Raw Thoughts- Despite All My Rage, I'm Just A Kevin In A Cage
We begin this week's Raw with a look back at last week's Raw- I feel like these video packages are very helpful, with the amount of wrestling content we get bombarded with, it's easy to lose track of what's happening. For those that missed it, Kevin Owens got to look strong for possibly the first time in his Universal Title reign, wearing Rollins and Reigns out with a steel chair, then delivering a picture-perfect powerbomb on Roman through the announcers table.
-I'm starting to really strongly think that we're heading towards Jericho vs. Owens at Mania. For a while, I thought Chris Jericho would miss this year's Wrestlemania due to Fozzy touring in 2017, but I got some insider information this morning (well, not really insider, but just... okay?) Chris Jericho will be part of the VIP signings at Wrestlemania Axxess, so one would assume he'll also be performing at WM33 the next day. Things like Owens accepting the US title challenge on Jericho's behalf definitely point in the direction of a "best friends" showdown at Mania.
-Cesaro and Luke Gallows (with Sheamus and Karl Anderson in tow) did a good job hyping the tag title match at the Rumble this Sunday/Monday (depending on your time zone). The two referees gimmick is interesting, and this Raw match did a nice job in showing how two referees can be a factor against the heels- do we include Sheamus as a heel? He never officially turned, still gets booed, and is begrudgingly partners with Cesaro. I don't know anymore...
-Excellent sit-down interview with Graves and Bayley. I like that they have Graves doing it instead of Michael Cole- eye towards the future, Cole's talked in the last week about transitioning to a backstage role, but also Corey Graves has the NXT history with both Bayley and Charlotte. Much like last week, the writers have done a commendable job in bringing the confidence and passion out of Bayley by talking about her WWE fandom. Bayley sounded great, believable and we can all relate to her, Well done.
-The whole Rollins/Zayn Rumble spot storyline was really strong. It's not too often anymore we get stories that are contained to a single show or segment like this, and it added high stakes to the match. Rollins and Zayn wrestled a well above average match too, highly entertaining and dramatic. Don't think I've ever seen a Pedigree on the apron before either!
-Triple H's music hits. No appearance, but it was a strong reminder that we are going into Wrestlemania season, and Seth Rollins appears to have a date with The Game at Mania. A little disappointing that Rollins is out of the Rumble, it's a big star to lose from the equation. But hey, that's the way I'm supposed to feel, so good for them.
-Nice to see a Raw spotlight on Mustafa Ali, he got the video package and the main focus of the cruiserweight six man tag. Ali and his inverted 450 splash have been a highlight of 205 Live over the past few weeks. The match itself got a good amount of time, too, other players like Gallagher, Daivari and Nese got their moments too- slight Nese botch aside.
-The New Day and friends segment was a clusterfuck, basically. The crowd popped big for the arrival of Enzo and Cass, and I was really excited too... mostly because it looked like New Day were moving on from Titus and Enzo & Cass were moving on from Rusev and Jinder. Wait, here come the dull bastards- well, that's a little unfair, Rusev's cool.
-Found it amusing that Rusev and Big Cass just announce their entry in the Rumble, but Titus wasn't in (not to mention the whole Rollins/Zayn thing earlier). WWE have not been clear at all about how entry in the Rumble is determined this year. Most just said, "right, I'm in", a couple had to fight for it, and nobodies like Titus don't get a chance. I would have held qualifying matches, and maybe say that 10 of the 30 spots were executive decisions by the GMs and commissioners. That would explain the major stars like Taker, Goldberg and Brock (to be fair, Goldberg's inclusion was explained after Survivor Series) and also account for the surprise legends/NXT wrestlers. Just attention to detail would be nice, it's all been a little up in the air.
-Glad Strowman got added to the clusterfuck to kick ass. The roar of his music saved that segment.
-Although, New Day ripping off the "cash me ousside" meme made me laugh more than anything they've done in ages. Kofi playing the role of the embarrassed mum was brilliant.
