OPENING SEGMENT- Roman Reigns comes out and gets massively booed. The announcers then lay down the situation for us. Roman should have own because his feet hit the floor first but the referee f*cked up and awarded the match to Brock instead. We were shown a Tweet from the referee (Chad Patton) apologizing for his mistake, and then one by Kurt also apologizing but saying that the referee’s decision is final. Okay… acknowledging your screw up and apologizing for it is the first step to take… but why haven’t you done the next logical and extremely obvious step of booking a rematch? This match happened on Friday. It’s now Monday night. You know Roman is going to be (rightfully) pissed off about this, so why not try to head that off as well as doing the moral and logical thing of giving Roman another chance by booking another title match?
The crowd is booing the sh*t out of Roman and the announcers are going into Post-Mania Raw mode to deflect it (Coach even compared this crowd to that show). Do they (or, more importantly, Vince) realize how stupid the announcers sound telling us that a crowd is different because they’re booing Roman when we see Roman get booed heavily every single week of the year?
Roman declared himself to be the rightful WWE Universal Champion… and he’s not wrong. He says that a lot of people doubted him, but he kept his promise that he would beat Brock, and thus he will never lose faith in himself again. He said he would tell Brock that to his face, but he can’t because Brock isn’t here… so we’re right back to where we were a month ago.
Do you know what I would have done with this? I would have had Roman come out with his own belt because he’s the rightful champion and Brock isn’t here to defend the belt, so he will.
Roman is about to cut a promo on Joe when Joe cuts into the TitanTron to cut a promo on Roman. It was a great heel promo, but how is Joe doing this? Why can’t they just wait until Smackdown- the show Joe is actually on- to have Joe cut his promo?
The people cheered Joe saying he’d kick Roman’s ass on Sunday at Backlash. Then Jinder came out and he got cheered because he’s a Canadian. He cut a totally hypocritical promo but still got cheered because everyone hates Roman. Jinder vowed to beat Roman tonight, which got cheers. Then he vowed to win the Universal Title, which got booed.
Then Sami Zayn came out and got a HUGE pop because he’s the hometown guy. Are they purposely putting Roman in there with the worst possible people for him to get the reaction they want? Because if you replace Jinder & Sunil with Owens and Bryan, and that’s what you’ve got. Sami told us that Lashley gave him vertigo last week and that’s why he couldn’t participate in the Greatest Royal Rumble, and that it’s definitely not because our wonderful, polite, and tolerant hosts didn’t want someone of Syrian descent on the show. Sami said that he and not Jinder would be the one to face Roman tonight.
Then Kevin Owens came out and got an even bigger pop than Sami. He said that he wanted to be the one to beat Roman tonight (although he was sure to note that he knew the other two could beat Roman as well). He polled the fans and determined that he should be the one to face Roman. He began to trash-talk Roman so Roman attacked him and then the others all started to beat up on Roman.
They all beat Roman down for a bit until Lashley came out to make the save. Lashley got overwhelmed (but not by much) but then Braun Strowman came out and helped beat up the heels. The fans cheered Braun when he came out, but then booed when the heels started to get beaten down. Then they cheered again when Braun press slammed Sunil over the ropes and down onto the other three. When we came back from commercial we were told that Kurt Angle has signed Owens, Zayn, & Jinder vs. Roman, Lashley, & Strowman as our main event.
THE DRIFTER SINGS- fine.
He was interrupted by Bobby Roode… and then we went to a commercial, so all we got from commercial to commercial was The Drifter singing.
BOBBY ROODE vs. “THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMPSON- 5.5/10
This match started during the commercial. They did one of those split-screen cut-ins to plug Backlash, so those annoying things are apparently here to stay. Why do they think those are any more effective if you doing them during a match? It seems to me that they’d be less effective because people are paying attention to something else.
The story of the match was The Drifter working over Roode’s throat. He wound up smashing it into the ringpost and the match had to be stopped so medical people could attend to Roode. The Drifter grabbed a mic and declared himself the winner even though the referee never called for the bell. If Roode has been on the outside forever and you’ve got three EMTs looking at him and you’re getting a stretcher for him, you really should call for the bell and give the other guy the win. When we got back from commercial we saw Roode being helped to the back, but I don’t think we ever got anyone with any sort of authority or official capacity tell us that Roode had lost. Do they think that if no one tells us that Roode lost this match he won’t look like he lost?
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS JEAN-PAUL & FRANCIOS- IT’S F*CKING 3.0!
THE AUTHORS OF PAIN vs. 3.0- squash
AUTHORS OF PAIN PROMO- this was full of goofy metaphors about writing, but it somehow worked.
GREATEST ROYAL RUMBLE PRESS CLIPPINGS- As I figured, WWE was so desperate to show off the fact that they got press coverage of this that they didn’t vet the articles very well. The CBS one in particular buried the show as “a glorified house show” and buried the booking of it within the overall schedule, calling it “shoehorned” in, and saying that WWE would have to work very hard this week to make sure that it didn’t sabotage their ability to build for Backlash. Cole recited the pro-Saudi and pro-WWE propaganda. The complete and totally hackery on display in the first line of that Yahoo article made me want to vomit. Then again, most things on Yahoo make me want to vomit. True story: They’re “automatically find you a related article” program works so well that in an article last week about pitcher Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays, it advertised an article about the season premiere of the TV show Archer. Earlier this year it linked me an article about the goings-on of the Yankees spring training that was several years old.
