Raw Thoughts- Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle & Sami Ambrose
The cool thing about being a fan of pro wrestling and MMA, is that there's so much content available, if you happen to see a bad show, there's bound to be something better right around the corner. For example, on Monday, I watched BJ Penn get absolutely slaughtered by Yair Rodriguez. Not fun, though using my head and not my heart like I did in my last blog post, I should have seen it coming. Haven't had a chance to watch the event in full, but when I do, I'll write my first UFC Thoughts post later in the week.
As an aside, my blog posts are about to either be much shorter in length, or be delayed quite often. I'm beginning my first full time teaching gig this year, and contrary to popular belief, we teachers do have work to do in the holidays. I'm getting this writing done in the morning, then this afternoon/evening/night I need to study up on high school maths content and make lesson plans (after Smackdown, obviously)
But yeah, right now it's all about Raw! If UFC let me down a bit on Monday, Raw brought my spirits back up on Tuesday (for my American readers, Aussies are from the future! :P ).
-The classic, "get a whole bunch of people in the ring during the opening segment to promote several matches" thing worked well... that really needs a shorter name. The Universal title match, the Zayn/Strowman feud and the Rumble match all got hype here, and also lead to our Raw main event.
-Having Brock Lesnar make his appearance like that really enhanced the show. Normally they hype his appearance all show long before appearing at the top of the hour or end of the show, so having him storm out right away was refreshing. He needed to rebuilt in a sense after losing to Goldberg at Survivor Series in 1:26, so having him suplex and F5 the whole Raw main event scene did the trick. Lesnar took a couple of shots, and they teased a Strowman match which could happen at Fastlane. Brock did more in this appearance than he has maybe his last 10 appearances on Raw. Beats the hell out of Heyman cutting a long-winded promo while Brock smirks and bounces on the spot. Hot start to Raw.
-Cool to see Enzo back in the ring and healed from his injury. To me, though, still pretty much a heel in this Rusev/Lana thing. He tried to sleep with a man's wife! Not the actions of a good guy, no matter how much he hesitated at the time. Anyway, same old formula. Enzo gets his ass kicked, Cass tags and does all the work, then uses Enzo as a human projectile so he can take the glory. Side note- how long before Jinder gets suspended for roids? Seriously, in a couple of months he went from being a little soft around the midsection to being a huge ball of muscles and veins- that ain't just hard work, sorry bro.
-Great to see Jack Gallagher get time on commentary on Raw. It's quite obvious that WWE are high on Gentleman Jack, as he's been one of the more featured cruiserweights in recent times. Almost as if WWE are recognising the crowd reactions and the stellar work Gallagher's put in. Fun back and forth with Austin Aries and Gallagher- Jack showed himself to be quick witted as Aries was taking shots as him.
-Gallagher did say "wrestler" twice while otherwise putting over Daivari and the "I Forfeit" match on 205 Live. Will he get punished?
-I liked the little angle with Sasha and Nia. I made mention of this in my NXT Thoughts last week, I love it when WWE film things in different settings. They very rarely film in an empty arena, so that helped an otherwise standard heel ambush stand out.
-Sheamus, Cesaro and The Club put on a very entertaining match. The finish of The Club winning shocked me, only for it to be reversed. The crowd seemed to be disappointed that Gallows and Anderson weren't walking out champs. I like the new spin the commentary team are putting on them though- talking about them being Japanese "legends" and signing big money contracts, like a couple of Japanese MVPs (as in Montel Vontavious Porter for you younger readers).
-Neville continues to deliver in his heel role. I hope his match at the Rumble with Rich Swann doesn't get preshow-ed. It'd be the perfect PPV opener in the Alamodome.
-New Day has been one of the least entertaining parts of Raw since losing the titles. I'm mildly intrigued about what will happen with all three members in the Rumble match, but this stuff with Titus is terrible.
-Charlotte and Bayley did really well in their segment. Charlotte now has the confidence on the mic to back up her arrogant character, and great use of Bayley's real life fandom to get the crowd more receptive to her. It worked extremely well, and having Charlotte mock Bayley for being a fan gave Bayley the ammo to fire back passionately. The writers found something to draw the passion out of Bayley. She doesn't seem believable when talking about taking the title or kicking Charlotte's ass, but she's believable talking about how much she loves WWE. Crowd firmly on Bayley's side, big segment to hype the Royal Rumble. Well done.
-Glad Cedric Alexander got a big win over former cruiserweight champ Brian Kendrick. This love triangle angle is advancing Cedric up the ranks, well deserved after his performance in the Cruiserweight Classic. Also, many of the cruisers getting spotlighted this Raw. Short matches, but nice to see the spotlight go around. And, I'm going to keep mentioning this until they see reason- why do WWE insist on having ring crew run around putting purple tape on ropes and changing the whole presentation for about 5 minutes of air time. WWE and WCW have both had cruiser divisions before, but they never went to such pains to make a distinction between the CWs and the rest of the show.
-Announcement of the first member of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class- Kurt Freaking Angle! I heard about the news earlier in the day thanks to ESPN's Facebook page, but WWE still did an admirable job in putting together a world class hype video. Kurt was a huge part of my formative years watching WWE, and it's awesome to see him get recognised for his great work. It's kind of weird, seeing myself get to an age where the wrestlers I watched as a kid are going into the HOF. I mean, we had a few exceptions- Austin and Edge went in early due to injuries, Eddie went in due to dying while he was a main event star on Smackdown. In recent years, the Attitude Era has come to the forefront at the Hall of Fame- midcarders like Rikishi and Godfather, we had the trailblazing Divas Trish and Lita take their rightful spots- but this is the first main event star from the Attitude Era not getting a premature induction. I'm going to be attending Wrestlemania weekend, and I just know I'll lose my shit when Kurt's music hits.
-Main event time! Six man tag, and it only occurs to me that we haven't had a lot of six man tag main events since the Shield disbanded. So, now we have the team of Rollins, Reigns... and Sami Zayn playing the role of Ambrose (including a cute little skit where Zayn tried to get in on that Shield fists together pose). In the other corner, Owens, Jericho and Strowman. It was as excellent a match as those names suggest, Strowman scored the clean win to continue his momentum, and Kevin Owens got to stand tall for maybe the first time as Universal Champion. Having commentary bow out while Owens went nuts with a steel chair, followed by a beautiful powerbomb on Reigns through the table to end the show. Pro wrestling logic says they're making Owens look strong now so it's a bigger deal when Reigns beats him, but you never know.
-I like Jericho's idea of him winning the Rumble and having the best friends face each other in the main event of Wrestlemania, US champ vs. Universal champ (I mean, realistically the WWE title will be billed over Universal, and maybe the (potential) Brock vs. Goldberg match. Maybe even behind whatever the Undertaker does). Everything's up in the air right now, but I'm still excited about Jericho winning the US title, and I'd love to see him in "A" main event of Wrestlemania.
Overall, very enjoyable Raw. Wrestling wise, the tag title match and the six man tag stood out, while Brock kicking ass and seeing footage of Kurt Angle on Raw took me back to 2002. Great times.
Until next time, take care,