OPENING SEGMENT- fine
First we get a replay of all of the terrible things that Owens and Jericho have done to Roman Reigns over the past two weeks in order to create sympathy for Roman. Then Roman comes out and gets massively booed. He cuts a promo to build up the WWE Universal Title match at the PPV. For some reason that shark cage is in the ring. Then Owens and Jericho came out and Owens cut a GREAT promo on him.
Jericho also cuts a promo on Roman. He says he’ll beat Roman up tonight, so Roman says “why don’t we have our rematch tonight.” Owens accepts the challenge for Jericho because apparently he can do this. Jericho was quite unhappy with this. Owens might have a plan here, but then again he might not. Vey insightful, I know.
LUKE GALLOWS (w/Karl Anderson) vs. CESARO (w/Sheamus)- 6/10
They’re having a rematch for the titles at the Rumble with two referees assigned to the match. Excellent! This was the same interference-filled match with a screwy finish we’ve seen a million times in this feud.
FOLEY TALKS TO STEPH ON THE PHONE- idiotic
She asks him why he has decided to give Roman Reigns his rematch tonight. Foley says that it’s because they need a big marquee main event. You’d think Steph would understand this concept after being an executive in a wrestling company for the better part of the past seventeen years. Then again, you’d think that in his thirty-five years in the business Mick would have picked up the fact that it’s best to announce your main event BEFORE THE F*CKING SHOW GOES ON THE AIR so you can actually sell some tickets.
Foley is still doing the “read the name of the town off of his hand” gimmick, because that’s definitely a gag that gets funnier each successive time.
Sami Zayn shows up and wants to know how you enter yourself in to the Royal Rumble. You’d think that there would have been some sort of memo sent out about this at some point, right? Everyone else seems to know how to do it, so this makes Sami look stupid. Mick is going to put him in but Steph decides that he needs to earn his way in by facing Seth Rollins, which makes Sami look like a loser because he’s the only guy not allowed to just declare his participation in the match.
So Sami leaves, and then Steph demands that Mick take her off of speakerphone so that she can tell him what she wants Rollins to do tonight. What is the purpose of doing this? Is she afraid someone is going to overhear? SO WHAT? The whole world is going to find out in a few minutes when Foley tells Cole and the Twitter people and whoever is charge of getting the word out to hype the show, right?
I F*CKING HATE SH*T LIKE THIS! The only reason that they had Steph switch off of speakerphone is so we, the viewing audience- who aren’t actually kayfabe there!- won’t hear what she is saying. And then we’ve got Foley saying “I don’t agree with it, but I’ll do it because you say so” but not mentioning what it is, all to build up mystery or intrigue or suspense or whatever, because WWE fancies themselves as an action-drama instead of what they really are, which is a wrestling show. And do you know how you build up intrigue for a wrestling show? BY ADVERTISING MATCHES THAT PEOPLE WANT TO SEE. The intrigue is not supposed to be about “what fiendish trap will the heel authority figure lay?” It’s supposed to be about who will win the matches and how!
This show would be so much better if they would just announce the matches in advance instead of wasting time on a bunch of segments where they book half the card on the fly every week. Then we’d have more time for wrestling matches and promos and angles to build up those matches, which is what people want to see, not long talking segments or authority figures chatting.
COREY GRAVES’ SIT-DOWN INTERVIEW WITH BAYLEY- GREAT
The greatness of this aside, this is the sort of segment that would have been SOOOO much better without that WWE’s required branding words/phrases (just calling it the “Raw Women’s Championship” made it feel so much less important that if it was the WWE Women’s Championship or even if they just referred to it as the Women’s Championship.” Also, they need to stop using the word “bloodline” for everyone. It is SOOOO painfully unnatural. It kind of worked when they were using it as collective name for Roman and The Usos, but any time they refer to Charlotte’s “bloodline” it makes me cringe.)
FOLEY & ROLLINS BACKSTAGE- bad
Foley tells him he is wrestling Sami tonight, and Seth asks “why Sami? We were teammates last week.” Well, Seth, maybe it’s because you’re both professional fighters and you have to fight each other sometimes?
Anyway, the thing that Steph didn’t want anyone to hear was that if Sami wins, Seth will lose his spot in the Rumble. I hope ten minutes of fake suspense were worth making your show stupid.
WINNER GETS INTO THE ROYAL RUMBLE: Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn- 8.5/10
JoJo didn’t even announce the stip.