- Big Show looks great! He's down almost 150 pounds from what I believe was his heaviest in 2006, when he tipped the scales at 530-something. I hope WWE don't decide to bring him back on the road full-time. Keep him as a special attraction for big events, that way he's more valuable and he can maintain this level of health and fitness. Show got pretty fit in like 2008 after time away from WWE, but piled the weight back on as soon as he had to deal with full time life on the road. The Slim Show is a great addition to the Rumble.
-Reigns and Jericho had another very good match for the US Title, even if it's a bit overdone at this point- I feel like Reigns has only wrestled Owens and Jericho for months. But it was good, didn't overstay its welcome, and most importantly, Jericho didn't drop the strap back to Roman. Seeing Kevin Owens get elevated up in the shark cage was funny, and considering how much KO kicked ass last week, that kind of humiliation should lead to an intense, physical match at the Royal Rumble.
-No way does that match end without Jericho dropping some kind of weapon to Owens. It might backfire and cause Reigns to win the title, but either way, that's happening.
-Tell you what, Owens was vicious towards Byron Saxton on commentary. Going right for the jugular with "you were never good enough to be a wrestler, that's why you're a commentator". That had to hurt a lot for poor Saxton. From what I remember of Saxton in early NXT (when it was a game show and not developmental), he wasn't terrible in the ring. And as much crap as he gets, he's not a terrible commentator. A bit bland, and he shit the bed big time on the Raw post-Mania 31, but overall he does okay. Now, Otunga, he's the definition of useless. Can't wrestle, can't talk, his wife is kinda famous which I thought was the reason they kept him employed, but she's never done anything for WWE... so is it a race thing? WWE don't want to fire a black guy? I mean, he doesn't have his position based on any kind of merit or skill. He's bad. Like approaching Mike Adamle levels bad.
-Charlotte's sit down interview was every bit as good as Bayley's. She's so committed to her character, it's amazing how far she's come in all aspects looking back just 3 years ago. She was seen as someone far too green for the push she was getting in NXT before she had that Takeover match with Natalya.
-Sasha vs. Nia Jax added to the Rumble Kick-Off show, along with the tag title match. So glad the cruisers have managed to stay on the main card of the Royal Rumble! Someone in WWE reads my blog, I take it. If that's the case, do what you have to do to get me on the camera side at Wrestlemania. I wanna get on TV and be famous, dammit!
-Speaking of cruisers, Rich Swann. Noam Dar and Neville did really well in that segment. Swann a little too heavy on the shouting for my liking, but it was still intense. Cool to see storylines cross to give us Neville vs. Cedric Alexander on 205 Live. That could be great if given enough time.
-Goldberg!!! ...kinda sucked this time out, to be honest. I mean, all signs point to him being concussed because he decided to headbutt a door as part of his entrance. That doesn't make the train wreck that followed any more entertaining, though. Bleeding, sweating, messing up his lines.. brutal.
-The appearances of Lesnar and Taker were major surprises. Big Raw moment to have Lesnar, Goldberg and Taker in the same ring. And then... WWE fade to black. What the hell? I get the concept of "save it for Sunday", but they really should have given the audience (including the paying ones in attendance) a little something, some kind of brief skirmish. When Goldberg debuted, he had a staredown with The Rock... then Speared him. When Lesnar returned in 2012, he had a staredown with Cena... and F5ed him.
-I believe fans need to let their voices be heard. WWE think fans will be satisfied just seeing these big stars, but if they do nothing... they might as well be cardboard cut-outs in the ring.
Overall, very strong show. I can pick on the anticlimactic ending, but it was still a big deal to have those three stars in the ring. Good wrestling action, between Jericho vs Reigns, Cesaro vs. Gallows and especially Zayn vs Rollins, it was enthralling bell-to-bell. Also, the sit-down interviews with Bayley and Charlotte worked perfectly to hype that feud. Bring on the Rumble!
Until next time, take care,