (and please don’t ignore this and post super annoying thoughts), hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email me at email@example.com.
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