By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins: A strong main event that breathed some life into this feud. It was more about Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and even Mick Foley than it was about the two wrestlers, but they changed that last night with an intense match that made their program feel personal. The interference of Chris Jericho was a huge downer, yet they played it perfectly by having heel color commentator Corey Graves act just as annoyed as everyone else. This wasn’t positioned as typical heel interference that the heel color commentator praises. Rather, Jericho took it so far that even Graves was fed up. By the way, there was no sign of WWE building toward the Owens vs. Roman Reigns match that is advertised for the Roadblock pay-per-view. It’s not time to put Reigns back in the title picture so here’s hoping that was simply a placeholder for advertising.
Goldberg promo: Less continues to be more with Goldberg. No, that’s not an endorsement of the decision to give him the dominant win over Brock Lesnar when they could have made a long term star such as Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura, but rather it’s a tip of the cap for WWE recognizing that Goldberg’s mic work is best in small doses. It was disappointing that WWE didn’t follow up with Brock Lesnar or Paul Heyman last night, but they capitalized on the Goldberg popularity by having him announce his involvement the Royal Rumble match. Will Lesnar do the same? Sure, they could have had Lesnar make an unadvertised appearance and cost Goldberg the match, but there’s more money in advertising both men as entering the Rumble, as I noted in last night’s audio review.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho: An entertaining skit with the comedy heels once again teasing their breakup only to pull the rug out from under the fans by simultaneously blaming Roman Reigns for Team Raw’s loss at the Royal Rumble. They filled a good amount of time and had the crowd with them every step of the way. I hope they pull the trigger sooner or later because the fans seem more intrigued by Jericho feuding with Owens than anything right now.
Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn: A good beatdown segment that protected Zayn by having Strowman attack him from behind prior to the match. I felt bad for the referee. All three commentators agreed that Zayn couldn’t defend himself, yet the ref wouldn’t stop the match until Mick Foley came out and made the call. By the way, what’s up with Foley booking Zayn in this match as punishment? Was that something Stephanie McMahon’s character forced him to do? If not, then this makes no sense, as Zayn was screwed out of winning the Intercontinental Championship, and it was bizarre to have the babyface authority figure punish him for it.
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte and Nia Jax: A minor Hit for the finish of Banks forcing Charlotte to tap serving as a nice lead into their title match next week. It looks like WWE is moving on to Charlotte vs. Bayley and Banks vs. Jax. The last thing we need is the women continuing to pay hot potato with the championship more than they already have, so I assume Jax does something to cost Banks the match next week.
Cedric Alexander vs. Ariya Daivari: A minor Hit simply because they gave Daivari a chance to establish himself as the heel with his pre-match mic work. At some point, WWE needs to establish strong cruiserweight heels beyond Brian Kendrick. They have several quality babyfaces, but they are having a hard time getting over because all the heels aside from Kendrick are treated like glorified enhancement wrestlers. Here’s hoping that changes once 205 Live launches next week. I’m also curious to see if they do more with the flirting between Alexander and Alicia Fox that aired on the pre-show yet was not acknowledged on Raw.
Rusev vs. Enzo Amore: A nice squash win for Rusev, who needs wins like this coming off his latest high profile loss to Roman Reigns. Rusev taunting Big Cass as he applied the Accolade left me fearful that they intend to go with a Cass vs. Rusev singles program. They have a nice thing going with Enzo and Cass. More importantly, it feels premature for a Cass singles run. The backstage segment with naked Enzo was strange, but he’s likable enough that he was able to make it work. Did the same creative team member who wrote the Dolph Ziggler and Lana shower segment also come up with this? If so, WWE HR should launch an investigation to find out if they have a creeper on their payroll.
WWE Raw Misses
New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro: A strange finish with New Day getting the win in a heelish manner. It would be one thing if they had done something heelish to defeat Sheamus, but Cesaro was the guy who took the pin for his team. I’m not sure how they will follow up on this when they defend the tag titles against a heel duo next week.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Golden Truth: What in the world did Golden Truth do from a storyline standpoint to even earn a spot in a No. 1 contenders match? Gallows and Anderson are just plain boring through no fault of their own. These guys should be kicking all sorts of ass, but creative have messed them up to the point that only a tag title win will make anyone take notice. I doubt it comes next week, as it seems like New Day will be breaking Demolition’s record.
Rich Swann vs. TJ Perkins vs. Noam Dar: Hit-worthy in-ring action from the top three babyfaces of the cruiserweight division. Unfortunately, the fans had no rooting interest and opted to react to big spots more than one wrestler in particular. I can’t emphasize enough that WWE needs to develop strong heels so that the fans have some reason to get behind the babyfaces. The handshakes and spirit of competition approach just isn’t for everyone.