Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe’s run on the main roster so far has been pretty much perfect. And tonight didn’t do anything to change that. I thought they might need this to go 20 minutes to fill time on this card, but I’m glad they kept it short and just let Joe massacre Zayn. No need for 50/50, everyone gets a participation trophy booking. Joe’s the guy they’re pushing. Put him over.
Rating: ***. Really enjoyed this squash from Joe.
Raw Tag Team Titles: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo & Cass
It seems like they’ve been teasing a heel turn for Enzo the last couple weeks. He’s been more annoying than usual.
There’s a bit of backlash against Enzo and Cass on the internet, but the crowd still absolutely loves them. This match was good solely because the crowd loves Enzo and Cass so much that they were hot for the whole thing.
The finish was put together pretty well here with Enzo catching a kick coming into the ring and then Anderson knocking his foot off the rope.
Rating: **¼. Solid tag match. Hope Enzo and Cass get the belts at Wrestlemania.
Sasha vs. Nia Jax
It feels like this feud has been going on forever. Sasha spends 90% of this match getting pummeled and the crowd was not pleased. Sasha fired up a quick comeback and got the win for a big pop.
Rating: **½. I enjoyed that. Sasha sold her ass off and I’m glad she finally got to beat Nia.
Jinder Mahal vs. Cesaro
And now the show took a weird turn. We get a “bonus” match featuring…Jinder Mahal. Seeing Cesaro is always welcome, but nobody cares about Jinder Mahal. This was a match that would have been boring on Raw, much less on a pay-per-view. Totally killed the crowd. And for some reason Jinder has to be distracted to lose to Cesaro.
Rating: 1/2*. That sucked.
Big Show vs. Rusev
Big hosses fighting is something I like, but I’m not into Rusev being job fodder for Big Show. Show’s weight loss really is impressive. Maybe they can get him over again, but I don’t like Rusev being sacrificed at that altar.
Doing cold matches doesn’t work in WWE. They’ve trained their fans that every single match has to have an angle or storyline, so when they do pure wrestling the crowd tunes out.
Rating: ½*. This was some bad stuff. Pure filler.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs. Jack Gallagher
This was probably the biggest Cruiserweight match they can make right now. Neville the champion against Gallagher, the most defined character in the division.
The crowd was killed dead by the previous matches, but Gallager and Neville managed to win them back. They took their time getting going, but by the time Gallagher hit that nasty third headbutt the crowd was going wild. Best Cruiserweight match on the main roster by a wide margin, Gallagher looked great in defeat here.
Loved that Neville had to break out the Red Arrow to win here. First time he’s done it since he turned heel. Great psychology.
Rating: ***1/4. Quite enjoyed that. Gallagher fought hard from underneath. Slow build ended up working.
New Day come out to fill some more time. And the Kevin Owens/Goldberg match keeps getting shorter and shorter.
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Braun Strowman really has been a revelation. One of the few things WWE is really booking well at the moment. He’s improved dramatically in a short period of time. The crowd is really starting to respond. I think it’s too soon to be doing this match, but we’ll see what they have planned.
The crowd has been quiet tonight, but they get loud to boo the hell out of Roman Reigns.
This match worked well. They both did what they’re good at: Braun was a force of nature and Roman sold his ass off. Tons of great spots here: Strowman blocking the Driveby Kick and knocking Reigns into the ring post, Strowman catching Reigns trying the Spear and hitting a Running Powerslam through the announce table.
And unfortunately Reigns went over. The mistake was booking this match, neither guy should be taking a loss right now.
Rating: ***½. Really good match.
Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
I feel like they wasted Bayley’s big title win on TV to keep Charlotte’s pay-per-view streak alive. They put a lot more stock in that than I think any of the fans do.
It’s good to take a moment to reflect that a women’s match is going on second to last on this pay-per-view, and not in a bathroom spot. These two are among the most over wrestlers on the Raw roster. We’ve come a long way.
Pretty good match here with some weirdness and botches. How is Sasha running in and attacking Charlotte right in front of the referee not a disqualification? And then Bayley wins, ending Charlotte’s pay-per-view streak in a really shitty way. Hopefully they overturn this decision on Raw tomorrow.
Rating: Rating: **½. A good match with some botches and booking weirdness weighing it down
Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Goldberg
Goldberg’s never been an underdog, but this current run he’s had has been remarkably improbable. It was one thing to think that he’d get a nice reaction when he came back. Nostalgia for a guy who used to be a big star and hadn’t been around for a decade isn’t a shock. But then he cut some killer promos and became the hottest thing in wrestling. So here we are in 2017 with Goldberg challenging for the world title on pay-per-view.
So the question for this match was whether it would be over or under five minutes. I thought with Owens stalling we’d get there, but it turned out all the stalling was before the bell. The Jericho distraction was an elegant way of making this match 30 seconds long without burying Owens too badly.
Goldberg is the world champion. Somehow, WWE has managed him infinitely better in his second run than his first.
Rating: N/A. Wasn’t an actual match.
Overall: That was a spectacularly weird show. I didn’t hate it, but I can understand why a lot of people did. The filler matches in the middle of the show were really, really bad. They had to know the main event was going to be short, they should have built some more matches for this show.
We’re on the way to Wrestlemania. I’m not thrilled with the way we appear to be going, but maybe WWE will surprise me this time.