By Will Pruett
Will Pruett watches the 90 minute Hulu edit of Raw because it’s better. This is an all random thoughts edition of his Pause, because longer essays aren’t always the best way to communicate.
– Goldberg opening Raw is still an odd sight for me. As someone who watched his career from the beginning of his WCW run to the end of his initial WWE run, I cannot get over the odd visual of seeing the WWE logos and “GOLDBERG” appearing in big letters on WWE’s big screen.
– While I’m critical of WWE using Bill Goldberg in a main event the way they are, I have to praise how WWE has presented him. They’re getting the most out of the limited Goldberg and maximizing the use of his star power. I’m very impressed by how carefully Goldberg has been presented.
– With this praised heaped on Goldberg, I have to express some worry about Kevin Owens’ character. While Owens’ performances as the serious version of himself have been great, what happens when this version of his character loses in almost no time to Goldberg? It seems like WWE could have delayed the entire “Festival of Friendship” with Jericho and Owens for the show after Fastlane. This would have been a logical moment for a character shift for Owens. Will his suddenly serious persona seem as important after taking a major loss?
– Goldberg guaranteeing a WWE Universal Championship win was logical. At this point, it’s the right thing to do. I would be shocked is Goldberg vs. Owens goes more than five minutes.
– The New Day’s weird parody of the controversial and awkward ending of the Oscars was not enjoyable.
– The New Day’s match with Rusev and Jinder Mahal was not enjoyable.
– Cesaro proved why he isn’t a main event wrestler in his backstage segment with Samoa Joe. Instead of acting in a natural way, Cesaro was the high school theatre version of himself. Joe has a natural and threatening presence onscreen, while Cesaro seems to be putting on multiple disingenuous layers. I like Cesaro as a performer, but his lack of growth is apparent in these moments.
– Stephanie McMahon is good at being very mean. She’s a fine television character when given enough direction and consistent storytelling. Sadly, she doesn’t have either of those things right now. She’s a dominating personality, but WWE would be wise to only use her in necessary moments. Her weird segment with Mick Foley was not fun to watch. Seeing Mick Foley get consistently embarrassed by Stephanie isn’t good television. It’s sad.
– I was a defender of Bayley keeping the Raw Women’s Championship after Sasha Banks’ interference until last week. WWE brought forth a logical case against Bayley where she could have been a classy athlete giving up something she hadn’t rightfully won. Please see how La La Land producer Jason Horowitz handled handing the Best Picture Oscar over to the producers of Moonlight. He didn’t just run off and say nothing, he rightfully praised the winning film. Bayley’s character has been harmed by this.
– In this harm, you have one of the moral centers of WWE storytelling now off center. Just as I criticized WWE for years when John Cena didn’t do the morally good things, I will criticize their direction with Bayley. Few characters act as true examples for younger fans the way Bayley does.
– Charlotte bringing out Nia Jax as her partner made a ton of sense. Dana Brooke hasn’t been portrayed as important in any way.
– I know what WWE is doing with Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte, and Nia, but I’m not excited about it. They will likely have a four way match for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. I would rather see a singles match or two from this group of women. WWE has grown in a ton of ways concerning their treatment of women, but placing four top women in one match instead of giving them more time on the card bums me out.
– Seth Rollins’ speech about missing WrestleMania took a little longer than I would have prefered, but it was well delivered. This segment picked up nicely when Triple H and Samoa Joe came to the ring. I loved the threat of Joe being on Rollins’ blindside. Triple H played his role really well. Everything about this clicked by the end as Rollins swore to make it to WrestleMania to call out Triple H.
– I respect the way WWE went about promising us a Rollins and Triple H confrontation at WrestleMania. I doubt it will be a match, but it should be something fun and, perhaps a nice reprieve from monotony, at WrestleMania.
– Samoa Joe is an important badass on WWE TV. Cesaro is an undercard tag team wrestler. Their encounter on this show made sense.
– Sami Zayn blindsiding Joe was nice to see. I am really looking forward to Joe vs. Zayn on Sunday at Fastlane.
– Is next week when we get the yelling promo and write-off for Mick Foley?
– Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman had a heck of a contract signing. These two are the biggest mystery for me going into Sunday. What will they do when it comes time for one of them to win and one to lose? Strowman is too dominant to lose right now. Reigns needs big wins if he’s facing Undertaker at WrestleMania.
– I’ve said it a few times, but I’d be more excited about Braun Strowman winning the Universal Championship right now and heading into a match with Brock Lesnar.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.