1. Braun Strowman Explained His Motives To Kevin Owens – While Owens and Jericho bragged about still being the Universal United States Champion, Strowman made his presence known. He informed everyone of his motives for his actions at the Rumble, 1) he doesn’t like Roman Reigns, and 2) Owens promised him a title shot a month ago if Reigns didn’t leave the Rumble as champion. Owens tried to back out of it, but Foley entered and made the match.
Reaction: What I liked about this is it showed that Strowman isn’t some monster with no brain cells, he remembers things and can be coerced if the price is right. Owens and Jericho are becoming more like The New Day in that they are arrogant, but too entertaining to be the bad guys. They still cheat, but everyone loves ’em for it. They seem to switch from heels to entertainers when it suits, but man .. I wish Owens would be angry and brutal like he was in NXT. There’s too many monsters on Raw though .. so if you think about it, he has to be different. Jericho has settled in to his role and appears to be enjoying it.
2. “The Greatest Journalist That Ever Lived” Austin Aries – A rather amusing bit was the brief interview between Tony Nese and Austin Aries. Now, to many of us we know Aries and the fact he is certainly no journalist .. he’s a wrestler and only knows how to embarrass his competition. Aries blatantly mocked Nese for his lack of charisma, Nese responded by saying he did not respond to critics and walked away. Aries got the last word in by saying Nese had nothing to offer as usual.
Reaction: Felt like .. a Vince McMahon-esque way of telling the cruiserweights to muster up some character or face further embarrassment. Not sure why they had Nese win a match on Raw only to ridicule him like that. We have to hope it leads somewhere, but not too much.
3. Seth Rollins Threatened Stephanie’s Children – Rollins went face-to-face with Stephanie McMahon, and after she claimed her husband was not going to be at Raw, Rollins expressed his desperation to find him at any cost, even if that meant showing up at her house with one of her children answering the door. This sent Stephanie in to a rage and she admitted to lying about Triple H and he was on the way to the building.
Reaction: Felt like what babyfaces did in the attitude era .. go the extra mile to rent space in their opponents heads. Of course, bringing children in to it is unnecessary, but if there’s one thing that would anger Stephanie it’s a low remark like that. So it made sense in that he needed to go there to get said reaction from her, which set up the last moment of the night pretty well.
4. Heyman Salvaged Lesnar’s Reputation And Offered A Challenge – After the further embarrassment at the Rumble, an angry Brock Lesnar showed up with Paul Heyman to express their thoughts and issue a challenge. This time, Heyman justified enough reasoning to offer another challenge to Goldberg .. this time at Wrestlemania.
Reaction: You could give Heyman a stick and he’ll sell it to the highest bidder. However, two recent embarrassments for his client leaves Paul in a position where he has to jump through hoops and do circus acts to deliver a promo worthy of Lesnar’s past accomplishments. It was tough, and while I love Paul and can’t get enough of his work, it felt forced and the ending fell flat. Not the best promo .. but delivered nonetheless.
5. Triple H Lured Seth Rollins Into A Samoan Trap – Triple H cut an emotional promo on how he was the creator of Seth ‘FREAKIN’ Rollins and handed him everything on a silver platter. This was classic Game, he nailed every point while mocking Rollins for crying over his injury and vacated title. He baited Rollins out to ringside, but he was ambushed by former NXT Champion Samoa Joe! Rollins became a victim of the Samoan Submission Machine while Triple H walked to the back.
Reaction: I know some wanted to see him in the Rumble but I think this was better. I mean .. if he’d have shown up in the Rumble he wouldn’t have had the same impact as he did here. This sets Joe up as a major player with the backing of Triple H. To be honest, I think he’s more likely to be a Universal Champion on Raw than a WWE Champion on Smackdown (Cena, Orton, Styles etc). While it would’ve been cool to see Joe battle AJ Styles again, I’m interested to see him take on new challengers. He’s got plenty of talent to work with, so expect him to plow through the roster in the coming weeks as we head toward Wrestlemania.
Ok, so I can admit the crowd sucked most of the night. They sucked a lot of excitement out of what was a decent Raw by their standards. Three hours went by easier, and hell, I didn’t mind the main event being SAWFT vs. Rusev and Jinder. And why? Because it flowed better. Still think the cruiserweights are becoming the toilet break portion of the show .. which is sad because there’s plenty of talent .. it’s just that casual fans tune in for guys like Goldberg and Lesnar and don’t care.
Everything built toward the reveal at the end of the night, which is exactly how it’s meant to be done. And finally, after over seventeen years of hard work and dedication, Samoa Joe showed up in full force as Triple H’s guy. It’s perfect, it furthers the feud between Rollins/HHH and introduces a major player all at the same time. I’m looking forward to seeing how they use Joe, and whether they have faith to put the Universal title on him down the line. He would be the perfect opponent for Reigns .. not because they are big guys, but because Joe will teach him a whole lot.
It’s rating time! Fully satisfied by the episode and was only let down by the crowd. I can’t give it a perfect rating as it needs to be a ‘freakin’ classic to get such an honour. Before the ending I would’ve given it a three like the previous week, but Samoan Submission Machine boosted it to a 4 Steveweiser rating out of five. The highest yet!
And that’s all folks. Thanks for reading and see you again next week!