A Squandered Story
Raw began with confidence in it’s women as Bayley opened the show and immediately connected with the audience by connecting her upcoming appearance at WrestleMania to her experience as a child compiling money from her friends to buy ‘Mania on PPV. Bayley was comfortable on the mic and came across not as a scripted robot but as a real fan, strongly reinforcing her character, but was quickly interrupted by Charlotte and the segment went quickly down hill.
Charlotte again brought up the idea that Sasha Banks is playing Bayley and weaseling her way into the title picture after being (arbitrarily) forced out of it at Roadblock and although this idea was initially interesting, Sasha’s heel turn is so inevitable and telegraphed at this point that their is very little drama. There is foreshadowing and then there is smacking your audience over the head with storytelling
Sasha then came out to cut a extremely cringeworthy promo to assert that her and Bayley were “big girls” and could separate business from personal matters before being interrupted by Nia Jax.
Nia Jax went off on the mic herself and is still one of the most damaged superstars in the company when it comes to cutting a promo. Jax’s voice and delivery run so counter intuitive with her character that she is almost a satire of a monster heel and her comical lines don’t help matters much.
The segment was ended by a commercial break and inevitably led into an unexciting tag match with all four women.
It’s unfortunate that this match for ‘Mania is so loosely strung together when the ingredients for a really intimate and interesting story exists between Sasha and Bayley is somewhere buried underneath this mess. While I doubt the ‘Mania match will be bad, it won’t carry the same emotional weight as it could and at worst, it could be as childish, insulting, and boring as this opening segment was.
Overall Score: 4/10
Has the Reigns Heel Turn Already Happened?
The second hour of Raw kicked off with Roman Reigns calling out The Undertaker in what was easily the segment of the night. Reigns came out and quickly antagonized and seemingly controlled the Philadelphia crowd with his work on the mic as he spoke down to the city which once booed him out of the 2015 Royal Rumble. The Big Dog has been putting his reps in on the mic and it truly showed on Monday night as he exploded with confidence and ease that seemingly showed a glimpse into the megastar Reigns could be one day, and the one who Vince McMahon already sees.
Reigns exclaimed that he was going to put the Undertaker down and didn’t care if you are “Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, or The Undertaker” as it is his time now, his house now, and his yard now. Ignoring the semi-silly dog metaphors, these lines were said with such vigor and aggression that Reigns came off as a heel again in a move that I doubt was accidental. If the rumors that Triple H wants to change the fan perception of what is heel and face is are true, Reigns may be the epitome of that effort and no night made it more clear than this.
Taker quickly interrupted Reigns with a pre-made video promo that smartly kept Undertaker from overexerting himself and kept some mystique to the character. It says something about Undertaker’s legacy and presence that he is still able to come off as intimidating and threatening despite how silly the promo package was in isolation. Lines like “At WrestleMania, The Ultimate Thrill Ride will be your last ride” could only be delivered by Taker and send chills down my spine as the camera cuts to a tombstone with Roman Reigns name on it with the date of WrestleMania engraved in it.
Undertaker made a surprise appearance to declare Reigns will “Rest in Peace” after some clever editing and lighting tricks and if I had any complaints about this segment, it would be how it abruptly ended here with no real conclusion.
Overall Score: 9/10
A Goldberg Match Sized Segment
Raw ended with the much anticipated final encounter before Lesnar and Goldberg before their Universal Title match at WrestleMania. Heyman delivered what was another effective, but all-in-all forgettable promo and further reinforced the idea that the Lesnar act is really getting old, making his inevitable win over Goldberg this Sunday even more frustrating as Goldberg has so much more to give in the main event scene in my opinion. (C’mon give me that Roman Reigns and Goldberg feud I’m salivating for)
Goldberg interrupted Lesnar as expected and insisted that the two bring a little WrestleMania to Philly since Goldberg can’t bring all of Philly to ‘Mania. Despite how it is all he has done in his current WWE run, Goldberg STILL managed to surprise me by running to fight Lesnar and spearing him instantly, laying him on his back. It was great to see Goldberg stand tall again (largely due to my dad and I’s affinity for him) but I can’t help but shake the feeling that the match this Sunday is going to be a mess with a heel Lesnar going over.
Overall Score: 7/10
Average Total Score: 7/10
Raw began with a whimper this week an went out with a bang and all in all did a good, but not the best, job of sending people home hyped before Mania. It’s unfortunate that storytelling in the women’s division has still clearly fell behind that of the men’s division but hopefully with the pressure of Mania season gone, the division can breathe again next week.
Till next time,