With a mere two weeks between now and WrestleMania, WWE are in Boston for tonight’s presentation of Monday Night Raw. We know some of the plans, but what exactly can fans expect to see on this evening’s episode? Well, if we’re going by the official preview alone, not a whole lot. With any luck, we can hope that means we’re in for a raucous bunch of twists and surprises. Just don’t hold your breath.
Ladies On Last
The official announcement came this morning on WWE.com that the triple threat match for the Raw Women’s Championship will indeed headline WrestleMania. This news should come as no surprise. The match between champ Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch has enjoyed most of the focus for months now. No complaints on how well this feud has been developed, it’s just a shame not much else has seen similar attention. Tonight, we can expect to see Rousey admonished for her and husband Travis Browne’s actions last week. How it plays into the story of the bout is yet to be seen; perhaps Flair and Lynch make appearances too?
Whose Yard Is This?
We should definitely expect to see Drew McIntyre boast of taking down the Shield. This, of course, should lead to Roman Reigns accepting his WrestleMania challenge. But where this is heading is anyone’s guess. Reigns has always been the heir-apparent to the cherished top spot on the roster. It appeared when McIntyre first returned he would be positioned as the man to face Reigns atop the mountain. So it feels somewhat premature, or at least out of place, to be having this match now as an under card Mania bout. Who goes over, and why? And what does a loss do for whoever eats the pin? If Rollins can take the Universal title from Brock Lesnar, a WrestleMania win over Reigns would put McIntyre in line to be the top contender. But can anyone imagine a scenario where Reigns loses at WrestleMania after his triumphant return?
Farewell Tour Continues
We can expect to see Kurt Angle in action, winding down his retirement tour on the road to WrestleMania. While his opponent tonight is still up in the air, his final opponent has apparently been decided – and it’s Baron Corbin. To call that an unpopular announcement would be a fairly dramatic understatement. Even the Raw commentary crew mentioned several times during the show Corbin was an underwhelming choice. Expect this to change, either tonight or next Monday, to John Cena vs Angle. Teasing us with Corbin getting the shot is just another way to get him valuable heat. As for tonight, expect it to be another youngster getting the rub of a great match with Kurt.
Beth Phoenix and Natalya officially declared their intentions to go after the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania. Unfortunately for them, The Boss and Hug Connection went to SmackDown and lost a non-title match on Tuesday to The Iconics. And don’t forget Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka still lurking around the title picture too, for some reason. It all suggests we can expect a four-team title match to be set for Mania. Expect to see at least three of these teams getting into it tonight, setting up another successful defense for Sasha Banks and Bayley.
Monster Among Midcard
Braun Strowman was slotted into the Andre the Giant Battle Royal last week, so we can expect to see him tossing a few bodies around the ring tonight. We’ll also learn whether or not Alexa Bliss was able to broker peace between the Monster and the duo from Saturday Night Live. There is nothing WWE Creative can do with this ‘story line’ to get the audience interested. Nobody cares about the two Weekend Update guys, and fewer people each week care about Strowman. Easy to understand why when this is the kind of material he’s given to work with. Plus, if he doesn’t win The Andre, he’ll see his stock plunge even deeper. It’s been a roller-coaster of a career trajectory for Strowman. He quickly went from being a giant midcarder with the Wyatt Family to main event star, only to drop back down just as quickly.
The End Bit
Surely we can expect some development in the Triple H versus Batista story tonight. And we should also expect to see Rollins and/or Paul Heyman to at least try to build the Universal Title match a bit. More than anything, it feels like an injection of adrenaline is badly needed for Mania. There’s not much on the card that makes it feel any more important than any other monthly special. Of course this has a lot to do with the over-saturization of the product. But it’s also the lack of development, or time spent on development, of characters and stories. On a scale of one to five, with five being, “It’s Rock vs Austin main eventing!” and one being, “Diesel versus Sid?”, expect tonight’s Raw to rate a two.