It’s Monday, which to wrestling fans means only one thing – trying to decide if Raw’s worth watching tonight. To assist in your determination, I present this week’s edition of Raw Expectations. The red brand are in Philadelphia, and will be expecting a hot crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. Let’s take a look at what we can expect to see unfold this evening, going home to Fastlane on the road to WrestleMania.
An Animal on the Loose
There were plenty of talking points coming out of last week’s Raw, not the least of which was the return of Batista. The Ric Flair Birthday segment felt destined to feature Becky Lynch spoiling the party, so seeing the set-up for Triple H versus Batista at Mania was a nice surprise. Expect The Game to hit the ring seething tonight, and expect this match to be made official for WrestleMania. It feels too soon to see a physical confrontation between the pair, with a PPV and several more weeks to go before the big show, so that’ll be saved for sometime in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not sure this is a match I want to see at Mania, but at least they’ve done a decent job in getting there.
Another Animal Returns
Roman Reigns also made his triumphant return last week, announcing his leukemia is in remission. He also joined Seth Rollins in saving their former Shield brother Dean Ambrose from a four-on-one assault. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre and their new friend Elias were the fodder, with Reigns looking as dominant as ever. It’s obvious the timing of Reigns’ return is as fortuitous as can be for Vince McMahon and the WWE. Raw now has a main event-level match for Fastlane. Tonight, expect Reigns and Rollins to wind up booked against at least two of the aforementioned fodder from last Monday. And we can also expect more teases for a full Shield reunion, because, T-shirt sales.
Vacant Won Another Title?
Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch stirred controversy this week with their Twitter jousting (Becky 5, Ronda 0). You’d be forgiven if it slipped your mind Rousey is actually slated to face Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. Well, for now. Everyone knows this has been a triple-threat set in stone for some time, just waiting for Lynch to be tossed back in. Last Monday, Rousey had another clash with Stephanie McMahon in an attempt to get her hands on Lynch, to no avail. So incensed was Rousey, she dropped her belt and left. Charlotte announced she would be on Raw this evening to claim the apparently vacated Raw Women’s Championship. I expect all she’ll be leaving with is a sore elbow courtesy of Rousey, and I’ll be surprised if Lynch doesn’t reappear as well. The only troubling part of this story are the McMahon family. Vince has been overruling his kids a lot lately as an over-arching story line, which I can only conclude will lead to yet another McMahon power struggle. Unless it’s leading to Vince’s real-life retirement, nobody wants this family feud again. Let the top stories be about the wrestlers. Particularly these ladies, who fans are truly invested in.
The Other Gold Standards
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Sasha Banks and Bayley, head into their first title defense this Sunday. We can expect Nia Jax and Tamina to do something tonight to hype up that bout, which they will surely lose. Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor has been kinda feuding with former champ Bobby Lashley and his mouthpiece Lio Rush as their alliance crumbles. Expect Rush to do something to upset The All Mighty, and leave Balor with an all mighty grin. Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival have counted the lights for two consecutive weeks against NXT call-ups. At least Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa had been an established, and excellent, team at one time. Ricochet and Aleister Black were tossed together because they’re the other two guys called up. Yet this first-time pairing manage to defeat the champions. Expect more humiliation for The Revival tonight.
I’m barely going to acknowledge the special guests for tonight’s show, apparently the two guys currently doing Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Everyone knows Weekend Update hit perfection when Norm McDonald was doing it, and it will never be as good again. As for the two no-namers currently in the hot seats, who cares? Expect some “comedy”, probably with poor Jinder Mahal, or another poor soul who doesn’t get proper time to do anything relevant. If you need their names, the Official Preview has it.
The Conclusion Bit
With the two big returns of Reigns and Batista, and the ongoing Stone Cold Becky Lynch story with the Rousey/Charlotte/Mania overlap, there’s a genuine feeling of lots happening on Raw. Of course, this is how it should be, we’re barely a month away from WrestleMania. Rather than complain about how long it’s taken to get various pots boiling for the Show of Shows, I’ll just be glad they’ve finally turned the stove on. It feels like Elias was added to Corbin’s gang so they could still have three men to take on The Shield, while Lashley squares off against Rush or Balor at Fastlane. Count on those matches, or variations thereof, being added to Sunday’s card tonight. As for the McMahon family – it’s a shame we’re going to be hit once again with Vince versus his kids, but it’s inevitable. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for something better out of it this time.
On a scale of one to five, with five being, “Quick, check your Twitter, Becky’s on fire!” and one being, “How do I unfollow Nia Jax?”, expect tonight’s Raw to rate a two.