That being said, WWE did manage to find articles that managed to avoid calling them out for their hypocrisy (at least in the portions that were shown on the screen).
IC TITLE SEGMENT- fine.
Seth Rollins came out and the fans LOVED him. I have no idea why he was getting this reaction. You’d have thought he was the one from Montreal. He did get booed for saying that Roman was the legitimate WWE Universal Champion and not Brock. He said that he wanted to be a fighting champion- unlike Brock- and defend his title all the time.
Finn Balor comes out and says they’re 2-2 in singles matches, then challenges Seth to put the IC Title on the line against him tonight. Rollins noted that he has a title defense against Miz at Backlash, but he’ll defend against Balor tonight if the fans want to see it. They do. Shocking, I know.
Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel then came out- still using Miz’s music- and pitched forming a new Four Horsemen with them, Seth, and Balor. They get turned down so they try to attack Seth and Balor but they get their asses kicked. Then Balor attacks Rollins from behind and givens him a Reverse DDT. He actually got booed here, and this felt like a total heel turn to me.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS SASHA BANKS- fine
Charly asks Sasha if she tried to recruit Bayley to watch her back tonight. Sasha says that Bayley is being weird and their friendship is strained so she didn’t do that. Okay… why not ask some of the other nice young ladies in the locker room like Ember Moon or Nia Jax to watch your back?
SASHA BANKS vs. RUBY RIOTT (w/the Riott Squad)- 7.75/10
There is a “we allow women” sign in the fourth row. Excellent. I normally hate “paint splotch” gear but Sasha’s looks awesome.
These two had a GREAT match. Sasha was an excellent babyface and Ruby was a very good heel. Ruby Riott hit the single most perfect senton of all time. Sasha would have had things won but for the Riott Squad’s heel antics. She ran wild on all of them but unfortunately her being preoccupied with the other two allowed Ruby to hit the Riott Kick and win.
Liv Morgan was really great on the outside. She could be a heck of a heel manager.
Michael Cole made a joke about how Titus O’Neil should change “Titus Worldwide” to “Titus WorldSlide.” This sounds like the standard WWE idiocy, but hearing Cole say that while watching the footage of Titus’ trip convinced me that there is real money to be made here in Titus Brand Slip N’ Slides.
MOMENT OF BLISS PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT- great
She tells a story about her Nia Jax “bullied” her on a trip to Disney World, spending all day teasing Alexa about her height by asking the attendants if Alexa was tall enough to ride the adult rides. Alexa, on the verge of tears, told us that Nia “turned the happiest place on Earth into the saddest day ever.” She then vowed to defeat Nia at Backlash and win her title back. She said that she was “fighting for everyone who has ever had a Nia in their life; and for them, I won’t let the bully win.” This wasn’t as great as last week’s, but it was still great.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS TITUS O’NEIL- Titus cut a very good promo about the importance of getting back up after you fall back down. Baron Corbin showed up to be a dick, then left.
Um… I think Corey Graves just used Matt Hardy Speak to threaten to make Michael Cole a paraplegic.
MATT HARDY PROMO- someone in the WWE office leaned how to use Photoshop. Good for them. Bray Wyatt showed up and talked, too. This was terrible.
BOBBY LASHLEY, BRAUN STROWMAN, & ROMAN REIGNS vs. SAMI ZAYN, KEVIN OWENS, & JINDER MAHAL (w/Sunil Singh)- 8.5/10
Didn’t they announce that this would be the main event? Did they really change their mind in the middle of the show? (Actually, if ever there was a segment to convince me to do so, that Balor vs. Rollins segment from earlier would be it. Plus, that’s title match, so the move makes kayfabe sense as well.)
This match was a TOTALLY AWESOME six-man tag. They built up to Braun getting the hot tag and quite literally RAN WILD on the heels. This match was so awesome that the French Canadian fans cheered when Braun pinned hometown hero Kevin Owens.
BARON CORBIN PROMO- He hates comedy dorks. This was a pretty great promo.
BARON CORBIN vs. NO WAY JOSE (w/his conga line)- no rating, meh segment
All that happened was that Titus Worldwide came out and Titus made fun of himself for falling. This distracted Corbin so No Way Jose could roll him for the pin. This made Corbin look like an idiot. In fact, if Bryan and Filthy Tom aren’t going to use it anymore, I will volunteer to be the one to keep up the mantle of Geek of the Week and award it to Mr. Corbin.
MICKIE JAMES (w/Alexa Bliss!) vs. NATALYA (w/Ronda Rousey)- 2/10
They did stuff. Mickie was still selling her arm from Ronda’s armbar last week. The match was very short. Alexa distracted Nattie so Ronda chased her around the ring. Cole put over how fast Ronda was, but Alexa out ran her and escaped. He should have put over Alexa’s speed instead.
While that was happening, Nattie rolled Mickie up. Alexa retreated to the stage but Nia came out and scared her away. Nia then celebrated with Nattie and Ronda.
Owens & Zayn vs. Lashley & Strowman has been added to Backlash.
ZIGGLER & MCINTYRE PHONE SELFIE PROMO- good words, but I was way too distracted by the narrow hallway full of furniture in which they chose to shoot this promo. Why can’t we just shoot these backstage, with an actual camera, so it looks like the wrestlers actually show up to work?
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Seth Rollins(c) vs. Finn Balor- 8/10
An awesome match.
An awesome episode of Raw, with three excellent wrestling matches and some nice little angles. It also hit all of the right notes for the go-home show of the Raw side of Backlash.
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