From an in-ring standpoint, this week’s episode of Raw was not a good show.
Most of the matches were short and largely didn’t mean anything. The matches mostly felt like filler segments in between WWE’s attempts to further its major stories heading into WrestleMania.
However, from the standpoint of furthering its stories less than two weeks before the biggest event of the year, WWE did a pretty good job, which made this episode of Raw somewhat salvageable.
It still wasn’t a great show, especially when you consider how close we are to WrestleMania, but it served its purpose in adding chapters to some of the major stories and angles.
I do not think I’m alone in thinking that WWE should be hitting on all cylinders by this time of the year, but part of me thinks that WWE was saving its big guns for next week’s episode of Raw, which as I said earlier is the final episode before WrestleMania.
That is good news for me personally, as that show will be at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
So for the fans in Brooklyn, they received a run-of-the-mill show. Do not fret, Brooklyn faithful. We in Philadelphia were in the same position last year when the penultimate edition of Raw before WrestleMania was in our neck of the woods, and that was a lackluster effort from WWE, too.
Before I go further into my analysis, here are the full match results from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.:
- Samoa Joe def. Sami Zayn
- Charlotte Flair def. Dana Brooke
- The Brian Kendrick def. T.J. Perkins
- Nia Jax def. Bayley
- Sheamus & Cesaro def. Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Karl Anderson & Karl Anderson
- Austin Aries def. Tony Nese
- Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns via disqualification
The Undertaker survived the spear
One of the stories WWE furthered Monday night was the ongoing one between The Undertaker and his WrestleMania opponent, Reigns, when the former showed up during Reigns’ match against Strowman.
The match itself between Reigns and Strowman was nothing we haven’t already seen from the two, so forgive me for not going in-depth about it.
However, just when Reigns was setting up to hit Strowman with a spear, The Undertaker’s gong went off in the Barclays Center and the lights went out. When the lights came back on, The Undertaker was standing in the middle of the ring between Reigns and Strowman.
The Undertaker took his sweet time in soaking up the crowd reaction from the Brooklyn fans before he thwarted an attack from Strowman and choke slammed him.
The Undertaker then either winced in pain or he said to himself “Oh, crap!” for making the mistake of turning his back on Reigns before he turned around and walked right into a spear.
Reigns left the ring with a sense of pride and turned around to revel in his work only to find The Undertaker back on his feet and signaling that the end was near for WWE’s next golden boy.
— WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2017
There wasn’t anything elaborate here and there really doesn’t need to be. The story here is simple: Reigns claims the ring as his yard proverbial yard, but the original owner of said yard, The Undertaker, isn’t quite ready to give it up yet. Thus, they clash.
I know that story doesn’t lend itself to having a ton of depth, but a story like this doesn’t really need it. Like the band KISS once said, keep it simple, stupid, and that is what WWE is doing with this story.
Triple H makes an offer to Seth Rollins
Early in the show, Michael Cole interviewed Seth Rollins’ physical therapist Kevin Wilk, who said that Rollins’ knee injury was re-aggravated as result of being beaten down by Triple H last week.
Because of that, Wilk said that no doctor in the country would clear Rollins to wrestle at WrestleMania.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) March 21, 2017
That sounded like bad news for Rollins, as his hopes of getting his hands on Triple H were seemingly dashed. That was until Triple H, of all people, offered Rollins a chance to do that later in the show.
After a long and pretty good speech, Triple H offered Rollins a chance to face him in an unsanctioned fight at WrestleMania, but only if he signs a hold harmless agreement next week on Raw that will clear Triple H and WWE of any injuries Rollins may incur during the fight.
— WWE (@WWE) March 21, 2017
I have a feeling that Rollins will sign the agreement and will take part in the fight.
I’m not sure if an unsanctioned fight was WWE’s original plan or not, but it does add a unique element to the feud and WrestleMania as a whole. The Rollins-Triple H encounter could be just another match on the card, but this will at least feel a little different from the others being as though it is an unsanctioned fight.