Before this match, Byron Saxton said the following:
“You might remember last year, Sami Zayn was a surprise entrant into the Royal Rumble match, but he realized just how much that match and the opportunity at hand can change your career. Hence why he wanted an opportunity to be part of it.”
No, Byron. That is incorrect. The correct answer is that “Sami Zayn wants to be in the Royal Rumble because he wants to earn the chance to challenge for the world championship in the main event of WrestleMania.”
WHY DOES THIS COMPANY INSIST ON SCREWING UP THE SIMPLEST THINGS?!
So the match was awesome, but I’m not sure how to feel about the finish. On the one hand it felt like a stupid double-finish where they had to have Rollins “win” with his (read as “Hunter’s”) move before taking the loss. On the other hand, there is a good potential direction here for the Rollins vs. Hunter feud, which is Hunter doing the “be careful what you wish for,” “are you sure you really want to call me out, Seth?” “I don’t even have to show up to make your life hell” thing, with Rollins taking it all and taking it all until he does something that so annoys Hunter that Hunter is compelled to show up and face Seth in the ring.
They’re now pushing the Rumble as the physically largest field in Royal Rumble history. They should probably throw Mark Henry and Kane in there just to be sure.
ROLLINS IS PISSED- Foley says he had nothing to do with this.
RECYCLED MUSTAFA ALI VIDEO PACKAGE- see my comments from whenever it first aired on 205 Live.
AIRYA DAIVARI, DREW GULAK, & TONY NESE vs. MUSTAFA ALI, TJ PERKINS, & JACK GALLAGHER- 4.25/10
Gallagher and Daivari had a f*cking I QUIT MATCH last week and they’re just back facing each other this week in six-man tags. If it doesn’t involve the title, the Cruiserweight Division is just a pointless spinning of wheels.
Hey, look. It’s another short tag match whose finish won’t mean anything.
New Day is coming out after the next commercial. Michael Cole hyped this up by asking “what shenanigans will they have in store for us.” THIS IS SUPPOSED OT BE A F*CKING WRESTLING SHOW!
NEW DAY, ENZO, & CASS SEGMENT-
New Day went to cut a promo but are interrupted by Enzo and Cass, who were quickly interrupted by Rusev (& Jinder Mahal and Lana). We seem to be trending upwards in promo ability, so maybe this will end with Nigel McGuinness coming out? (*Crosses fingers*) Nope. Rusev, Jinder, and Lana are the last ones.
Rusev is SOOOO F*CKING GREAT. He wants to know why Big Cass and Big E have to have “big” in front of their names when it’s obvious that they’re big. He says “that would be like putting ‘handsome’ in front of my name, but you don’t see me walking around calling myself ‘Handsome Rusev.’” A couple of years ago I made the suggestion that “Clips of Alexa Bliss!” should be its own show on the WWE Network. Well… if that show went head to head with a show called “Random Rusev Promos” I’d be pretty conflicted as to which one I would watch, and coming from me that’s saying something.
Rusev will be in the Royal Rumble. The only person who reacts positively to this is Lana. Upon seeing the fans’ reaction to her husband’s announcement, Lana frowns and mouths “shut up” at them. She’s pretty great, too. Not Rusev-level great, though.
Then Titus O’Neil showed up. Apparently I’m supposed to feel sorry for New Day because someone comes out to the ring and annoys them every week. Karma’s a b*tch, huh, guys?
