Even with three-plus hours, there is a lot for Raw to deal with as WWE sets up shop in The Miz’s hometown of Cleveland on Mar. 26.
Interesting that the question WWE.com’s official preview for tonight’s show is “will Roman Reigns be 100 percent for WrestleMania?” and not, you know, “will Roman Reigns be in prison for assaulting federal officers on April 8?”
But, hey, it’s a TV show. A weird one that sometimes pretends the things that happens on-screen are really real and sometimes doesn’t, but... that’s wrestling in the 21st century. But setting aside the beating up of pretend U.S. Marshals, the angle WWE has built for our second helping of Universal champion Brock Lesnar vs. Reigns at ‘Mania is a pretty dang hot old-school one.
What’s really interesting (to me, anyway) is how they’ve thrown a little bit of everything into the mix. From the ‘Reality’ Era use of Lesnar’s contract to pitting Roman against Vince McMahon like it was the Attitude Era, this one’s had it all, scripted fight fans.
Is it working? Depends on who you ask.
Did it need all that to begin with? I think the trap that many, myself included, fell into was thinking anything about this story was supposed to change minds regarding Brock, Reigns or WWE booking in general. Whether you think the champ is a jerk who doesn’t respect the business and is only here for the money, or the baddest ass in the world, this build has something for you. Ditto those who think The Big Dog is a cool dude, great worker and locker room leader vs. fans who will never accept him because the company chose him, still make “Sufferin’ Succotash” jokes and believe him to only have three moves. Well, actually, if you still think that last thing is true, you’re just hatin’, but... you get the point.
What’s been done for this feud is to turn the volume on all that stuff up to ‘11’. It is WrestleMania.
And no matter what you think of either man, these two are gonna beat the hell out of each in New Orleans.
Or maybe tonight. Brock is advertised for Quicken Loans Arena, and time for ‘no shows’ - worked or shoot - is past.
The title scene
After fessing up to using her #TeamRude partner, Women’s champ Alexa Bliss responded to the news she’ll have to face Nia Jax at ‘Mania by watching The Irresistable Force beat-up Mickie James and hightailing it out of Dodge. Bliss might be able to avoid Jax on Raw, but she’ll definitely have to face the music on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
He doesn’t think he needs a partner, but General Manager Kurt Angle is making Braun Strowman find someone ahead of his shot at Cesaro and Sheamus’ tag team titles. Rumors say we might not find who will fight alongside The Monster Among Men until April 8. Can we at least get a hint?
The three-way dance in the Superdome for the Intercontinental championship will end up being about Miz, because he’s carrying the strap into The Showcase of The Immortals. And because he’s an A-Lister. But the road to the match has spent a lot of time focusing on the rivalry between his two challengers. Is that Miz’s plan? Even after Seth Rollins came to the aid of Finn Bálor against The Miztourage last Monday, Rollins is still obsessed with getting a rematch against Finn due to the Irishman beating him in one-on-one action a couple weeks ago. Oh well, it leaves The Awesome One more time to gameplan for an eventual showdown with Daniel Bryan.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- We’ll probably see Lesnar, but will we get eyes on Ronda Rousey during the USA Network broadcast this week? Or is Rowdy just for the live crowd like last Monday? There’s no ‘Ultimate Deletion’ planned, so hopefully we won’t have to wait for YouTube to see somebody get thrown around. Stephanie McMahon probably learned her lesson though, so while we may see another training montage with Angle, don’t count on Triple H or his wife getting in the ring with Ronda or Kurt until ‘Mania.
- Speaking of ‘Deletion’, Matt Hardy delivered a hit when he gave the WWE Universe it’s first full-taste of his Woken world. But Hardy doesn’t have anything planned for New Orleans. Neither does his brother, Nero, or the Abigail-less vessel, Bray Wyatt. Will that change? Where is their room for any of them?
- Should have addressed this higher up, but it’s hard to get excited for a Kane match in 2018. John Cena will face The Devil’s Favorite Demon tonight in his quest to get Undertaker to accept his challenge for April 8. The match probably won’t be great, but who knows what insult Cena will hurl at The Dead Man this time? And there’s always a chance Kane’s brother might actually show up...
- Plus... more men and women declare for the battle royals, probably!
Two weeks until WrestleMania 34!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?