At the very least, it should prevent Rollins and Triple H from exchanging holds in the ring at WrestleMania, which would make zero sense given all of the animosity there is supposed to be between the two.
We see far too often in WWE a blood feud be determined in a standard catch-as-catch-can wrestling match.
In an unsanctioned fight, I would expect fists to be flying early and often, which would fit the tone of the feud.
Stephanie McMahon was on the warpath
Oh, boy was McMahon on a path of destruction Monday night. McMahon was on so much of a warpath that it harkened back to the days of the Authority, which is not necessarily a good thing.
McMahon started the night by firing Raw general manager Mick Foley after he announced that he was taking a leave of absence. There was no way McMahon was going to let Foley get off that easy.
She then punished anyone that openly supported Foley on his way out, specifically Zayn, Bayley, Sheamus and Cesaro.
Zayn and Bayley succumbed to McMahon’s punishment. Sheamus and Cesaro, on the other hand, managed to overcome it in a handicap match that made Gallows and Anderson look silly when they attacked Amore and Big Cass, who were their tag team partners.
I understand that McMahon and even Triple H to a certain extent only do these types of things to generate heat, but it almost feels meaningless when the people that are punished never get one over on the evil authority figures, especially McMahon.
At least Triple H wrestles and when he does it is usually to lose to the wrestler he is trying to oppress.
With McMahon, she abuses her power without any repercussions, which helps no one but her in the long run. The wrestlers rarely benefit from interacting with McMahon, which is the opposite of what typically happens with her husband.
McMahon does a good job of playing the evil villain, but it does nothing but knock everyone else down a peg without any hope of ever climbing back up.
Chris Jericho is the man, maaannnnn
I don’t think I have done this enough, but I am going to do it now. I am going to openly gush over how good Jericho is.
From the broad view, Jericho has managed to adapt and stay relevant for almost 20 years in WWE, which is a testament to how talented he is. From a more micro point of view, the last year of his career has to be some of his best work.
He has gotten silly phrases like “Stupid idiot!” and “Drink it in, man.” over along with inanimate objects like a scarf or a list with names on it.
The best part was that he did all of this while being a heel, but on Monday night he was firmly on the babyface side of the ledger as he held the crowd in the palm of his hand.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) March 21, 2017
He essentially played all of his greatest hits and the fans in Brooklyn couldn’t get enough. Even the click of pen was over with the fans. Mind you, none of this has anything to do with what he does in the ring during a match.
Jericho was so over that the fans booed Kevin Owens when he attacked Jericho thanks to a distraction from Samoa Joe. Owens took the list, ripped it half and even ate some of it.
As a result, the fans in Brooklyn, who are usually in love with Owens, actually booed him simply because he ripped up a piece of paper and shoved it into his own mouth. The fans don’t even know what is written on the paper.
You know the List of Jericho is over when fans actually jeered Owens for doing something dastardly, as oppose to rebelliously cheering him.
That deserves some kudos, Mr. Jericho.
Nia Jax is going to WrestleMania
One of the very few matches that meant something was between Jax and Bayley, where if Jax won she would earn a spot in the Raw Women’s championship match at WrestleMania, making it a fatal four-way.
Well, she won and she is on her way to WrestleMania, but not before the fans in Brooklyn turned into the crowd that usually attends Raw that night after WrestleMania and completely tuned out from the match.
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) March 21, 2017
The fans did everything, including the wave, to tell WWE that they could care less about what was going on in the ring.
I typically frown upon such antics from the crowd, but I can’t totally blame them for tuning out of this match because WWE had not given them much reason to tune in.
It had nothing to do with Jax or Bayley. They both did an admirable job in the ring, but they were taking part in a rematch from last week that didn’t necessarily knock anyone’s socks off and WWE has not done a good job of making people care enough about Bayley so that when she is rag dolled back and forth by Jax, people are invested.
Instead, she has broken her higher-than-normal moral code and has lost multiple times in the last few weeks.
I wouldn’t mind Bayley playing the role of the underdog, but she is kind of the champion, which means she is kind of supposed to be the best.