Dumb comedy ensues until Titus informs us that we’re getting an eight-man tag, which is…
COLIN CASSADY, ENZO AMORE, & THE NEW DAY (w/Xavier Woods) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN, TITUS O’NEIL, JINDER MAHAL, & RUSEV (w/Lana)- 3/10
Rusev got a nosebleed, but kept wrestling with a tissue up his nose because he’s awesome. The babyfaces (by which I mean the team of people who aren’t obnoxious, not the people WWE wants me to cheer for) win the match when Braun pins Enzo. This might have been Titus O’Neil’s first in in months. (I did some checking and it turns out that he had win over Curtis Axel on Main Event in December and another on Superstars in November, and a win over Swagger on Superstars in early September), but as for a win on Raw, you have to go back to AUGUST 1, 2016 for Titus’ last victory. Also, in that entire time, he has not won a single house-show match.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Big Show comes out purely for the sake of having a stare-down with Strowman. Based on what Big Show is wearing, I think Kurt Angle might be unconscious and naked backstage.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Chris Jericho(c) (w/Kevin Owens) vs. Roman Reigns- 5.75/10
Owens did commentary for this match. Between burying Byron and shouting for Jericho to “break his code, Chris!” he was fantastic. Then he ran down to the ring to cause a DQ. I’m so tired of this sh*t on this show.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- terrible
Owens called for the shark cage to be lowered and for some reason the guy operating the crane listened to him. They tried to lock Roman in the cage like they had teased earlier but of course he fought back and Owens got locked in. Then Roman ordered the cage to be raised, the guy operating the crane obeyed him, even though someone was inside of it. Jericho tried to pull the cage down, but Roman hit Jericho with what was essentially a sucker-Superman punch followed by a spear, because apparently that’s how babyfaces act. I guess we were supposed to like this because Roman speared Jericho and locked Owens in the cage, because in the world of WWE, fans definitely want to see that instead of matches with clean finishes.
Oh, BTW, compare the way Roman was selling in the cage to explain why he wasn't fighting back until the last moment to the way Owens was doing so. Why is Roman even a babyface?
COMPLETELY POINTLESS BRAY WYATT COMMERCIAL- yes. On Raw.
CHARLY CARUSO DELIVERS NEWS TO OWENS & JERICHO- I guess someone let Owens down. Hopefully the moron crane operator was fired for lowering it in the first place, never mind for raising it with Owens in it.
Charly’s news is that Foley has made the Owens vs. Reigns PPV match No Disqualifications. THIS IS SO STUPID! The whole point of sticking Jericho in the cage was so he wouldn’t interfere… and now Mick is changing the rules to allow anyone who wants to interfere do so. Owens was understandably livid at this news.
COREY GRAVES’ SIT-DOWN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLOTTE- okay
She claims to have watched her father “defeat twenty-nine other legends” in the 1992 Royal Rumble. Yes, “legends” such as Repo Man and Virgil. The rest of what she said was kind of meh.
NIA JAX vs. RAY LYNN- squash.
I’m hitting the point with Nia where I was with The Ascension. From here on out, any Nia Jax squash will receive a DUD rating on principle.
NIA JAX PROMO- I don’t know what kind of emotion she was going for here, but it wasn’t the right one for her.
Sasha showed up, still needing a crutch. She swung the crutch at Nia’s ankle when Nia was in the ring, then slid in the ring and hit her with the crutch a bunch of times. Nia charged but Sasha low-bridged her and then hit a meteora to the outside. Cole pointed out that Sasha’s knees are holding up well.
EMMALINA STILL ISN’T HERE YET- how about you stop wasting our time and don’t run this again until you have a debut date set?
RICH SWANN vs. NOAM DAR (w/Alicia Fox)- 4/10
Cole claimed that Cedric/Fox/Dar saga is “one of the strangest things [he’s] ever seen.” In twenty years of calling WWE? There’s no way this makes the top twenty.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- bad
Swann calls out Neville. He had great delivery, but that “you claim to be a king? I think you’re a jester!” line was atrocious. Neville came out, then walked away. Swann dived on him from behind, but apparently the referee telling him off was enough for him to not keep trying to fight his mortal enemy whom he just cut a fiery promo calling out.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS CEDRIC ALEXANDER- Dar and Fox showed up. Crazy yelling Alicia Fox is absolute best, and Dar is definitely growing into his role as comedy heel who is slightly more dangerous than the usual comedy heel.
GOLDBERG PROMO- that was a REALLY rough start. Maybe Bill headbutted that door a little too hard. He started to get a bit better, but Heyman came out to save things. He came up with a MUCH better tagline for the Royal Rumble than “Remember the Rumble.” They should use “imagine the possibilities” for the Rumble every year.
Heyman brought out “the Goldberg-eating Carnivore” BRRRRRROOOOCK LLLLLLEEESSNARRRRR. Heymans talks for a while but Goldberg wants to fight. They square up, but then Undertaker shows up, too. The bells keeps tolling, but Brock and Goldberg just stand there, completely unphased The Undertaker’s dong (I love that joke so much). Then we go off the air with three staring at each other. I’d love to know what they did in the house after the show so that we didn’t just get these guys all walking to the back after this.
A pretty bad episode of Raw, saved by one awesome match.
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