OPENING SEGMENT- terrible
Tonight will be Steph giving Foley his “2016 performance evaluation.” Oh goody. A whole bunch of segments focusing on the two most insufferable characters on this show, who are only made worse when they are together, and neither of whom are wrestlers. This should be a fun show.
First, though, they want to address the “rumors” that Underaker will be here. This whole thing is so stupid. How did these “rumors” get started? Are we supposed to believe that the f*cking Undertaker called up someone on WWE.com or the PWTorch or whoever and strongly hinted that the will be at Raw? He’s the G-d damn UNDERTAKER. Either WWE books him to be there and they advertise the hell out of it because he’s a legend, or he’s a magical badass that teleports to wherever he wants, whenever he wants without engaging in publicity stunt bullsh*t like starting “rumors” that he’s going to be there. The only alternative to one of these is that someone internally in WWE made up the rumors, which would, of course, damage our ability to trust WWE when they make us expect something, which is exactly the idea that Steph brought up that she needed to combat when she had Mick tell us that he is certain that Taker would be here.
Then Rollins randomly interrupts what should have theoretically been a private meeting, just strolling into Steph’s office without even knocking or anything first, just to tell Steph that he is entering himself into the Royal Rumble. Then Braun Strowman showed up, angrily demanding that Mick Foley book him against Roman Reigns or Goldberg tonight, because BRAUN STROWMAN FEARS NO ONE! Rollins then whined “Hey! You can’t come in here and interrupt me!” to which Braun replies “I just did.” I think Braun Strowman is my new favorite babyface on Raw.
Like an asshole, Rollins starts throwing punches and Braun puts in very little effort to hold Seth off. Steph calls for security, who flood in… and I’m supposed to believe that Braun won’t just plow through three referees in his rage.
Then Steph just starts yelling, telling Foley that she will deal with this situation, but she wants Mick to deal with these Undertaker rumors. Steph storms off (um… if you want to deal with this situation, the logical thing to do seems to be just book them against each other tonight!), and, despite the presence of two angry wrestlers who really want to fight each other like three feet to his right, we finish this segment with a long zoom-in on the face of Mick Foley, because this is Raw, where bullsh*t with the authority figures is much more important that wrestlers wanting to wrestle each other.
HANDICAP MATCH FOR THE WWE UNITED STATES TITLE: Roman Reigns(c) vs. Chris Jericho or Kevin Owens- no rating, bad segment.
That graphic they had made it look like Owens and Jericho were going to fight with the winner then getting to face Roman. Strowman came out and attacked Roman and it became a three-on-one until Rollins came out with a chair. He took out Owens and Jericho, then he and Roman both used chairs to take out Strowman. Then Steph came out and re-booked the handicap match for the main event and booked Rollins vs. Strowman for right now.
This was a big waste of time (and, quite frankly, made Steph look silly for not already having booked Seth vs. Strowman). You could argue that Strowman coming out here to fight Roman is more build to their rumored WrestleMania showdown, but I’d point out that WrestleMania is still three months away, so these two don’t need to be exchanging fisticuffs at the moment. You had all the build you need for this week when Strowman demanded to face Roman earlier.
Apparently Seth had already tweeted about his entry into the Rumble earlier today, so what was the point of him going in to Steph’s office to tell her? If entry is left up to the wrestlers to declare themselves then surely there is someone informing the person in charge of the show who has declared their way into the match so far.
SETH ROLLINS vs. BRAUN STROWMAN- 6/10
Cole noted that Sami Zayn isn’t here this week because of the injuries he suffered against Braun last week. Hooray for matches having consequences.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have this finish, which was yet another sh*t finish on Raw- this time a double count-out. Booking 101: If you’re not willing to have one of these guys beat the other, DON’T BOOK THE MATCH!
SASHA & BAYLEY BACKSTAGE- I guess we’re just going to forget that the last time we saw them together in a situation like this, Sasha was talking down to Bayley and had no confidence in her?
Ah. Here comes Charlotte to save the segment. Charlotte sure as hell hasn’t forgotten. I do wish they would drop this stupid “I’ve never lost the title on a PPV stat.” It’s so dumb because of how many times she has lost it NOT on PPV. Nia Jax showed up and took out Sasha’s leg, so the babyfaces got beaten up, then Nia turned on Charlotte.
DREW GULAK vs. JACK GALLAGHER- 2.25/10
I think the reason I dislike Jack Gallagher so intensely is because he is the embodiment of my fear of what would happen if Vince McMahon ever got his hands on Evolve. Like this is what Vince thinks that mat-based wrestling has to be to be entertaining.
*Puts on best Vince voice.*: “HAH! He can’t get out of the hold without tripping on his face. Damn, that’s funny.”
That being said, Austin Aries’ commentary is so completely amazing.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS JACK GALLAGHER- they’re going to “parlay” on 205 Live. This is why I don’t watch 205 Live anymore.
STEPH MEETS FOLEY IN A HALLWAY- stupid
Mick is wandering around the halls of the arena asking random people if they’ve seen The Undertaker. Steph told Foley that “your entire performance review hinges on your ability to produce The Undertaker tonight.” This is SOOOO stupid. If she thinks Foley is doing a good job, is she really going to fire him for something completely out of his control, that isn’t even something that is supposed to be part of this job? That makes her look dumb. And now she’s giving him a one hour time limit.
