WWE hit Cleveland, Ohio for Monday Night Raw this week and it was all about taking us home to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) this coming Sunday night in San Antonio. That included all hands from Part Time City on deck.
Click here to read full results and the live blog. Let’s get to reacting to the show.
We could complain endlessly about how Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg are part timers and how that's killing the business and yadda yadda yadda but that's a waste. It would also be out of place on a show like this.
Because this was fun!
Yes, we have to get past the fact that Goldberg cut himself open headbutting things and then flubbed his lines. But beyond that, they gave us a relatively fresh go home segment to a Royal Rumble. No burly brawl. Just raw star power on display with the tease of intense violence.
Two things sold this for me:
1. That they did the traditional tease of Lesnar and Goldberg squaring off, realized it wouldn't have the same impact after Survivor Series, and juiced it up with a surprise appearance from Undertaker that led to an actually good staredown
2. Lesnar being so damn good at showing his fear of Undertaker. There is NO ONE in wrestling who is as good at putting over the kind of presence "The Phenom" has than Lesnar. He looks like he's both in awe and slightly afraid, and it doesn't matter that he has Undertaker's number. It never will. That's the power of "The Deadman" and it only works because Lesnar makes it work. It's a beautiful thing to watch as it happens and it did wonders to make this segment, especially with Goldberg continuing to make the silly faces he's always making
I also appreciated that they ended the show without anyone getting physical. It's a nice break from the expected.
There was so much to like about the Seth Rollins-Sami Zayn-Triple H-Stephanie McMahon situation on this show.
- Stephanie McMahon does not like Sami Zayn, so he's the only guy who actually had to wrestle his way into the match instead of just finding a mic and saying as much. It was really just a way to make him work while also screwing over Seth Rollins.
- Rollins finally did get screwed in an actually meaningful way and now he has every reason to be legitimately upset at Triple H, considering he lost out on a spot in the Royal Rumble and therefore a chance at the main event of WrestleMania.
- It wasn't a total screwjob, though, considering Rollins had time to recover and he wasn't rolled up while distracted, instead going back to the match and THEN getting rolled up. That's a great way to protect Zayn and give him an earned win while also getting across that Triple H screwed Seth.
- Rollins and Zayn had an incredible match.
This was great and worked on every level, including creating anticipation for Triple H's actual return and the fire Rollins will have once it happens.
All the best to all the rest
Luke Gallows def. Cesaro: The very simple story of this match was each tag team attempting to best figure out how to work together to get past bad WWE refereeing. There's something incredible about the company pushing a title match where they need two refs because one of the refs they employ isn't competent enough to do the job himself. This time around, the rulebreakers proved up to the task. Will the good guys figure it out by Sunday? There's your intrigue for the big PPV match.
Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho: It continues to be a shame that they've spammed this match-up and all its variations so many times because these two work well together and the matches are generally fun. We've just seen everything they could possibly give us, an especially bad thing because we're supposed to want to see what they're going to give us on a show we have to pay for. Kevin Owens absolutely destroying Byron Saxton on commentary was worth the time, though.
Nia Jax wins: She may not be the best promo but there's something about Nia's casual disdain for all those who oppose her that just works. It's very Brock Lesnar-esque. She believes she has no equal and there is no woman who poses an actual threat to her, and she's really good at bringing that across in an entertaining manner. But she also has that switch that flips when she is proven mistaken, like she undoubtedly will be in the match with Sasha Banks. And that's when she's REALLY fun to watch.
Sit-down: I certainly don't have a problem with using the go-home show to build to the women's title match with interviews with Bayley and Charlotte, respectively, but both were uninspired. There's a good enough story here but this feels like more groundwork, like Bayley has to lose so she can fall down a few more times before standing tall at the biggest show possible. It's worth sticking around for.
Big Show returns: WWE is great at throwing together large tag team matches featuring guys who have nothing better to do just to make sure they get some stuff in. It's fine when they do this with entertaining acts like New Day, Enzo & Cass, Rusev, Titus O'Neil, and Braun Strowman. It's even better when that leads to BIG BEEF. I don't care who you are, Big Show and Braun Strowman getting together in the ring is the 4th of July. Also worth pointing out: Michael Cole being amazed at how big Big Show is despite the fact that he's known him for 20 years.
This was a generally fun show!