Unless, of course, Steph started the rumors and this whole thing is an excuse to fire Foley (with the idea being that she’d still get the buzz and hopefully pop a rating due to the rumors that Taker will be there, and on the off chance that Taker does decide to show up, while she won’t be able to fire Foley over this, she does get the buzz of Undertaker actually showing up on Raw), but to be honest, I don’t think WWE Creative is smart enough to come up with something like that.
HBK PLUGS HIS MOVIE AND THE ROYAL RUMBLE- His honesty about what he was here to do made it infinitely more tolerable.
RUSEV, LANA, JINDER & HBK- Epic Rusev greatness. Not quite at the level of “Meet The Rusevs,” but his claim to be the “Bulgarian George Clooney” might well be the funniest thing he’s ever said.
Then Enzo & Cass showed up. They were okay. Stuff happened which resulted in Rusev booking Cass vs Jinder because apparently he can do that without Steph or Foley’s approval. (Props to Cole for claiming that Foley had okayed it).
JINDER MAHAL (w/Rusev & Lana) vs. COLIN CASSADY (w/Enzo Amore & Shawn Michaels)- 0.5/10
NEVILLE vs. LINCE DORADO- 5.25/10
What is WWE’s obsession with ensuring that we know that heel’s brags are “self-proclaimed?” We get it! You don’t have to tell us. It’s just a nickname.
Good match for the time it got, and good post-match stuff, too.
SASHA & BAYLEY VISIT STEPH’S OFFICE- terrible. A completely unnecessary segment written purely so Stephanie McMahon could assert her dominance over the talent. It was one of those moments where I began hoping that Sasha would have given Steph a shoot headbutt right to the nose and walked out of the company to go the Cody route and be a star anywhere and everywhere that she damn well pleases.
LUKE GALLOWS vs. SHEAMUS- 6.5/10
Karl Anderson was on commentary. So was Cesaro, because we all know that they best way to push a feud is by constant arguing on commentary rather than by paying attention to what is going on in the ring. Why not just cancel all tonight’s wrestling matches and just have a series of debates?
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS ROMAN REIGNS- good promo by Roman.
FOLEY BEGS UNDERTAKER TO PLEASE SHOW UP SO THAT STEPH DOESN’T FIRE HIM-
Mick came off as completely pathetic here. If Taker doesn’t show up and it results in Mick being fired I will consider it to have been a public service.
The lights went off but there was no gong, at which point I assumed it would have been Steph trolling him, and it turns out it was. Instead Steph decides to give Foley his job evaluation now. She gives him credit for some things that he deserves credit for and buries him for some failures and/or bad ideas of his (some of which- like putting the whole Cruiserweight Division on the line for no reason- were legitimate)… and then they immediately killed any interest I had in this when Steph said that the “most catastrophic of all” was allowing Smackdown to beat Raw in the ratings.
“Catastrophic?” Really? How has that one loss changed ANYTHING? We have seen ABSOLUTELY ZERO CONSEQUENCES from this other than Shane and Dragon getting to cut a promo on TV one week. And yet they keep pushing this like it is something that actually matters, without showing us any consequences. At this point the supposed “war” between Raw and Smackdown has become like any time TNA does an angle claiming that “the titles give you power.” It’s not a storyline. It’s just lazy, rage-inducing hackery.
Anyway, Foley apologizes because he has no backbone, and even with nothing to lose is still too afraid to point out that Steph firing him over this is ridiculous. Unfortunately, Taker did decide to show up and save Mick’s ass (even though at this point it shouldn’t logically work as an excuse to save Mick’s job because it’s clear that he personally did nothing to summon The Undertaker. [Actually, now that I think about it, if he wanted to get The Undertaker to show up, what was he doing wandering the halls and then standing in the ring, begging? What he should have done was called the head of the local Druidic Circle, gotten some robes and a big empty casket and spent an hour off on the corner of the stage- out of the way so he’s not stopping the scheduled matches from happening- and just kept reciting the druids’ chant and opening the casket every five minutes or so to check if Taker had been conjured up yet.]).
Taker shows up and says that he will be entering the Royal Rumble. He reasserts that he does whatever and goes wherever he wants. He says various Taker-ish things like claiming that he will “bring the dark side to the Royal Rumble,” but it works because he’s the f*cking Undertaker.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS CHRIS JERICHO & KEVIN OWENS- fine
NIA JAX & CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY- 5/10
If the angle is that Sasha is injured then Sasha should have been pinned, not Bayley, especially with Bayley headed into a title shot.
NOAM DAR & ALICIA FOX BACKSTAGE- Fox makes out with Dar instead of hitting him, but then buries him anyway. This was stupid.
TITUS O’NEAL & THE NEW DAY SEGMENT- New Day were jerks to Titus. Fortunately the writers were clever enough to set this up in such a way that Titus’ arrogance was his own downfall so at least the heel was unlikable.
TITUS O’NEIL vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/the New Day)- 4.5/10
But fine for the time it got.
I love that “It’s still real to Bob, dammit!” sign, with an arrow pointing to the guy next to him.
HANDICAP MATCH FOR THE WWE UNITED STATES TITLE: Roman Reigns(c) vs. Chris Jericho or Kevin Owens- 6.75/10
Roman trying to lock Jericho in the shark cage on the stage would have been a really clever spot (both to help Roman win this match and also build up the idea that the shark cage will prevent Jericho from interfering in the Roman vs. Owens match at the Rumble, if they had done it once the match had already started.
The match was good. Roman loses his title to Jericho in preparation for taking Owens’ title at the Royal Rumble.
A boring episode of Raw.
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